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  April 19, 2014
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   ‘SECULAR’ CONGRESS... LOSING THRUST?

Black & White

Vikram Muthanna

As elections are getting closer to the finishing line, the divide and rule tactics are running wild. While one says “badla” another says, “Muslims won the Kargil war.”

Politicians are out to divide us. They are not patriots. They are the enemies within. A voter has to ask, has voting on religious lines ever made a difference to their lives? Or their children’s lives? Never. It has only had a divisive effect and has created a negative perception among both minorities and majorities about each other. It has even isolated minorities from mainstream economic growth and from cultural intermingling so much so that today, every city has its own a “Muslim” area or a “Hindu” area.

But every election, the biggest insult is meted out to the Muslims as it is assumed that they will blindly vote, as instructed. Do the political parties think that Muslims can’t think beyond religion? Do they think Muslims have no concern for economy, job creation and prosperity?

Thanks to religious leaders, the Congress, the BJP and all the other parties, election is now reduced to a religious sport.

While Congress has kept Muslims away from BJP projecting it as a danger to secular India, the BJP has not done a stellar job of proving the Congress wrong either.

Everyone is out to create fear psychosis, all for power. For example, Asaduddin Owaisi, a leader from Andhra Pradesh, debating on a Pakistani TV channel, where a Pakistani cleric stated there is threat to Muslims in India, sharply retorted, “In India we have a constitution and its preamble states that India is a secular nation and India’s pluralism will remain strong. Also we have decided that India is our country, so you please stop worrying about Muslims in India.” Now that sounds like a proud Indian. But then why does he make hate speeches back home in Hyderabad?! — Power. Owaisi is proud that India is secular but does not do anything to keep it that way, instead his speeches do just the opposite. Why? Because fear tactics garner votes.

Most politicians perpetuate this fear psychosis even at the lower level leadership. In Mysore, one leader, just a night before the election said, “This fight is between Muslims and Hindus.” This, in a peaceful city like Mysore!!! But interestingly this leader’s partners in business are both Muslims and Hindus; not just that, they are from the opposing political parties too! In fact this leader, along with the two others are known in political circles as ‘Auto rickshaw’ — three wheels but headed in the same direction — ‘Money’ and ‘Power.’ So religion is just a tool to stay in power and make more money and we the people fall for it. No wonder it is said ‘All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.’

Sonia, the Godmother of the self-proclaimed Mother ship of secularism — the Congress party, soon after the Gujarat riots, gave a grand emotive speech in the Parliament. She told the BJP leaders present, “You have turned Gujarat into the land of Godse not Gandhi.” But when the Gujarat elections soon rolled in, she promptly appointed a former RSS member, Shankersinh Vaghela as her election in-charge!! Where was her fear of RSS then? Her fear was buried deep within the need to win seats. In fact she did not even visit the house or meet the family of the long-time Congress man Ehsan Jafri, who was brutally killed during the riots. Where was her concern for the riot victims then? Where was her concern for Muslims then? Where was her concern for her own party man then? But then she had time to visit a couple of temples.

All politicians are playing a dangerous game with religion and caste and Arundhati Roy rightly said,“For more than half a century now, the hatred and mutual distrusts (between Hindus and Muslims after partition) has been exacerbated, toyed with and never allowed to heal by politicians, led from the front by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Every political party has tilled the marrow of our secular parliamentary democracy, mining it for electoral advantage. Like termites excavating a mound, they’ve made tunnels and underground passages, undermining the meaning of ‘secular’ until it has become an empty shell that’s about to implode.”

In fact the Congress, in its overzealousness to appease Muslims, subsidised Haj pilgrimage!! When the Quran itself says Haj should be done with one’s own money, why does Government have to subsidise it, why make them break the holy rule?

This is another bad habit of Congress. In the name of social justice, they have turned this nation into a land of freeloaders. Instead of teaching the people how to fish, they simply give them fish and that too fish snatched from the hands of hard working, tax paying middle class Indians. Congress has practiced: ‘Snatch from Peter to give it to Paul,’ while not doing anything to make Peter more productive or Paul self-reliant.’ Is this fair? Isn’t this divisive politics? It may not be communal divide, but it is divisive all the same.

Congress has been more like a drug peddler, making the poor so dependent on freebies that they can’t kick the habit and will do anything the dealer says or wants lest the dealer stops supplying. This indiscriminate dispensing of freebies has killed work ethics, ambition and inclination towards entrepreneurship in this country, especially among the poor. Hopefully, the BJP will be different ‘IF’ it comes to power.

