MAHATMA GANDHI’S VIEWS ON CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES AND CONVERSION

Mahatma Gandhi had strong views on religious conversion. He believed all religions were equal and therefore the need to switch from one to other religion was seldom justified, especially in the then prevailing Indian scenario, where he believed the Christian missionaries were indulging in proselytizing in the name of humanitarian aid.

Gandhi held the belief that “religion was not like house or cloak which can be changed at will”.

He used to say that he was not against conversion when it was in its purest form, driven by heart’s urge for higher purposes like peace and spirituality. His eldest son Harilal had converted to Islam in May 1936. Gandhiji condemned it saying Harilal’s decision was based on greed and sensual pleasures and he could never be a true follower of Islam.

“I just read in the paper about Harilal’s exploit. There could be no harm in his being converted to Islam with understanding and selfless motives. But he suffers from greed for wealth and sensual pleasures. I shall be spared all mental pain if I find my impression wrong and he turns a new leaf,” he wrote in a letter to his other son Ramlal. And indeed Harilal was driven by lesser motives as proved by his reconversion to the Hinduism fold just five months later.

He would say time and again that how happy he would be had the Christian missionaries be content with the humanitarian aspect of their work only and not in increasing the count of Christians. Following are views expressed by Mahatma Gandhi from time to time on religious conversion being performed by the Christian missionaries as available on http://www.mkgandhi.org.

WHEN GANDHIJI WAS ASKED BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES, WHETHER HE WOULD ALLOW CHRISTIANS TO CONTINUE WITH THEIR CONVERSION ACTIVITY WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCE, GANDHIJI REPLIED (YOUNG INDIA 27-10-20.)

“(And) if a change of religion could be justified for worldly betterment, I would advise it without hesitation. But religion is matter of heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.”

GANDHIJI’S VIEWS FROM BIHAR NOTES (8-10-1925) INDICATE THAT:

“Christian missionaries have been doing valuable service for generations, but in my humble opinion, their work suffers because at the end of it they expect conversion of these simple people to Christianity …How very nice it would be if the missionaries rendered humanitarian service without the ulterior aim of conversion.”

SPEAKING ABOUT THE BHILS, THE TRIBE FROM CENTRAL INDIA, GANDHIJI SAID (NAVJIVAN 18-4-1926):

“These so-called uncivilized communities are bound to attract the attention of missionaries, for it is the latter’s duty to get recruits for the Christian army. I do not regard such proselytization as real service to dharma. But how can we blame the missionaries if the Hindus take no interest in the Bhils? For them anyone who is brought into the Christian fold, no matter how he has become a Christian, has entered a new life and become civilized. If, as a result of such conversion, converts rise spiritually or morally, I personally would have nothing to say against their conversion. But I do not think that this is what happens.”

GANDHIJI SENT A TELEGRAM TO THE EDITOR OF DAILY HERALD, LONDON, (AFTER 23-4-1931) STATING, THAT THE REPORT ABOUT THE FOREIGN MISSIONARIES WAS DISTORTION OF HIS VIEWS.

“Am certainly against the use of hospitals, schools and the like for purposes conversion. It is hardly healthy method and certainly gives rise to bitter resentment, conversion matter of heart and must depend upon silent influence of pure character and conduct of missionaries. True conversion comes imperceptibly like aroma of rose. Thus, am not against conversion as but am certainly against present methods. Conversion must not be reduced to business depending for increase upon pounds, shillings, pence. I also hold that all great religions are of equal merit to respective nations or individuals professing them. India is in no need of conversion of type described. Whilst under swaraj all would be free to exercise their own faiths. Personally, I would wish present methods adopted by missionaries were abandoned even now and that under conviction not compulsion.”

SPEAKING AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY, WHICH WAS HELD AT CHURCH MISSIONARY HOUSE, LONDON, ON 8-10-1931. GANDHIJI SAID:

“The idea of converting people to one’s faith by speech and writings, by appeal to reason and emotion and by suggesting that the faith of his forefathers is a bad faith, in my opinion, limits the possibilities of serving humanity. I believe that the great religions of the world are all more or less true and they have descended to us from God.

…Religion is like a rose. It throws out the scent which attracts like magnet and we are drawn to it like involuntarily. The scent of religious contact has greater pungency than the scent of the rose, that is why I hold my view with reference to conversion.”

