By Justice Markandey Katju,
Chairman, Press Council of
(Extracts of a speech delivered to N.R.I.s in
in June 2011) California
We are all Indians, but do we know what is
I am presenting five theses for
is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America. Over 92% people living in India are not the original inhabitants of . Their ancestors came from outside, mainly
from the India .
is a country of immigrants like North America there is tremendous diversity in – so many
religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups etc. India
(iii) Despite the tremendous diversity in India, by the interaction and intermingling of these immigrants who came into India a common culture emerged in India which can broadly be called the Sanskrit-Urdu culture.
(iv) Because of the tremendous diversity in
the only policy which can
work and hold our country together is secularism and giving equal respect to
all communities, otherwise our country cannot survive for one day. India
is passing through a
transitional period, from feudal agricultural society to modern Industrial
society. This is a very painful and
agonizing period in history. If we read
the history of Europe from the 17th to 19th Centuries we find
that this was a horrible period in India Europe. Only after going through that fire, in which
there were wars, revolutions, turmoil, intellectual ferment, chaos, social
churning, etc., modern society emerged in Europe.
is presently going through that fire. We
are going through a very painful and agonizing period in our history which I
think will last for around another 20 years.
I may now briefly elaborate these theses. India
India is broadly a country of
immigrants, like North America. The difference between North America and
India is that North America is a country of new immigrants, where people came
mainly from Europe over the last four to five hundred years, India is a country
of old immigrants where people have been
coming in for 10 thousand years or so.
Why have people been coming into
? Very few people left India India, except on two occasions namely (i) in the
19th century when under British rule Indian poor peasants were sent
to Fiji, Mauritius, West Indies,
etc. as plantation labourers and (ii)
the Diaspora in the last 30-40 years or
so of highly qualified engineers, scientists, doctors, etc. Apart from this, nobody left India, everybody came into . Why? India
The reason is obvious. People migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas, obviously, because everybody wants comfort. Before the Industrial Revolution which started in
Western Europe from the 18th century and then
spread all over the world there were agricultural societies everywhere. Agriculture
requires level land, fertile soil, plenty of water for irrigation, etc. All this was in abundance in the Indian sub
continent from Rawalpindi to and to the deep South
upto Kanyakumari. Why will anybody migrate from Bangladesh India
which is cold, rocky and uncomfortable covered with snow for four to five
months in a year. For agricultural
society Afghanistan India was really
paradise, hence everybody kept rolling into India,
mainly from the
and to a much lesser extent from the North East. North West
Who were the original inhabitants of
? At one time it was believed that the
Dravidians were the original inhabitants, but now that theory has been
disproved. Now, it is believed that even
the Dravidians came from outside. There
are several proofs of that, one of which
is that there is a Dravidian language called Brahui which is spoken in India Western Pakistan even today by about three million
people. The original inhabitants of
India, as it is believed now, were the pre-Dravidians tribals, who are called
adivasis or Scheduled Tribes in India
e.g. the Bhils, the Santhals, the Gonds, the Todas, etc., that is, the speakers
of the Austric, pre Dravidian languages e.g. Munda, Gondvi, etc. They are hardly seven or eight percent of the
Indian population today. They were
pushed into the forests by the immigrants and treated very badly. Except for them all of us are descendents of
immigrants who came mainly from the North West
of . (See in this connection the article ` India
for Mutual Understanding’ on the website kgfindia.com.) Kalidas Ghalib Academy
is a country of immigrants there is tremendous diversity in , so
many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, etc. Somebody is tall,
somebody is short, somebody is fair, somebody is dark, somebody is brown, with
all kinds of shades in between, someone has got Mongoloid features, someone has
got Caucasian features, someone has got Negroid features, there are differences
in food habits, dress, traditional festivals, etc. We may compare India India
with . Our population is about 1200 million while China
has about 1300 million and they have perhaps 2 ½ times our land area. However, there is broad (though not absolute)
homogeneity in China . All Chinese have Mongoloid faces, they have one common written script called
Mandarin Chinese (although spoken dialects are different), and 95% Chinese
belong to one ethnic group called the Han Chinese. So there is broad
homogeneity in China . In India, on the other hand, there is tremendous
diversity, because whichever group of immigrants came into India brought in
their own culture, their religion, their language etc. China
a nation at all, or is it
just a group of hundreds of kinds of immigrants? Is there anything common in India ? The answer is that the immigrants who came
into India India over the last 10
thousand years or so, by their interaction and intermingling created a common
culture which can broadly be called the Sanskrit- Urdu culture which is broadly
the culture of . India
Now this has to be explained. How are Tamilians part of Sanskrit Urdu culture, what have the people of Nagaland got to do with Sanskrit and Urdu, etc.
