Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Myth Of The Aryans

This post is an attempt to tackle the Aryan Myth, that still holds as true in some Indians; in the post below, I have attempted to tabulate all the known points about this theory’s rebuttal in an attempt to spread the word among Indians - at least the ones that I have come across, as one body of reading; references are provided at the end of the article. 

I have also attempted to place a logical extension- that the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization {Indus Valley Civilization} may also have been the Vedic Civilization, although a lot more needs to be investigated and revealed if that needs to be commonly accepted as fact. 


THE SUMMARY
1.   Literature: First, the RigVeda. The geographical area of the Rug Veda (Rig Ved) is clearly delineated as North West India; there is no room for any doubt. It specifically mentions the Saraswati as between the Yamuna and the Sutlej, That can only be the Ghaggar river bed. Satellite imagery has established that this used to be a massive river system in the old days. The Rugved does not mention a drying Saraswati, clearly meaning that it must have been written well before 1900 - 2600 BC. There is no mention of either invasion or Migration in the Rugved; if any migration occured, it happened before 3000 BC - if at all. There is also no mention of a central asian landscape in the RugVed; it is specific in that it mentions the Kabul river to the west and the Ganga to the east. There is awareness of the Himalayas.

2.   A Radio Metric Dating of the Indus Saraswati places the real age of this civilization to 7200 BC or thereabouts. This was announced by the ASI in an international conference on 5th November 2012. This also suggests that migration did not happen 3500 years ago, or even 9000 years ago.

3.   Second, Genetics. a 2006 study clearly identifies that the Indian population has been generally stable for a very long time, and that there has been no major injection of Central Asian Genes for over 10000 years at least. So, if any migration did happen, it was long before settlements emerged, before domestication of the horse, before the Iron or Bronze ages. We are talking about hunter gatherers, small bands of nomads etc. The latest dating of the Indus Saraswati Civilization is 9000 years - as per Radio Metric Dating; the genetic evidence is older by this than 1000+ years at least.

4.   The R1a1a gene mutation is found in North India and East Europeans, South Siberia, Tajikistan and North Eastern Iran, A study on this conducted in 2010 found that the oldest strain of the R1a1a branch was concentrated in the Gujarat-Sindh-Western Rajasthan region of India, suggesting that this was close to the origin of the genetic group. A mutation M458 is found in Europeans, but is not found at all in Asians. This M458 mutation is at least 8000 years old, thus lending credence to the observations above

From this we can see that the Aryan Migration never happened; Literary, Archeological as well as genetic evidence all points to the reverse. There is no longer any room for any doubt whatsoever...




THE BACKGROUND
There are 2 prominent theories of the Aryans. The first and the older one places the aryans as people from Western Asia - specifically Iran. The newer theory places the Aryans as residents of Afghanistan, Northwest India. The newer is now gaining prominence, with the only disagreement being Afghanistan or India? Central to the second theory is the identification of the river referred to in Vedic scriptures as Saraswati or Ila. Some people refer it to Northwest India, citing satellite research (which is to me pretty convincing), while others place it as a river system in Afghanistan. 

 Let us now look at the evidence regarding the above. This rests on scientific, archeological, scriptural and linguistic basis. The scientific evidence is the identification of The Saraswati as flowing nearly parallel to the Indus, which has now been identified by satellite imagery to be the Ghaggar Basin. The scriptural evidence has to do with the Vedas, which represent the Ila (Saraswati) as initially being a massive river, which subsequently dried up. There are other descriptions in Vedic literature regarding the flora and fauna etc which identify the place as Northern India - or Afghanistan upto Iran borders.

Archeological evidence  has to do with sites around the Indus - most critically, 70% sites of the civilization have been found to be precisely along the banks of the Saraswati River bed. Further evidence are the pottery, the seals, the water baths, the ritual fires etc. The linguistic evidence is the clincher in that if you compare the Avestan language with Vedic sanskrit, the similarities are simply too uncanny to be ignored, The Gods in Vedas are the bad ones in Avesta, for ex. There are many such similarities which make it crystal clear that if you are to identify the Aryans, we can only look to Eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Northwestern India. 