India is changing. The Congress should have learnt its lesson much earlier when Dr. Manmohan Singh gave his first speech as Prime Minister in Srinagar. The new PM had to stop his speech a few times due to the loud sloganeering by the crowd. They were not screaming, “Pakistan Zindabad,” they were screaming, “We want jobs.”

How long can Congress keep harping about “secularism” and “social justice?” In the next decade, mass migration of rural India to cities, exposure to materialism and growing ambitions will slowly but steadily put caste and religious equations on the back-burner.

Muslims will not be impressed by Haj subsidy, the Hindus will not care for a Ram temple or a Ramdev, they will prefer education and jobs, justice and freedom, security for women and the nation. That’s where India is headed. The Congress has to prepare for this.

The BJP, on the other hand, has woken up and is moulding itself into a hybrid Vikas party. That is why Modi never visited a Hindu head or called only for Hindu vote... Of course he has others doing it for him. But still, we must appreciate the fact when he says, “Building toilets, not temples is the way forward.” We must appreciate that he razed over 80 temples in Gujarat to make roads even drawing the wrath of the VHP. We have to appreciate that the Ram temple is now relegated to the 41st page of their manifesto while ‘prosperity’ and ‘development’ take the earlier pages.

Unless Congress moves away from religious appeasement, unless it moves towards subsidy and reservations based on economic status, unless it realises that there is more to leadership than a ‘Gandhi’ surname and cleans its old guard out like BJP is doing, in the next two decades, Congress may not be as powerful a national party as it is today.

For now, we as voters better keep thy religion to thyself, for it hasn’t brought us very far and won’t take us very far either. More over all religions were made by man, not God. So its purpose may very well be dubious.

e-mail:vikram@starofmysore.com

   HAMPI AND KISHKINDHA

Pages from History

By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former Head, Dept. of Ancient History & Archaeology, University of Mysore

intro : Hampi is considered as the ‘Kishkindha’ of Ramayana by many historians. A stone record of 1069 AD of Chalukya Vikramaditya VI refers to this place as Kishkindha mountain. Another record of 1108 AD also refers to this place as Kishkindha and further adds that Rama and Lakshmana, after killing Ravana, returned to this place. There are three temples dedicated to Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman there. These references prove that Hampi was called as Kishkindha at least a thousand years ago.

Last month, there was a conference of South Indian Coin Society at Kamalapur (Hampi) of which I was the General Secretary. I invited N. Ramanuja, Chairman, BVB Karnataka, who is also a life-member of the Society, to the conference. He came with his wife. As soon as we reached that place, we directly went to the Office of the Deputy Director of Archaeology, T.S. Gangadhar, who was the local Secretary and had made good arrangements for the delegates. As soon as we entered the office, Ramanuja saw about 15-20 stone sculptures of Hanuman and in great excitement exclaimed, ‘Are we in the land of Hanuman?’

Without knowing the historical facts, he had uttered the truth that Hampi (Kishkindha) was the home of monkeys. As if to confirm our idea there were hundreds of monkeys wandering, close to us. We were scared of the monkeys because some months ago, we visited the Badami caves where there were hundreds of monkeys. The monkeys of Badami were clever because they knew that the handbags of the ladies contained chocolates, biscuits, etc. and naturally they were in the habit of snatching away the vanity bags of the ladies.

A lady had a red handbag which attracted the attention of the monkeys and one monkey attacked her and took away the handbag and sat on the top of a boulder and opened it. While searching for eatables, the monkey found currency notes which had no use for the primate. Hence, it began throwing, virtually creating a rain of currency notes. Some of them fell on the ground and some good people returned it to the owner. Helplessly, the monkey threw away the bag and the owner took it back and found the zipped pocket unopened which had lot of cash.

From that day onwards, we were scared of monkeys, with special reference to handbags. But the monkeys of Hampi were more friendly and did not attack anybody. All these thoughts passed my mind when I saw the monkeys at Hampi.

Let me come back to Hampi. Hampi is considered as the ‘Kishkindha’ of Ramayana by many historians and one of my friends, Dr. A. Sundara, has published a short article on the aspect which I made use of here in my column. It has historical support too. A stone record of 1069 AD of Chalukya Vikramaditya VI refers to this place as Kishkindha mountain. Another record of 1108 AD also refers to this place as Kishkindha and further adds that Rama and Lakshmana, after killing Ravana, returned to this place.

