Tag Archives: Chhotebhai

Youth Joins Cycle Rally

cycle 2KANPUR, 20th November, (chhotebhai) — The youth of Kanpur came out in large numbers today to participate in a path breaking cycle rally. About 450 students from various schools, NCC cadets, Scouts and senior citizens enthusiastically cycled down the main Mall Road from the Parade ground to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Phoolbagh. A small group of differently abled, from the Spastics Centre, also took part. The rally was organised by the Kanpur Nagrik Manch (KNM) that is the Kanpur Citizens Forum, which espouses several civic and social issues in this city of 4.5 million, once known as the Manchester of the East, for its industrial prowess.

This rally was the brainchild of chhotebhai, the Convener of the KNM, who is also the President of the Kanpur Catholic Association (KCA). It was flagged off by noted littérateur and Gandhian, Padamshree Giriraj Kishore, who said that it was the need of the hour. The rally slogan was “Cycle Chalao, Eedhan Bachao, Swasth Banao” (Keep cycling, Save fuel, Keep fit).

Addressing the gathering chhotebhai said that the fuel import bill was having an adverse impact on the nation’s Current Account Deficit, and thereby the economy. It was therefore imperative that the citizens, and especially the youth, took to cycling. It would also reduce pollution and make for a healthier lifestyle. He said that Pope Francis had appealed to priests and nuns to eschew their cars and return to cycles. Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah (Retd) the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University cycles, as does noted scientist and environmentalist Sunita Narain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne should not be ashamed or embarrassed to cycle he said. Holland is a rich country, but it is the cycling capital of the world. Puducherry, which has a cosmopolitan culture, also has a vast number of cyclists. He asked the youth if they would like to get into the IIT? When they said, “Yes”, he told them that they would then have to cycle, because on the IIT Kanpur campus, not just the students, but also the professors use cycles.

While earlier visiting several schools to invite them for the rally, the KNM was surprised to hear the lament of school principals, that youngsters were loath to cycle, and surreptitiously came on 2 wheelers, eventhough they were underage and didn’t have a Licence. Since bringing 2 wheelers to schools is banned by the police, the students would park them in convenient places near the school premises.

At the rally the KNM appealed to the traffic police to make the roads safe for cyclists. The rally ended with the singing of the National Anthem and a pledge to keep on cycling, as also to encourage others to do so. The KCA was represented by Rajveer Samuel, Cornelius Kujur, Emmanuel Premchand and Angelo Menezes. The only Catholic school to participate was St Aloysius’, led by Rohit Caleb.

(Photo credits – Rajveer Samuel, attached herewith).

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Letter to Cardinal Gracias

The Hindustan Times report dt 22/10/13

The Hindustan Times news report dated 22/10/13

Respected Cardinal Gracias,

I refer to a report in the Hindustan Times dt 22/10/13 captioned “Its congress over BJP for Jamiat Leader, Cardinal”.  The news report refers to you as one of the Pope’s chosen 8 advisors.

The report states that you recently met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and praised her policies, signs that minorities still view the grand old party favourably”  The report further states that you “met Sonia Gandhi” and appreciated the  key role played by her in caring for the poor and downtrodden.  He pledged support for the Congress -led UPA Government’s welfare programmes”.

This is a very disturbing report as you are the CBCI President, and in the Pope’s inner circle.  I do not know why you called on Sonia Gandhi and whether what is reported is correct.  If the report is correct then you have erred grievously in a politically surcharged atmosphere, by pledging the Catholic community’s support to a particular political party.  This is not the business of religious leaders.  If the  report is correct then you owe an apology to the community.  If, however , the report is incorrect then you need to issue an urgent clarification denying the newsreport.

As past National President of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) I wish to state that politics is the specific sphere of the laity, as clearly expressed in Vatican II documents.  The CBCI should actively support the AICU and its affiliated Catholic Associations, instead of trying to don all hats itself.

We are only too well aware that most political parties seek the support of caste and religious groupings, some blatantly and others covertly.  Unfortunately  your meeting with a political party chief, in a highly charged political atmosphere, that is assuming larger communal overtones, is not helping the cause of secularism in India.  The newsreport in question has already clubbed you with a Muslim religious leader.  This is just what the BJP is working for to cry “Foul”.

I therefore humbly request you, as CBCI President, to please refrain from political statements, and leave political affairs to the laity.

Yours respectfully,
chhotebhai
PRESIDENT KANPUR CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION
Former National President, AICU

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For or Against Modi? – An Indian’s Response

Chhotebhai

Chhotebhai

KANPUR (chhotebhai) — Recently I received an email from a close family friend, now in his eighties, whom I have held in great esteem. The said email is reproduced below, ad verbatim. It necessitates a point-by-point rebuttal, which follows the original text that is in italics.

Why India needs Modi to remain a secular state?
Over 80% percent of India’s population or 900 million people in the country are Hindus+Sikhs+Jains+Buddhists. Yet, shamefully, the country is being ruled by the Minorities, who may now constitute around 20% of the population count. India is the only country in the world where its minorities –– principally the Muslims and the Christians –– have ganged up together to enact laws that decide how the Hindu majority should behave in their own country!