The Aryans were a people living along the banks of a massive river system (let us leave which one for the time being to avoid argument); as the river dried up, there was a natural migration. The people on the west bank migrated to Iran and regions west, while the people on the east bank migrated to the Gangetic plains of India. This satisfies the critical  linguistic evidence, as it is the only explanation that holds water for the similarity between Avestan and Vedic language. It also fits in with the scriptural evidence, as well as the archeological evidence on all points

Next, consider migration out of Africa - starting 75000 - 60000 years ago. A small band of hunter migrated to Arabia; all modern Humans in Eurasia are thought to be from this group. 


In those days, the sea level was much lower; which meant a low-lying and rich path to India. This is also an established scientific fact. Thus, there was no European link at all even in the initial stages. At the most, there may have been some inward drifting during the ice-age - the last of which was in 18000 BC. This is 16500 years before the supposed Aryan Invasion Theory. After this time, there was no inward migration or invasion. 


This is also borne out by archeological, linguistic and scriptural evidence. The Rugved is specific: the landscape is Northwest India. The Rugved is known to be prior to 3000 BC, as it mentions a flowing and mighty Saraswati. It is now a known  scientific fact that the Saraswati flowed precisely where the Rugved says; that it was one of the mightiest rivers known; and that it dried up in 1900BC, with a reduced flow from 2500BC. The Rugved does not mention any invasion or inward drift; it does not mention a shift; it does not mention anything. The description is specific: North-West India. All mentioned places have been found - including Dwarka. 

Further, the cultural contiguity of the Rugvedic traditions also confirm the above; by no stretch of imagination would a conquering tribe have completely converted to Sanaatani thoughts. If the Rugevedic people were in India from 3000BC-plus, who were they?  The wide prevalence of linguistic lineages in India from Sanrkrut and Prakrut also indicate an origin in India. All evidence from Genetics to Archeology point to an Indian origin; migration - if any - must have been prior to 40000 years ago - as evidenced in the genetic studies above. All 4 cant be wrong!


References {The ones I have studied so far in my hunt to understand my lovely nation: 
·      The Land of the Seven Rivers - A Brief History of India's Geography;
·       http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/... : Article on Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Y chromosomes within haplogroup R1a; Refer the bibliography of the book for Genetics research papers references
·      http://www.iisc.ernet.in/currsci/oct25/articles20.htm : The Ghaggar River Basin
·      What India Should Know – Laxmikanthan and Devi

·      I have also looked through :
 Reconstructing Indian Population History - David Reich et al – 2009
 Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distribution in India Sengupta at al – 2006
 A Prehistory of Indian Y Chromosomes Evaluating Demic diffusion scenarios - Sanghamitra Sahoo et al
 Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1 S Sharma at al 2009



Underhill is not the only 1; second, sample size has almost nothing to do with accuracy; it is the representativeness of the sample components that holds greater weightage.

The study above does not challenge that the the mutation does not occur is Asians ; the Underhill study specifically states that the mutation, thought to be 8000 years old, is not found in Asians.

Further, Sengupta study specifies that the Indian gene pool has been stable for 10000 years at least. In an interview, geneticist Thiagarajan specifically stated that ASI and ANI groups may date to 60000 and 40000 years. The combination of the 3 is unmistakable: that there was no migration or invasion since at least 8000BC


An unsolicited word of advice; avoid internet resources totally. Start with a book, go to its bibliography, do a google search; read the articles (prefer PDF files as they can be saved onto disk as well as the fact that generally pdf files are reproductions of actual research papers). This will enable a deep understanindg of the subject matter as well as deal with any questions the book might leave




Friday, 20 February 2015

Indian Culture : Being Indian, Truly Indian - An Examination


Being and becoming is definitely the flavor of the season… there are a few trends that are now clearly discernible in the national discourse in India along these lines: one is the yearning for a return to our culture and our roots, the second being a push to be Indian and buy Indian, a third is the rising tide that pushes a national narrative of a Hindu subjugation, and a fourth being the rising tide of Hindu sentiment for a golden Hindu period, with Hindu values, and morals. The icing on the cake is the moral brigade, and the attendant reverse, with the pillorying and vilifying reactions to this moral brigade. Intermingled among all these is the single viewpoint of contempt and disdain some educated Indians have for ancient Indian culture.


