Archive for the ‘India’ Category


The first wave of the Roma are thought to have left India probably with the armies of Alexander of Macedon around 326 BC, who took them along as “they were iron smelters and experts in making war weapons”. The word Roma itself is believed to have come from the Sanskrit domba, or the modern dom or its variations, found in several Indian languages, referring to lower castes engaged in a range of menial works and, at places, in itinerant singing and dancing professions.

The Romani language has obvious similarities with languages spoken in northern India, and many of the commonest Romani words, including the numerals, are near identical to their modern Hindi names. Examples: the Romani yek (Hindi ek); dui (do); trin (teen); shtaar (chaar); panchi (paanch); sho (chhe); desh (dus); bish (bees); manush (manushya, or man); baal, kaan and naak, which are the same as the Hindi words for hair, ear and nose; kalo (kaala, or black), etc.

In her speech to the International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival in New Delhi last year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj counted painter Pablo Picasso, actor-filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, entertainer Elvis Presley, Hollywood icon Michael Caine, tennis star Ilie Nastase, and actor Yul Brynner among prominent Roma

See below a very interesting piece by Pooja Khati of the INDIAN EXPRESS, “Meet the Roma: 2,000 years ago, the first ‘Indians’ to go to Europe”.

(A Roma caravan in a meadow in England in 2009. (Source Wikimedia Commons)

Who are the Roma?

The Roma or Romani are a travelling people who live mostly in Europe and America, and whose origins are widely accepted by anthropologists, historians and geneticists as lying in northern India. The Roma are known by different names in different countries — Zigeuner in Germany, Tsiganes or Manus in France, Tatara in Sweden, Gitano in Spain, Tshingan in Turkey and Greece, Gypsy in the UK, etc. Some of these names have clear derogatory connotations and are considered racial slurs by the Romani people. In her speech to the International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival in New Delhi on February 12, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj counted painter Pablo Picasso, actor-filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, entertainer Elvis Presley, Hollywood icon Michael Caine, tennis star Ilie Nastase, and actor Yul Brynner among prominent Roma.

What is the world’s Roma population? Where do they live?

The precise number is unknown, in part because of the reluctance of many Roma to disclose their ethnicities in official national censuses for fear of attracting harassment or persecution. Minister Swaraj told the Roma conference that as of 2016, the global population of the community is estimated to be around 20 million. Roma peoples live in some 30 countries across West Asia, Europe, America and Australia. The largest Roma community is in Turkey — around 2.75 million. Some 1 million are estimated to live in the US, and around 800,000 in Brazil. Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Spain and France all have sizeable Roma populations.

So, what is the Indian connection of the Romani people?

The Romani language has obvious similarities with languages spoken in northern India, and many of the commonest Romani words, including the numerals, are near identical to their modern Hindi names. Examples: the Romani yek (Hindi ek); dui (do); trin (teen); shtaar (chaar); panchi (paanch); sho (chhe); desh (dus); bish (bees); manush (manushya, or man); baal, kaan and naak, which are the same as the Hindi words for hair, ear and nose; kalo (kaala, or black), etc.

The first wave of the Roma are thought to have left India probably with the armies of Alexander of Macedon around 326 BC, who, Swaraj said at the conference, took them along as “they were iron smelters and experts in making war weapons”. The word Roma itself is believed to have come from the Sanskrit domba, or the modern dom or its variations, found in several Indian languages, referring to lower castes engaged in a range of menial works and, at places, in itinerant singing and dancing professions.

The cultural similarities between the Roma and Indian communities include an association of the colour white with mourning, applying of mehndi on palms by Roma brides, and laws of ritual purity and taboos of birth and death. A woman in childbirth is considered impure, and must have her baby outside her caravan home or tent lest it be polluted. The high incidence of child marriages, and belief in gods similar to Shiva, Kali and Agni too are considered evidence of their links to Hindu culture.

The authors of a 2012 study analysed some 800,000 genetic variants in 152 Romani people from 13 Romani communities across Europe and concluded that the Roma people left northern India about 1,500 years ago; and those Roma who now live in Europe migrated through the Balkans beginning about 900 years ago.

Why are the Roma regarded with fear by some people and persecuted by some governments?

Popular narratives in film and literature represent the Roma as people of unpredictable temper and mystical or occult powers, including fortune-telling. They are also often represented as thieves or law-breakers, adding to the general negative perceptions about them.