The answer is that we must first understand what is Sanskrit and what is Urdu? The reader may see in this connection my articles `What is Urdu’, `Great injusticeto Urdu in India’, and `Sanskrit as a Language of Science’. Both of these languages have been misunderstood. People think that Sanskrit is a language of chanting mantras in temples or in religious ceremonies. However, that is only 5% of Sanskrit literature. 95% of Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion. It deals with a whole range of subjects like philosophy, law, science (including mathematics, medicine and astronomy) grammar, phonetics and literature. So we can not compare Bengali and Tamil with Sanskrit. Bengali and Tamil have only stories, novels and moral literature (like Thirukkural) but they do not have any discussion on mathematics, law, medicine, etc. Sanskrit was the language of people with an enquiring mind, who enquired about everything, and therefore there is a whole range of subjects which have been discussed in Sanskrit. In the paper on the website kgfindia.com `Sanskrit as a Language of Science’ all this has been discussed in detail, therefore, I am not going into it here. I may, however, just mention two things: one is the contribution of Panini and the other is the contribution of the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy.
What we call Sanskrit today, and what is taught in schools and colleges is really Panini’s Sanskrit, which is called classical Sanskrit or Laukik Sanskrit. But there were earlier Sanskrits. The earliest Sanskrit book is the Rigveda which was composed anytime between 2000 or 1500 B.C (it was subsequently passed on orally). Now language changes with the passage of time. For instance if we pick up a play of Shakespeare we will not be able to understand it without a good commentary because the English language has changed over these 4½ centuries since the time of Shakespeare. Many of the words and expressions which were in vogue in Shakespeare’s time in English are not in vogue today. Similarly, Sanskrit language kept changing for about 1500 years, from 2000 B.C. to the 5th century B.C., until Panini who, was the perhaps greatest grammarian the world has ever seen, in his book ‘Ashtadhyayi’ fixed the rules of Sanskrit in the 5th century B.C. Thereafter no further changes in Sanskrit were permitted, except some slight changes made by two other grammarians, one was a man called Katyayana who wrote his book “Vartika’ written about 100-200 years after Panini, and another was Patanjali who wrote his book ‘Mahabhashya’ about 200 years after Katyayana. Except for these slight changes, what is taught in schools and colleges is really Panini’s Sanskrit.
What Panini did was that he studied the crude Sanskrit prevailing in his time and he rationalized it and meticulously systemized it, so as to make it a powerful vehicle of expressing profound and abstract ideas.
Science requires precision. Panini made Sanskrit a powerful vehicle in which scientific ideas could be expressed with great precision and with great clarity and it was made uniform all over India, so that thinkers in one part of the sub-continent could interact with thinkers of another part easily. That was his great contribution.
I may give one small illustration, since a discussion on Astadhyayi will take too much time. Take for example the alphabets in the English language, from A to Z. Now they have all been arranged in a haphazard manner. Why is B followed by C, why is D followed by E. There is no reason why F comes after E, why P is followed by Q or Q is followed by R.
In Sanskrit, on the other hand what Panini did was that he arranged the alphabets in a very scientific manner. For example, take the consonants. There is a sequence ka, kha, ga, gha, nga (called the `ka varga’). Now all these sounds come from the throat. Also the second and the fourth consonants in this sequence are what are known as aspirants. An aspirants means a consonant in which ‘ha’ is added. For instance, ‘ka’ + ‘ha’ is ‘kha’, ‘ga’ + ‘ha’ is ‘gha’, etc. Similarly, the second and fourth consonants in every sequence (of 5 consonants) is an aspirant.
The sounds in the second sequence of 5 consonants (the `cha varga’) ch, cha, ja, jha, yan all come from the middle of the tongue. The sounds in the `ta varga’ Ta, tha, da, dha, nda come from the roof of the mouth, the sounds in the sequence ta, tha, da, dha, na come from the tip of the tongue, the sounds in the sequence pa, pha, ba, bha, ma come from the lips. We can see how scientifically these consonants are arranged. Thus even in such a simple thing as the arrangement of alphabets a careful and scientific study was done.
The second contribution of Sanskrit to the development of rational and scientific thinking was the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy. There are six classical systems of Indian philosophy, Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Sankya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Uttar Mimansa, and three non-classical systems, Buddhism, Jainism and Charvak. Out of these nine systems eight of them are atheistic as there is no place for God in them. Only the ninth one, that is Uttar Mimansa, which is also called Vedanta, has a place for God in it. One of the classical systems is called the Nyaya system. The Nyaya system says that nothing is acceptable unless it is in accordance with reason and experience, which is precisely the scientific approach. Vaisheshik was the physics of ancient times (the atomic or parmanu theory). Physics is part of science, and hence at one time Vaisheshik was part of Nyaya philosophy. However, since physics is the most fundamental of all sciences subsequently Vaisheshik was separated from Nyaya and made into a separate philosophy altogether.