In the atmosphere of Ghar Waapsi, I noted that the true Ghar Waapsi will happen when we stop giving bribes, stop eulogizing The West etc. Similarly, in the light of the rise of the AAP, we are talking of a rising hope, which is great, and a rising euphoria, which is misplaced. In both the cases above, as well as the scenarios in the first paragraph,  we are talking about a complete change in a people being dreamt and imagined by a people who first of all only pay superficial obeisance to Indian Values,  Sanaatani Vichaardhaaraa and our culture, and have little or limited knowledge of history.  As a small example, just try and tell anyone the fact that Hinduism is a British creation; that our real religion is Sanaatan Dharm; note the aggressive reaction, and the ignorance.  


Being "Indian" in culture, in this context, is taken to mean something either completely superficial and  external, without getting to the core of the issue - by and large, equated with language, dress, and such like - things that have precisely nothing to do with culture, and are manifestly superficial; or something based on a biased, one sided and incorrect narrative of History. This article delves into the first aspect, and the historical narrative forms the 2nd part of this mini-series.


Being Indian is being taken and interpreted as a stance of morality in relations between the sexes, which is a loaded and one-sided sentiment even at the best of times, as another example. Some of the more interesting views is the political landmine of Hindi being needlessly and incorrectly termed the national language by some people. Being Indian is taken to mean eulogizing the ancient culture we had, with a more hardline stance pillorying even the Mughal and Arabic rulers of New Delhi from 1150AD onwards


These people forget that the very language they go ballistic over - Hindi - is a borrowed tongue, being born out of Arabaic, Persian, Awadhi, Braj and a couple of other dialects. 300 years ago, this language had not even been invented, and was in the process of being crafted – whereas some modern languages like Marathi had already evolved out of Maharashtri Prakrut and Apabhramsa several hundred years before this time. Yet, it is Hindi which is spoken across Northern India, not the other ancient languages. What does this tell us about our culture?


India has come under one political yoke many times in ancient days, and yet a single language did not evolve, and was never enforced. Even in Muslim central rule, when Persian was the official tongue, one single language did not evolve; the language that did evolve from this – Hindi – was more akin to Marathi and other Indian languages than to Persian and Arabic. Not only that, at no point did an indigenous arts and literature evolve around the foreign language in India. Point is the openness and non-interference in cultural affairs and the cultural tolerance even during Muslim rule!


On the topic of women, one side of the argument vociferously denounces the changes happening, while the other, quite naturally, in automatic and justified outrage, goes the other extreme! For the moral brigade : technically, you might have been right – had you decided to approach the problem as a point of education and awareness, rather than moral policing; an issue which meant that Indian Values need to be inculcated… but even there, we run into problems, as becomes evident in the next paragraph. On the other side: it is your life, your decision; I personally see no locus standi of anyone not from your respective families.


I am all for a reversal for the role of women to that in ancient India, provided it is in keeping with the genuine Indian culture, not what is normally pandered in the guise of Indian Culture. What was the role of women in those days, and in what societal context? Women have always had a position of primacy in the Indian household, society and politics – right from ancient times. Even in normal lives, women were not oppressed – yes, there were some practices which are unacceptable in the current societal context, like age of marriage – but by and large, they were relatively free.


If you say women should marry as per male family members’ wishes, fine by me. If you say open display of love is a no-no, fine by me. But… it can’t be a one-way street; you then have to re-examine the entire scenario: what was the overall attitude towards women in those days in our society? How safe were they on the streets? What was their contribution towards the economy, the society and politics? How were they treated, and how were they viewed? Were they objectified and treated as showpieces, as men are habitual of doing today, openly staring a women, treating them as objects? Was open display of love really a no-no in those days – within the then prevalent societal norms?


Women were treated with respect, given a pride of place, were safe in ancient India, and were not objectified, were actually honoured. Can we say that today? Display of affection was allowed within the norms of that society. Further, their contribution in economics, politics and society was valued. Given the nature of that society, and the role of women as home-makers, that was relevant. In the modern context, women are important contributors to economics, politics and society far in excess of ancient times.


