Friday, November 18, 2016

Of mass media, propaganda and mass society

I responded recently to certain questions a researcher posed to me as part of her ongoing work on a paper on media trends in India.

This post is based on my responses in italics to some of her questions.

*I was asked how my blog site works differently from a traditional newspaper. (This question may sound strange, but I was told it was originally meant to be asked of people running much larger-sized publishing outfits and was put to me without being rephrased because of time crunch.) 

Mine is just a blog site that I use as a personal diary to post my thoughts, articles, etc., whenever
I feel like writing. 

There have been many weeks or even months when I didn’t feel like writing and so didn’t post anything.

I think all or most ‘traditional newspapers’ are or behave as if they are ‘mass media’ vehicles.

I view a ‘mass media’ vehicle as targeted towards ‘mass society’ and making use of ‘mass production’ set-up.

A ‘mass production’ set-up, by its very nature, can only be a capital intensive enterprise, which means only very few people can own and control it.

That implies (a) ultimate control vests in one or a few persons, (b) existence of a hierarchy of managerial/editorial functionaries as is usual in any capitalistic enterprise even though such a hierarchy is ill-suited to journalism’s need for open and uninhibited communication.

These implications lead to further implications, such as top down command and control that often results in tendentious reportage or manufacture of propaganda material.

Another upshot of ‘mass production’ set up is a narrow defining of areas to be covered by reporters according to their place in the hierarchy, which means initiative and intellectual growth gets straitjacketed.

In a ‘mass production’ set-up, the managers/editors must fill up the available space (excluding the space reserved for advertisers) with some ‘material’ each day of publication regardless of whether they have the news or commentary that really measures up their own standards.

So factuality, discourse, debate, intellectuality, reasoning, sentiment, balance and every other element of journalism become subservient to regular ‘production’ of the periodical, which becomes the overriding concern.

The medium becomes an end in itself; the information and ideas just become the filler and all journalistic functions become increasingly production-oriented and degraded.

I also feel that moving up the hierarchy in a media organization often means that the journalist so promoted ends up making less effort to gather facts (degradation of empirical nature of journalism) and settles into smug opinionatedness.

Given the top-down nature of control in a media organization, one also feels that going up the hierarchy has a lot to do with a person’s willingness to conform to the owners’ wishes. 

Thus journalists transform into some kind of ‘managers’ as they move up the hierarchy.

These factors put one’s job in a mass media organization completely out of kilter with one’s need for one’s sense and sensibility to evolve. 

In other words, one’s media career often inhibits or works against one’s better sense and one’s intellectual evolution.
-----

One can debate what came first: ‘mass media’ or ‘mass society’. It’s clear to me, however, that ‘mass media’ facilitates the creation of ‘mass society’ and the existence of ‘mass society’ helps justify the existence of ‘mass media’.

There would be no ‘mass media’ without ‘mass society.’ And the ‘mass society’ would loosen up towards more autonomy and less heteronomy (i.e. would tend towards losing its ‘mass’ character) if ‘mass media’ were to be eliminated.

I would instantiate ‘mass society’ as people living in large cities like Mumbai and Delhi with incredibly high population densities and huge crowds in public places being a regular experience of each individual.

The defining characteristics of a ‘mass society’ are its heteronomy and impersonal relations which are wholly accounted for by two abstract domains of ‘political’ and ‘economic’ – as contrasted with the more autonomous and real domain of ‘communal’ which includes family, close friends, neighbours, etc.

Such ‘mass societies’ inexorably come to be seen as possessing ‘crowd’-like characteristics and as requiring to be ‘supplied’ with news and views through standardized means similar to the ones utilized in meeting their more material needs.

Put simply, ‘mass societies’ are treated as ‘crowds’ to be satisfied, pacified and controlled with mass produced goods and services, including the media.

Standardized means of production and supply of news and views to a large population, which can only be organized as a capital intensive enterprise, will inevitably tend towards a system of propaganda in line with the requirements of the two abstract domains of ‘political’ and ‘economic’.

In simpler terms, ‘mass media’ can only be a means of propaganda with the propaganda function varying or evolving according to the ‘political’ and ‘economic’ factors.

Since I deem ‘political’ and ‘economic’ domains abstract and unreal as against the real domain of ‘communal’ (i.e. of ‘community’), I view mass media as tending towards the unreal.

(I should point out again that I believe that the two abstract domains of ‘political’ and ‘economic’ stand for ‘heteronomy’ of human life whereas the real domain of ‘communal’ represents the ‘autonomy’ of human life.)

*I was asked how I view the mainstream media, especially with regards to the issues I cover in my blog posts.  

Mainstream media in India, in my opinion, bears striking similarities with the ‘propaganda model’ of mass media expounded by Herman and Chomsky in their 1988 work, ‘Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media’.

I, for instance, have taken a critical look at the public-private partnership (PPP) policy and projects in my blog.

The mainstream media, on the other hand, has refused to look critically at PPPs and continues to publish the propaganda material handed out by the government and big business.

I also have thought through concepts like ‘religion,’ ‘culture,’ ‘secularism,’ ‘communalism’ (a word that seem to have a special meaning and negative context in India), etc.

The mainstream media continues to be obtuse and dangerously propagandistic in its uncritical acceptance and promotion of stupid Western ideas as applied to the Indian context.

*I was asked as to how the name of my site reflects my cause.

The title of my blog site, ‘Thinking Through,’ reflects the difficulty I have in accepting the received, mass disseminated ideas.

I think many of these ideas, particularly those of the West, are pernicious or simply stupid when they are applied to non-Western societies (or even to Western ones).

I think ‘mass media’ and ‘mass education’ are taking us all towards ‘mass stupidity’.

So the problem is not that people can’t appreciate the truth; the problem is that a constant state of propaganda fills one’s head with so much stupid ideas that people find it difficult to appreciate simplest and most intuitive of realities and truths.

I was asked as to what I wanted to achieve through my blog.

I believe I have worked for the last 4-5 years on concepts like ‘religion’, ‘culture’, ‘community’, etc., and have come up with quite intuitive understanding of them.

I believe these ideas can disabuse people of the stupidity, narrow-mindedness and conflict into which they are forced through mass propaganda.

So my primary goal is to have my ideas help people realize their own vulnerability to propaganda and start thinking on their own.
------

A blog post on Arvind Kejriwal finds an echo in Delhi legislature

Published on Oct. 5, my article, My Stint with Kejriwal: Wising up to ‘Democracy’ and ‘Social Activism’, found an echo in Delhi's legislative assembly on Nov. 15. 