It was the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy which provided the scientific background and gave great encouragement to our scientists to propound their scientific theories. People in our country were not persecuted for being scientists, unlike in
scientists were burnt on the stake like Bruno for propounding their scientific
theories. Galileo was almost burnt on
the stake, and he narrowly escaped by recanting his views. As recent as in 1925 in America a teacher John Scopes was criminally
prosecuted in the famous (or infamous) monkey trial for teaching ’s theory of
evolution because it was against the Bible.
This never happened in our
country because behind science was a scientific philosophy, that is the Nyaya
Vaisheshik philosophy, which says that nothing is acceptable unless it is in
accordance with reason and experience. Darwin
Before discussing the scientific achievements of our ancestors it may be said that a lot of people talk non-sense that in ancient
there were atom bombs, guided missiles, etc.
We make a laughing stock of ourselves by talking like this. Some people say that we had aeroplanes in
ancient India ,
because in the Ramayana it is mentioned that Lord Ram brought Sita back from
Lanka on a Pushpak Viman. They conclude
from this that there were aeroplanes in ancient India . Everyone, including
children, know that the first aeroplane was invented by the Wright brothers in India
in 1903. So it is total nonsense to say
that we had aeroplanes in ancient America . India
Now it is true that in the Ramayana there is mention of PushpakViman. But what is the Ramayana? It is an epic poem. A poet has what is called poetic licence. That means that he has a right to exaggerate. So we should not take words in a poem literally. If there were aeroplanes in ancient
then that means there were engines. Then
why did the ancient warriors fight on chariots, horses and elephants, they
should have fought in tanks? India
The real great achievements of our ancestors are not known to most people and instead they talk such nonsense.
At one time we were leading the whole world in science and technology. I may give you a few illustrations. The ancient Romans who built a very great civilization, the civilization of Ceasar and Augustus, and were the cultural ancestors of the Europeans, felt very uncomfortable with numbers above one thousand. This is because they expressed their numbers in alphabets. One was I, five was V, ten was X, fifty was L, hundred was 100, five hundred was D and 1000 was M. ‘M’ stands for millennium or one thousand. There was nothing above ‘M’. So if the ancient Romans wanted to write 2000 they had to write MM, if they wanted to write 3000 they wrote MMM, etc. To write one million they would have to write M one thousand times, as that was the only way they could express one million. On the other hand, our ancestors had invented the concept of zero.
You see these numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 do not really exist, what exists is one table, two chairs, three men, etc. These have existence in the objective universe. One, two, three, four has no existence in the objective universe, they are pure abstractions. And the concept of zero required a further flight of imagination which Europeans could never achieve. The Arabs borrowed it from us and the Europeans borrowed it from the Arabs. So we could express numbers in astronomical terms. For example, one thousand requires 1 with three zeros, add two more zeros it becomes one Lakh, add two more zeros it becomes 1 Crore, two more zeros one Arab, two more zeros one Kharab, two more zeros one Padma, two more zeros one Neel, two more zeros one Shankh, two more zeros one Mahashankh, etc. Each one of these large numbers have names.
At one time the numbers in the decimal system were called Arabic numerals by the Europeans, but the Arabs called them Hindu numerals. Are they Arab or Hindu numerals? Now these languages Arabic, Persian and Urdu are written from right to left, but if you ask any writer of these languages to write any number randomly, say 253 or 1045, he will write it from left to right. What does it indicate? It indicates that these numbers were taken from a language which was written from left to right, and now it is accepted that the decimal system was invented by Indians who could conceive very high numbers unlike the Romans.
For example, it is believed that Kaliyug in which we are living, has 4,32,000 years according to the Vishnu Puran. The yug (age) before Kaliyug was Dwapar yug, in which Lord Krishna lived. That is twice as long as Kaliyug, therefore it is of 8,64,000 years. Before that there was Treta yug in which Lord Ram lived. It was thrice as long as Kaliyug. And before that there was Satyug which is four times as long as Kaliyug. One Kaliyug + one Dawapar Yug + one Treta Yug + one Satyug is known as one Chaturyugi, and one Chaturyugi is hence ten times as long as one Kaliyug (1+2+3+4=10). That means one Chaturygi is 43,20,000 years long. 72 Chaturyugis make one Manwantra. Fourteen Manwantras make one Kalp, and 12 Kalps make one day of Brahma. Brahma is said to have lived for trillions of years.
When our traditional Hindus do their sankalp everyday they have to mention the particular day, the yug, the chaturyugi, the Manvantara and the kalp, and the date changes daily. For instance, it is believed that we are living in the Vaivaswsat Manwantar. It is believed that out of the 72 Chaturyugis half have passed and we are in the second half of the Vaivaswsat Manvantar.