If we then say that the old norms stay paramount, then revert them to their old roles, stop their contribution in various fields. Fine by me – but what about the damage to politics, economics, livelihoods of males working in organizations formed by women etc? You cant have your cake and eat it too! In other words, males want to benefit from female efforts from other families, while simultaneously keeping and treating them as property! They are fine if other women do it, their family should remain in their control… what If everyone thinks the same? What will be the difference between us and the Middle East in that case?


As a matter of fact,  a powerful case can be made for the fall of the Indian Political power in the medieval times as being a result of the rise in the maltreatment of two classes in our society: women, and the downtrodden. The rise of norms such as Sati, increasing obstruction of women coincided with the fall in our fortunes – this tallies with our scriptures, which specifically state that Gruhalaxmi has to be respected, else wealth flies away. We started ill-treating women, and our wealth went bye-bye! Remember, Goddess Sita opted to bury herself in Mother Earth rather than go back to Ayodhya!


Moving on, the easiest aspect to tackle in this narrative is the be-Indian-buy-Indian brigade, which has both economic and cultural aspects; the economic side of the argument has been well covered in mainstream media, and needs no repetition. The cultural side of the argument deals with a narrative of re-colonisation, and is a very popular and oft-forwarded message on Whatsapp and even Facebook, as well as blogs and digital media. This narrative actually is completely the opposite of “Indian” from an ancient perspective! Ancient and Medieval India was a trading powerhouse, with a vast and massive trade of a large number of goods with the entire world from the past 5000 years, which is a known and established fact.


We had trading outposts as far away as Central Asia, a busy land trade route as well as extensive commercial guilds that traded with other ancient cultures, as is evident from the mentions of India in other ancient literature from other cultures, as well as the interchanges with diverse visitors and invaders like the Greeks and the Huns. India flourished as it learned to trade far better than others – giving what it did best, and taking what it could not specialize in. This is essentially what Modern Economics states, and we did it 3000 and more years before the birth of Economics!


But this narrative never reaches the public, who focus only on be-Indian-buy-Indian, which is not only against all economic logic, but is also against our own culture, history and learnings from the past! Far from learning from our mistakes, as we saw in the case of language, women or in this case of trade, we are reacting in a way that holds some serious questions for us as a people and as a culture. Sad part is, there is no attempt in the mainstream to handle this logically, and without passion… the good part is, that the first stirrings of a logical debate on these matters has now started.


The point of the article is that “Being Indian” in culture is more about what you THINK, what you do and how you behave : Vedic values are more about honesty, cultural and religious tolerance, openness, free trade across political borders, equality of the sexes {viewed in the context of the respective era}, etc. It has to be viewed holistically, not piecemeal as per our convenience and vested interests. It also has to take into account our prevalent societal, socio-economic and other paradigms, and cannot be viewed in isolation. And lastly, it has to be based in light of facts, not a desired fiction or a notion or even an imagined Golden Period;




My small suggestion for what it is worth,,, can we all try and really be Indian in every sense of the term?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Ghar Waapsi : The True And Only Ghar Waapsi...

“Ghar Waapsi” has become, sadly, the flavor of the season, with the Media going gaga over it, thanks largely to some disturbing antics of some sections of our society. If we are focusing on returning to our roots, the question arises is just what are those roots? How do we define those roots? The question arises, what is the true Ghar Wapsi? The true return home? Are we, the people who are supposedly at home, truly at home? Or are we in some land that is neither here nor there?



Saying that people should return to their roots is fine, but are we ourselves close to our roots? Is our society – be it Hindu, or Christian, or Muslim or Sikh – really truly back to their roots in national terms, in cultural terms? Have we fully jettisoned our various inferiority complexes and hang-ups? Let us take a lookat some of the more delightful aspects of this society of ours :


We are in a world where anything to do with culture is considered being fundamentalist at worst or old-fashioned at best, where jabbering in English is a sign of education and intelligence, where listening to western music is considered the in thing, where any attempt to portray or look at Indian culture is termed exotic and quaint, where you can find Shakespeare in any book store across the land but will not find one single copy of the Vedic texts, Upanishads, or anything else ancient or medieval Indian literature, not even the Baburnama or the Akbarnama, Abhigyaan Shaakuntalam, Kabir or anyone else.