It is truly a matter of great regret and shame that Hindus are taking this injustice and tyranny lying down! Since Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi led UPA, the sinister efforts are underway to selectively appoint the Christians and Muslims in sensitive and powerful positions within the administration. Here are a few glaring examples of it:
Chairperson of the country’s ruling political alliance UPA is Sonia Gandhi, a practising Catholic Christian. Her son Rahul Gandhi, another Catholic Christian, is being groomed to be the next Prime Minister of India. Country’s Defense Minister – A.K. Antony, the Foreign Secretary  – Ranjan Mathai, Head of the Air Wing of military  – Anil Kumar Browne, P.J. Kurien – Dy. Chairman Rajya Sabha,   – P.C. Chacko, newly appointed Congress Spokesperson,  – P.J. Thomas, 14th Chief Vigilance Commissioner (appointment subsequently quashed) are all Christians.

The country’s Foreign Minister Mr Salman Khurshid, Minister of State for External Affairs Mr E. Ahmed, Chief Justice of India Mr Altmas Kabir, Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha Mr Hamid Ansari, Chief Election Commissioner Mr S.Y. Qureshi, Attorney General of India Mr Goolam Essaji Vahanvati, Minister for Minorities Affairs – K. Rahman Khan, and Rashid Alvi – the Congress Spokesperson are all Muslims. To add an insult to the injury Syed Asif Ibrahim, a Muslim IPS officer has been appointed as Chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB). Many Hindu leaders believe that his appointment could endanger India’s internal security.

In this connection, readers should note that in order to pave the way for Asif Ibrahim to be the Chief of IB, at least four of his senior Hindu officers (R.N. Gupta, V. Rajagopal, S. Jayaraman and Yashovardhan Azad) were transferred to insignificant posts. Closest political advisers of Sonia Gandhi are Margaret Alva, a Christian, Ahmad Patel, a Muslim and Oscar Fernandez, a senior Indian National Congress leader, a Christian. The country’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare Gulam Nabi Azad is a Muslim.

For all practical purposes, the overall Hindu people and India as the country are presently under a state of siege. Unknown to the common public, that siege has been laid with the help of radical Islamists, ISI jihadists, and Left Wing-Marxists.
The chief aim of this insidious conspiracy is to demoralize and denigrate the Hindus and their organizations…………….and encourage the centrifugal forces to balkanize India into several mini-Pakistans and mini-Communist nations.

Almost all Hindus have already been driven out of Kashmir. Over 70 million (7 Crore) Bangladeshi Muslims have infiltrated into Assam, West Bengal and other neighbouring states. The states like Assam, Bengal, and Kerala are witnessing a big demographic change. No matter how strongly we deny it, the unfortunate fact still remains intact that the “demographic conquest of any land is the most permanent form of a conquest.” Discrimination against Hindus in India is rampant. Top Hindu temples like Tirupati and Sabrimala are taken away from Hindu hands – through the legislation – and given to ‘secular’ civil servants for managing them. From the religious offerings of Hindu devotees meant strictly for the Hindu issues, the bureaucrats unfairly dole away Rs.690 crores a year as the Haj subsidy alone.

Remember there are 54 Muslim countries in the world but NONE of them give Haj Subsidy BUT for India alone. There is a complete economic mess and utter chaos in India created by various mega-scams: Coal-gate scam worth Rs. 10,86,000 crores, 2G scam worth Rs. 1,76,000 crores, and Commonwealth Games scam worth Rs. 70,000 crores.

Massive payoffs from these scams have made it possible for a half-literate Italian-Indian woman like Sonia Gandhi to become the fourth richest politician in the world.
(Not to mention uncountable amount of money that will be spent in Food Security bill, which is going to crush already burdened middle classes with more inflation)

Amidst all this gigantic plunder and loot, there is little hope for our country.
The only way out is if the honest and courageous leaders like Narendra Modi, after whose life and blood, these leeches and parasites are after, can become the Prime Minister of India who manoeuvre the country away from the sure doom and disaster waiting ahead.

AN INDIAN’S RESPONSE
Please note that the text reproduced above has no date, place of origin, or name of the writer. This is typical of cowardly propagandists, anarchists, alarmists, and faceless anti-nationalists. It is highly probable that this text is being flashed all over the country, and to the rich NRIs who relish such jingoistic rhetoric. We need to protect our motherland from such a lethal virus. Hence this rebuttal.

Narendra Modi, PM candidate 2014

Narendra Modi, PM candidate 2014

Prima facie the text has originated from a right wing extremist Hindutva source, that, a la Don Quixote, tilts at windmills. In this case the usual suspects are – radical Islamists, ISI jihadis, left wing Marxists and, for good measure, the “practicing Catholic Christian” Sonia Gandhi and her beta Rahul. The Congress is painted as a scam tainted party, and Modi is projected as the “honest and courageous” saviour.

The Congress and the BJP are welcome to slug it out for the 2014 elections. As an Indian that is not an issue for me. However, if Modi’s supporters seek to elect him by denigrating the Muslims and Christians, then I have a serious problem with Modi-ism.

A careful reading of the text shows that it indulges in alarmist generalities, distortion of facts, selective data and blatant bigotry. There is an old adage that “A half truth is more dangerous than a lie”. This is because a lie is recognised for what it is. But a half-truth is attractive, like sweet poison, which is fatal if ingested. The offending text falls in the category of half-truths, and is therefore lethal, if not logically and factually rebutted. Let us address some of the issues as mentioned in the text.

COUNTRY RULED BY MINORITIES: This is a baseless allegation. One swallow does not a summer make. So a handful of Christians or Muslims holding high office cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be construed to be a “ruling class”. I will not swallow that. It is a reality that the Christian representation in Parliament, at about 4%, is higher than the percentage of the population at 2.3%. However, the Muslim representation is much less than its 12.5% of the population. It is also worth noting that Christian MPs are from different national and regional parties, and their constituents are not necessarily Christian.