We may not believe all this but look at the flight of imagination of our ancestors. Similarly in various fields of science e.g. in Medicine we made great advances. Sushruta invented plastic surgery 2000 years ago, but Westerners invented it only 200 years back. Thus, Indians were far ahead of Westerners in medicine. In astronomy, the calculations which were made 2000 years ago are still the basis of predicting with great accuracy the day and time of a Surya Grahan (Solar Eclipse) or Chandra Grahan (lunar eclipse) by reading a ‘patra’. These calculations were made 2000 years ago by our ancestors who did not have telescopes and modern instruments but by sheer observation by the naked eye and the power of intellect they predicted what is going to happen 2000 years in the future. This was the scientific level which we had reached in the past, we were far in advance of Westerners in science and technology at that time. Today we are far behind them, so what happened? Why did we not have an Industrial Revolution? Why did we lag behind? This is known as
Needham’s question or Needham’s
Grand Question, first posed by Prof. Joseph Needham, a brilliant Professor in
micro-biology in who was born in
1990. Prof. Needham posed this question:
why did Cambridge
University India and who were
ahead of the whole world in Science and Technology at one time later fell
behind and did not have an Industrial Revolution? This question has been sought to be answered
in various ways, but that discussion will have to be held some other day. China
As I was saying, Sanskrit was the language of people with an enquiring minds, of people who enquired into every aspect of life and hence in that sense it is the language of everybody who has a rational approach, because the emphasis in Sanskrit is on reason.
Coming now to Urdu, in my opinion the best poetry in modern
is in Urdu. I have read the poetry of many countries,
England, America, France, Germany, Russia etc., apart from reading some of the
poetry of Indian languages e.g. Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir, etc. Tamil poetry,
Bengali poetry etc. but there is no match to Urdu because the voice of the
heart which is expressed in Urdu poetry, is, in my opinion, not expressed in
any language of the world. India
About Urdu there is a misconception that it is the language of Muslims and of foreigners, which is a totally false propaganda made against Urdu after 1947.
Before 1947, all educated people in large parts of
were studying Urdu. It was not the language of Muslims
alone. It was the language of Hindus,
Muslims, Christians, Sikhs everybody.
But after Partition a deliberate propaganda was made by certain vested
interests that Hindi is the language of Hindus and Urdu is a language of
Muslims. This was done to make Hindus
and Muslims fight each other (part of the divide and rule policy). A lot of
effort was made to crush Urdu in India . But a language which expresses the voice of
the heart cannot be crushed as long as people have hearts. India
Unlike Arabic and Persian which are foreign language, Urdu is an indigenous language, and is loved by the people of
even today. If you go to a bookstall on
a railway platform in India you will find a lot of poetry books of Mir, Ghalib, Firaq, etc. of course,
nowadays in Devanagiri script. You will
not find any book there of Mahadevi Verma or Sumitra Nandan Pant, the Hindi
poets. Very few people read Hindi
poetry, everybody reads Urdu poetry. India
Urdu has a dual nature, it is a combination of two languages i.e. Hindustani and Persian, that is why it was at one time called Rekhta, which means hybrid. Since it is a combination of two languages, Hindustani and Persian, the question arises: is it a special kind of Persian or a special kind of Hindustani? The answer is that it is a special kind of Hindustani, not a special kind of Persian. Why? Because the verbs in Urdu are all in Hindustani. The language to which a sentence belongs is determined by the verbs used in it not the nouns or adjectives. In Urdu all the verbs are in simple Hindi (which is called Hindustani or Khadi Boli). For example Ghalib says; -
“dekho mujhe jo deeda-e-ibrat_nigaah ho
meree suno jo gosh-e-naseehat_niyosh hai”
The verbs ‘dekho’, ‘suno’,’ hai’ are all simple Hindi, though the nouns or adjectives may be Persian or Arabian.
Urdu has a dual nature, because it is a combination of Hindustani and Persian. Hindustani is the language of the common man, while Persian is the language of aristocrats.
Where did Persian come from? Persian is the language of Persia, how did it land up in
? To explain this it has to be noted that it often happens that the elite or upper class of a society speaks a foreign language. For instance, in India Indiaand the elite speaks English. In Pakistan Europeupto the end of the 19th century the European aristocrats often spoke to each other in French, though they would speak to their servants in the native language. French was the language of the elite in large parts of Europefor many centuries.
The elite wants to distinguish itself from the common people. In
Persian was the language of the Court and of the elite for centuries. Although Persian originated in India Persiait later spread to much of South Asia. This was because Persian writers like Hafiz, Firdausi, Sadi, Rumi, Omar Khayyam, etc. developed Persian as a language of sophistication, culture, etiquette and dignity and that was adopted by large parts of South Asia including . It was the Court language of India for several hundred years. Akbar’s foreign minister Todarmal passed an order that all Court records throughout the Mughal Empire will be maintained in Persian. India
Urdu is the combination of Hindustani and Persian, and that is why it has a dual nature. It is the common man’s language, ‘awaam ki zubaan’, because one part of it is Hindustani, the common man’s language. It is also the aristocrats’ language because another part of it is Persian which was the aristocrat’s language. The content of Urdu, i.e. the feelings, emotions etc. in it are of the common man. But the form, the style, the andaaz-e-bayaan is that of an aristocrat. That is what gives Urdu such great power.