We are in a world where you are termed naive and foolish for not having read western classics and books, where people look down on you for not watching the latest hollywood flick, where people freely insult themselves and their country by terming our films Bollywood {which was originally {and still is IMO} an insult}, where you find the most ludicrous and idiotic scene of constant, never ending non stop comparisons with The West on everything, except the economy : which is compared with China!,


We are living in a society  where you have to be as good as the West in anything and everything, where you are termed old-fashioned, quaint, or caricatured simpleton for going the culture way, in a world whose schools teach Dickens but not Indian classics, in a world where the education system goes gaga over Western developments and culture while completely omitting Indian developments and culture, and in a land supposedly Indian and yet requiring spoken English as a prerequisite for success!


We are living in an environment where reading itself is considered passe, where a well-read man or woman with a passion for reading is considered impractical and a liability. We are in an era where people dont read religious books, or are not interested in historical and cultural aspects of life and society, where the focus is on materialism. We are living in a world where being decent, good and honest is considered a sign that a person is bookish, impractical and a fool, and where the average Indians knowledge of his or her roots and history is abysmal!


We are in a world where the focus is on gratification of the self, not on the society and the community, where the focus is on feeding the body and making its environs comfortable; not on feeding the mind and developing its finer aspects, in a world where living with a partner without social sanction is considered a sign of development and being oh-so-modern, where sleeping with several partners is considered being modern, and having several girlfriends a sign of modernity, achievement and development, and not a sign of decadence!


If we are truly get back home, it is far better to forget the conversions issue, which can give rise to needless tensions and passions, thereby disturbing the equity that is increasingly to be found in Modern India,  a land where everyone is free to practice his or her own religion, a lovely land where each religion is free! And if you have to right historical wrongs, why not go after the incipient and far more damaging westernization of our society?


If people are so concerned about historical wrongs, why not right the Colonial rape, which was demonstrably damaging, vis-à-vis the exaggerated wrongs of the Muslim period? How many of us have actually read The Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta? The Ramayan? The Mahabharat? The Upanishads? The Puranic texts? Let alone reading - which is an educated activity for enlightened broadened minds – how many among us display the stupidity and the inferiority complexes and open westernization noted above?  


The true way forward, one that represents real Ghar Waapsi, will be if the Indian {The majority} can place equal {Not even greater} but equal emphasis on Mother Tongue with English, where we read Shakespeare with as much elan as we do Kabir; where we watch Hindi, English and Vernacular movies and songs with equal relish without needless comparisons and condescending treatment. The real Ghar Waapsi will be when the Indian appreciates – truly appreciates – Indian Culture, and foregos some of the above small minded habits.


The true Ghar Waapsi will be when the Indian stops giving bribes, recreating the India that was observed in writings of the 1600s, which show a stunningly honest land. The true Ghar Waapsi will be when women get their due in India, as was the case in Vedic times. The true Ghar Waapsi will be when the Indian stops drooling over Western Culture, and faces the West with pride and confidence, confidant and calm, effectively saying : This is me, this is the way I am, take it or soak your head!


The true Ghar Waapsi will be when we can find our ancient and medieval literature in equal volumes and strength on book shelves, when we can actually try and decipher the wonders contained in our ancient literature without the fear that we will be the butt of jokes and condescension, when we can place greater credit on our Mumbai and Chennai film industries, when we can place our own film awards as more important an event from our perspective, rather than devaluing and insulting ourselves by doing the reverse!



That represents the true Ghar Waapsi… the question is, will it happen?


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Book Review : Ramayan - The Game Of Life {Shattered Dreams}

||Shri||


RAMAYAN

THE GAME OF LIFE : SHATTERED DREAMS

Book 2

The Ramayan Retold by : Shubh Vilas


THE AUTHOR
Shubh Vilas is a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker, with a degree in Engineering and Law, specialised in Patent Law. Prominent among his teachers are H.D.G. A.C. Bhaktivedant Swami Srila Prabhuda {Founder Hare Krshna Movement} and H.H. Radhanath Swami