Given at the bottom of this post are links to BJP legislator Vijender Gupta's tweet and the reportage on his citing in the assembly an episode described in my article.

I hope to overcome my habitual inertia to write more. 

In my future writing, I will seek to nail the oft-repeated lie behind the formation of AAP: that it is born of a 'people's movement'.

I will also try to further explain my understanding of a concept like 'democracy' which I deem nothing more than an abstraction of the age-old human community - i.e. any human community found anywhere in the world through time. 

'Democracy' is a lovely example of the West's appropriation of the concept of human community for its own imperial purposes. It's an example of what I call a 'conceptual fraud' packaged nicely in 'classical Greek' humbug.

Here are some 'by-the-way' thoughts.

The entire 'political' realm is a domain predicated on myths and half-truths perpetuated by the mass propaganda system that goes by the name 'media'.

This mass propaganda system is not external to the 'system' (by which I primarily mean the ‘political’ realm together with its kindred domain of the ‘economic’), but is part of the 'system'.

It is meant to perpetuate the system through its myth making function.

Interestingly, myth making - also known as mythopoeia - is the fundamental nature of an empire which is what all states, including India, were designed to be in the Western colonial-imperial matrix.

Unlike myths found in human communities across the world, the mythopoeic nature of an empire claims for itself 'universalism'  and 'rationalism' packaged neatly in what is taught as 'history'.

The Empire that calls itself the 'West', for instance, chose for itself the mythical Greek patrimony while erecting itself and writing for itself (and for its subjects like us Indians) its 'grand narrative' or 'history'. 

A lot of the West's Greek story, not to mention its 'grand narrative or 'history,' is pure fiction. Prof. C.K. Raju has, for instance, explained in his book, 'Euclid and Jesus,' that Pythagoras is myth and there is no historical evidence for Euclid.

(Another way to understand the point I am making would be to imagine that a lot of dubious reportage and propaganda we read in our newspapers is going to be packaged as 'history' to be 'taught' to our succeeding generations.)

The 'educated' are all taught to view the place we call the 'world' as a complex of states. A 'state' is a 'polity,' but 'polity' or the 'political' domain itself is an abstraction, which means it exists only in the mind of the 'educated'.

I believe 'political' and its kindred domain of 'economic' are pure abstractions. In other words, there is no such thing as 'polity' or 'economy' except what we have been taught to imagine as 'political' and 'economic' relations.

(Since I believe there is no such thing as 'economy' or pure 'economic' relations, I also believe that 'economics' -- i.e. all kinds of 'economics' -- is pure, unadulterated pseudology or a pretended field of study.)

'Community,' on the other hand, is not an abstraction. It's a real domain. All human relations - without exception - are 'communal' (i.e. of community) or 'social' in nature.

'Community' (or 'society') accounts for the wholeness or the entirety of human relations --- including those that we are taught to imagine as 'political' and 'economic' relations that in fact don't really exist.

'Culture' is what a human 'community' thinks and does. So 'culture' also represents the wholeness - and the unabstracted state - of human life or human relations.

Thus 'community' and 'culture' can usually be used interchangeably.
-------------------


AAP MLAs raised hue & cry aftr I raised issue of Kejriwal's sex escapades in House.CM left &the House was adjourned.
---


BJP raises Kejriwal’s Aloo Sex scandal in Delhi Assembly
Aloo raises its head in the Delhi Assembly as Arvind Kejriwal tries to rake up demonetization issue

By Team PGurus -  November 17, 2016

Rarely does the BJP pay back with the same coin.

A day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal re-hashed the old and closed case on Birla Diaries and cooked-up Sahara Diaries to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Opposition Leader Vijender Gupta gave him a below the belt blow on Wednesday by raking up the sex scandal involving Kejriwal and a lady colleague, who is now heading a statutory body.

This scandal was revealed one month ago by Kejriwal’s old associate journalist Kapil Bajaj, who witnessed this incident.

Kapil Bajaj’s detailed blog on this curious sexual encounter of Kejriwal was first reported by PGurus and some other websites, while mainstream media was keeping a stony silence perhaps due to the Delhi Government’s advertising largesse.

The blog did not name the lady, who is now heading a Statutory Body. However Kapil Bajaj gave a name to her – Shilpa and revealed that Shilpa fondly calls Kejriwal as Aloo.
-----

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/arvind-kejriwal-demonetisation-pm-modi-criticism-parliament-twitter/1/813601.html

Kejriwal incurs Twitterati's wrath for opposing government's demonetisation scheme

Kejriwal was booed when he went to RBI on Parliament street to enquire about the fallout of demonetisation. At Azadpur Mandi, where he held a joint rally with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, people started shouting "Modi, Modi".

Mail Today Bureau, 18 Nov. 2016

In a day of trouble, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal faced public anger at Azadpur Mandi and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for opposing the Narendra Modi government's demonetisation move against black money.

Heavy Criticism
Ridicule flowed online after extremely personal allegations levelled against him by ex-colleague Kapil Bajaj in a blog post. And media baron and Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra sued him for defamation.

On Thursday, mysteriously, the hashtags #AlooKejriwal & #AlooMaloo started trending on Twitter. 

Unknown to many, these are in reference to charges by former business journalist Kapil Bajaj in his blog that Kejriwal was having an affair in 2008-09 with a colleague 16 years younger to him.
------


Vijender Gupta, BJP MLA, alleges Kejriwal of Illicit Affair (sex escapades) & What is #alookejriwal?

Posted on November 17, 2016

Vijender Gupta the lone BJP MLA in Delhi Assembly has today sparked a renewed controversy by tweeting that “AAP MLAs raised hue & cry aftr I raised issue of Kejriwal’s sex escapades in House.CM left & the House was adjourned”.
-----


Kejriwal’s sex scandal raised in “Delhi Vidhan Sabha”- CM left the house- Hose adjourned immediately.
November 16, 2016

So, the sex scandal in which Arvind Kejriwal has been the protagonist seems true?

The reactions say a lot. A month ago a journalist who has worked with Arvind Kejriwal during his NGO days exposed Arvind Kejriwal’s sex scandal with a reputed lady in AAP.

He changed the name of the lady as “Shilpa” in the article and said that the lady used to work with Kejriwal during NGO days.
---


Was BJP Minister Hurled out of Delhi Assembly for his Question on 'Aloo' to Kejriwal?
November 17, 2016

One thing we must grant to the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal! His media management is undoubtedly and unbeatably the best!