GANDHIJI FELT THAT HIS CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNTOUCHABILITY SHOULD NOT BE A REASON FOR THE MISSIONARIES TO GET DISTURBED. (HARIJAN, 25-1-1935.) HE SAID:

“But my trouble is that the missionary friends do not bring to their work a purely humanitarian spirit. Their object is to add numbers to their fold, and that is why they are disturbed. The complaint which I have been making all these years is more than justified by what you say. Some of the friends of a Mission were the other day in high glee over the conversion to Christianity of a learned pandit. They have been dear friends, and so I told them that it was hardly proper to go into ecstasies over a man forsaking his religion. Today it is the case of learned Hindu, tomorrow it may be that of an ignorant villager not knowing the principles of his religion… Here is Miraben. I would have her find all the spiritual comfort she needs from Christianity, and I should not dream of converting her to Hinduism, even if she wanted to do so …Take the case of Khan Saheb’s daughter entrusted to my care by her father. I should jealously educate her in her own faith and should strive my utmost against her being lured away from it if ever she was so inclined. I have had privilege of having children and grown-up persons of other faith with me. I was thankful to find them better Christians, Mussalmans, Parsis or Jews by their contact with me.”

WHEN A. A. PAUL FROM FEDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP HAD ASKED GANDHI TO DEFINE CONVERSION, (HARIJAN, 28-9-1935.) GANDHIJI STATED:

“My own detached view may now be stated in few words. I believe that there is no such thing as conversion from one faith to another in the accepted sense of the term. It is highly personal matter for the individual and his God. I may not have any design upon my neighbour as to his faith which I must honour even as I honour my own. For I regard all the great religions of the world as true at any rate for the people professing them as mine is true for me. Having reverently studied the scriptures of the world, I have no difficulty in perceiving the beauties in them. I could no more think of asking a Christian or a Mussalman or a Parsi or a Jew to change his faith than I would think of changing my own.. .It is a conviction daily growing upon me that the great and rich Christian missions will render true service to India, if they can persuade themselves to confine their activities to humanitarian service without the ulterior motive of converting India or at least her unsophisticated villagers to Christianity, and destroying their social superstructure, which notwithstanding its many defects has stood now from time immemorial the onslaughts upon it from within and from without. Whether they—the missionaries—and we wish it or not, what is true in the Hindu faith will abide, what is untrue will fall to pieces. Every living faith must have within itself the power of rejuvenation if it is to live.”

GANDHIJI WAS HAVING DISCUSSIONS WITH HARIJAN WORKERS IN BARDOLI ON 8-1-1942. QUESTION WAS PUT TO GANDHIJI THAT, HOW ONE DEALS WITH THE TEMPTATIONS GIVEN BY THE MISSIONARIES IN FORMS OF BOOKS, SCHOOL FEES ETC., TO WHICH HE REPLIED —

“The missionaries have of course the right to preach the Gospel of Christ and to invite non-Christians to embrace Christianity. But every attempt to press material benefits or attractions in the aid of conversion should be freely exposed, and the Harijans should be educated to resist these temptations.”

©SantoshChaubey

अपनी आज़ादी को हमें अब साधना है

पाया भी है हमने और खोया भी
अगर कुछ छूट गया है, टूट गया है
तो बहुत कुछ हमने गढ़ा भी है यहीं

अगर गरीबी अभिशाप बन अभी भी सताती है
तो विकास के प्रतिमान भी हमने देखे हैं यहीं

अगर भूख अभी भी चेहरों पर बिलबिलाती है
तो सोते हैं बहुत अपने घरों में भी

हां बोल नहीं पाते हैं अपनी बीमारी पर
और लाचार धकेले जाते हैं अपनी दुनियादारी पर
पर इसी समाज से निकलती है कहीं कोई आवाज़
जो कर जाती है एक नए संघर्ष का आगाज़

इतिहास से हमने सीखा है
और वर्तमान को लिखने की कोशिश अब करनी है

क्या हुआ के हम अभी भी लड़खड़ाते हैं
और ‘क्या नहीं कर पाए’ में उलझ जाते हैं
क्या आकाश हमें नहीं बुलाता है
और क्या सूरज को हमने नहीं मापा है

हां हम साध नहीं पाए हैं अपने ताने-बाने को
इंसान और देश की गति को एक पैमाने पर

देश आगे बढ़ता ही रहा है इन सालों में
पर इंसान कहीं पीछे रह गया इन सवालों से
कब इस भूल को सुधारेंगे हम
कब इंसान और देश को एक मानेंगे हम

जो देश ने पाया है पर इंसान ने खोया है
देखना होगा वो भ्रम किसकी आँखों में सोया है

आज़ाद हैं हम ये आवाज़ उठाने के लिए
क्या ये नहीं हमारी सफलता है
देश हमारा देता ये अवसर हमें
क्या नहीं ये इसकी सरलता है

आज़ाद तो हैं हम बरसों से
हां इसे हमें अब साधना है
हमारे सवाल जो पीछे रह गए हैं
उस क्यों को पहचानना है

जो गढ़ा है हमने देश के लिए
वही प्रतिमान हम इंसानों के लिए भी हो
गरीबी और भूख की सिसकियों से आगे
वही वर्तमान हम इंसानों के लिए भी हो

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey

LIU XIAOBO IS NO MORE: CHINA HAS KILLED ITS MOST RECOGNIZED DISSIDENT VOICE

He who was China’s most known figure raising voice for democracy and political reforms in a country fettered in autocratic chains of one-party dictatorial regime since 1950.