The prejudice has translated into persecution by governments almost since the beginning of their migration to Europe. They were enslaved or killed in Germany, Italy and Portugal, faced discrimination because of the colour of their skin, and were accused of bringing the great plague to Europe.

The Nazis sent the Roma to labour camps. In 1934, Turkey passed a law allowing the government to deny the Roma citizenship. In the 1980s in Czechoslovakia, Roma women were forced to undergo sterilisation. Even now, there are incidents of Roma children being taken away from their parents, and women having their ears chopped. In 2010, 51 illegal Roma camps were removed by the French authorities, triggering an uproar and threats of action from the EU.

So where is the ‘Roma question’ headed?

The main aim of the Delhi conference was to bring to the attention of governments the issues being faced by the community. It was proposed to study the political, social, and economic challenges it faced, and to examine the constitutional safeguards available to them. A 2011 survey in 11 European countries had found that only one out of two children from the community went to school on average, and only one out of three adult Roma was in a paid job. Almost 90% of Roma in these countries lived below the poverty line, and almost half of them had faced discrimination because of their ethnic background.

 

Truth about language in India

Posted: April 4, 2017 in Hindi, India, Urdu
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This is a very interesting piece on Sanskrit and I have decided to share.

by Santosh Kumar Khare

Sanskrit played the elitist role in ancient India, being the language of religion, government and literature. Pali and subsequently Prakrits and Apabharamshas were spoken by the masses. This is evident from classical Sanskrit plays, which have brahmins and noblemen speaking Sanskrit while lower orders (including women!) use Pali. Sanskrit gave way to Persian in most of India during Islamic rule.

Regional dialects and languages continued to develop at popular levels, acquiring words from Persian, Arabic and Turkish. In northern India the process produced the patois of Amir Khusro and a highly polyglot lingua franca. Called Hindavi or Urdu, it developed in bazaars and military camps through contact between Persian Turkish-speaking elites and soldiers on the one hand and the Bhasha-speaking locals on the other.

During the 19th century English displaced Persian as the rulers’ tongue while regional vernaculars continued to evolve among the masses. Although attempts to embellish Hindavi/Urdu – the literary form was called Rekhta – started in Shahjahan’s times, its development into formal language ironically came about after the ascendancy of English. This was accompanied by a policy directive from the Court of Directors of East India Company in 1832 to replace Persian with local vernaculars as the language of the courts so that the public could understand the proceedings.

The notion of Hindi and Urdu as two distinct languages crystallised at Fort William College in the first half of the 19th century and was given official endorsement in an order promulgated by the NWP and Oudh government (present day UP) in 1900 requiring provincial officials to know both. As far as the script was concerned, the shift from the Persian to the Nagari script stretched from the 1870s and 1880s (Bihar and Central Provinces) well into the 20th century (UP and Delhi).

It is important to bear in mind that modern Hindi and Urdu started with narrow social bases. They represented competing interests of emergent middle class urban Hindu and entrenched Muslim/Kayastha Group respectively. Both had their eyes on lower-level government jobs in the British raj. Hindi and Urdu therefore had to differentiate themselves from each other and in the process from the common vernacular.

Their linguistic and literary repertoires were built up accordingly, Urdu borrowing heavily from Persian/Arabic and Hindi from Sanskrit.

From EPW commentary Dec 14, 2002
‘TRUTH ABOUT LANGUAGE IN INDIA’
by Santosh Kumar Khare

The Partition of India

Posted: January 30, 2017 in Britian, India, WH Auden
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British barrister Sir Cyril Radcliffe arrived in British India for the first time on July 8, 1947. He had exactly five weeks to draw the borders between an independent India and the newly created Pakistan. He chaired two boundary commissions, one for Punjab and one for Bengal, consisting of two Muslims and two non-Muslims.

The resulting boundary award was announced on August 17. Partition along the Radcliffe Line ended in violence that killed one million people and displaced 12 million. Radcliffe burnt his papers, refused his Rs 40,000 fee, and left once and for all.

While drawing the border, Radcliffe was faced with unyielding demands on both sides, communal tensions, doubtful census numbers, tough economic, administrative and defence considerations and some say even interference from Viceroy Mountbatten. Was Radcliffe biased? Was he ill-informed?

Here’s one of the best criticisms of Radcliffe and his 1947 job by the poet WH Auden in Partition.

“Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
Having never set eyes on this land he was called to partition
Between two peoples fanatically at odds,
With their different diets and incompatible gods.
‘Time,’ they had briefed him in London, ‘is short. It’s too late
For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
The only solution now lies in separation.
The Viceroy thinks, as you will see from his letter,
That the less you are seen in his company the better,
So we’ve arranged to provide you with other accommodation.
We can give you four judges, two Moslem and two Hindu,
To consult with, but the final decision must rest with you.’

Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the gardens to keep assassins away,
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
A continent for better or worse divided.

The next day he sailed for England, where he quickly forgot
The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not,
Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot.”

Partition, 1966 by WH Auden


Things were going exactly as Srinivasan had feared, his Mother would come in from India and crush his American way of life under her strong South Indian influence. For a genetic scientist like Vasu, as Srinivasan was called by his friends, the only kind of order was disorder. So consumed he was by his research that the world and it’s affairs mattered little to him. When his last girlfriend walked out on him, “Find a girl on planet Srinivasan,” she had screamed as she stomped out.

Now Vasu’s Mother had taken over the administration of the planet. It irritated him, this milk at night and chywanprash every morning. “Have you been wearing the same pair of Jeans for the past three days?” Mother was beginning her morning interrogation.

Vasu stared at the hot idlis in front of him, the chywanprash to follow and the wardrobe interrogation that had begun. Something snapped in his mind. “Mom I love you and I love that you come all the way from India to take care of me but please don’t fuss over me! It irritates me! And then I cannot work!”

His Mother did not really care if Vasu was upset, “The idlis are getting cold,” was her matter of fact response.

“You don’t really care, do you Mom?”

“I care about you Vasu. The work you do is alright. If you don’t do it, someone else will do it.”

“Mom, I am genetic scientist. I am working on the evolution of man. Theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, have you heard of him? ” Vasu was exasperated with her unwillingness to understand. His Mother sat down next to him and smiled, “I know Darwin, Vasu. I also know that what you think he discovered was old news in India.”

” Yeah sure Mom!” Vasu said with sarcasm.

“Well if you are too smart then listen to this, ” his Mother countered.” Have you heard of Dashavatar? The ten avatars of Vishnu?” Vasu nodded. “Then let me tell you what you and Mr. Darwin don’t know. The first avatar was the Matsya avatar, it means the fish. That is because life began in the water. Is that not right?” Vasu began to listen with a little more attention.

“Then came the Kurma Avatar, which means the tortoise, cause life moved from the water to the land. The amphibian. So the Tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land. Third was the Varaha, the wild boar, which meant the wild animals with not much intellect, you call them the Dinosaurs, correct? ” Vasu nodded wide eyed.

“The fourth avatar was the Narasimha avatar, half man and half animal, the evolution from wild animals to intelligent beings. Fifth the Waman avatar, the midget or dwarf, who could grow really tall. Do you know why that is? Cause there were two kinds of humans, Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens won that battle.” Vasu could see that his Mother was in full flow and he was stupefied.

“The Sixth avatar was Parshuram, the man who wielded the axe, the man who was a cave and forest dweller. Angry, and not social but the seventh avatar was Ram, the first thinking social being, who laid out the laws of society and the basis of all relationships. The eight avatar was Krishna, the statesman, the politician, the lover who played the game of society and taught how to live and thrive in the social structure. The Ninth avatar, the Buddha, the man who rose from Narasimha and found man’s true nature. The nature of Buddha, he identified man’s final quest of enlightenment. And finally, my boy, will come Kalki, the man you are working on. The man who will be genetically supreme.”

Vasu looked at his Mother speechless. “This is amazing Mom, how did you.. This makes sense!”

“Yes it does Vasu! Now have your chywanprash! ” “


J Jayalalithaa has not left behind a void. She has left behind a legacy. It is the legacy left for her by her mentor, MGR and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

The various DMK’s spawned by the Dravidar Kazhagam  (DK) of Periyar – the DMK of CN Annadurai followed by the Karunanidhi’s DMK, MGR’s ADMK, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, Vaiko’s MDMK, Vijayakanth’s DMDK etc have something in common besides their antecedents.