When the whole social media is exposing and attacking Aam Aadmi Party and its leader, mainstream media is remarkably silent and supportive. And why not!

When the overall budget of Delhi government for the financial year amounted to Rs 41,120 crore, a whopping share of Rs 526 crore was paid to media for advertising and publicity.
-----


Talks Of Kejriwal’s “Sex Scandal” In Delhi Vidhan Sabha Creates Mayhem: CM Leaves House Immediate; House Adjourned

A few days ago, Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘sex scandal’ with a reputed lady in AAP raised much eyebrows. This was reported by a journalist who had previously worked with Kejriwal during his NGO days.

The lady’s name was changed to ‘Shilpa’ in the report, and she reportedly worked with Kejriwal in the NGO with which the latter was associated.
-----

----


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ratan Tata's sham gentlemanliness hides the ugly face of parasitic capitalism

Sucheta Dalal raises some important questions about Rata Tata's engineering of an overthrow of Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group of businesses.

"From 2G Scam to Mistry's Ouster: Don't good governance rules apply to the revered Tata Group?" she headlines her article published 26 October 2016.

http://www.moneylife.in/article/from-2g-scam-to-mistrys-ouster-dont-good-governance-rules-apply-to-the-revered-tata-group/48637.html

"The Tata group is treated with such reverence that neither the market regulator, nor the stock exchanges on which the group companies are listed, nor the Finance Ministry have bothered to ask why the board has chosen to take such a drastic step and followed it up by removing Mr Mistry's speeches and interviews and disbanding the management committee he had set up," she writes.

I made the following comments on the issue that Sucheta Dalal's article covers.

Like most things in the political and economic domains that make up the state capitalist system, the 'revered'-ness of the Tata group is a media-created myth as is the gentlemanliness of Ratan Tata, the mediocre bania who owes his enormous wealth, privilege and clout to accident of birth rather than strength of character, intelligence or hard work.

An especially obtuse statement that I can recall of this oaf was his equating of farming life with poverty and backwardness during the Singur controversy which found a sort of echo in Cyrus Mistry's reference to the Nano project while he remonstrated at being stripped of Tata group's chairmanship.

It's the same Ratan Tata who was caught red handed manipulating the political system through his wheeler-dealer Niira Radia. If not for his clout over the system, that action alone should have landed him in jail.

Instead of admitting wrongdoing in the matter, this senescent rogue had the temerity in November 2010 to describe India as acquiring "banana republic-like tendencies". What a fraud he is!

But then he spoke the truth. India did indeed begin to look like a banana republic when it allowed the malfeasance of Tata group -- such as the Tata Finance scam to name but one -- to go unpunished while laying down an entirely different set of standards for businesses like Sahara's.

It's Tata group's undermining of the rule of law, widely indulged by the elite sections of society and camouflaged behind an image of classy gentlemanliness, that makes India feel like a banana republic and allows other business conglomerates to behave similarly.

Ratan Tata epitomises that specious gentility behind which lies the dead weight of parasitic and kleptocratic capitalism that his group represents.

Tata group is not adding value to our lives; it's taking away value from our lives.

It has been influencing public policy to suit its selfish interests and is stealing money from the public sector as exemplified in the disastrous role it played in the Centre's e-governance programme.

It's time the public showed some spine to this Rothschild of India and demanded a thorough investigation of Tata group and its manipulation of the system.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Stint with Kejriwal: Wising up to ‘Democracy’ and ‘Social Activism’

By Kapil Bajaj

Arvind Kejriwal wanted people to govern themselves not long before he decided to give them a ‘political alternative’. He put his trust in collective wisdom of Gram Sabhas, but now puts his photo in every advertisement published by his government.

Last month he announced, in a video message, the discovery of a ‘galat harkat’ (wrongdoing) that his ministerial colleague Sandeep Kumar was accused of having committed, and promised that “no one (engaging in misconduct) will be spared, including Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia.”

This article outlines my own experience of having worked with Kejriwal and may shed some light on his tergiversations.

It also recounts an incident in Kejriwal’s liaison with a young woman who now chairs a statutory body of his government.

This article is the first part of my memoir. More will follow later.

I worked full time with Arvind Kejriwal and his team from November 2008 to December 2009 in an exploration of ‘local self-government.’

I was in his team when we held discussions over many weeks with a number of knowledgeable people to draft a set of legislative proposals to empower Gram Sabhas and ‘Mohalla Sabhas’ to take all locally important decisions.

I took part in starting ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’ in Delhi ahead of Lok Sabha elections-2009 to canvass public support for allowing people’s assemblies to have full control over funds and functionaries in their areas, and in organizing the first ‘Mohalla Sabha’ meetings in the city’s two municipal wards: Sonia Vihar and Trilokpuri.

I also worked with Kejriwal team during this period on ‘National RTI Awards’ whose first edition was held in December 2009.

The same month I parted ways with Kejriwal team, having realized that my learning was over, and went back to working for media organizations.

I came in contact with Kejriwal team again in April 2011 during the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption campaign which I actively supported.

This renewed link, with occasional meetings with them, lasted until August 2012 when the anti-corruption campaign was brought to an end.

Since then I have followed the fortunes of Kejriwal team and later Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) largely through the media.

Exploring ‘Democracy’

I learnt a lot from and with Kejriwal during a phase of his life when he himself was, in my opinion, quite a sincere, honest and hands-on learner and experimenter.

He sought to know how so called ‘democracy’ functioned in India and what must be done to improve it along the lines of its quintessential principle, namely people managing their own affairs.

(‘Democracy’ is derived from Greek words ‘demos’ meaning people and ‘kratos’ meaning rule – i.e. ‘a rule of the people’ or ‘people ruling themselves’.)

He shared with us his understanding that MPs, MLAs and municipal councilors/panchayat members had been reduced to being slaves to the ‘high commands’ of their political parties and had no freedom to carry out the will of their own constituents or be guided by their own conscience.

He believed that citizen assemblies – Gram Sabhas in rural areas and ‘Mohalla Sabhas’ in urban areas – should be allowed to convene in open meetings and take decisions on their local affairs with the role of elected representatives in municipalities and panchayats being reduced to carrying out their will.

As Gram Sabhas and ‘Mohalla Sabhas’ begin to function the MLAs and MPs will also be under moral pressure to become subservient to the collective will of the people as expressed in those assemblies whose decisions will begin to influence, over a period of time, even the district, state and central level policy making.

