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My two cents for the French

So what’s plaguing France? I was listening to a podcast by a BBC correspondent today. He was interviewing a 20 year old leader of a gang of half a dozen Muslim youths and admitted to rioting – indeed he was proud of it. He said that he hated France and hated the French people and he wanted to go back to Morocco.

Now here’s food for thought – the French are the most sanctimonious people in the world (I’ve been to Paris and I loved the city but hated the people), they are never tired of lecturing the US on how its getting it all wrong in the fight on terrorism and how it is fuelling the hatred of Muslims towards the west. Well, I don’t see Muslims burning down cars in the street in the US and asserting that they hate the US or want to go back to Morocco or Pakistan or wherever they’ve come from. In fact – Muslims are very well integrated in the US life; they are successful entrepreneurs and employees. It is said that amongst all the countries that Muslims migrate to, Muslim immigrants in the US are most successful.

So here’s my two cents to the French– the proof of pudding lies in eating; look at the ground reality in the two countries before shouting that the US is unfair to Islam or to Muslims or to immigrants and then put that glass of wine down and fix your country.

Rosa Parks Of Pakistan

As I noted in one my earlier posts – Jean Feraca’s program, “Here On Earth” on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) holds its own amongst all the programs on the National Public Radio. Jean and her producer bring an absolutely amazing array of eclectic topics from around the world and Jean handles all the topics with flair and aplomb.

This weekend Jean brings us a woman who has been called “The Rosa Parks of Pakistan” – Mukhtaran Mai. Now the great thing about this program is that you can hear it by tuning into WPR’s broadcast stations or you can hear it live on the internet through their website http://wpr.org/webcasting/live.cfm.

What’s more – it is an interactive program with a free 1-800 number so you can call in or if you are in a location where you don’t have access to that free call-in number you can simply send Jean an email during the program at hereonearth@wpr.org with your question, location and phone number and she will call you back. Isn’t that amazing? This particular segment with Mukhtaran Mai will be live at 2 PM Sunday (11/06/05) Central Time, which is 1:30 AM Sunday night in India. Of course, if you don’t care about calling in you can also download the podcast of the program from www.hereonearth.org.

Contradictions Abound

There are so many contradictions in this post. It only reflects the complex world that we live in and that everything is not black and white – there are always subtle shades of gray in everything that we deal with.

First off the block – Hindustan Times is leading today’s news with an article that a white woman and her Indian husband was denied entry to the Lingaraj temple in Varanasi ostensibly because the woman is white and non-Hindus are not allowed entry in that temple. This happened despite the fact that she converted to Hinduism and married an Indian person through Vedic rituals. So much for Hinduism being a tolerant religion! Read the complete story here or go to epaper edition of Hindustan Times at www.hindustantimes.com/epaper (free registration required but totally worth it).

Now on the flip side – Hindus in the UK have come up with a totally unique and non-violent way of protesting against something that they feel is a slight to their religion (and I agree). Apparently, the postal department of UK has come out with a stamp that bears imprint of a 16th century painting that depicts a clearly Indian family (with teeka and all) praying to an image of Jesus.

Now there is nothing wrong with that; except the fact that the painting was originally done to show and glorify the work of early missionaries in converting and proselytizing the native Indian population; nothing wrong with proselytizing either – if done in the right spirit. But it is common knowledge that conversion and proselytizing during the middle century and during the British rule was done with the firm belief that all native religions are false religions and it is the duty of the white man to bring salvation to the brown man through conversion. Moreover, the denomination of stamp is such that it will only be used to send international mail. Hindus in UK requested the postal department to stop the sale of this stamp but they would not budge so now they are protesting by sending thousands and thousands of unstamped mail to the UK mail department to clog the system as a form of protest.

Now how unique is that! Even if you don’t agree with the reason for the protest, you have to appreciate the unique form of protest. Compare that to some of the violent protests that we see when Muslims think that a Western government insulted their religion. Read the entire article here.

And continuing the mad flip-flops (I must agree that Times of India is in great form today) – there is this outstanding article on the caste prejudices still prevalent in Hinduism and amongst Hindus and how we carry our prejudices with us even when we leave India. The article also tells us how B.R. Ambedkar suffered, both during his time and continues to suffer to this day because of his supposedly lower caste.

Atlas Shrugged

In her iconic novel “Atlas Shrugged”, Ayn Rand described the struggle that goes on between creators of wealth and the class of people who depend upon the creators for their own survival and yet try their best to bring them on their knees. But the creators ignore all the abuses and keep on doing what they have to do because their work is their passion. All this stops one day when the protagonist of the novel, John Galt reminds them that they don’t have to take all these abuses anymore, that they don’t have to carry the weight of the parasites of the world on their shoulders anymore, specially when these parasites are trying their best to sabotage them.
 
Something similar played out when Mr. Murthy just became too tired of all the abuses heaped at him by Mr. Gowda. Maybe it was his conscience that told him that he did not have to take it anymore. This is true of the entire IT industry. During the past decade, IT industry has not only been the single unqualified success story emerging out from India, it has also injected the much needed professionalism and corporate responsibility in India’s industrial sector. This is a globalized economy and Mr. Murthy and other IT leaders could just pack their bags and start their companies in any other part of the world and they would be just as successful. Mr. Gowda and other politicians are trying their best to kill the goose that has laid golden eggs until now for everyone. I hope they realize this before it is too late.