He was China’s leading dissident voice and human rights activist.

He had been a cynosure for the Chinese power elite ever since 1989 when he took part in protests on the Tiananmen Square as a young academician. China had arrested him four times – the last in 2008. He was detained in December 2008 and sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for inciting subversion of state power.

The world tried to sent China a message by selecting him for 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. China, a hell for human rights and political reform activists, responded to the decision saying the decision was totally wrong and unacceptable and started threatening countries to boycott the Award Ceremony on December 10, 2010. The Nobel Award ceremony was held with an empty chair representing him.

The power elite of the Chinese Communist Party moved swiftly to crush the every possible mention of Liu Xiaobo in China. They put Liu’s wife Liu Xia under house arrest the very day the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced its decision, i.e., October 8, 2010. She has been languishing in such forced conditions since then amid repeated calls by the international community to release her, a call that has got a renewed urge after demise of Liu.

China systematically killed Liu by incarcerating him in tough prison conditions and denying him the medical care that he required, something that deteriorated his health to life threatening condition ultimately. Domestic protests and international outrage mean nothing for China, death of Liu from terminal liver cancer once again proves. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has termed the death as premature and saying that China bears a heavy responsibility for it.

I had written in article in 2010 on what a Peace Nobel to Chinese human rights and pro-democracy activist meant – for Chinese society, for China’s power elite and for China’s pro-democracy activists.

I am sharing these articles here, with a more authoritative China under a more authoritative dictator, Ji Xinping, who has declared himself a ‘core leader’ like Mao Zedong and is working to make his power absolute in China – antithesis to the core body of thought that was behind the decision to award Peace Nobel to Liu Xiaobo.

These seven years have been a letdown for human rights and political reforms in China. But the big catch is China’s economic stagnation. It’s economy is slowing down and that is forcing the Chinese government to find new markets for its companies and new markets for its huge manufacturing base back home, in order to meet the expectations of its 1.37 billion strong population.

That, in turn, is forcing China to integrate more into global economy. All its attempts to forge global trade and climate alliances and trying to push its hegemony are half-baked attempts to that. That is bound to have a cost for the Chinese power elite. Increasingly, it will become difficult for a more globally involved China to do stuff like Tiananmen Massacre or incarcerating Liu Xiaobo or Ai Weiwei because China will not be in a position to face global isolation as that may push its dissident domestic factors beyond control.

Yes, it is not going to happen in near future. But evolution is a long-term process. Silence socially doesn’t mean people are not reacting. Spiral of silence may build up for years, depending on the dynamics of a country, before it leads to explosion of people’s anger.

CHINA’S DISSIDENCE ON PEACE NOBEL TO A ‘DISSIDENT’: WHAT’S ON STAKE FOR THE STAKEHOLDERS – I

A mighty state machinery goes into thinking mode based on some media inputs and its intelligence briefing. It anticipates some mobilization and prepares a control plan. A house is cordoned off. A lady is put under virtual house arrest. A counter speech is prepared in case the intelligence input gains ground.

Welcome to China, country of 2010 Nobel peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo. Liu is China’s first Nobel laureate who remained there to face the state’s wrath.

It was a day when China joined the league of Burma, Iran, cold-war era USSR or Hitler era Germany in denouncing the person honouring the most serious recognition for efforts to bring the positive change – the Peace Nobel.

It was a day when the Nobel Peace Committee didn’t throw any ‘hard to swallow surprises’ like last year decision to award Peace Nobel to Barack Obama.

It was a day when ‘aspiration’ prevailed over ‘achievement’. Less than expected performance of Obama during last one year in office is any indication?

It was a day when Gandhian values of non-violence and ‘human-first’ prevailed again.

On 8th October 2010, when the Nobel Peace Committee announced the prize for Xiaobo, a human rights activist and a cynosure for the Chinese since 1989 when he took part in protests on the Tiananmen Square as a young academician, it was on the expected line.

Dr Sima Samar, the Afghan human rights activist, Liu Xiaobo, Democratic Voice of Burma and Special Court for Sierra Leone were the most talked about contenders for this year Peace Nobel. And all these names suggested one thing, that the Nobel Peace Committee had taken note of its last year’s ‘hard to explain’ decision and was wary of inviting any controversy this year.

All these most talked about contenders this year have an inspiring tale of commitment and contribution and they give wings to aspire for more. Dr Sima Samar is head of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She has had a long history of working on human rights issues and is considered a strong female voice in a country like Afghanistan that has virtually no female rights. It becomes important in the wake of recent reports that Taliban are in talks with the Karzai government to end the civil war there. Democratic Voice of Burma is not-for-profit organization based in Norway that equips journalists to work clandestinely and beam programmes into the iron-curtained Burma, both on radio as well as TV waves. Special Court for Sierra Leone was established court in 2002 after the Sierra Leone government requested the United Nations in 2000 to establish an independent court to try the faces responsible for the civil war in Sierra Leone that broke in 1996.