Our motto during the heyday of Swaraj Abhiyan was: ‘We the people are the government in our village, not the governments in Mumbai and Delhi.’

It was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of ‘village republic’ as expressed in his book Hind Swaraj.

Kejriwal was also impressed by the concept of the citizens’ right to recall their elected representatives, propose legislation, and have a referendum on a public issue or policy.

Simply put, he advocated what Western knowledge calls ‘direct democracy’ (a system usually contrasted with ‘representative democracy,’ which prevails in India and other ‘democratic’ countries in some form or other and essentially means ‘people ruling through their elected representatives’).

I respect him for the sincerity that he displayed in what he was trying ostensibly to achieve during that phase of his life, and for his openness to allow others, myself included, to take part in and benefit from the learning and experience that his enterprise engendered.

Kejriwal’s ideas about democracy drew from thinking already present in society and his actions were clearly a collective effort, not his alone.

He was a mere human, like everyone else, with strengths and weaknesses, and ever reliant on his network of people.

That needs to be said to counter the self-glorification he has undertaken in his later avatar as a politician and Delhi’s chief minister, which is based, in my opinion, on expediency, hypocrisy, duplicity, or falsehood.

A Journalistic Start

I first met Kejriwal in December 2007 as a journalist for an article about his work that I was working on for Business Today magazine.

I travelled with him – and two of his young colleagues – for 4-5 days in Madhya Pradesh while he acted as a member of a jury invited by Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar for a Jan Sunwai (public hearing) of cases of corruption in implementation of resettlement package for people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar project.

Another member of the jury was Anna Hazare who would team up with Kejriwal in 2011 in waging the anti-corruption campaign.

This contact with Kejriwal turned out to be an insightful encounter with issues pertaining to society and governance; it was long and strenuous enough to allow me not only to see issues from Kejriwal’s perspective, but also share with him and his colleagues my own learning.

Much later, after I joined his team, I was to learn that he bought sets of NCERT textbooks to look into, having been moved by my view that school education being provided to children, particularly in the areas we visited in December 2008, had hardly any relevance for them.

Madhya Pradesh tour was the first time I plugged into his evolving understanding that solutions to corruption and all other problems of governance lay in giving Gram Sabha – i.e. a local community of people as defined in the Constitution and the Panchayati Raj laws – the power to decide matters that concern its members in open meetings.

This principle of ‘democracy’ was repeatedly and succinctly articulated by Anna Hazare in all public meetings organized during the Jan Sunwai.

It’s the Gram Sabha (which by extension means people anywhere as forming local communities) that sends its representatives to the Lok Sabha, Hazare would tell his audience.

“Thus it’s the Gram Sabha that’s sovereign and is above the Lok Sabha.”
I found this basic principle fascinating, especially in the light of Kejriwal’s view that the system of representation has become hostage to entrenched power, leaving people voiceless.

The fascination with the ultimate sovereignty of Gram Sabha, which Kejriwal helped kindle in me, would lead me later to leave my job with Business Today and join his team.

That decision was also motivated by my curiosity about the world of ‘NGOs’ and ‘social activists’ and the desire to have a first-hand experience of it.

My association with Kejriwal did help me take an ‘insider’s view’ of the world of ‘social activists’ and the causes they espoused, and connect the dots to have a fuller understanding of the ‘system’.

In Kejriwal Team 

I met Kejriwal in late October 2008 to ascertain if I could have a useful role to play in his work.

He welcomed me into his team – which included Manish Sisodia, who ran NGO Kabir and would later become Delhi’s deputy chief minister, lawyer Divyajyoti Jaipuriar, a young woman called Santosh (since deceased) from Sunder Nagri in east Delhi where Kejriwal is supposed to have started his activism, and quite a few other members.

Kejriwal then seemed well into an exploration of the panchayats across states and was about to start on a project on ‘local self-government’ to be funded by India Friends Association (IFA), a network of US-based professionals of Indian origin supporting ‘community activism’ in India.

He and one of his young colleagues Shilpa (name changed) were already receiving some funding as fellows of Association for India’s Development (AID), another US-based charity run by Indian Americans.

The two had been doing some work that seemed to include collecting information on Gram Sabhas and panchayats through RTI from a district in Madhya Pradesh and studying devolution of funds to states and local governments and how their jurisdiction was being encroached upon by centrally-sponsored schemes.

Shilpa was already known to me: she and Abid Khan were the two young aides of Kejriwal who had accompanied him to the aforementioned Madhya Pradesh tour.

In her early 20s, she worked and travelled with Kejriwal and represented him in meetings that he could not attend.

I learnt upon joining Kejriwal’s team that she was a computer engineering graduate who had chosen to work with him not long after her graduation.

I found Shilpa to be somewhat collegiate in her ways. She had an informal relationship with Kejriwal, about 16 years older than her, often referring to him playfully by nickname ‘Aloo’ (potato).

Shilpa would continue to be Kejriwal’s confidant through subsequent years up to the present time and be appointed to important positions.

She was a member of the committee that coordinated the Hazare-led anti-corruption campaign.
After becoming Delhi’s Chief Minister in February 2015, Kejriwal would make Shilpa one of his advisors. She was later appointed the chair of a statutory body of his government.

Kerala Tour

The day I joined Kejriwal’s team, on 05 November 2008, I was travelling by train with Shilpa and Somu Kumar, an AID volunteer, to Kerala to study the Panchayati Raj system in the state, particularly the functioning of the Gram Sabhas.

This tour had been in making before I joined his team, as part of Kejriwal’s effort to visit states that he heard had better functioning local self-governments. It seemed to have been a loosely scheduled tour with return journey not being fixed.

The three of us were to stay – with help from a local NGO called Maithri – in villages in Palakkad district to study Gram Sabhas, panchayats, and people’s planning programme initiated in 1996 by the then LDF government in Kerala under which it earmarked 33 per cent of its plan budget to the local governments.

Kejriwal was to join us in Kerala in the middle of November, having been invited to Kochi by some worthy to be felicitated for his contribution to the right to information (RTI) movement and to deliver a lecture.

We were to attend this function in Kochi and then accompany Kejriwal to more appointments in a fix-as-we-go programme, including a visit to capital city Thiruvananthapuram.

It was in Thiruvananthapuram city in a government guest house that I was to witness an incident, involving Kejriwal and Shilpa, that left me shaken and wanting midway to leave for home.