CN Annadurai hailed from Conjeevaram (Kanchipuram) and was a Mudaliar. Just like my mother. The Mudaliar community was prominent in the Justice Party with its strong underpinnings of anti-Brahminism. Annadurai reduced the Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker call for an independent Dravida Nadu of the four south Indian regions to that for an independent Tamil homeland- Tamil Nadu.

The DMK made a strong showing in 1960 with its anti -Hindi and secessionist plank quite prominent. But Annadurai dropped it in 1962 on Jawaharlal Nehru’s personal appeal in the wake of the Chinese attack that year. Only the anti-Hindi plank remained (as it does till today).

After Annadurai died a couple of years after the DMK decisively trounced the Congress in 1967. He was succeeded as CM by MK Karunanidhi, a Telugu. The next CM, MG Ramachandran was a Malayali. Jayalalitha was a Mysore born Kannada speaking Iyengar. Vaiko is also a Telugu. Even Capt.Vijayakanth, now heading a near extinct party is a Telugu.

In India, few seem to notice or care about the irony of the standard bearers of Tamil sub-nationalism all being non-Tamilians. I am Malaysian, but sadly (for me) I am both a Mudaliar and a Tamilian but with no Tamil. A bit like Mani Shankar Aiyar whose familiarity with Tamil might be even lesser than mine.

This takes me to the fact that German nationalism reached its virulent high when it was led by an Austrian – Adolf Schickelgruber later Adolf Hitler. It is a strange paradox. The Soviet dictator and Russian supremacist, Stalin was a Georgian. Napoleon, whose French Empire ambitions plunged Europe into two decades of warfare was an Italian from Corsica.


Stupidity has no limits….
With every new film Rajinikanth releases, milk becomes so much in demand in some parts of India that it is stolen from markets, resulting in shortages that potentially endanger malnourished children, officials and activists say. Die-hard fans can pour about 11,000 to 16,000 gallons of milk a day over billboards and cardboard cutouts of Rajinikanth in the weeks after a new release. In this case is KABALI, a new release by “Thalaivar”, a box office record breaker, the first Tamil movie to be dubbed in Bahasa Melayu.
A friend from India told me “height of stupidity we have had enough wastage of milk on Shivalinga, now Rajnikant”.

Fans spraying milk on a poster of the Indian film star Rajinikanth to celebrate the screening of his latest film last month in Mumbai. Credit Rajanish Kakade/Associated Press

Stardom in India Has Its Price: Thousands of Gallons of Milk

In a country where movie stars are treated like gods, some actors are worshiped like deities.

The 65-year-old Tamil actor Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, better known as Rajinikanth, is one of India’s most celebrated and well-paid movie stars. For decades, fans have regularly bathed pictures of him in thousands of gallons of milk, a sign of devotion usually reserved for Hindu idols.

With every new film Rajinikanth releases, milk becomes so much in demand in some parts of the country that it is stolen from markets, resulting in shortages that potentially endanger malnourished children, officials and activists say.

Die-hard fans can pour about 11,000 to 16,000 gallons of milk a day over billboards and cardboard cutouts of Rajinikanth in the weeks after a new release, said S. A. Ponnusamy, president of the Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers Employees Welfare Association, who opposes the practice. Mr. Ponnusamy said some fans had resorted to stealing milk before daybreak when dairy workers drop it off outside shops.

Last month, before the release of Rajinikanth’s latest film, “Kabali,” a box office record breaker, the milk dealers’ association asked the actor to “sternly admonish” his loyal fans for wasting milk, and it encouraged him instead to organize blood and organ donation drives outside movie theaters.

Early this year, the social activist I. M. S. Manivannan filed a lawsuit against Rajinikanth and his supporters in Bangalore to prevent the wasting of milk in light of the high infant mortality rate in Karnataka State. The court issued a temporary injunction, ordering Rajinikanth to tell his fans to cease the practice. He is expected to respond to the court in a written statement at a hearing next month. In the past, the actor has admonished his fans for the practice, but to little avail.

SEE THE REST HERE…..

 


In China they say that Buddhism came from India but was developed in China. As this sign does.

The two paintings are of the Bodhidharma who brought Buddhism from India to Luyong, then the capital of imperial China.

“Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu. In Japan, he is known as Daruma.”

It is believed that he was a “South Indian from Kanchipuram district” and the third son of a great Indian king. His ambition lay in the Mahayana path, and so he put aside his white layman’s robe for the black robe of a monk. Lamenting the decline of the true teaching in the outlands, he subsequently crossed distant mountains and seas, traveling about propagating the teaching in Han and Wei.