THE GAME OF LIFE

Words fail me... I had never known the true power of The Ramayan, or the real reason why we Sanaatan Dharm followers {Hindus} honour Prabhu Ramchandra above all... I have, of course, known the full story through TV serials, movies, abridged Amar Chitra Katha comics and abriged stories... but reading the full story is an entirely different issue. The full force of the character of Prabhu Ram hits you hard, really hard - I actually cried on a couple of paragraphs - as you realise that this person just  cannot be a human... what is in embodied Prabhu Ramchandra  is beyond description - simple, soft, and yet so totally beyond even the wildest conceptualisation of our limited minds in the modern word... amazing that there once walked on this earth a man like Prabhu Ramchandra... truly, Maryada Purushottam! And even better : you come face-to-face with the full power of The Lady Sita, whose simple, unassuming and yet tough, rock-hard countenance is a revelation to small minds like mine... 



On reading it, I can only say that I can now begin to understand why Prabhu Ram is given a place of honour... shameful of me to read it at age 40+! The translation specifically is really good; a knowledgeable person vetted it just by hearing the name of the Guru of the author, stating if that is so, then I must read it... this is a lovely translation, beautifully written, completely true to the  Ramayan in Sanskrut so far as I can tell, written with true devotion and love, and yet in a reasonable, practical and yet respectful tone. This is a book for people like me, who havent actually read The Ramayan. I am captivated by the beauty of this epic, lovely and fascinating story from our Ancient History...


This is the 2nd book of the series, and deals with the plan to place Prabhu Ram on the seat at Ayodhya, the vicious plans of Manthara and the turning of Kaikeyi’s mind, going on to how Prabhu Ram takes this in his stride. The book focuses in detail on this phase, making for stirring reading, especially in the scene the Lord breaks the news to Devi Sita, and  Lakshman. The book focusses on the beginning of the Vanvaas, their initial experiences, thoughts and journeys in the latter half

The main aspect of the book is the revelation in the scenes between the various players, with the recreation of the scenes between Prabhi Shri Ram, Devi Sita; Shri Ram - Lakshman, Shri Ram - Kaushalya etc. This is so wonderfully retold, that the scene unfolds in front of your eyes, and invariably bringing a tear to your eyes! Such is the tremendous power of the words in the book : I do not know if this is the power of The Ramayan, the skill of the Author, or both...

For those of you who havent actually read The Ramayan, be prepared for a roller-coaster ride and a highly emotional experience. I can now understand just how important The Ramayan is to us, as well as Shri Ram-Devi Sita; the emotions you experience as you read it cannot be described; at least I do not have the skill to describe them. This is also due in some small measure to the focus being not just on telling the story so much as recreating the story in front of your eyes, and in your mind. 

The entire period of The Ramayan rises in front of your eyes. I can only say that it is tragic that I cannot read Sanskrut, if a translation can be so beautiful, I wonder how unimaginably fascinating the original must be, and how transcendentally beautiful! This is an epic, lovely and fascinating translation, and has been told with respect, devotion and great love; and it shows. 

The key value addition by The Transalator is the end-notes; first, they underscore the role of the author : he is our mentor and our guide on this journey of rediscovering the Ramayan, a Guru. And the Guru has littered the book with lovely, deep and pointed end-notes as explanations of the behaviour of each character {thereby ensuring the story remains free of intrepreter bias}. This takes you deep into the story and the minds of the various players in the story, giving you a deep understanding. 

What this also does is it also brings you face-to-face with yourself, your morality, your behaviours, your views and your life, giving you a deep learning and a fascinating maturing and learning experience. And then you begin to realise the sheer power of The Ramayan and its ability to bring you to face yourself, and introspect. You also realise through these stupendous end-notes that this is a story that can be read again, and again, and again... each time, with each reading, it will give a new flavour, a new learning...

In closing, let me state that despite knowing the entire story, this book has made me appreciate Prabhu Shri Ram - Maryaadaa Purushottam, his clarity of mind, his sincerity of purpose, his simplicity of thought, his honesty and integrity, his devotion and his love for everyone. It has also made me appreciate the sheer force and incredible power of Devi Sita, her incredible toughness, her dedication and sacrifice, and her love for Prabhu Shri Ram. And let us not forget the others - Shri Lakshman, Urmila and their equations, Bharat and his incredible nature... 