‘People’s Planning’

In Palakkad, on 07 November, Somu, Shilpa and I had a long interaction with Vinod Kumar of Maithri on Kerala’s experiment with people’s planning after which he arranged for us to visit a Gram Panchayat office in a village called Kannadi.

Since Somu spoke Tamil, a language widely understood in Palakkad, he acted as an interpreter for Shilpa and me throughout our stay in the district.

I recall visiting the lovely, well-equipped Kannadi Gram Panchayat office and meeting the panchayat president and secretary. We also met a well educated agricultural officer who worked under the panchayat, which we deemed quite an achievement for a local government.

We learnt that Kerala’s Gram Panchayats are richest in the country thanks to state government’s commitment to devolve large portions of its Plan funds to them.

After Kannadi, we moved to another village called Eruthenpathy where we were put up with a farmer’s family whom we found to be a heartwarmingly decent and generous host.

We stayed in Eruthenpathy for more than a week, furthering our understanding of ‘people’s planning’ through visits to Gram Panchayat office, Kudumbashree self-help groups of women, NREGA works, and a Dalit neighbourhood.

In between, we also attended a meeting of the District Planning Committee (DPC) where development plans drawn up by panchayats and municipalities get approved and consolidated.

Kerala’s ‘people’s planning’ appeared to me to be quite a labyrinthine process, but it was clear that Gram Sabha – the mainstay of Kejriwal’s vision and object of our quest – neither initiated the process nor finalized the plan.

Gram Sabhas had convened only once or twice since the start of the year in April, according to government schedule and not on their own initiative.

The attendance was usually 100-110 people, i.e. about six per cent of the average population of a ‘ward’ of about 1700. (Each Gram Panchayat was divided into 8-10 or more ‘wards’ and as many people’s assemblies or Gram Sabhas.)

We learnt that it had been difficult to gather even 100 people in a Gram Sabha meeting. Several people said they went to Gram Sabha meeting only if they hoped to get the benefit of some government scheme.

This experience, in hind sight, must have tempered our enthusiasm for ‘direct democracy.’
I was to discover later that citizen assemblies elsewhere in the world also usually reported attendance of no more than 3-6 per cent.

That, to my mind, blurred the distinction between ‘direct democracy’ and ‘representative democracy’.
For instance, four per cent of a 1000-strong ‘directly democratic’ body attending a meeting can be construed as 40 people ‘representing’ the whole body.

It was also intuitive to realize that in direct democratic set-up, 40 people in attendance would seem more amenable to a natural or feasibly managed discussion and decision making than 1000 people.

Where will 1000 people be accommodated? How long each will speak and in what order?

As the number of people attending exceeds a certain threshold, holding an assembly itself becomes an issue.

His Arrival

Shilpa, Somu and I travelled by bus from Palakkad to Kochi the day (in mid-November) Kejriwal was arriving in the port city for his felicitation and lecture.

I recall seeing one or two big hoardings welcoming Kejriwal to Kochi on roads leading to the hotel where the function was to be held.

The function was well attended. He was feted for his contribution to promoting transparency in governance and the audience listened respectfully to his address.

Kejriwal and we were then driven to a Gram Sabha meeting that was scheduled to take place that day in a panchayat in Ernakulam district. We interacted with people who came to the meeting with complaints like shortage of water and heard the ward member or panchayat president promising redress.

This meeting too had a low attendance and seemed like a company board addressing shareholders.

Our next stop was Thiruvananthapuram city where, I recall, we met District Collector Sanjay Kaul who, Kejriwal told us, was known to him and would help in our research.

The two had a chat after which Kaul told one of his officials to help us in our work. I remember this official, a bearded, sensible looking man, taking us to some panchayat areas in the outskirts, including a marketplace of small vendors with whom we had an interaction.

In Thiruvananthapuram we stayed in a government guest house that had old-style spacious rooms with double doors. Each of us – Kejriwal, Shilpa and I – was given a separate room; Somu by this time had left for his native Tamil Nadu.

Our Kerala tour had by then begun to look a bit of an aimless stretch, even going by Kejriwal’s mood.

I remember the bearded official visiting us at the guest house with an elected panchayat member, a tall young man in white shirt and dhoti.

The official was still introducing this young man when he caught Kejriwal, sitting on the double-bed in his room in his sleeping suit of kurta pyjama, yawning.

“Are you sleepy?” the official asked brusquely.

“No. Just thinking,” Kejriwal replied smilingly but unconvincingly.

A Black Hole

We had collected photocopies of hundreds of pages of files from Eruthenpathy Panchayat office – an exercise primarily led by Shilpa who supposedly knew what was ‘required’ to be picked up for the ‘research’ that she and Kejriwal had already been engaged in when I joined them.

We were supposed to get these documents, consisting of panchayat decisions and government orders, translated later from Malayalam into English for our ‘study’ of Kerala’s Panchayati Raj.

This exercise would shortly prove to be futile and a black hole in Kejriwal’s and Shilpa’s ongoing study of panchayats and Gram Sabhas.

I would later learn about thousands of such documents that Shilpa had earlier been collecting through RTI from Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere.

They were crammed in a few cupboards, gathering dust, at the office of Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), Kejriwal’s NGO.

I never saw Shilpa, Kejriwal or anybody else ever taking even a cursory look at those documents, which I learnt had been obtained at a cost of tens of thousands of rupees.

They quietly disappeared one day.

Eruthenpathy Panchayat documents would similarly be never seen or heard of after our Kerala visit.
Thus the ‘research’ that Shilpa seemed to be in charge of prior to my joining did not make much sense to me. And yet it was clear that she was doing everything with Kejriwal’s approval.

An ‘Informal’ Relationship

By the time we ensconced ourselves in the government guest house in Thiruvananthapuram, I had already witnessed a few hints of Shilpa’s ‘informal’ relationship with Kejriwal.

I remember Shilpa asking him for money and Kejriwal responding promptly to her request with currency notes of a large denomination.

Shilpa also seemed to me to act like Kejriwal’s ‘eyes’ during our stay in Palakkad where she remained in frequent telephonic contact with him.

(She had been trying – often to my irritation – to regulate our work in line with what she deemed the ‘focused’ way we were to proceed.)

I remember Kejriwal and Shilpa taking a long and confidential walk together in Thiruvananthapuram during which she appeared to brief him on things while he was all ears.

It became stranger on the night she appeared in her nightdress – a loose pyjama suit – as we gathered to go to an eatery near the government guest house for our meal.