Urdu places more reliance on emotion and Sanskrit more on reason. We require both for our country’s progress. In
Europethey had two very great thinkers, Voltaire and Rousseau, Voltaire emphasizing reason and Rousseau emphasizing emotion. These two thinkers played a major role in the creation of modern Europe. Similarly Urdu and Sanskrit complement each other, and in fact, Sanskrit is the grand mother of Urdu because 70% of the words in Urdu are from Sanskrit.
4. Since there is so much diversity in
the only policy which will work is the policy of secularism and giving equal respect to all communities. Otherwise India will break up into a hundred pieces since there is so much diversity. India
Two people can be said to be the creators of modern
. One is the Emperor Akbar, and the other is Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. There was no ruler in the world like Emperor Akbar, who was far ahead of his times. In the 16th Century Akbar proclaimed the doctrine of Suleh-e-kul which means universal toleration of all religions. At that time Europeans were massacring each other in the name of religion, Catholics massacring Protestants, Protestants massacring Catholics and both massacring Jews. Similarly in recent times religious passions were inflamed in 1947 and people had become like animals, Hindus and Muslims butchering each other. India had declared itself an Islamic State. There must have been tremendous pressure at that time on Pandit Jawarhlal Nehru and his colleagues to declare Pakistan Indiaa . It is their greatness that they kept a cool head, and said that Hindu State Indiawill not be a Hindu Statebut will be a and provided this in our Constitution. For this reason today we have relatively more stability as compared to neighbouring countries. Secular State
In this connection I wish to tell you that the initial Muslim invaders who came into
no doubt broke a lot of Hindu temples, like for instance, Mahmood Ghazni who broke the Somnath temple. However, their descendents who became local Muslim rulers in various parts of India , far from breaking temples used to give grants to temples and celebrated Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali. For instance, Babar was an invader but Akbar was not an invader, he was born in India and was very much an Indian. Now the descendents of those invaders who became local Muslim rulers had a population of 80-90% Hindus. If they broke temples there would be a revolt or turmoil which no ruler wants. So in their own interest every one of the local Muslim rulers fostered communal harmony, they gave grants to Hindu temples, they celebrated Hindu festivals. For instance, the Nawab of Avadh used to organize Ramleela, and celebrate Holi and Diwali. Tipu Sultan used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu Temples, his Prime Minister was a Hindu called Punaiya his commander-in-chief, was a Hindu called India KrishnaRao. Tipu Sultan sent 30 respectful letters with grants to the Shankaracharya of Shringeri (see online ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’ which is a speech given by Prof. B. N. Pandey in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament in 1977).
Now the first part, that the Muslim invaders broke temples, has been mentioned in our history books, but the second part, which is of ten times longer duration, that the descendents of these invaders, who were local rulers used to foster communal harmony, they used to give land grants for building Hindu temples, they celebrated and organized Hindu festivals, etc. has been deliberately suppressed by the British from our history books, the whole game being divide and rule. Hindus and Muslims must be made to fight each other. If you go on line and read the speech ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’ by Professor B. N. Pandey, you will read how the British policy was to make Hindus and Muslims inimical to each other. For instance, Dr. Pandey has mentioned that in 1928 when he was a Professor of History in Allahabad University some students came to him with a book written by one Professor Harprasad Shastri, Professor of Sanskrit of Calcutta University in which it was mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000 Brahmins to convert to Islam otherwise they will be killed, and those 3000 Brahmins committed suicide rather than becoming Muslims. On reading this Professor B. N. Pandey wrote to Professor Harprasad Shastri asking him the source of his information? Prof. Shastri wrote back that the source of information is the
Gazetteer. Then Prof. Pandey wrote to Prof. Shrikantia, Professor of History in Mysore University asking him whether it is correct that in Mysore Gazetteer it is mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000 Brahmins to convert to Islam. Prof. Shrikantia wrote back that this is totally false, he had worked in this field and there is no such mention in the Mysore Gazetteer, rather the correct version was just the reverse, namely, that Tipu Sultan used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu Temples, he used to send grants to the Shankaracharya of Shringheri, etc. Mysore
Now, just imagine what mischief has been done. Deliberately our history books have been falsified so that the mind of a child at an impressionable age is poisoned so that he should start hating Muslims in
Indiaand in he should start hating Hindus. The poison put in the mind of an impressionable age is very difficult to remove at a later age. All our history books have been falsified in this manner. Pakistan
It is time we re-write our History books and show that in fact upto 1857 there was no communal problem at all in
. A composite culture in India had been developing. Hindus used to participate Eid and Muharram, and Muslims used to participate in Holi, Diwali etc. There were some differences no doubt but they were becoming narrower. India
In 1857 the great Mutiny took place. Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. After suppressing that Mutiny it was decided by the British rulers that the only way to control this country to divide and rule. In other words, Hindus and Muslims must be made to fight each other. All communal riots start after 1857. The English Collector would secretly call the Hindu Pandit and give him money to speak against Muslims, and similarly he would secretly call the Maulvi and give him some money to speak against Hindus. A beautiful racket was started in this way, and this resulted ultimately in the partition of 1947.