An argument doing rounds was Liu Xiaobo had lesser chances as 2008 would be the ideal year when the prize should have been announced for him, the year when China held the biggest soft power projection spectacle, the Beijing Olympics, the year when Liu Xiaobo co-authored the famed ‘Charter 08’, an ‘allegedly incriminating’ document as the China mouth organs put it. Ideally that would have given Liu more space to be heard in a country where he does not have the following he deserves except a courageous section of the intelligentsia.

But, still a Peace Nobel to Liu means many significant things for the parties involved – Liu himself, Chinese like Liu, Chinese other than the Chinese elite, China, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and the humanity.

CHINA’S DISSIDENCE ON PEACE NOBEL TO A ‘DISSIDENT’: WHAT’S ON STAKE FOR THE STAKEHOLDERS – II

For Liu Xiaobo: Liu is like a committed Gandhian soldier who employs non-violent means to pursue his larger than life efforts for humanity, to contribute to the process of change. Values like freedom of speech, human rights, democracy are its present day parameters in a post-colonial world. He has endured state sponsored hardship during the 22 years of his activist life that includes the most severe punishment meted out to anyone after ‘challenging state’s writ and inciting subversion’ was included in the Chinese Criminal Code in 1996. He is no Gandhi or Mandela, but he seems to have a vision like them.

At personal level, it will be a big boost for his moral strength to continue with his struggle. The argument, that his limited following may altogether cease to exist as the Chinese government will now ruthlessly pursue the mission to kill any perception related to the name ‘Liu Xiaobo’, may boomerang. The intense cyber activity and widespread Chinese Diaspora will make it hard for any state attempt to stop the spread of word of mouth, and that too in country that has largest number of internet surfers crossing the 400 million mark. In the changed circumstances, the possibility that the Liu Xiaobo is bound to gain ground seems more opportune. After all, we did have differing versions of the Tiananmen massacre; we did have clearer versions of the Chinese crushing of Tibetan and Uighur movement; we did have this to witness the China government on the back-foot, many a times, in the Google row; after all, we did have version of Liu Xia who has been able to express the displeasure on Chinese panic and expression of shock; after all, we did have reports of Chinese arresting Liu Xia. It’s a changed time, even for the middle kingdom.

And why call Liu a dissident. He is more of a proponent of positive change. Perhaps it is not the Charter 08 but the ghost of Charter 77 that toppled Eastern European governments in the pro-democracy wave after it was framed in 1977. The panic shown by a defiant China shows this only.

For China, democracy has a different definition: Off late, there has been much media debate, locally as well as globally about Wen Jiabao’s comments on political restructuring and democracy. But all this talk is within the realm of maintaining ‘one-party’ supremacy and here China finds people like Xiaobo difficult to assimilate in its fold who demand the universal definition of democracy to be applied. One of the demands in the ‘Charter 08’ is establishment of the multi-party system in China, a blasphemy by the standards of the Chinese elite of the day.

Though having a very narrow spectrum, the economic liberalization has started making a dent in the Chinese fortress of one way entry and government fears voices like Liu may give fuel to the unrest that is already being reported. Let’s come to some economic indicators and what they foretell about China of tomorrow.

In 1978, when China opened up its economy, its rural and urban per-capita income was $19.6 and $50.3 that shot to $606.2 and $2018.4, respectively, in 2007. According to latest World Bank figures, the current Chinese per capita income is $3,590. Though impressive growth, the perception about its prowess and mighty status, militarily as well as economically, that the world’s most populous country has been very deliberately developing since 1978, has an inherent risk and it makes people like Xiaobo even more relevant and the decision to award him Peace Nobel a proper one.

China’s per capita income was 2.52% of that of US in 1980 that improved to the level of 4.05% of US per capita income in 2005. Current per capita income of US is around $40,000. So the gap is huge. Chinese rulers are feeding its middle class base with a dream of life of luxury in the days ahead when China will be the world’s largest economy. It is already the second largest when it overtook Japan the last quarter. China’s GDP for the last quarter totalled to $1.337 trillion (compared to Japan’s $1.288 trillion) that is 90 times bigger than what China had in 1978. The dream to chase and bridge this gap is presently the prevailing nationalist sentiment among the burgeoning Chinese middle class. Their income is growing and no doubt, China has tried to distribute the gains to its rural areas too, and where its corrupt system has failed it. Here we need to remember the treatment meted out to the poor while evicting them out of Shanghai and Beijing.

Even by the most liberal estimates, here China might fail in the coming future. Once people are fed-up of what they have achieved, they look for the next level. And the problem is, the swift pace of change in recent times ($2018.4 per capita income to $3,590 in just three year) has made the middle class sentiment change even swifter. The economy growth is bound to slow down and even stagnate in coming years. But, by then China will have a middle class thriving on technological sophistication, connected more to the world and to the Diaspora, and demanding for more and more. When such a huge and aspiring middle class doesn’t get its ends met, it starts questioning the state policies. And given their large population base, it seems like an unachievable task for countries like India and China to surpass the per-capita income of developed countries, if we talk in terms of the perceivable future.