As Shilpa walked animatedly in her pyjamas alongside Kejriwal, who was oddly silent, I felt baffled.

Despite days I had already spent with her and Somu, which did have moments of jest (including her ribbing of me on my telephonic chats with my pregnant wife), I found it rather outré that a young woman on an official tour in a far-away city would walk with her male colleagues on a public road in her nightdress.

“You will go to the restaurant in your sleeping clothes?” I couldn’t resist asking Shilpa, who was about 10 years my junior.

She made a sharp retort, something to the effect that that’s none of my business.

Behind Closed Door

In Thiruvananthapuram, we were supposed to get our Eruthenpathy Panchayat documents translated from Malayalam to English.

So Kejriwal, Shilpa and I hunted for a translator and found one. I remember the three of us visiting this man in his office and striking a deal.

The next morning, on 18 November, Kejriwal wanted me to visit the translator for some reason, which I did.

It did not take me long to be back at the government guest house. I went straight up to Kejriwal’s room to inform him of what transpired in my meeting with the translator.

The double door was bolted from inside. There was no sign of Shilpa.

Things suddenly seemed the strangest so far.

I stood by the door and gave it a knock.

There was an awkward silence inside the room. No one responded for long moments.

I waited and couldn’t help seeing very clearly a part of the bed through the ample opening between the two leaves of the door.

My heart then skipped a beat as I saw both Shilpa and Kejriwal emerging from right side of the part of the bed that was visible to me and very quietly climbing off it; Kejriwal then hurriedly shoved her from behind towards the cupboard to the left of where I stood.

Both were clothed; Kejriwal was in his sleeping suit of kurta pyjama.

My heart was pounding.

The view through the opening in the double door was so clear that I feared Kejriwal’s gaze might have met mine if he hadn’t been in a hurry to hide Shilpa in the built-in cupboard.

It was an extraordinary sight.

The Ramon Magsaysay award winning ‘social activist,’ whom I had witnessed being feted in Kochi the other day for promoting transparency, was engaged in some kind of secret bedroom farce with his own young colleague.

I felt as if I had willy-nilly threatened to violate the privacy of two people and reduced them to that ludicrous state.

Shilpa having been stowed safely away, Kejriwal opened the door for me and acted as if he had been resting.

I tried to overcome my own stunned state to brief him on my visit to the translator while he acted as normally and seriously as he could.

It was still a very awkward moment – I knew he was acting, he probably feared that I might have suspected something, and we both knew Shilpa was hiding in the cupboard.

Kejriwal then tried valiantly to inject some verisimilitude into that pretense by casually asking me:

‘Where is Shilpa?’

I mumbled my ‘ignorance’ and left the room.

Leaving Kerala

My heart quailed at what I had just witnessed and I suddenly felt very lonely.

Something sneaky was going on between Kejriwal and Shilpa, which seemed to have shaken the moral certainty of our work and called into question my decision to leave my media job to join his team.

I also wondered if the latter part of the Kerala tour had been planned to facilitate what I had seen going on between the two.

I called my wife and told her everything I had seen. I remember telling her that each one of us is after all part of a corrupt system.

I told her I felt like running away from that place as soon as I could and so wanted her to book for me a seat in a flight back to Delhi. My pretext for leaving was to be the condition of my pregnant wife, requiring me to be with her.

As I talked to my wife on phone, I could see Kejriwal and Shilpa taking a walk and conferring. I could tell they had sensed my aloofness and feared that I had seen something that was supposed to be a secret or had begun to suspect something was going on between them.

That afternoon as I told Kejriwal of my decision to leave for Delhi because of my wife’s condition, he seemed specially considerate and solicitous. For the next few hours, I was the focus of his attentions as if he wanted to draw me out of my shell and read my mind.

He took three of us to a good restaurant where they served you fine South Indian fare on plates spread with banana leaves.

Throughout that outing Kejriwal tried to open me up and make me feel important with artificial questions like: What are your views on politics?

I actually felt sorry for this man for being humbled by an incident of his own making which I couldn’t help witnessing.

I took leave of Kejriwal and Shilpa the next day, on 19 November, at the government guest house after being booked a seat in a Kochi to Delhi flight.

The two were to remain in Thiruvananthapuram for some more days ostensibly for all the translation and other ‘research’ work that we had earlier been fussing over and that now seemed to me to be fake.

I was much relieved as I boarded a bus to Kochi to catch the flight back home.

That was the end of my Kerala tour – the first two weeks of my stint with Kejriwal which gave me a reality check of two things that had attracted me into his team: the idea of ‘democracy’ and the world of ‘social activists’.
----
(The writer is a Delhi-NCR-based journalist.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A journalist in Madhya Pradesh recollects his personal experience of Emergency

Sandeep Pauranik is a Bhopal-based journalist. He wrote the following article in Hindi recollecting his personal experience of Emergency which was proclaimed on 25 June 1975. I translated it into English for IANS. It's simply written and is very touching.


I relive Emergency at every anniversary

By Sandeep Pauranik

Bhopal, June 25 (IANS) Thirty nine years have passed since the end of Emergency, but my experience of those 21 months as an impressionable child never left me.

It's as if it all happened yesterday.

My memory of the Emergency, the 41st anniversary of whose proclamation falls on Saturday, has to do with the arrest of my father Pushkar Narayan Pauranik, an Ayurvedic therapist, and what we as a family went through during the 18 months of his incarceration.

He was decidedly a 'social activist type' despite being an Ayurvedic doctor in a government hospital in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh.

He would jump to the aid of anyone in trouble. He would clash with anyone. And he would be keen to register his presence in any movement or electoral contest against the government.

By the time he completed a decade in his government job, my father had come to acquire the unfortunate reputation of being 'anti-Congress'. So attempts to arrest him had started soon after the clamping of Emergency on the night of June 25, 1975.

Quite a few police officers, who were friendly with my father, advised him to tender a 'muafinama' (appeal for forgiveness) to avoid the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

He refused. His arrest came on July 23, 1975 when he was meeting a confectioner while on his way to his workplace.

We learnt about his arrest when an acquaintance brought home his bicycle.

My mother Madhvi Devi, elder brothers Kuldeep and Pradeep, sisters Omshri and Jayashri, and I were all dazed. We were asking each other: What will happen? When will father return home?

None of us knew the answer.

Our eldest brother Kuldeep was then a student of Class 10. My mother was a school teacher with a very modest salary.