Now the time has come when we must see through this game. How long are we going to be taken for a ride? Are we fools that anybody can come and make fools out of us and make us fight each other?
About two months back I read in the newspapers that there was some violence in
, and the University had to be closed for some days. I thought that it was a Hindu Muslim issue but some friends of mine from Aligharh came to Aligarh Muslim University and said it was not a Hindu- Muslim issue but it was Azamgarhi versus Biharis. I said what! What nonsense! We should be united, and brothers of each other. We should be one country, instead we are fighting on such silly matters. Delhi
Maharashtrasome people have proclaimed a bhumiputra theory (son of the soil theory). They say that only Maharashtrians should be allowed to live in Mahrashtra. South Indians, UPites, and Biharis should get out of Maharashtra. Such people do not realize that in that case they will also have to leave Mahrashta because they also are not bhumi putras. Bhumi putra are hardly 7 or 8 % of the people living in Maharashtrae.g. the Bheels and other adivasis (tribals). This is a country of immigrants.
5. India is passing through transitional period, transition from feudal agricultural society to modern industrial society. We are presently neither totally feudal nor totally modern. We are somewhere in between.
The transition period is a very painful and agonizing period in history. In my opinion the duty of all patriotic people is to help in shortening this transitional period, in reducing this pain, although we cannot totally eliminate it because there is going to be turmoil in this period since the vested interests in the old feudal order will not give up their vested interests without a fierce struggle. We have to spread rational and scientific ideas in this period and combat casteism communalism and superstitions, in order to get over the transition period faster and with less pain.
Here is where the role of the Judiciary becomes very important. In
Northern Indiain some States e.g. western U.P, Haryana, Rajasthan etc. (also in ) there is the phenomenon called ‘honour killing’. If your daughter falls in love with a boy of another caste or religion, or within the same village or in the same Gotra, both are killed, and often brutally murdered. This has been happening in a very large scale in some areas, and sometime it is organized by caste panchayats. The problem is that the Chief Ministers are often unwilling to interfere because these caste Panchayats supply the vote banks to the politicians. In Pakistan politics often runs on caste on religious basis. Therefore, the Chief Minister does not want to annoy them, he will not interfere, and the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police even though they know that this honour killing is going to take place (through their intelligence agencies) will not interfere out of fear that if does so the Chief Minister will get angry with him. India
But a Judge is not dependent on any one’s votes, and that makes him very strong, in fact, it makes him more democratic than the so called democratic bodies because he is not bothered about votes. The Supreme Court therefore passed the order that those who do honour killing will be given mandatory death sentence and the District Magistrate and Superintendent of that area must be immediately placed under suspension. This was a very strong judgment after which ‘honour killing’ has considerably declined. This could not have been done by the politicians because they are dependent on the votes of these people. So, here is where the Judiciary becomes very important, by the very fact it is undemocratic.
It is true that in
there is rampant corruption and this is a matter of shame. Here is where the Judiciary is playing a little role. Recently the Supreme Court passed strong orders in the 2G scam case. The result was that one cabinet Minister was dismissed, and he is in jail, one Member of Parliament, daughter of a Chief Minister, was in jail, and other steps are also being taken. India
However, Judges are not Gods, who can solve all problems. Ultimately it is the people themselves who have to solve their problems.
I will conclude by one couplet of Faiz Ahmed Faiz whose centenary we are celebrating this year. The greatest Urdu poet ever was of course Ghalib but in the 20th century the greatest poet in my opinion was Faiz and I would like to quote from his famous poem;-
“Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-naubahaar chale
Chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chale”
What does this mean? Urdu poetry often has an outer, superficial meaning and an inner, real meaning. The outer, superficial and literal meaning of the above couplet is:
“In the flowers the colourful breeze of the new spring is blowing come forward, so that the garden can function”
However the inner real meaning of the couplet is that the objective situation in the country is ripe which invites the patriotic people now to come forward to serve the country. The word ‘gulshan’ literally means ‘garden’ but here it means the country. So it is a call to the people of the country to come forward since our country is in difficulties and you are required now to help it.
Q Tell me what went wrong in the Aurangzeb era where million of Hindus were converted into Muslims? How it changed the entire picture, what was going on?