STATUS OF MINORITIES: Far from being a ruling class, the Minorities are more of a deprived class. Here are some statistics from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) for 2009-10. In education Muslims have the highest drop out rate of 45%. Among urban male graduates employment per 1000 for Hindus was 234, whereas for Muslims it was an abysmal 69, actually down from 75 in 2004/5. The living standard (per capita per month actual expenditure) of Muslims is again the lowest at Rs 980/-, while the Sikhs are the highest at Rs 1659/-. If Christians have relatively good education, employment and living standards, it is through their own efforts and institutions, and no thanks to the Govt.

CHRISTIANS AS RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS: Having been National President of the All India Catholic Union, I am fairly well acquainted with the status and statistical data of the Christian community in India. I quote from the Census of India 2001 (as the data of 2011 is not yet in the public domain). The two States with the oldest Christian presence are Kerala (2000 years) and Goa (450 years). In Kerala in 1961 there were 3,587,365 Christians in a population of 16,903,715, which is 21%. In 2001 this had dropped to 6,057,427/ 31,841,374 or 19%.  More alarmingly in Goa the percentage dropped from 227,202/ 626,667 (36%) to 359,568/ 1,347,668 (27%), a drop of 9 percentage points. The sex ratio figures for the country show that among Christians it was highest at 1009, as against the national average of 933. In Kerala and Goa this was even higher at 1031 and 1107. So, far from being “rulers”, Christians are responsible citizens of the country, whose myriad institutions are “service”, not ruling ones.

PRACTICING CHRISTIANS: This is a term seldom used by those who are not Christians themselves, so I am rather bemused by this turn of phrase. It usually refers to those Christians who go to church every Sunday, especially among Catholics. The text refers to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul as “practicing Catholic Christians”. Has anybody seen Sonia or Rahul going to any church to pray or worship? I haven’t. A few years ago, at Mother Teresa’s funeral, which was telecast live, Sonia Gandhi did not step forward to receive the Holy Communion, an indication that she is not a “practicing Catholic”. As for her internal beliefs, or that of her son, it is their personal matter, and their privacy should be respected.

CHRISTIANS IN HIGH OFFICE: The text referred to A.K. Antony (Defence Minister), Ranjan Mathai (Foreign Secretary), Air Chief Marshall Browne (Air Chief), P.C. Chacko (Congress spokesperson), P.J. Kurien (Dy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha), P.J. Thomas (proposed Chief Vigilance Commissioner), as also Margaret Alva and Oscar Fernandes. This therefore surmounted to Christians ruling India! Now for the facts. A.K. Antony, though of Christian origin, is known to be an agnostic, certainly not a “practicing Christian”. Mathai has already demitted office. Browne (nick-named Charlie Brown in his native Allahabad) is a distinguished pilot, whose son is also an ace pilot. The appointment of P.J. Thomas as the CVC was opposed in the Supreme Court by James Michael Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner, and a fellow Christian! P.J. Kurien and P.C. Chacko are popular leaders in Kerala, as is Oscar Fernandes in Karnataka. Margaret Alva is from a family of freedom fighters – Joachim and Violet Alva. So there is nothing sinister about their holding high office.

On the other hand, this scenario is not exclusive to Congress regimes. When the BJP was in power, George Fernandes was the Defence Minister, ironically another non-practicing agnostic; and Admiral Sushil Kumar Isaac was the Naval chief. Lyngdoh was the Chief Election Commissioner from 2001-04, when the BJP was in power. General Sunith Francis Rodrigues was Army Chief from 1990-93, when a non-Congress Govt, supported by the BJP was in power. Purno Sangma, also a Christian, was the Speaker of the 11th Lok Sabha from 1996-98, again when a non-Congress Govt was in power. Again he was one of the main opponents of Sonia Gandhi on the issue of foreign origin. Even Air Chief Marshal I.H. Latif (a Muslim) was appointed when a non-Congress Govt was in power. So Christians holding high office is in no way peculiar to Congress rule. On the other hand, Modi’s supporters are doing a singular disservice to the nation by tying to give a communal tinge to defence appointments. Shame.

HEROIC CHRISTIANS: It is said that war heroes are the greatest. I recall that in the 1965 Indo-Pak war Col Tarapore (a Parsi), Abdul Hamid (a Muslim from Meerut), and Albert Ekka (a Christian from Ranchi) were all awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously. The Keelor brothers both got Vir Chakras for downing the Pakistani Sabre jets with their tiny Gnats, and Brig (later Lt General) R.S. Noronha got the Mahavir Chakra for the second time (a rare distinction). I have a book “Patriotism in Action” written by Valmiki Faleiro, which enumerates the long list of officers and heroes from the tiny State of Goa, who distinguished themselves in the defence services. 95% of them were Catholics.

Perhaps the greatest act of “wilful heroism” was that of Wg Cdr Clarence Joseph D’lima on 4th November 1977. He was piloting a TU 124K aircraft of the VIP squadron, taking Prime Minister Morarji Desai to Assam. Since there was no way of a safe landing he decided to ditch in a soft paddy field. He opted for a “nose first” landing that invited certain death, but saved the Prime Minister in the tail of the aircraft. Another crewmember that was martyred was Sqn Ldr Mathew Cyriac. Ironically, another Christian onboard, John Lobo, the then head of the Intelligence Bureau, used his 6-foot frame to pull the Prime minister out of the wreckage before it went up in flames.