If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.Bodhidharma



By Mohan Guruswamy

My proposed talk in Singapore at the Lew Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the “Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI) Review Seminar on Competitiveness Ranking, Simulation Analysis and Development Strategies for 35 States and Federal Territories of India”

The question that bothers us Indians from time to time is “who are we?” Modern anthropologists classify us Indians as belonging to one of four ethno-racial groups, Caucasoid, Australoid, Mongoloid and Negrito. Geneticists say that the modern Indian population derived from two ancestral populations – ancestral north Indians (ANI’s) and ancestral south Indians (ASI’s). ANI’s are related to the West Eurasians and the ASi’s are distinctly related to the indigenous groups like the Andaman Islanders. We are now an admixture of these two groups. Modern India now has over two thousand ethnic groups.

Modern Indian languages have evolved from all the world’s four language families. Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman. We also have a language that belongs to neither of them – Nihali, spoken in parts of Maharashtra. India has 1652 individual mother tongues. The 2001 Census tells us that 30 languages are spoken by over a million each, and 122 by over 10,000 each.

India has almost 1.2 billion people, and the Union of India consists of 31 States and Union Territories, with some more being currently midwifed. The biggest of these is Uttar Pradesh with a population of 199.6 million or 16.49% of India’s. It is as big as Brazil. The smallest political unit is Lakshadweep which has just 64,000 (0.01%). Quite clearly the omnibus term India, incidentally derived from the name of a river that hardly flows through it, masks a diversity of nations.

In late 2012 India became the world’s third largest economy in PPP terms and has grown at an average rate of over 7% since 2000. Between 208-11 it grew at more than 9%. In consonance with global trends India’s growth also has tapered off these past two years. Nevertheless overall the trends have never been like this before and there is optimism about the long term, despite recent troubles. In a country where many state GDP’s are bigger than many large countries. For instance the biggest regional economy in India, Maharashtra at $233 billion is bigger than South Korea and would rank number nine in the world. The next biggest, Andhra Pradesh is as big as Switzerland in GDP terms. Many Indian cities too have large economies. Last year Mumbai’s GDP in PPP terms was $209 billion and it would rank ahead of Denmark.

This overall performance however masks a diversity of performances. The HDI of Kerala is India’s highest 0.790 while the other end of the spectrum is Chhattisgarh with 0.358, which would place it just alongside Chad, one of the world’s poorest and most backward countries. At 0.790 Kerala would find a place in the high HDI list of nations.

While in 2011-12 India grew at 6.88%, large states like Uttar Pradesh (6.23%) and Andhra Pradesh (6.44%) grew at less than the national rate. States like Gujarat excelled with 20.79%, while India’s most prosperous state, Punjab, languished with 5.79%.

The incidence of poverty is always a contentious matter in India. While the government tries to downplay the numbers by having a somewhat self serving index (now 22%), other measures such as the UNDP’s $1.25 a day suggest that almost 37.5% of Indians live in dire poverty. Others have a very different tale. India’s abysmal track record at ensuring basic levels of nutrition is the greatest contributor to its poverty as measured by the new international Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). About 645 million people or 55% of India’s population is poor as measured by this composite indicator made up of ten markers of education, health and standard of living achievement levels.

The new data also shows that even in states generally perceived as prosperous such as Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka, more than 40% of the population is poor by the new composite measure, while Kerala is the only state in which the poor constitute less than 20%. The MPI measures both the incidence of poverty and its intensity. A person is defined as poor if he or she is deprived on at least 3 of the 10 indicators. By this definition, 55% of India was poor, close to double India’s much-criticized official poverty figure. Almost 20% of Indians are deprived on 6 of the 10 indicators.

But even more a matter of concern is the growth regional disparities. Eastern India has been languishing and has the densest concentration of poverty. While the northern and southern states have showed very good performances on this front. India’s west has its main industrial centers and naturally overall figures tend to be good here. But if the big cities are removed, here also we get a bit of a dismal picture. Clearly the southern and northern states seem to be doing better. I will not get into more details. I am sure the studies we will see presented here today will cover this and much more.