A. In the article ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’ (available online) it is mentioned that Professor B.N. Pandey, former Professor of History of Allahabad University and former Governor of Orissa delivered a speech in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, in which he said that when he was Professor of History some people brought some documents showing that Aurangzeb had given grants to Hindu Temples, he gave grants to the Someshwar Mahadev Temple in Allahabad, he gave grants to the Mahakal Temple in Ujjain, one of the biggest Shiva temples, he gave grants to the Chitrakut Temple where Lord Ram spent 12 years of His exile. He thought these must be forgeries because Aurangzeb was said to be the destroyer of Hindu temples. He took these documents to Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, who was a top lawyer in
High Court and also a great scholar of Persian and Urdu scholar. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru examined these
documents very thoroughly and he found that they were genuine documents. Now this seemed very strange, a person who
was supposed to be the destroyer of Hindu temples, had given grants to many
Hindu temples. So what I am trying to
tell you is please keep an open mind. Allahabad
I went to
Bikaner about 10 years back and I went
to the palace of the Maharaja of ,
a part of which has been converted into a Museum. I went to the Museum, and at one place there
was a letter of Aurangzeb written to the new Maharaja of Bikaner .
His father had died and the son who was about 20 years of age became the
new Maharaja. Aurangzeb wrote in this
letter, which was exhibited there in English translation, that I know what it
means to lose a father, and I know how sad you must be, but do not worry I will
be like a father to you, tell me anything you require I will send it to
you. It was a very kind and tender
Now, this was a different Aurangzeb. What I am trying to say is that more research on Aurangzeb is required because he has been demonized totally. As I said, in our history books the demonization of Muslim rulers has been done very systematically by the British, so as to generate Hindu-Muslim hatred. But the fact that Muslim rulers used to promote communal harmony, they used to organize Hindu festivals like Ramleela and so on, they used to give grants to Hindu temples, this will not be found in any history books. It has been very conveniently suppressed. So about Aurangzeb also I would request you please read that speech ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’, it is online, and more research is required. I would request that about Aurangzeb please keep an open mind.
Q. I just want to understand your opinion on the Constitution that we created after
, the Indian Penal Code, Hindu
Law and Islam and what impact it has had in today’s communal disharmony having
those three different Laws?
Particularly, one is Hindu versus Islamic Law and monogamy versus
polygamy and all these issues and about property. Should it be abolished or should there be
only one uniform law like the one in US?
A. Regarding this question of uniform Civil Code, my opinion is that this is for Parliament to decide, not for the judiciary to decide, because making law is the job of the Legislature not of the Judiciary. It is for the Parliament to make one common Civil Code or not to make it. Judges cannot legislate, legislation is the task of the legislature. It is not proper for Judges to interfere in it. It is a highly sensitive matter, as you know some people have been trying to promote communal hatred in our subcontinent. Please let us not give them further ammunition for that.
Q. The example you gave in
contraception example, this is a similar case.
The judiciary should come in here. Ireland
A. Listen you must realize one thing: in our country we must cater to aspirations of different people, in fact that is why we have federalism. Federalism means catering to regional aspirations. Thus, in Nagaland, there is a State Legislature for Nagaland and in this way the Naga people are happy, there is also a Central Government which looks after everybody. Similarly, in the State of
there is a
State Legislature for them, and so on.
You have to cater to regional aspirations. You cannot have uniformity. Our country will break up into a hundred
pieces the moment you try for uniformity.
India has such tremendous diversity, the moment you go in for
uniformity, one uniform Civil Code, one this, one that, then you will have one
hundred countries, you will not have one country and that will be fatal for us
because modern industry requires a big market.
We must keep united. Today in
our Constitution there is a provision that trade and commerce shall be free
throughout the Tamil Nadu (Article
301). What does it mean? It means that a factory in Tamil Nadu can
sell its goods freely in UP or territory
of India Punjab or
anywhere. The UP Government cannot say
we will not allow entry of goods from Tamil Nadu. Article 301 ensures the
economic unity of ,
and political unity is based on economic unity. India
Q. I have one comment and one question, the comment is that not many people have migrated but 180,000 Roman people (gypsies) migrated out of
. They are called Roma people in Southern
Europe and India Rumania and Bulgaria, they are all from ? India
A. They are not from
. Please use your common sense, if you wanted
to go to India Europe you had to go on foot in those
days, there were no aeroplanes and trains.
You would have to go via Afghanistan
to Russia and then to Europe. Why should
a large number of people do that?
Everybody wants comfort, why should you leave India
and go to such an uncomfortable place like ? You have to go through Afghanistan Afghanistan and Russia
to reach Europe. Will you leave such a comfortable country
like India and go to Afghanistan which is cold and rocky, you will
have to travel through ?
Who will do it, it is against common sense.