Another unique act of heroism was that of paratrooper Maj Ivan Joseph Crasto. It was he, who in October 1992, risked his life to rescue 10 passengers suspended 1300 ft in the air in a cable car in Himanchal Pradesh; when he jumped from a helicopter to save them. The latest in this galaxy of heroic Christian officers was Wg Cdr Darryl Castellino, the pilot of the ill-fated helicopter that had saved hundreds of lives in the Uttarakhand disaster. He laid down his life saving “Hindu pilgrims”, while Feku Narendra Modi claimed to have saved 15,000 Gujaratis in Innovas!

Let us not forget the real heroes (Christians or anyone else) and also identify the pretenders to the throne, the masqueraders, or rather marauders like Modi, for what they actually are – just pretenders.

BANGLADESHIS: The text claims that 70 million (7 crore) Bangladeshis have illegally entered India. This is a gross exaggeration because the total population is just about 170 million! What of the lakhs of Tibetans (Buddhists) to whom India has given refuge and all amenities? What of the millions of Nepalis (Hindus) who have made India their home, and are now demanding a separate State of Gorkhaland? Should we not have a common approach to all migrants/ refugees, regardless of religion?

HINDU TEMPLES: Another allegation of “discrimination” against Hindus is regarding the Trusts formed to manage “top Hindu temples like Tirupati and Sabarimala”. Who made these trusts, and who are their members, if not Hindus themselves? So why raise such canards? Incidentally, the temples of the South have so much gold and jewellery (all non-productive assets) that even the Reserve bank of India is worried, and asking for details of gold hoarded in the Guruvayoor and Sabarimala temples. The Supreme Court is already monitoring the treasures of the Shree Padmanabha Swamy temple. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if rationalist and nationalist Hindus spent more money on serving deprived sections of society, tribals and dalits; instead of on offerings of gold?

CONCLUSION: I have tried to counter the allegations with facts. Since many of the allegations stemmed from an anti-Christian bias, I had to frame my rebuttal accordingly. It would be nice if some Muslim scholar were to also air his views on the allegations made. The real issue here is not of the Congress or the BJP; or Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The real issue is of India, and the fear of its “balkanisation”. How true. Balkanisation of territorial India may not be that easy. But balkanisation or polarisation of society into “we” and “they” is a distinct possibility. A feku like Modi would be the largest beneficiary of such a polarisation. As a concerned Indian I will not let that happen. JAI HIND!
SEPTEMBER 2013

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THE HUSH PUPPY SYNDROME

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

KANPUR, (# chhotebhai) – RAMBO NAMO has done it again, and succeeded in grabbing the headlines. At a rally at FergusonCollege, Pune, on 14th July, he accused the Congress of hiding behind a burqa. I have no problem with Narendra Modi attacking the Congress party, its policies or performance. However, he stoops too low to attack persons. His latest diatribe is to call arthashastri (economist) Manmohan an anarthashastri (meaningless person).

Why is “nationalist” Namo using a partisan metaphor like burqa? Is he not degrading both women and Muslims? Ironically, the podium from which this invective was hurled had the name of Ramzani Sound! The message should not be lost on us; that we are a composite culture with a high degree of inter-dependence between religious communities.

So why is nationalist Namo using such obnoxious and insensitive idiom? Is he a rampaging bull in a china shop? Or is he a shrewd and calculating person, who knows that the media is desperate for sound bites, and therefore obliges them with colourful metaphor? Having won several elections, and having a suave managerial style, is he also unfolding a media strategy, based on sound managerial technique, sociological and psychological analysis? Has Modi’s tongue gone out of control, or is it all under the control of his spin-doctors?

Let us analyse another recent Namo utterance. Referring to the Gujarat riots of 2002, where over 1000 Muslims were butchered, he used the analogy of a person sitting in the back seat when a puppy gets crushed under its wheels. There was a hue and cry in the political establishment, so Namo had to retract by saying that in India we worshipped all forms of life. Actually this was the second time that Namo put his foot in his mouth, after his Rambo “evacuation” of 15,000 Gujaratis from flood ravaged Uttarakhand.

Some of Namo’s diehard yuppie fans may have liked his puppy analogy. I found it an expression of his utter ruthlessness, of a dictator’s boot stomping on the voiceless. Namo claimed to be in the backseat, and therefore blissfully unaware of what the driver was doing upfront. This is the first deception. Namo is a hands-on type, who leads from the front. He is positioning himself as a decisive leader, as against an indecisive and moribund UPA leadership. Would such a leader have been on the backseat during the 2002 pogrom? The answer lies in the question itself. If Namo was the driver then he is guilty of culpable homicide. His analogy of Muslims as puppies again reveals the utter scorn and disdain with which he looks down upon the “other”.

Another occasion when Namo showed how dispensable others are in his dispensation is after two of his colleagues Bajrangi and Koshangi were sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in the 2002 pogrom. Namo was quick to distance himself from his erstwhile confidantes, going to the extent of demanding the death penalty for them. This is nothing but cold-blooded ruthlessness, his willingness to make a sacrificial lamb of his own people, so that he comes through unscathed.

The international best seller “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell has impressed me. It is a book that many marketing gurus would swear by – the factors that tip the scales of an ordinary product or idea, and convert it into a runaway success. Marketing and advertising agencies analyse human behaviour, people’s aspirations or frustrations, and capitalize on them. They then correctly position themselves as the answer to the situation or solution to the problem. An ad driven media is only too willing to oblige the marketing gurus.