Now, there are three temples dedicated to Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman there. These references prove that Hampi was called as Kishkindha at least a thousand years ago. The mythological and other evidences can be examined from this point of view.

Local people, from generations, have been believing that places around Hampi are the areas where some portions of Ramayana took place, with special reference to Kishkindha. That is perhaps the reason why each village has a temple dedicated to Hanuman. There are many places which are highly interesting. For example, there are places like Vali dibba (mound of Vali), Matanga mountain, Anjanadri, Shabari cave and Site Seragu. Shabari cave is a natural one which has a lot of pre-historic paintings, which prove its antiquity. Site Seragu is a huge rock and it has a lot of white patches and according to the local legends, when Ravana was carrying away Sita, she tore a piece of her saree and threw it down, to give clues to Sri Rama to trace Ravana’s route.

The Vali dibba or the mound of Vali is equally important. It is a mound which contains ashes. These are referred to by archaeologists as ash mounds of the neolithic people. But the local people say that after the death of Vali, he was burnt here and as he was a huge person, the ashes formed a huge mound. And, hence, it is called mound of Vali. A place called Vali Bhandara has a huge boulder on which are found paintings of a fruit garden containing different fruit bearing trees from which the monkeys are shown plucking the fruits and eating them.

While searching for Sita, the monkeys are said to have entered into a fruit garden called ‘Madhuvana’ and with the permission of Angada, Vali’s brother, ate all the fruits till their hunger was satiated, according to Ramayana. As ‘bhandara’ means treasury, the local people believe that the rich treasury of Vali lies underneath somewhere and are anxious to dig the area if the Department of Archaeology permits them to do so. This is a popular place in Hampi.

Close to Hampi, near Anegundi, there is a place where privacy is provided by placing huge boulders and this is locally famous as ‘Chanchalakatte.’ It is believed that scared of the strength of Vali, Sugreeva and others were hiding themselves here. Actually, this is very close to the mound of Vali. One of the caves at Anegundi has a boulder on which is found a beautiful painting with a human body and long tail (Vanara?). Close to this place is another painting which shows a huge boat crossing a river, suggestive of crossing the ocean. Actually, the description of Kishkindha as given in the Ramayana tallies well with the Hampi area. Incidentally, one of the nearby villages is called Ayodhya.

In spite of all these evidences, some scholars have identified Kishkindha with an area to the north of the river Narmada, with particular reference to Chota-Nagpur area. This area has thick forest and is referred to as ‘Dandakaranya’ which is mentioned in Ramayana. The Chota-Nagpur area was the cradle of tribal people in general and Ghonds in particular. This is very close to modern Jabalpur. About 20 kms from Jabalpur is a place called ‘Lakka’ (Lanka) and this is considered to be the Sri Lanka of Ramayana. It has a huge fresh water lake. Within a distance of about 100 kms are found Matangasrama and Rishymukha mountain. Very significantly, the Ghond people consider Ravana as their king and even to this day, they worship Ravana in their temples. Botanists say that the tree Shorea Rolusta (Sala tree) is grown in the above area only and is frequently mentioned in Ramayana.

Taking all these evidences into consideration, it has been suggested that Kishkindha of Ramayana is in Chota-Nagpur area. However, this has remained as an academic theory. On the basis of the strong tradition of Ramayana in sculptural art in Karnataka, folklore evidences and many remains named after personalities of Ramayana, Hampi area seems to be better claimant to be Kishkindha of Ramayana and a cradle for monkeys which played a dominant role in the story of Ramayana. Unless better evidence becomes available in future, Hampi should be taken as Kishkindha of Ramayana. Karnataka should take pride in this identification.

There may be a difference of opinion on the identification of Kishkindha but there is universal unanimity regarding the perfectly divine human being Sri Rama as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Let us invoke his blessings.

   WORLD LIVER DAY TODAY

Treat it with love and respect

Your liver is a one-and-a-half kg organ that sits behind your right rib cage. If you did not have your liver, you would not be able to process nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals from your food. Your body would not get rid of all the toxins and microbes. Your blood would probably never clot. The liver plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s metabolic balance.

Today is World Liver Day (April 19). Let’s strive not to abuse our liver, one of the most useful organs that we have. Let’s treat it with the love and respect it deserves.