The system that China has right now cannot handle it as it has fed its people with a very glossy future, to the very same people who have survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution and its factory and rationing system. Anyone who is aware of China’s factory system and the social habitation built around it very well knows about its darkness. Chinese middle class will do anything to run away from it. They cannot not be treated like they were before 1978. But in a crisis situation now, they won’t have any alternatives to look for to express their dissatisfaction, like in a democracy, and that is bound to fuel the unrest. Alternative was out of question way back in 1978. But, is China of the day in a situation to adopt crushing tactics like the Tiananmen? Certainly not. It needs to give its citizens options in case of unrest and it has to decide its formations and configuration.

A crisis situation is handled well by a country when it believes in its subjects, the citizens, or to say more aptly a democracy, that China is not. It can begin a process by assimilating voices like Liu in the mainstream. It should welcome its first Nobel Prize as a way forward to propagate a healthy national debate on political reforms. Economical and political reforms have to be complimentary otherwise China may fall due to its own weight. It cannot have the definition of democracy that it is trying to propagate in the name of political reforms. It needs to have a democracy like that propounded in the ‘Charter 08’.

Otto Hermann Kahn has very rightly said: The deadliest foe of democracy is not autocracy but liberty frenzied.

CHINA’S DISSIDENCE ON PEACE NOBEL TO A ‘DISSIDENT’: WHAT’S ON STAKE FOR THE STAKEHOLDERS – III

It is 52 days; 52 days since October 8, 2010. It took 52 days for the Chinese state machinery to crush the Tiananmen Moment of 1989 culminating in June 5 bloodbath from a humble beginning as civilian gathering on April 15, 1989.

So what all China has done in these 52 days this time? Certainly it’s not another Tiananmen of 1989 but it can be precursor of something like what came out of mourning after death of Hu Yaobang in 1989.

The 52 days since the Peace Nobel announcement to Liu Xiaobo has seen a frenetic activity by the Chinese government that tells that the Chinese elite mindset has not changed since the days of the 1989 Tiananmen Movement. The uprising then had acquired a loud and potent formation with its wide outreach and was meted out with an equally crushing and demeaning spread of totalitarian tentacles subsequently. The seed of a potential uprising this time is subtle and it is there, yes the seed may take longer to germinate here because the change now is happening amidst a conundrum of economic, social and political parameters that the Chinese policymakers are still trying to understand.

Not much insight is needed but a keen observation to the response of the Chinese state machinery and of its elite since October 8.

It has virtually arrested Liu Xia – no communication means available. It has cracked down on the members of Chinese intelligentsia who dared speak positively about Liu’s Nobel, arresting some, making some pariah by clipping their wings, defaming them by using its state sponsored propaganda machinery (what else one can expect when you have the whole media acting as your mouth organ – no doubt the huge investment that the Chinese media industry saw was never to get its return), cracking down on communication and social networking means of some, threatening the country’s masses with direct and indirect consequences of even thinking about the name Liu Xiaobo, extending it to other countries through its coercive and threatening diplomacy.

How else we can have a Nobel Committee alleging a country of year’s Nobel recipient of sabotaging the Prize Ceremony as six countries including Russia (no need to mention China) have shown their inability to join the function? December 10 has still 12 more days to go and expect more muscle juggling of China’s coercive diplomacy externally and an over-alert internal security system internally.

What all these tell? Something ominous!

Yes, ominous for the Chinese elite but symbolically opportune for the Chinese masses with its emerging classes and it is interestingly foretelling for the world community.

And what are these factors? The similar ones already discussed in previous two parts of this write-up, a burgeoning middle class, new classes within the class-less Chinese society, their growing connectivity and communication freedom and hence their growing demands of a life, always to be bettered in terms of what a ‘standard quality of life’ means universally.

What all it says of what all that China has done in these 52 days for other stakeholders – – Chinese like Liu, Chinese other than the Chinese elite, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and the humanity – of the decision to award the Peace Noble to Liu Xiaobo!

Amnesty has stated – “As we’re doing right now, there’ll be increased attention paid not only to Liu Xiaobo, but also many of the dozens of other activists who have spoken out, worked really tirelessly, been jailed for promoting freedom of expression, for promoting respect for human rights. The international community will hopefully pay greater attention to the fact that Liu Xiaobo is not alone, in fact, in the activities that he’s been conducting.”

©SantoshChaubey

IT MAY BE A DALIT VS DALIT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, BUT NOT A SINGLE INDIAN STATE HAS A DALIT CM

The article originally appeared on India Today.

After the Opposition announced former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, a Dalit politician, as its presidential candidate to take on NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, the presidential election has become a Dalit vs Dalit contest.