But I would like to leave this seminar with a question? In a global system having almost two hundred independent states at various states and stages of development, we can have a wide disparity, as each one of these economies represents a sovereign entity, bounded by a border. But in a system that in bound by its constitution, its history and its civilization as one, as is India, can we afford to risk too much diversity in economic well- being? One immediate problem is a feeling of deprivation to the benefit of others. The credit /deposit ratios only fuel this. The southern states have an average C/D ratio of 92.25, with Andhra Pradesh leading with 105.14. The northeast lags well behind with 34.42, while eastern India has 50.30. The big state of Bihar just has 28.61 in comparison Tamil Nadu has the highest with 112.65. Clearly something is going on here. And there will be consequences.

Some of these are in evidence already. The population growths are very varied now. While southern India will stop growing before this decade ends, the major northern states of Bihar, UP, Rajasthan and MP will keep growing till well past 2060. It also means the South will age faster, and already we see noticeable migrations. What frictions this will cause are a matter for discussion, as is the composition of India’s Parliament where the constituencies are related to population.

Finally, it is clear that there can be no growth without pain, often to others. But without growth there will be all round pain. The challenge for India is to spread the growth more equitably and share the pain more evenly. I look forward to your deliberations and hope to gain much from them.

Mohan Guruswamy studied Public Policy and Management at Harvard University, is Advisor at Ministry of Finance India, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council of the United States and Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, and, is a friend.


My Muslim hero has always been Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī. He is better known as Rumi. Rumi is an Islamic Sufi mystic from the 13th century who lived in what is now Konya, Turkey. I got really interested in Rumi when I first read about Rumi a number of years ago and ever since then I have been searching and learning about Sufism. I chose Rumi as my Muslim hero because I believe that Rumi is a shining example of the things I admire most about culture. Growing up as a non-Muslim in Malaysia I had become accustomed to the powers-that-be treating me differently because of my religion. I got used to thinking that the first thing the government see when they look at me is not the type of person I am, it’s my religion.

I assumed that’s how its going to be for a long long time in Malaysia because religion is used to the maximum by the powers-that-be. That all changed when for the first time I met a Sufi in India in 1980. I was welcomed with open arms and he wanted to get to know me the person. He brought me to the Sufi Center in New Delhi. For the first time in my life I forgot about my religion and could just be myself. It was a complete culture shock for me because for once I wasn’t judged based on my religion. I cannot even put into words how good it felt. I think this is a shining example of Rumi’s teachings on love and tolerance.

I see so many similarities between Rumi’s teachings and Hinduism and even Christianity. Sufism also has meditation as an essential part of prayer. For instance Rumi and his followers used simple music in meditation and prayer so that they can bring themselves closer to God. Perhaps the most critical and mind boggling event was when I saw both Muslims and non-Muslims praying together. This made me open my eyes. It taught me that I too can participate in things like Ramadan without compromising my identity or my belief.

These cross culture experiences have led me to be a stronger and well-rounded person. Therefore Rumi will always be my Muslim hero because he has helped me to understand the true meaning of peace, tolerance and love.

I want to post here a video of another Muslim I admire a lot, someone I recently discovered. He is Author of “The Arab Awakening” and Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, Tariq Ramadan. In this video Professor Tariq shares his thoughts on applying Islamic values in a multi-ethnic society like Malaysia. Among some of the other things he talks about in this video is the Hudud Law, equality between the rich and poor, setting up of an Islamic state and the level of tolerance Muslims should have towards homosexuals.

Watch this…


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Pas President Hadi Awang should not have said that only a “Malay” Muslim — probably “determined” by a DNA test a la Pas — will be Prime Minister if and when Pakatan Rakyat (PR) seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya and initiates, forms and leads the Federal Government.

Is he implying that a “Malay” Muslim is not the Prime Minister now and that “Malay” Muslims have never held the post?

What he said is not unlawful in a Court of Law.

However, it’s unconstitutional to say such things and therefore not lawful, and certainly inconsiderate and hurtful of the feelings of the non-“Malays” including Muslims.

Besides, it’s not the done thing to say such things and further alienate, for one, the good people on the other side of the South China Sea who are neither “Malays”, despite speaking Malay, nor for the most part Muslims. Why should Sabah and Sarawak be in Malaysia if they are denied the Prime Minister’s post.

Already, “Malaysians” in Borneo are saying things like that they are not really in Malaysia and claiming that they still retain the self-determination they obtained on 31 Aug 1963 (Sabah) and 22 July 1963 (Sarawak).