Incredible that such people once walked the face of this earth, and incredible that Mother India was once blessed with the presence of The Lord Himself! 

Jai Shri Ram!

{If any errors have happened, please accept my apologies....}



This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

New Delhi : AAP - Massive Challenges Ahead

In the previous article, I detailed why the election isn’t a major worry for the BJP. In this article, I propose to outline the challenges and problems that this election has raised in front of the AAP, as well as its positives.

For starters, the AAP stands as the one single party that has been consistently ridiculed by an amazingly large number of people on social media and national media alike. This is frankly the most disturbing aspect of the entire episode. People were consistently willing to forget the mistakes of the other parties, but not the AAP.

People were scalding in their total contempt  of this party, one whose main plank was anti-corruption & clean governance. I do not deny their mistakes, my point is different : the level of ridicule and insults that targeted this party right from the start were beyond imagination. Not only that, they were pilloried left right and center, despite being the only party in Indian History to quit government on a principle. Whether they should have done so is another matter – but critically, not one person appreciated that they showed that they had no desire for power, for standing up for the people, while blaming them for faults – some real, and some imagined.

It was this absence of a balanced view of this new party that was the most disturbing aspect of the entire political discourse, a matter which is the subject of the third and concluding part of this mini-series. It was from these ashes that this party re-emerged to win New Delhi, and this despite an ugly and frankly shocking campaign that all political parties in India should be ashamed of.


PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES
How they did it is now known, and is a matter of documented record. What is more important is the result they have achieved – 67/70, or nearly 95% seats. First, this represents a major loss for Democracy, rather than a victory. One of the founding principles of democracy is a strong and functioning opposition, which New Delhi now lacks. A strong opposition ensures proper functioning.

Next, this places the pressure firmly on them to perform; further, given that a large number of opponents are just waiting out there, ready to pounce on the first hint of non-performance, is going to be a very tall order. No one can be that good; mistakes will happen. These opponents will conveniently forget the much, much bigger mistakes of other political parties, mistakes for which even the nation has paid a high price at time, but will be all too willing to vilify the newcomer in a disgusting show of political opportunism. The AAP is best advised to gird up its lions for the tough fight ahead, that is pretty much a guarantee. We shall look into the reasons for this in the 3rd part.

That would mean it will have to stay focused on its core area of competence : New Delhi. The biggest challenge this huge result places in front of them is the development of areas outside New Delhi; this is now going to be a tough challenge to overcome, as they will need to concentrate on New Delhi. The only way forward for them is to ensure good performance in New Delhi – clean, incorrupt : let the people realize the power of a clean political party. If they now spread themselves thin, they run the risk of losing focus – this they cannot afford. That means, it has now been effectively contained to New Delhi.

Third, the vote share analysis is damning : only non-BJP segments have supported the AAP; the BJP has retained almost 97% of its base. The consolidation of the vote into one anti-BJP platform is going to be almost impossible to replicate, given the entrenched following of regional parties in other areas. The AAP will find it hard to crack that nut. Be it UP or Maharashtra, the ground realities are such  that it makes the way forward for AAP frought with massive risks.

It can be done : but not with haste. This will require careful strategic thought, and excellence in tactical execution. It will also require a long, time consuming process of development of a following among the people. The vote banks are fragmented, which means breaking into these bastions is always going to be a tall order. The key task for the AAP is now proving to the whole world that clean politics is possible, maintaining high standards and letting their work do the talking. For now, they had best be content with a regional role. This does not mean they make no efforts expand; that would be suicide. But this should be with an understanding that 2019 is not an option as of now.