Interestingly, this best seller begins with the example of the Hush Puppies, “the classic American brush suede shoes with the lightweight crepe sole”. This product was floundering until the manufacturers stumbled upon the fact that it was most popular among “the clubs and bars of downtown Manhattan”. The company then reinvented its campaign to cater to this downtown segment of society. From sales of 30,000 a year they jumped to 4,30,000 pairs in 1995, and further quadrupled the next year. This was because the company had its pulse on the people, and was able to capitalize on the aspirations of the marginalized, by changing its marketing approach.

It is reported that Namo has an excellent team of marketing, media and management professionals. I am sure that they are aware of success stories like that of the Hush Puppies; which is why they were quick to underplay Namo’s rare slip up about the Crushed Puppy. But in true Rambo style, over ambitious Namo may leave some of his tech-savvy team gasping as he rushes ahead in his desperate attempt to become the Prime Minister of India.

Whether or not the Congress led UPA is able to scramble together a majority in the next Lok Sabha elections is not of much consequence. The real fear is of a puppy crusher going from CM to PM. We can no longer talk of this in hushed tones. Namo is sure to tip the scales. In which direction, remains to be seen.

* The writer is the former National President of the All India Catholic Union.

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The rapist in me

chhotebhai

chhotebhai

KANPUR, (chhotebhai*) — Does this sound like a lethal expose?  It may or may not be, depending on how “shock proof” you, the reader, are.  So ready yourself for some eclectic shocks!

I am a senior citizen, happily married, with two grown-up children.  Though financially burdened I cannot pretend to be under privileged.  I was educated in elite Christian schools and enjoyed many of the best things in life.  I have interacted with the highest in the Government and in the church, and held (or still hold) important positions in Church and Society.  Yet I consider myself a potential rapist.  If this revelation shocks you, then you need to read on.

The recent brutal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi has focussed media attention on rape, sexual assault and molestation, and to the vulnerability of women in India.  The media, both print and electronic, has gone to town on the issue.  Most protesters, commentators or panellists have either blamed the police, or demanded that rapists be hanged or chemically castrated.  Some have spoken about social mindsets, family values, the Bollywood influence, etc.  But most of the “angered species” come across as terribly self-righteous.  For want of a better term I will call them the “Self–Righteous Indignant Brigade“.  In Jesus’ time many of these were Pharisees, who were shocked, indignant and disconcerted by the former’s words and actions.

Rather than point fingers at “the other”, it would be more useful if I began with myself.  At the tender age of 7 I was packed off to an elite boarding school in the hills.  My twin sister simultaneously went to the adjacent convent boarding school.  Two Sundays in a month brothers were supposed to visit their sisters in the convent.  I seldom did, because games were more attractive than dames!  For my Intermediate I moved to another prestigious boarding school, where homosexuality and sly visits to prostitutes were par for the course.  I was now 15, and gradually becoming aware of my own sexuality.

At 16 I entered degree college (don’t be surprised), which was co-ed.  It was here that I really found myself being attracted to the fairer sex.  At 62 that fatal attraction has not ebbed! I had very strong and enduring friendships with various women before I got married, but I never had a strong sexual urge, though several opportunities presented themselves.  It was only after marriage that I actually discovered my sexual appetite.

Now I find this appetite whetted in a way.  So I see myself as a potential rapist, who has the carnal instinct to seek sexual gratification in another woman; and I cannot pretend that I will not succumb, should the opportunity present itself.  Though this does not mean that I will actually do so.  I am very fond of good food.  If I am walking past a shop selling biryani or tandoori chicken, and the aroma hits me, I will be sorely tempted to indulge myself.  This does not give me the licence to raid the shop.  I am also not supposed to eat sweets, but temptation is always there, and I often succumb.

The determining factor here is that of self-control.  This is the tipping point.  How do I develop it?  A priest once said to me “Do not lose in a moment of darkness what you found in a moment of light “ I was impressed and repeated it to my spiritual guru, another priest.  “Rubbish”, he snapped at me, “nothing happens in a moment”. The reality sank deep into me.  There may be a “Tipping Point”, but it is always a gradual build up over time.  Hence raiding a biryani shop, or raping a woman, is not a sudden act.  It is a premeditated build up, because of one’s personal conditioning.

A management guru once spoke of one’s ”Area of Concern” and “Area of Control”.  We are concerned about many things – nuclear war, crimes against women, inflation, civic problems, etc. We often focus so much on these “Areas of Concern”, that we do not give due attention to the “Areas of Control”.  In the given instance what is under my control – my desires, my attitude towards women, etc.  Should I blame society, police, my parents, etc, or should I assume responsibility for my own thoughts and actions?

Social conditioning does have an impact on us, just as I was exposed to different situations in boarding life.  On the other hand there was also family and a religious conditioning, where I learnt a strong moral code, of what was right and wrong.  This sense of morality in turn was rooted in religion, in my case Christianity.

I must confess that at the age of 20 I fell head over heels in love with a young lady and even left the comfort of my home for her sake.  But the relationship soured, and so did my attitude towards women.  I lost respect for women, and now only viewed them in a frivolous and flippant way, a fun thing to be used.  Fortunately this flippant phase ended four years later when I personally encountered Jesus in my life, and committed my life to him at the age of 25.

I was now told that each human being, including myself, was a temple of the Holy Spirit; hence should be held in that high esteem.  Unfortunately, this remained a spiritual or intellectual notion, devoid of substance.  Nevertheless, it did have some kind of sobering effect on me. But I still found myself strongly attracted to the opposite sex, though devoid of a brute carnal instinct.