It was a rude shock to be without our father who put food on the table and met our needs. His absence transformed our lives.

There were very few people then who would feel free to socialise with us. They all seemed scared. Our landlord, mercifully, said he would accept rent arrears only after "Doctor Saheb is released and come back home".

The family's condition worsened in the coming weeks and months, but my mother would not buckle. She was determined to get us going.

I recall my grandmother Kunwar Bai impressing upon my mother once to persuade my father to make peace with the government. "Tell Pushkar to write the 'muafinama' when you next visit the jail. Indira (Gandhi) will release him."

Subsequently, upon my mother's return from the jail, my grandmother asked: "Did you tell him to write the muafinama?"

My mother responded with remarkable composure: "If he has done anything wrong he will ask for God's forgiveness. Why would he apologise to a human being?"

The kin of the Emergency detainees were allowed no more than a monthly visit to the jail. Sometimes we and our mother would go and sit under a tree outside the jail in the hope of catching a glimpse of our father inside.

One day when we all badly wanted to meet him, Pradeep decided to make an application to the Collectorate. The clerk at the Collectorate said the meeting was not possible before the month is over.

Pradeep began to cry. The clerk was moved and forwarded the application to the Collector who allowed the meeting.

My father's absence did not mean that we went hungry, but there was privation. Supply of milk, ghee, fruits and vegetables became meagre and irregular.

A teacher of my younger sister Jayashri, who asked her what seasonal vegetables were available in the market, was stunned into silence when she told him, "We haven't cooked any vegetable at home for days."

When he was finally released on January 29, 1977, my father was almost unrecognisable -- long, flowing beard, hair falling to his waist -- he looked like a sadhu.

For years, until he died, he would tell us the anecdotes of his experience in jail, including those related to former speaker of Madhya Pradesh assembly Sakharam Nevalkar, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) office bearer Shrinivas Shukla, and socialist leader and legislator Jagdamba Prasad Nigam.

His anecdotes would revive memories of what we went through outside the jail.


He is no more, but the anniversaries of Emergency continue to make us relive those months of anxiety, fear and privation.
-------------

Monday, April 18, 2016

Prophet of Islam ordered the apostates to be killed

Islamic State produces a glossy magazine called 'Dabiq'. One can read all the issues on the web-link below.http://www.clarionproject.org/news/islamic-state-isis-isil-propaganda-magazine-dabiq

Read the latest issue of 'Dabiq' magazine on the following web-link.
https://www.clarionproject.org/docs/Dabiq-Issue-14.pdf

Reading 'Dabiq' can be a very good education in what Islam really is. Indians must read it.

Read the article, 'Kill the Imams of Kufr in the West' on page 8 of the latest issue.

It explains how the Prophet of Islam treated those whom he considered to have committed Riddah (apostasy). He ordered them to be killed.

"During the life and mission of the Prophet, the issue of Riddah arose on a few occasions.

The most famous case was that of the ‘Uklī–‘Uranī apostates. Some men from the tribes of ‘Ukl and ‘Uraynah came to al-Madīnah, entered upon the Prophet and announced their Islam. They then said to him, “O Prophet of Allah! We are a people of livestock.......

(After they apostatised...)

The news reached the Prophet, so he sent trackers to find them.

After they were found, he ordered that their eyes be gouged out with iron nails, their hands and feet be cut off, and they be left atop the volcanic rock field begging for water, which they would not be given, until they died in that condition (Reported by al-Bukhārī and Muslim
from Anas Ibn Mālik)."

The following is another case of how the Prophet of Islam dealt with an apostate.

"Another case in that blessed time was that of Ibn Khatal.

When Allah’s Messenger entered Makkah during its conquest, a man came to him and informed him that Ibn Khatal was clinging to the drapery covering the Ka’bah (a gesture symbolizing his seeking amnesty from the Muslims by appealing to their reverence of the Haram).

So he said, “Kill him” [Reported by al-Bukhārī and Muslim from Anas Ibn Mālik]."

Dabiq magazine has quite a lot to say about the “Hindus” – the adherents of "this filthy, cow-worshiping religion".

(Just go into the PDF of the latest issue and press Control + F. Then type HINDU + Enter to find all references to Hindus.)

The following are two extracts of Dabiq's interview with the Amir of the Khilafah's soldiers in Bengal Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al-Hanif.

(Islamic State refers to itself as Khilafah or Caliphate which is how Prophet established Islam. So Islam has always been a 'state'.)

The two extracts of the interview are particularly relevant to Bengal. Please send them to Mamata Banerjee if you have her email ID.

DĀBIQ: Can you explain the importance of Bengal to the Khilāfah and its jihād globally?

ABŪ IBRĀHĪM: Bengal is an important region for the Khilāfah and the global jihād due to
its strategic geographic position.

Bengal is located on the eastern side of India, whereas Wilāyat Khurāsān is located on its western side.

Thus, having a strong jihād base in Bengal will facilitate performing guerilla attacks inside India simultaneously from both sides and facilitate creating a condition of tawahhush in India along with the help of the existing local mujāhidīn there, bi idnillāh, until the soldiers of the Khilāfah are able to enter with a conventional army and completely liberate the region from the mushrikīn, after first getting rid of the “Pakistani” and “Afghani” regimes, inshā’allāh.


Also, jihād in Bengal is a stepping-stone for jihād in Burma as already mentioned.
---------

My gloss: 'Mushrikin' refers to non-Muslims or non believers. The root of this Arabic word is 'shirk' which means mixing or inclusion – such as inclusive veneration for various gods rather than one God.

'Shirk' is synonymous with what is termed in Abrahamic theology as "syncretism" - which means living side by side with those who have beliefs or ideas different from you.

'Syncretism' is the soul of human cultures across the world. There cannot be any human culture without 'syncretism'.

And yet Judeo-Christianity and Islam completely reject and curse 'Shirk' or 'syncretism'.

The whole Abrahamic system anathematizes  'syncretism'.

Do go to the Vatican website and search the word 'syncretism' to understand how Christianity views 'syncretism.

Judeo-Christianity and Islam thus pose themselves as enemies of all cultures across the world.

Abrahamic system, in my opinion, is the most lethal ethnocidal force in the world.

Etymologically, 'ethnocide' is ethno (culture) + cide (kill) – i.e. killing of culture.

-------------
DABIQ: What is the role of India and the Hindus in the war against Islam and the Khilāfah in general, and in Bengal in particular?