According to the 2011 Census, 16.6 per cent of India’s population are Dalits or SCs. That’s nearly 20.14 crore people. But at the moment, no Indian state has a Dalit chief minister.

16 chief ministers belong to Forward Communities, while six states have OBC chief ministers. It includes the National Capital Region of Delhi. The eight states of north-east India – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya – mostly have tribal chief ministers.

©SantoshChaubey

OBAMA TERMS TRUMPCARE A MASSIVE EXTORTION BILL, TRUMP REITERATES OBAMACARE IS DEAD

The article originally appeared on India Today.

While former US President Barack Obama has slammed the latest version of the healthcare bill unveiled by the Republican Senators to replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it is popularly known, his successor Donald Trump has reiterated that Obamacare is dead. Enacted by the US Congress, the ACA was signed and put in place by Barack Obama in March 2010.

Obama termed the Republican bill “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America” whereas Trump wrote on Twitter that “he was very supportive of the Senate healthcare bill and looked forward to making it really special” reiterating that ObamaCare was dead. Obamacare, seen as the most important reform measure in the US healthcare system after 1960s Medicaid, has been opposed by the Republicans. They say it hurts businesses and kills jobs though a BBC report last month said that Obamacare has added 9 per cent more jobs in the healthcare industry since its implementation in 2010.

Barack Obama, a Democrat, in his detailed response on the controversy over Obamacare and its replacement with Trumpcare or the Republican healthcare act, a central campaign promise of Donald Trump, looks to decimate the Republican noise on a bill that is expected to leave millions of Americans out of the US government mandated healthcare protection.

While presenting arguments in favour of Obamacare, Obama writes in his Facebook post that the legislation has helped cover 90 per cent Americans and the insurance companies now cannot ask for more or deny insurance citing pre-existing health conditions. He says that the legislation has slowed down the pace of rising healthcare costs and slams the Republican version as a hastily arrived antithesis to what Obamacare stands for.

He writes that “the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it”, backing his comment on analyses in the US media and the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment which has projected that the new bill would leave 14 million Americans uninsured the very next year and the figure would reach to 23 million by 2016.

He accepts that though a significant step, “ACA was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.”

Trump, during the campaign phase of the US presidential polls, and even after his election, had raised hopes of a healthcare act to replace Obamacare that would guarantee ‘universal healthcare’ but going by the versions of the Republican healthcare bill so far, there has been a growing consensus in the US that if implemented in the current form, the Republican legislation would devoid millions of the much needed healthcare protection and at the same time would increase healthcare cost for many and would ruin Medicaid, a US government programme for financially weaker section that has been in place for decades.

Obama writes that he hopes that even many Republicans who fought for the ACA would see these concerns and would say no to the bill in its current form, “Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.”

And Obama is right. Within hours of the unveiling of the Republican legislation, four conservative Republicans came out to say that they cannot support the bill in its current form, a Reuters report said. Even last month, while delivering a speech during an event, Obama had appealed to the Congressmen to oppose Trump administration’s moves to repeal Obamacare, adding that “the lawmakers should have the courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm,” a CNN report said.

So far, either Donald Trump or the Republican senators have not been able to come out with a piece of legislation that would be smart enough to outdo the Obamacare. Democrats have stood united against any proposed Republican healthcare bill so far. But what should be eye-opener that even many Republicans are against the Obamacare replacement in its present form that makes Republican Party, that is in majority, short of votes to pass the bill in the House as happened in May this year when, in a major defeat for Donald Trump, the Republicans had to withdraw the legislation as they could not garner numbers even after months of canvassing. Trump’s assertion few hours ago that he has helped pass and signed 38 Legislative Bills, mostly with no Democratic support, and gotten rid of massive amounts of regulations is of no use in case of Obamacare as long as the whole Republican Party stands behind him.

Accusing Trump of “giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut” and bringing a piece of legislation that will put the American people through the pain of massive healthcare costs, unlimited bills and insurers’ rejections once lose their insurance cover under Obamacare, Obama appeals to the Americans to call Congress members and visit their offices and speak out their minds to let America know “in very real terms, what this means for them and their family” because what is at stake here is bigger than politics. It is the character of the nation – “who we are, and who we aspire to be and that’s always worth fighting for,” Obama writes.

©SantoshChaubey

BARACK OBAMA ON TRUMPCARE: NOT A HEALTHCARE BILL BUT A MASSIVE TRANSFER OF WEALTH TO RICH

After the Republican senators of the US presented the latest version of their healthcare bill yesterday to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 or Obamacare launched by Barack Obama, a Democrat, seven years ago, predecessor of the Republican US President Donald Trump, Obama has hit back.

In his first detailed response in months on the controversy over Obamacare and its replacement with Trumpcare or the Republican healthcare act, a central campaign promise of Donald Trump, Obama has decimated the Republican noise on a bill that is expected to leave millions of Americans out of the US government mandated healthcare protection.