A handful of traders or missionaries may do it, but not a large number
of people? Afghanistan
Q. Firstly, thank you very much, it is a real honour to have a word with you. I have a very simple question, there is a huge august gathering here of the Indian Diaspora. You said that the time has come for people to actually contribute and help
to make that transition. In your view what are the few things that you
think that people here can do to sort of help India which will have the most
impact in sort of helping us overcome that transition? India
A. First of all, in the transitional period, it is absolutely essential to explain to people what is
, and that
is what I have sought to do in the talk I have given today. First of all clarification of your ideas is
very important, because once you realize that this is a country of immigrants,
it follows that there must be tolerance, in view of the tremendous diversity we
must respect each other, we must treat everybody as equals, and in this way
half the battle is won by that itself, and then our own people will solve their
problems. Once they are told not to
fight each other and that we should be like brothers, we should help each
other, half the problem is solved just by that.
So the first thing what everybody has to do, including all of you, is to
tell the people what is India . There was no communal problem until the
British came and started sowing the seeds of hatred between Hindus and Muslims,
falsifying our history deliberately, and starting all these problem. So educating the people, that is the first
step. How many people know that India is a
country of immigrants? How many people
know that we have a common culture called Sanskrit-Urdu culture? First the educated people have to be educated,
and thereafter this will filter down and our country will move forward, there
is no doubt about that. India
Q. My question is why people in
do not follow traffic rules? Is it the
transition to industrialization or is it the lack of law enforcement or is
there something intrinsic in our culture? India
A. No, as I told you we are passing through a transitional period between feudal agricultural society and modern industrial society, we are somewhere in between. So a large section of our people are still not modern, they do not follow rules. For example, just take a simple thing, when I come to America, I stay with my daughter Vandana, my job which Vandana has given me, is everyday to take the garbage from the house and take it outside and put it in a huge garbage bin. In
the garbage and throw it out of the house. While traveling on a car we throw
out the garbage and anything outside. In
the West it is taught in childhood to a child that littering garbage is not proper, the value is put in you by your parents in
childhood that this is not done. Garbage
must be put it in the garbage bin. On
the other hand, in India because people are still partly feudal and backward,
not completely modern, therefore these values are not there, they will come
after 10-20 years when we also become industrialized. But at present people just throw out the
garbage, everywhere in India you will find a huge pile of rubbish, on every
road you will find rubbish, people moving by the car just throw out the
garbage, nobody cares. That mindset has to be created, it is not created in one
day, it requires a whole generation to create it. India
London the whole Thames
river upto the 19th century was full of sewage, people used to just
dump the sewage there, today it is clean.
So it will come when we will become totally modern, that will take time.
Q. My question is going back to the ancient times in
. How did the caste system evolve? Who created this caste system in India India and why does it still linger on and why is
it still so powerful in ?
A. Caste system originated from a racial basis, that is, a white race, the Aryans came to India and conquered a dark coloured race, and the proof of this is that even now India is a racial society, we prefer white colour When we advertise in newspapers we say “wanted fair colour bride”, when a child is born if the colour is fair, the grand mother is very happy. But, having originated from a racial basis caste later on developed into the feudal occupational division of labour in society. That means that every vocation became a caste, like for instance, carpenter ‘badhai’ became a caste, ‘lohar’, blacksmith became a caste, potter, ‘kumhar’ became a caste etc.
This happened in Europe also, it is nothing unique in
. Even today in England a large number of
people have surnames like, Baker, Butcher, Gardener, Mason, Carpenter,
Shoemaker, Smith, Potter, Goldsmith, Taylor, Barber, etc. What does this indicate? It indicates that their ancestors were following
these professions. In those days, there
was no engineering colleges or technical institutes, the only way to learn a
trade or craft was to sit with your father since childhood and see how he
works. Supposing, your father is a
carpenter, you sit with him when you are 6 or 7 years of age, you see how is
working and he also guides you and you pick up the trade. So you had no right to choose your profession, you had to follow your
father’s profession because there was no other way to learn a trade or occupation. India
So caste system was in
Europe also, it was on
vocation basis, every vocation became a caste.
Today, the situation is totally changed. For instance if a person of the
badhai (carpenter) caste comes from a village to a city he becomes a motor mechanic
or electrician or clerk, he does not now do the job of carpenter which was his
caste. So now people are not following their father’s profession on a very
large scale. Many of you are here, are
you following your father’s profession?
Many of your fathers were lawyers, but now you are entrepreneurs. When this happens on large scale the very
basis of caste has been smashed because of the advance of technology. Now the caste system is being propped up by
certain politicians for their vote banks.
But when the foundation of a building has been smashed by the advance of
technology how long can that building be artificially propped up? In my opinion caste will last only for
another 10 or 20 years. Now people are
not bothered about what is your caste. If
you go for a job in some place nobody asks what is your caste, they will see
your resume, your CV, your technical achievements.