They are screaming internal colonisation — caught between the evil extremes of ketuanan Melayu and grinding poverty — and are demanding that the United Nations Security Council step in on Putrajaya’s non-compliance on the four constitutional documents and/or conventions which formed the basis on which they were “persuaded” by the Malayans and British to help form and participate in the Federation of Malaysia viz. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); the 20/18 Points (20/18 P); the Inter Governmental Committee Report (IGCR); and the Cobbold Commission Report (CCR).

Perhaps Hadi wants to discontinue the peculiar situation where the Prime Ministers so far have not been “Malay” in his mould and at the same time rule out the possibility of Lim Guan Eng, or “even worse” notorious Islam-baiter Karpal Singh — “an Islamic state over my dead body” — being Prime Minister.

LGE was silly enough to say that the Constitution was “silent” on who could be Prime Minister and thereby kill his chances at the top job.

Does he want to be confined to Penang for the rest of his political life? Doesn’t he want to continue from where Lee Kuan Yew left off after Singapore was kicked out from Malaysia? He should not fear that Penang, like Singapore, will be kicked out as well to thwart his known Prime Ministerial ambitions.

No one can play the same trick thrice.

The first was when West Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and East Bengal were kicked out from India through partition to prevent Mohd Ali Jinnah becoming the first Prime Minister after independence in 1947.That’s how Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister and went on to build a political dynasty which is still around.

Jinnah died of TB less than a year after Pakistan was created.

Nehru could have waited but he simply couldn’t just like Lee Kuan Yew who was in too much of a hurry. Lee regrets to this day, like Anwar Ibrahim not so long ago, and like the latter keeps kicking himself every day and crying himself to sleep on having lost the chance to be Prime Minister of Malaysia. Lee even promised Donald Stephens of Sabah that he would be Deputy Prime Minister when he became Prime Minister. It seems it was the Tunku’s idea. So, Stephens dropped his opposition to Malaysia.

The Constitution is anything but silent on the issue of the Prime Minister’s post.

LGE should read the Constitution, like a Bible, briefly five times daily if he wants to convince himself that he’s qualified to be Prime Minister. Penang should not be in Malaysia if its Chief Minister is disqualified from gunning for the top political job in the country on the dubious grounds of race and religion. If LGE can’t be Prime Minister of Malaysia, even though qualified and eligible, should he “go back” to China to be one?

Why didn’t Hadi give the name of the person who will be his candidate for the PM’s post?

Is Anwar Ibrahim finally out of the picture at PR because he’s not really “Malay” at all given his Tamil Hindu grandfather?

That means Anwar will have to “go back” to Tamil Nadu to be Chief Minister and from there wrest the job of Prime Minister of India away from Manmohan Singh. Probably, he will have some competition here from Karpal Singh. In India, one will not be denied the Prime Minister’s job on the grounds of being from a minority. Jinnah was just unfortunate to run into Nehru.

Again, why “Malay” Muslim?

Are there “Malays” in Malaysia who are not Muslim?

Is this also a broader Hadi reference and “safeguard” against the non-Muslims in Umno’s “Rumpun Melayu” (Malay Group) theory under which every Tom, Dick and Harry — from Bugis and Suluk to Dusun, Dayak to Acehnese — on the islands of south east Asia is “Malay”, becoming Prime Minister? Where does the Orang Asli fit in?

Why didn’t Hadi just say “Malay”?

Is the term “Malay” Muslim being used to rule out Muslims like Mahathir Mohamad who came from Kerala, southwest India and denied Tengku Razaleigh, a “Malay” in Hadi’s mould, the Prime Minister’s job not once but twice.

Mahathir went on to become the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia by default and, by sheer cunning, still managed to cling onto the post even after it was discovered in Court by a “Malay” Judge from Kerala that he actually lost the 1987 Umno presidential elections but sneaked in votes from 30 illegal branches to “win” by 43 votes. The Judge, a Malayalee backing another Malayalee, refused to discount the illegal votes and award Razaleigh the Umno presidency.

Hadi’s statement means that Tunku Abdul Rahman, whose mother was Thai and from across the border, was not “Malay”.

Also, Tun Abdul Razak (Bugis); Hussein Onn (more Turk than anything else); Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Chinese on one side and Arab on the other side); and Najib (Razak’s son) were all not “Malays” in Hadi’s mould, even though Malay-speaking, and therefore cannot be forgiven.