THE HOPE… LIYE SAPNE NIGAHON MEIN, CHALAA HUN TERI RAAHON MEIN…

लिये सपने निगाहों में, चला हूँ तेरी राहों में
ज़िंदगी  रहा हूँ मैं \- 
 
कई यादों के चेहरे हैं, कई किस्से पुराने हैं
तेरी सौ दास्तानें हैं, तेरे कितने फ़साने हैं  \- 
मगर एक वो कहानी है, जो अब मुझको सुनानी है
ज़िन्दगी  रहा हूँ मैं 

मेरे हाथों की गरमी से, पिघल जायेंगी ज़ंजीरें
मेरे कदमों की आहट से, बदल जायेंगी तक़दीरें \-
उम्मीदों के दिये लेकर, ये सब तेरे लिये लेकर
ज़िन्दगी रहा हूँ मैं


This is what the AAP should now take to heart – this is the one line, the one message that should be on the minds of each member of the AAP, each minister and each volunteer. They should realize that the AAP is now a shining light in the darkness for some Indians - hopefully a very large number. People who are looking expectantly towards Arvind Kejriwal and his team, hoping to watch the promise of deliverance from ugly politics come true, hoping that they will see the day corruption reduces, that the goal of equal development will happen, that money reaches the people it is meant for, and much, much more.

Secondly, this majority gives the AAP the much-needed confidence to implement the reforms they deem necessary and within its powers to do. So long as they explain and sell their message, acknowledging their mistakes, and being mature, they should be fine. They now have the mandate; they should not waste the opportunity – something which the central government is in danger of doing.

Third, the AAP should also understand that the BJP can be beaten without winning over its hardliners anywhere else, or its votebanks. So can any other existing party; all it requires is a consolidation of the vote bank, combined with a genuine attention to the ground needs of the people – which will require painstaking hard work at the field level, something which the AAP excels at, as per new reports.. This is admittedly difficult, but not impossible, given time and the right performance in New Delhi, with the needed evolution in its policies and manifesto.

If they can pull it off, they can evolve into a national outfit subsequently far more easily. This will require that the AAP evolve a credible economic policy that balances the need for equity with the need for growth; that is evolves a foreign policy and so on and so forth – and communicates it to the people. It will require all this and much much more; it is a hard long road of learning for the AAP.

But it cannot and should not forget that people now look towards the future with tremendous and fervent hope, people who are eager for a credible alternative, and who are fed up with the status quo in national political discourse. If they forget that, even for a moment – they are finished. And with them, the risk of hope dying and cynicism setting in is too high; that is not a risk we can afford. The AAP should be clear : on them rest the hopes of hundred of Millions.

The reality is that the BJP’s message still sells to its core followers. The reality is the split vote banks are still a reality. The reality is that caste still sells, and caste-based parties will still garner votes. The reality is that frivolous issues are still considered vital, over and above serious issues by some segments of the electorate. The reality is that large numbers of voters are not educated enough to understand the nuances of the policies, and can be easily converted through a one-sided loaded message. And it is in this backdrop that the AAP has to sell its dream outside New Delhi.

The future is now in the hands of the AAP; how it handles New Delhi could well be the difference between the song above, and the one below for those among the electorate who are now looking towards the AAP and its leaders with hope in their eyes, a light in their minds and joy in their hearts…

क्या शबाब था के फूल-फूल प्यार कर उठा
क्या कमाल था के देख आईना सहर उठा
इस तरफ ज़मीन और आसमां उधर उठा
थाम कर जिगर उठा के जो मिला नज़र उठा
एक दिन मगर यहाँ, ऐसी कुछ हवा चली
लूट गयी कली-कली के घुट गयी गली-गली,
और हम लूटे-लूटे, वक़्त से पीटे पीटे 
साँस की शराब का खुमार देखते रहे
कारवाँ गुज़र गया, गुबार देखते रहे

हाथ थे मिले के ज़ुल्फ़ चाँद की संवार दूँ
होंठ थे खुले के हर बहार को पुकार दूँ
दर्द था दिया गया के हर दुखी को प्यार दूँ
और सांस यूँ के स्वर्ग भूमि पर उतार दूँ
हो सका ना कुछ मगर, शाम बन गयी सहर,
वो उठी लहर के ढह गये किले बिखर-बिखर,
और हम डरे-डरे, नीर नैन में भरे,
ओढ़कर कफ़न पड़े मज़ार देखते रहे

I Would Rather Listen To The First Song, Arvindji… you are the hope of India… don’t disappoint us. With a strong ruling party- the BJP, and an equally strong opposition – The AAP {hopefully} keeping a check on each other, the future of our India will be guaranteed, with no possibility of anyone going wrong. India needs you, India needs a strong opposition as well as a strong Government!


Jai Hind! Vande Mataram!