In the course of my spiritual journey I met a seminary professor who frankly stated that most Catholic priests are celibate, not by choice (self–control) but by lack of circumstances or fear of consequences! There is lesson in this.  Besides control, we also need to avoid circumstances (situations) that unnecessarily excite us, and also need to remember the consequences (both legal and moral) emanating from our acts.  For the weak–kneed, fear is a strong deterrent.

Rather than sermonizing or being self-righteous, I have chosen to share my own story, in the hope that it will touch the heart of another potential rapist like me, or even a clerical paedophilic (another equally heinous act).

The more we increase our Area of Control, we consequently decrease our Area of Concern.  The Vishwa Gayatri Parivar, with whom I am closely associated, has a slogan “Hum badle, sab badle” (change one’s self, and others will follow.)  We need to being with ourselves, if we want to change society, and make it a safer place for women.

I believe that, as parents, we begin by inculcating the correct values in our children, with no gender disparity. Co-education is the best foundation for boys to discover that girls are also intelligent beings with equal potential and feelings.  They will not see them as “objects” but as persons.  Without being prudish we also need to avoid all forms of pornography and anything else that inflames uncontrollable sexual desires, as also drugs and alcohol that numb our sense of right and wrong or give us a false bravado.

I do not want to give a long list of do’s and don’ts.  My humble plea is that each one of us men accepts that we are potential rapists on the one hand, and temples of God on the other.  Self-understanding is the first step towards self-control. As sinner turned saint, Augustine of Hippo said, “Help me know me, help me know thee”.  Another great saint, Francis of Assisi, on seeing a criminal being led to the gallows said, “There goes Francis, but for the grace of God”.  Let all of us potential rapists increase our self-understanding and self-control; and humbly implore God’s grace.

* The writer has several years experience in youth ministry and marriage counselling. 

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Shuffling forward to choose a president

KANPUR, (chhotebhai*) – The Congress fared badly in the elections to various State Assemblies, particularly U.P.  The emergence of Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party as a powerful face in U.P. has put paid to the Congress’ hopes of taking him on board and dumping Maverick Mamata’s TMC.  With Karunanidhi’s DMK and Pawar’s NCP also playing truant, the Congress’ options are severely restricted.  How then will it get consensus candidates for the President and Vice President of the country?

It is often said that the President of India is just a titular head, with no real powers.  However, when a Government is weakened, and there are umpteen pulls and pressures, the office of the President assumes importance.  There is near unanimity that the present incumbent is probably on par with Giani Zail Singh, for being grossly inept and unsuited.  Surely we need a President, if only a titular one, to whom not just the country, but also the community of nations can look up to.

I would like to make some proposals for the august offices of the President and Vice President ofIndia.  My choices are determined by the harsh reality that the Congress is heavily dependent on its unpredictable allies, and also the co-operation of the principal Opposition Party – the BJP.  Since my choice affects the present Union Cabinet, I am simultaneously proposing a major cabinet reshuffle.  This may sound like wishful thinking, but former President APJ Abdul Kalam has in fact asked us to dream of the future.  So here goes.

PRESIDENT:  I propose the name of Dr. Manmohan Singh!  Basically he is a brilliant mind, not a political animal.  Politics has been thrust upon him.  However, as the “Peter Principle” states, we attain our own level of incompetence.  In the present circumstance it means that Manmohan, as PM of UPA I, was a brilliant idea, and a successful one.  However, UPA II has been battered by scams, the anti-corruption movement, unpredictable allies and now a bellicose Army Chief.  This required deft political handling and powerful articulation.  Unfortunately, this was not Manmohan’s forte, and the onus for trouble shooting has invariably fallen on the reliable shoulders of Pranab Mukherjee.  If Manmohan continues as PM the Congress is sure to lose the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.  It will pave the way for a motley Third Front; as the BJP today is even worse off than the Congress.  So in the interests of the nation I see the need for drastic steps to be taken consequent to the Presidential elections.  On the positive side, Manmohan’s image in the commity of nations is much higher than it is within the body politic.  Leaders that matter in theUSA,Pakistan,China,Russia, etc hold him in high esteem.  He will also be acceptable to the BJP.  Hence I see Dr Manmohan Singh as an automatic choice for President.  It will also be a just reward for a man of vision and integrity who has served the country well.

VICE PRESIDENT:  The name of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Governor of West Bengal, diplomat, and grandson of the Mahatma, has been mooted by Mamata Banerjee.  For once I agree with her. Gopalkrishna is seen as an erudite, humane and just person.  I read his column in the Hindustan Times.  His command of the English language, play on words and idiomatic usage, is rarely found amidst the Bollywood Hinglish that is passed off as English today.  He has the moral uprightness of his respected grandfather.  He also has the requisite skills of administration, learning and diplomacy.  Making him Vice President would also be seen as a victory for the perpetually ebullient Mamata. As VP he will be an excellent Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. So I can think of no better person than Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

MINISTERS:  Presently the Union Cabinet has 34 Union Ministers, 8 Ministers of State with Independent Charge, and 37 Ministers of State.  I do not pretend to know all of them.  So I will restrict my “reshuffle” to the high profile or sensitive portfolios.  This reshuffle will obviously affect some of the allies, but that will be a small price to pay as compared to losing the 2014 elections. The sequence should be read as Ministry/ Incumbent/ Proposed Name/ Reasoning.

1. Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh – Pranab Mukherjee – Whether dealing with Anna, or the Opposition, Pranabda has been in the forefront.  Till recently he was living in a rented accommodation, and has just begun to build his own house.  This is also indicative of his personal integrity.  He could give a fresh political impetus to the Congress.  Mamatadi would dare not oppose this choice for fear of alienating Paschim Banga.  So Pranab it will be.

2. Finance: Pranab Mukherjee – P. Chidambaram – With Finance being vacated we need another seasoned person.  Chidambaram has held this post before, and he should get back there.  Besides, it will take some of the heat off him from his Tamilian colleagues caught in the 2G scam.

3. Home – P. Chidamabram – A.K. Antony –Antony had acquitted himself well as Defence Minister, until he ran into Gen V.K. Singh.  I shall discuss that separately under my choice of Defence Minister.  For now let it suffice thatAntony is known for his personal integrity.  When Sonia Gandhi was undergoing treatment abroad he was one of those entrusted with party affairs in her absence.  Obviously he enjoys her confidence, essential in a sensitive ministry like Home.  Having already handled Defence, he would know how to handle external terrorists and internal Naxalites.  SoAntony should go Home!

4. Defence – A.K. Antony – Kapil Sibal - I have cogent reasons for this move.  The defence forces are the last vestige of the British Empire inIndia.  The traditions of the Officers’ Mess hold more sway than the mess that the defence services find themselves in.  A short, lungi-wearing southie does not appeal to a north dominated army.  Hence a suave Punjabi like Kapil Sibal fits the bill.  He also has the gift of the gab, to counter the Army’s current penchant for giving interviews at the drop of a regimental hat!

5. External Affairs:  S.M. Krishna – Shashi Tharoor –Krishna has been rather insipid in a role that demands image and flair, just as mush as other attributes. Pakistan must have been aware of this when it appointed a young and inexperienced Hina Khar as its Foreign Minister.  Tharoor was in contention for becoming the Secretary General of the United Nations.  His international standing and diplomatic acumen should be put to maximum use; cricket teams and multiple marriages notwithstanding!

6. Agriculture & Food Processing:  Sharad Pawar – Ajit Singh – Pawar has made a mess of food prices and procurement.  He has also been opposing the Food Security Bill.  He is suspected of being supportive of strong cartels/ lobbies of sugar and onion producers.  He must be moved out of Agriculture. My natural choice for this post would have been Mulayam Singh Yadav.  But he is now too powerful to think of joining a weak UPA.  Hence my next choice is Ajit Singh, whose Lokdal is actually a farmer based party.  Being an engineer by profession, food processing should also not be a problem, though it could also be given to another person.

7. Human Resource Development: Kapil Sibal – Rahul Gandhi – This proposal may come as a surprise.  But it is backed by sound reasoning.  Rahul has the naiveté of this father Rajive. He made all the right moves during the recent U.P. Elections and yet failed miserably.  He has the good intentions but not the administrative experience.  If indeed he seeks to play a bigger role in national politics, he has to emerge from the sycophantic comfort of the Congress Party office, and immerse himself in actual governance.  In the HRD ministry he will involve himself directly with youth aspirations, education and employment.  It will be a perfect foil to the young and dynamic Akhilesh Yadav, whose promise of laptops, tablets and unemployment allowance swayed the youth of U.P.  Rahul has to grow beyond the Dimpled Darling of 2009 and the Angry Young Man of 2012.  He must take the plunge and prove his mettle.

8. Communications & Information Technology:  Kapil Sibal – S. M. Krishna – After the 2G scam Sibal had additional charge. Krishna is an efficient and technically proficient person.  He can increase the stature ofBangalore, our ownSilicon Valley.

9. Railways: Mukul Roy – Sharad Pawar: Railway wagons cannot be loose shunted, nor can it afford loose canons.  Here again efficiency must rule over expediency.  Railways would be a promotion for Pawar, so he should not sulk.  And if Mamata loves Mukul Roy so much let her make him Deputy CM of Paschim Banga!

10. Petroleum & Natural Gas: S. Jaipal Reddy – Kamal Nath - Consumers are highly sensitive about the prices of petroleum products.  We need a stronger personality here.

11. Law, Justice, Minority Affairs: Salman Khurshid – Abhishekh Manu Singhvi – Khurshid made a hash of the U.P. elections, with even his wife coming fifth on his home turf.  Singhvi has done a commendable job as Congress spokesperson and the parliamentary committee on the Lokpal Bill.  He deserves this.

12. Parliamentary Affairs & Water Resources:  Pawan Bansal – Salman Khurshid – He found favour even with Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev.  He seems more amiable.  The government needs such a person to handle this sensitive portfolio.  Minority Affairs may be added back to Khurshid, instead of Water Resources.

13.  Rural Development: Jairam Ramesh – He just moved here.  He is a very sincere person.  Water Resources could be added to his portfolio.

14. Chemicals & Fertilizers: M. Alagiri – Sriprakash Jaiswal – He has brought several crore rupees to the exchequer through Coal India Ltd. He should now move to fertilizers, which again is a sensitive issue with farmers – both for price and availability.

15. Coal: Sriprakash Jaiswal – S. Jaipal Reddy - Having dealt with petroleum and natural gas, he can now handle another natural resource.

16. Steel: Beni Prasad Verma – Dinesh Trivedi – Verma, a recent crossover from the Samajwadi Party, was meant to the Backward face of the Congress in UP.  He had a major say in ticket distribution.  It backfired.  He is now dispensable.  Trivedi showed nerves of steel in handling the Railway Budget.  He should be rewarded for his talent and devotion to duty.