While presenting arguments in favour of Obamacare, Obama writes in his Facebook post that the legislation has helped cover 90 per cent Americans and companies cannot ask for more or deny insurance citing some pre-existing health condition and has slowed down the pace of rising healthcare costs, Obama has slammed the Republican version as a hastily arrived antithesis to what Obamacare stands for.

He writes, citing objective analyses and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, “the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it” while adding that though a significant step, “ACA was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.”

Trump, during the campaign phase of the US presidential polls, and even after his election, had raised hopes of a healthcare act to replace Obamacare that would guarantee ‘universal healthcare’ but going by the versions of the Republican healthcare bill so far, there has been a growing consensus in the US that if implemented in the current form, the Republican legislation would devoid millions of the much needed healthcare protection and at the same time would increase healthcare cost for many and would ruin Medicaid, a US government programme for financially weaker section that has been in place for decades.

Obama writes that he hopes that even many Republicans who fought for the ACA would see these concerns and would say no to the bill in current form, “Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.”

And Obama is right. Within hours of the unveiling of the Republican legislation, four conservative Republicans have come out to say that they cannot support the bill in its current form, a Reuters report said.

Either Donald Trump or Republican senators have not been able to come out with a piece of legislation that would be smart enough to outdo the Obamacare. Democrats have stood united against any proposed Republican healthcare bill so far. But what should be eye-opener for Republicans that even many Republicans are against the Obamacare replacement in its present form that makes Republicans, who are in majority, short of votes to pass the bill in the House as happened in May when, in a major defeat for Donald Trump, the Republicans had to withdraw the legislation as they could not garner numbers even after months of canvassing.

Accusing Trump of “giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut” while bringing a piece of legislation that may put the American people through the pain of massive healthcare costs, unlimited bills and insurers’ rejections after they lose their insurance cover under Obamacare, Obama appeals to the Americans to call Congress members and visit their offices and speak out their minds to let America know “in very real terms, what this means for them and their family” because what is at stake here is bigger than politics. It is the character of the nation – “who we are, and who we aspire to be and that’s always worth fighting for,” Obama writes.

©SantoshChaubey

INDIA LIKELY TO SURPASS CHINA’S POPULATION IN 2024

The article originally appeared on India Today.

The 25th round of population projections by the United Nations has delayed its earlier estimates by two years when India’s population is likely to surpass China’s. According to the “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision” released by the Population Division of the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India is likely to surpass China’s population in 2024 while in its 24th round projections, released in 2015, the UN had estimated 2022 to be the year when India’s population could surpass China’s. In its 2013 estimates, the UN had projected India’s population to overtake China’s in 2028.

According to the report, China with 1.41 billion and India with 1.34 billion people, accounting for 19 per cent and 18 per cent of the global population, remain two most populous countries and adds that in “in roughly seven years, or around 2024, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.” Nigeria, that is growing most rapidly among the ten largest countries and is currently the world’s seventh largest, will surpass the US to become the world’s third most populous country in the world shortly before 2050.

Also, while China, that is geographically three times larger than us with an economy of $11 trillion that is five times of India’s $2.1 trillion, is slowing down, India’s population is expected to be the fastest growing among the countries which will account for half of the world’s population growth between 2017 to 2015. The countries in decreasing order of their expected contribution to the global population growth are India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, the United States of America, Uganda and Indonesia.

The world’s total population is projected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100 from its current 7.6 billion. The report says “83 million people are added to the world’s population every year and the upward trend in population size is expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline.”

The report says in 2014 both countries will have roughly 1.44 billion people. While India’s population will continue to grow for decades after it, touching 1.5 billion in 2030 and 1.66 billion in 2050, China’s population is expected to register a slow decline after remaining stable till 2030s.

In May this year, a Chinese experts claimed that India’s population had already surpassed China’s. Yi Fuxiang, a US based Chinese scientist, came out with his numbers arguing that China’s real population was 1.29 billion in 2016 and not 1.38 billion as estimated by China and India had surpassed China with 1.33 billion people quoting the UN figures. He had arrived at his findings after factoring in information and data on family planning policies, birth rate and hospital and school statistics. Though widely reported, his claims were met with scepticism and the UN report now makes it clear that China’s still more populous than us, even if only for seven more years.

©SantoshChaubey

SO WHAT IF RURAL EXODUS IS ADDING TO URBAN POVERTY

According to the 2014 World Urbanization Prospects, released by the Population Division of the Department of Social and Economic Affairs of the United Nations, India is going to add 404 million of people to its urban population by 2050, ahead of the projected additions by China (292 million) and Nigeria (212 million).

That is expected to add to the poverty problem of India, slowing down the rate of poverty reduction in urban areas of the country. The Global Food Policy report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in March said that the trend is bound to bring more poverty to urban agglomerations.

But it is a double-edge sword.

Why are people migrating to cities or urban agglomerations?