Who are these “Malays” which Hadi keeps referring to? Will the term under PR exclude people who are not “Malay” like the Bugis, Javanese — think Khir Toyo — Minang, Acehnese etc but use Malay as their lingua franca and are considered “Malay” by Umno which is also infested with Indian Muslims?

Why not say Muslim since Hadi said they — obviously including the “secret Malay Christians” — form the single biggest group in Malaysia?

Why are the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts and Dayaks — the real Natives of Malaysia — being denied a shot at the PM’s post under the Hadi formula by the emphasis on the candidate being Muslim?

Jeffrey Kitingan — “why can’t a Sabahan be Prime Minister?” — must be crying himself to sleep every night in the cold of Tambunan in the high country over Hadi’s statement. It’s an open secret in Sabah that Jeffrey wants to be Prime Minister when a hung Parliament materialises as he expects after the 13th General Election and the 3rd Force comes marching in.

In London, Kelantan-born Hindraf Makkal Sakthi supremo P. Waythamoorthy must be fuming mad with Hadi. He must be planning to go to Court to get the Pas President legally certified as insane.

It’s the King who decides who will be PM — unless Nik Aziz by some miracle becomes King — and he will have to pick a person wiho is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members in the Dewan Rakyat.

That person must of course be a Malaysian citizen who is not bankrupt or has not been certified legally insane by a Court of Law.

Preferably, the Prime Minister-designate should not — “this is not in the Constitution” — be suspected of having skeletons in the cupboard like being on the take, being on crack, hitting the bottle every night, having blood on the hands, sleeping around, being chased by a C4 ghost every night or cannot avoid creating situations in Court casting doubt on his sense of moral values.

Since Hadi mentioned “Malay” Muslim, let’s consider Native status in Malaysia lest he’s under some delusion that his “Malay” Muslims are Natives.

The Principle of Law in determining Native status is that Natives are the 1st people in a defined geopraphical area, we don’t know where they came from, & this is the only place where they can be found.

Of course, it’s not really necessary to have all the criteria as in the case of the Native Indians — we know where they came from — in America.

The 1st criteria would suffice and is a pre-requisite.

So, that’s why the Federal Contitution does not state that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia — they are actually Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese and the like — are Natives.

So, the Thai in Tunku Abdul Rahman coined the term Bumiputera (sons of the soil) as an umbrella term to include the Malay-speaking communities along with the true Natives viz. the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts & Dayaks.

The Constitution, reflecting Umno’s philosophy, defines all “Malays” as Muslims but that does not mean all Muslims are “Malays”.

There’s no Principle of Law on all Muslims being “Malays.”

So, Indian Muslims like Mahathir for example are wrong when they claim to be “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Example: if all Pakistanis are stupid, does it mean that all stupid people are Pakistanis?

Similarly, it cannot be said that all Muslims are “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Since the Malay-speaking communities are not the Natives of Peninsular M’sia, they cannot come under the umbrella term Bumiputera either and should not claim to have a divine monopoly on the Prime Minister’s post.

The Malay-speaking communities, whether Muslim or otherwise, should not deny others especially the Natives, the Prime Minister’s post.

There is a Malay language, which historically began as a dialect in Cambodia, and was developed by the Hindus and Buddhists to emerge as the lingua franca of the Archipelago for missionary work and religion, education, trade and administration. That’s how the Malay language became the basis for the development of a national language in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia with the departure of the colonialists.

The “Malay” in the Malay Archipelago refers to the language and not any race.

There is no such thing as a “Malay” race despite what Hadi thinks or a “Malay” Group (Rumpun Melayu) as Umno likes to claim. Indonesia — Indos Nesos or Indian Islands in Greek — would never agree with the Rumpun “Melayu” theory.

“Malay” Nationalism is a concept created in Singapore by Muslims from Kerala to rally support against Chinese economic domination. The Origin of Malay Nationalism by Professor William Roff refers.

DNA studies show that all the people of southeast Asia are from a common stock.

They are descended from the Dravidians — archaic (old) Caucasoids — who made their way from south India, along the coast, to south China and Taiwan and mated with the Mongolian tribes living there.

We should cross the bridge on the Prime Minister’s post rather than delude ourself into wishful thinking, living on hope and fairy tales to convince the King in defiance of the Federal Constitution.