17. Urban Development: Kamal Nath – Pawan Bansal – He should be able to handle this.

18. Civil Aviation: Ajit Singh – Any of the Youth Brigade – Jyothiryrao Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasad.  We need fresh young blood.

19. Science & Technology: Vilasrao Deshmukh – Any one of the Youth Brigade – Deshmukh has been embroiled in too many scams.  He must go to whistling in the woods or wherever; but leave Science & Technology in more youthful hands.

20. Tourism: Subodh Kant Sahay – Selja – We need a fresh face to marketIndia as a tourist destination.  Add Culture here, from Selja’s previous ministry.

21. Urban Poverty Alleviation & Culture: Selja – Youth Brigade – Having taken Culture with her to Tourism, let one of the Youth Brigade try their hand in this challenging ministry.

Having shuffled the ministerial pack of cards, we now need to remove the two jokers.

Joker 1: Montek Singh Ahluwalia.  He has made a farce of the poverty line.  Harsh Mander, former bureaucrat with a humane face, should take over as the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission.

Joker 2: Gen V.K. Singh (since retired) – He’s a “spooky” guy, very conscious of his “honour”, fond of media bytes instead of biting the bullet.  He should be sent as Special Envoy to Cuba, where age is irrelevant for evergreen Field Marshal Fidel Castro in olive green fatigues.  Together they could organize a coup against the Government of theUSA, which is the greatest threat to world peace.

I have dared to dream of the cream ofIndia’s leadership.  We the people should decide who should preside over us. Will this reshuffle change the rules of the game? WillIndiacome out trumps?
* The writer is a Kanpur based social. civic and political activist.

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Masihi Satsang New Teleserial Starts on Saturday 11 February 2012

Fr Anildev IMS on the sets of teleserial

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – A new television series in Hindi language is scheduled to begin nationwide broadcast from Saturday, 11 February 2012.  The four new episodes subtitled as “MASIHI SATSANG ” (A Christian Search for Truth) under the direction of Chhotebhai (Noronha) of Kanpur is part of 5-years running Christian TV programme called NUTAN DHARA (New Spring) featuring the Acharya of Matridham Ashram Varanasi, Indian Missionary Society Father Anildev.

The telecast can be seen on the following channels:
ZEE JAGRAN TV (All India) – Every Saturday and Sunday 9.30 pm
SUVIDHA CHANNEL (Vasai & Virar) Every Saturday and Sunday at 8.30 pm
PBL NAZAR CABLE (Ranchi) – Every Saturday and Sunday at 7.30 pm
AIYAR CHANNEL (New Delhi)
PARARTHNA BHAWAN CHANNEL (Ludhiana)
It may also be viewed on YouTube by clicking on MATRIDHAMASHRAM or ANILDEV

The main chapel at Matridham Ashram Varanasi

The programme displays contact numbers for viewers to call in. Fr. Anildev says that they get calls from Gujarat, Chhatisgarh,Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra etc, which is indicative of its popularity outside the Hindi belt. Nutan Dhara is directed by him, and produced by Fr. Ranjeet IMS, with special assistance from Mukhteshwar Misra, Rajesh Srivastava and Fr. Anand Mathew IMS, of Vishwa Jyoti Communications.

The Indian Missionary Society was founded in 1941 by Rev Gaspar Pinto, a Mangalorean priest of Trichy diocese, and nurtured by Msgr A.E. Fernandes of Chennai. It was founded as an indigenous organisation based on Indian culture and heritage, way beforeIndependenceor the inculturation reforms heralded by Vatican II in 1962-65. Matridham was established in 1954 at Christnagar,Varanasi, with several holy and visionary priests as its Acharya.

Fr. Anildev took over in 1995, when there was an upsurge of Khrist Bhaktas (Devotees of Christ). Thousands of such seekers come to the ashram. On second Saturdays the number swells to about 20,000. Many are healed; others give up vices like drinking, or experience a transformation in their lives.

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Unfinished Task of Laity in the Church

KANPUR, (C.M. Paul) – Former president of the All India Catholic Union has published a new book on the task of the laity in the Church entitled: AN UNFINISHED SYMPHONY.

“By God’s Grace, my fourth book has just been published by Media House, Delhi(the publishers of Indian Currents). The title is “An Unfinished Symphony”. It is over 300 pages,” says author Chhotebhai of Kanpur.

The book has five parts. The first is futuristic, a vision of what the church and society should be.

The second addresses various Christian concerns, in the light of sacred scripture and Vatican II teachings. Among the topics discussed are – the structure of the church, lay participation, tithing, family planning, divorce, and the dignity of work.

Part three tackles Current Affairs, including Anna Hazare’s movement, the end of the world, burning issues like suicide, homosexuality, adultery and so on. It also debunks the false claims about the origin of the universe by Stephen Hawking, and the cunning lies of “The Da Vinci Code”.

Part four has eulogies of eminent persons; and part five consists of papers presented on evangelisation, education, Parish Councils and Catholic Associations.

It concludes with a kaleidoscopic analysis of the image of Christians inIndia. It is specifically meant for the laity, with special emphasis on the role of the All India Catholic Union and its affiliated Catholic Associations.

The book is available at Media House, 375-A Pocket – 2, Mayur Vihar Phase I, Delhi– 110091. (Email: mediahousedelhi@gmail.com; mediahousedelhi@hotmail.com Phone Nos 011-43042096; 09971407120).
The cover price is Rs. 270.

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