Because they are not able to find a sustainable livelihood back home, if they can call the place they come from as home.

The primary reason to move to cities is the additional source of income by finding jobs in the booming infrastructure sector in India. And small jobs that these big urban agglomerations support. Even if they will pay a heavy price. They will have to live on streets, in slums, with no quality of life. Education, health, shelter and amenities like piped water, electricity and roads will remain out of bounds for them. But they will, at least, be able to feed themselves and their families, that was not possible back there in their villages. Even if malnutrition becomes an urban problem with this rural exodus, it is, at least, saving lives.

They were poor back there, in villages. And they will remain poor even if they migrate to cities.

Because the sole aim of such migration is survival and not uplifting the scale of life.

So, if we see from a sociological perspective, it is a fruitful migration, as long as we keep on failing our agriculture that still supports some 45 crore Indians, if we go by an NSSO report which estimates the number of agricultural households in India at 9 crore. It is an established practice that for statistical calculations, we take the average size of an Indian family of five members. The number goes even further if we count the population dependent indirectly on agriculture.

Because the farming distress is very real. It, in fact, has been there for decades. Since 2001, over 2.30 lakh farmers have committed suicide, i.e., 2 farmers per hour, and these are as per the officials records of the government of India (NCRB figures). It is that during the years of crisis, i.e., drought and overproduction years, the problem becomes so intense that it starts spilling over on our conscience.

And it is always a chain reaction, an eco-system built on all of its constituents with faming at the core, be it rural markets, daily wage earners, transportation workers or even service professionals like lawyers and doctors, farming sustains the flow of money in the local eco-system by regulating the purse strings of majority of its stakeholders.

India has to grow and fine tune its process with this reality. It has to find solutions within the existing framework of its problems because it cannot generate millions of jobs, even in coming years, to support and sustain the chunk of population dependent on agriculture.

©SantoshChaubey

FEELING HEAT, UP CM ADITYANATH DIRECTS OFFICIALS ON FARM LOAN WAIVER

After questions are being raised over delay in the disbursal of the farm loan waiver, Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has given instructions to the Finance Department of the state to take measures to effectively implement the crop loan waiver scheme. There are numerous report on how farmers of the state are still clueless about their loan waiver even after two months of its announcement by the UP CM. Farmers are making rounds of banks but banks haven’t got any order yet and as their previous loan amount is still due, they are not able to get new loans.

The directives issued by Yogi is also being seen as an attempt to avoid farmers unrest in Uttar Pradesh after raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests and clashes with administration in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Protests in Madhya Pradesh have reached to its capital city Bhopal. And its flames further have reached to Punjab and Haryana where farmers held protests in support of the farmers of Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh farmers are also going to start their protest movement.

According to the Twitter account of the UP CM office, Yogi Adityanath has directed the state officials that the loan waiver amount of the small and marginal farmers be made available to banks immediately after the state budget is passed. The Yogi government is finalizing its budget and it is expected to be presented by June end. Yogi’s predecessor Akhilesh Yadav had presented the state’s interim budget for April-August on December 21 last year as the state was going to polls in February-March.

Adityanath has directed his officials to issue certificates of loan waiver to the small and marginal farmers and has instructed his officials that they must visit the 86 lakh beneficiary farmers to handover the document personally. The outreach is being seen as an attempt by Adityanath so express his sensitivity towards the affected farmers.

He has also asked his officials to direct the banks to not issue notice to the farmers who are beneficiary of this loan waiver scheme till the state budget is passed. For effective implementation of the loan waiver scheme, he has directed the officials to form committees at the district level headed by the district collectors. One of the most important directives he has issued is of linking the beneficiary bank accounts to their Aadhar number. It will ensure transparency and quick flow of funds from the government to the farmers once the funds are made available.

Keeping its campaign promise, the Yogi Adityanath government had waived crops loans worth Rs 36359 crore its first cabinet meeting on April 4. The waiver intends to benefit 2.1 crore small and marginal farmers of the state with loan liability of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Spread of farmers’ agitation to many states, with many of them being BJP run, has sent state governments and the central government in a panic mode. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan first announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the farmers killed in Mandsaur firing, raised it to Rs 10 lakh and then finally to Rs 1 crore, all in a span of just few hours. He also sat on indefinite peace fast to appeal to the farmers. Central government led by Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting on farmers’ agitation and Maharashtra chief minister decided to waive of farmers’ loans in the state worth 30000 crore, a long standing demand even by the Shiv Sena, the BJP partner in the state government.

Because they realize that if the BJP loses the confident of the farmers, it is staring at an electoral loss in the upcoming elections including the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Farming community and its dependents who form over one-third of India’s population are an electoral force that no political party can dare to ignore. Politics over farm crisis and farm suicides tell us the electoral might of farmers even if they are cursed to live a life of misery with a paltry monthly household income of just Rs 6426 a month, the National Sample Survey Office’s report says.

©SantoshChaubey