Liver is a vital organ and plays an important role in one’s digestive system. It is the second largest organ in the body and is situated in the right upper abdomen behind the right rib cage. It is a complex metabolic factory, which does innumerable functions and tasks which are vital for life. It virtually processes everything we eat and drink.

As the liver performs a variety of important functions it is extremely vulnerable to a variety of metabolic, toxic, microbial, circulatory and cancerous insults. Awareness of the liver’s functions and what all can cause liver disease can help you take the road to great health.

What does the liver do?

It does several functions, just to mention few of its important functions:

Supplies energy: Since it is a metabolic factory it process nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals from your food and supply constant energy to keep one’s body active.

Cleans the blood: Removes toxins, chemicals, microbes and poisonous substances; synthesises important proteins required for blood clotting, transporting substances in the blood; regulates body cholesterol levels and maintain balance of many hormones; produces bile which is required for digestion and also for elimination of toxic substances.

What are the symptoms of liver disease?

This depends on the onset and rapidity of progression of liver damage.

In case of acute liver damage (due to drugs, toxins, viral hepatitis A, B or E), there may be fever, jaundice, weakness, vomiting and loss of appetite. In most cases, this may be self-limiting. In a small percentage, this may progress to fulminate liver failure leading to coma, altered blood clotting, secondary infections and may even require liver transplantation.

In chronic liver damage (due to alcohol, drugs, hepatitis B and C, etc.) it causes liver cirrhosis and the symptoms would be more gradual in onset:

• Jaundice or yellowish discolouration of skin and the white of the eye.

• Swelling especially in the legs and feet due to low protein levels.

• Accumulation of fluid (ascites) in the abdomen giving it a protruded appearance.

• Problems with clotting of blood – bleeding gums, nasal bleeding, etc.

• Vomiting of blood or passing blood in stools

• Altered senses with change in behaviour, confusion and other symptoms related to the brain also known as hepatic encephalopathy.

• Gradual worsening of kidney function.

What are the commonly seen liver diseases?

Alcoholic liver disease: caused by excessive consumption of alcohol and one can have any of the 3 stages:

1. Fatty liver (accumulation of fat in the liver): Alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation and swelling of the liver) or Cirrhosis (irreversible damage of the liver)

2. Non alcoholic Fatty Liver disease: where liver is swollen and filled with fat secondary to reasons other than alcohol. Most common reason being obesity, over eating, sedentary life style, diabetes and high cholesterol.

3. Viral hepatitis: is an infection of the liver that is caused by a group of viruses that have particular affinity for the liver. Out of these, hepatitis A and E are caused by eating food contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis B, C and D – which can cause chronic liver problem are acquired through blood, body fluids and by unprotected sexual contact.

4. Cirrhosis or scarring of the liver: It is among the top 10 causes of death in the world caused by alcohol intake, viral infection due to hepatitis B and C, bile duct diseases, auto-immune hepatitis, iron overload,etc. It progresses gradually and can lead to end stage liver disease.

5. Drug induced damage caused due to the various medicines we take and chemicals we are exposed to: As liver is the major detoxifying organ in the body, it is subject to an enormous variety of drugs and chemicals. Always be careful when consuming medicines, even over the counter medications like paracetamol can cause fulminate liver failure. Never take medications beyond the recommended dosage. Certain herbal medications could also cause damage to the liver.

Tips for a healthy liver

Diet and Alcohol: Avoiding alcohol and having a balanced diet with low fat con- tent would help to prevent fatty liver disease and its complications.

Exercise: Plays a role in improving the fat metabolism and decreases the blood cholesterol and fats indirectly protecting the liver.

For Hepatitis B and C: practicing safe sex, not sharing razors, needles and toothbrushes. Hepatitis B is preventable by vaccination, three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine provide long term protection.

Hygienic food and drinking water: Hepatitis A and E are known to spread via the oral route. Think twice before having road side delicacies. Boil the water that you intend to drink. It is the best way to prevent communicable diseases.

Avoid self-medication: Various drugs can damage the liver if taken indiscriminately

Regular check-ups: Once diagnosed with liver disease, be regular in follow ups with the doctor. Reversible damage can become irreversible if neglected.

—Dr. Abid Sattar

MBBS, MD, DM (Gastroenterology); Senior Consultant and HoD, Gastroenterology;

Apollo BGS Hospital, Mysore,

Mob: 99452-78044

 
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