ABŪ IBRĀHĪM: The Hindus of both Bengal and India have always been waging war against Islam and the Muslims.

The only difference is that the Hindus in India show their animosity towards Islam and the Muslims openly whereas the Hindus in Bengal do it in a more deceptive and covert manner due to them being a minority sect here.

The Hindus in Bengal are very active in creating anti-Islamic propaganda in both mass media and social media, and in spreading fāhishah among the Muslims of Bengal.

In fact, a large number of the anti-Islamic propagandists in Bengal actually adhered to this filthy, cow-worshiping religion initially before becoming full-fledged atheists and denying “religion” entirely.

Also, many of the high-ranking positions within the forces of the tāghūt in the police and intelligence in Bengal are now occupied by the Hindus, as the murtadd, secular Hasina government sees these filthy pagans as die-hard party loyalists.

Furthermore, the Hindus in Bengal are well-known for supporting Indian intelligence (RAW) against the Muslims in Bengal since the days of the so-called “Bangladesh Liberation War” in “1971.”

Thus, we believe Sharī’ah in Bengal won’t be achieved until the local Hindus are targeted in mass numbers and until a state of polarization is created in the region, dividing between the believers and the disbelievers, bi idhnillāh. And Allah knows best.

'Hinduism' the 'religion' does not exist. 'Religion' is an abusive concept.

In the following article headlined 'Why The Terminological Terrorism Of ‘Left Liberals’ Needs To Be Debunked,' R. Jagannathan talks of 'Hinduism' and describes it as a 'religion'.

"All religions have their priests and ideologues; in Hinduism it was Brahmins," he writes.
Having described 'Hinduism' as a 'religion', Jagannathan then places, by analogy, this so called 'Hinduism' in the same category as Christianity and Islam.
He writes: "Didn’t Christianity and Islam not have their priests and ulema, their own rabid guardians of the faith...?"

The article was published on 14 April 2016 on Swarajya magazine website. It can be read on the following link. 

http://swarajyamag.com/culture/why-the-terminological-terrorism-of-left-liberals-needs-to-be-debunked#comment-2624959586

I think, Jagannathan is on the wrong track. I posted the following comment in response to what I believe are the wrong assumptions and analogies in his article.
------

Dear Jagannathan, you are fighting a losing battle. You lost it even before you started it by accepting all the fraudulent concepts of the West.

You accept, for instance, that there is a thing called Hinduism, the 'religion', just like Christianity and Islam. So you assume that the so called Hinduism is equivalent to Christianity and Islam. And then you go on to argue, quite slavishly like a Westerner, more instances of phony equivalence between Hinduism on the one hand and Christianity/Islam on the other.

The fraudsters of the 'Abrahamic' faiths would be sniggering at your disastrously self-defeating reasoning.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as Hinduism, the religion.

'Religion' is an utterly abusive, colonial and imperial concept that applies only and only to Judeo-christianity and Islam, i.e. the Abrahamic system.

'Religion' can -- and should -- never be applied to any human culture across the world (Indic or non-Indic) through history.

India, through history, has always had 'cultures' - which are open systems, unlike 'religion' which is a closed system.

In fact, all human cultures -- not just in India but across the world -- are open systems.

No human culture can ever exist in a healthful manner and evolve without openness. This openness does not need defining.

However, just to show an important distinction we are discussing here, let me say that this openness can be denoted by the term 'syncretism'.

'Syncretism' is the DNA - the meme - of every human culture across the world and through history.

But 'syncretism' is execrated and anathematized by 'religion', i.e. by Judeo-christianity and Islam.

Just check the Vatican website and search for the word 'syncretism' to understand how Christianity rejects 'syncretism'.

Islam uses the Arabic word 'shirk' for 'syncretism' and anathematizes it.

So the concept of 'syncretism' explains the key difference between 'culture' on the one hand and 'religion' on the other.

Culture is open source.

Religion is closed source.

By anathematizing 'syncretism', 'religion' -- i.e. Judeo-christianity and Islam -- acts as an ethnocidal force in the world.

And 'religion' mislabels and mischaracterizes human cultures across the world as one of its own category --- such as "Hinduism", "Buddhism", "Shamanism", etc.
-------

A commentator called PV contradicted me by posting the following.

"Dear Kapil...When the legions of Islamo and Jesu come trumpeting with their organized "religion" force, there are audience who remain on the side, like you, lecturing and advocating pompous phrases like "...there is no such thing as Hinduism, the religion".

Somehow, the opposite side, does not understand anything other than the word "religion". So, they have to be dealt in the same way. Meanwhile, please do not be friendly to those gangs. 

Coining the word "religion" in the context of Hinduism does not rob 0.00000001% of the "cultural" side of it. And, when you say every culture has been open, I sense that your mental state is nor right. Do not lecture openness to Hindus."  
---------

The following is my rejoinder to PV.

Nothing that you write in your affectedly brash tone is going to make "Hinduism" even 0.00000001% more "organized" or "religion".

And allowing the Abrahamic education and propaganda system - which creates the mass confusion between open 'culture' and closed 'religion' - to continue will continue to undermine what we already have, let alone help us gain anything.

The so called "Hindus" are already "converted" -- wiped out -- if they consider themselves followers of some "religion". Missionaries don't have to lift a finger.

I suspect a fast growing majority of people across the world -- including those who get called "Hindu" or pagan/heathen -- are already "converted".

This idea of yours that the so called Hindus can resist the legions of Islam and Christianity by adopting their fraudulent concepts is so obviously stupid and self defeating that I wonder if you can really think for yourself.

The whole "battle" is about accepting certain fraudulent concepts and then starting to view yourself in line with those concepts.

The physical battle only flows from the larger conceptual and perceptual battle.

The whole world is actually by its very nature Hindu or pagan. That's the truth. The Abrahamic system has been trying madly to make it behave in certain fundamental ways like it can never behave.

And therefore the so called "Hindus" need to lead a worldwide movement of showing the falsity and imperialism of the Abrahamic system and the 'syncretism' of human cultures.

I don't like buzz words, but one can call it 're-paganization' of the world (even though I believe the world has always been pagan despite the mislabelling and mischaracterization practised by the Abrahamic system.)

Yes, every human culture has 'sycretism' as its meme. 

In fact, Christian and Muslim societies can also not run without accepting syncretism, even though they profess complete rejection of syncretism in order to justify their own existence.

You need to spend your time reflecting and understanding some basic concepts.

Without some elementary wisdom, we are all dead and buried.
------------