Thursday, January 5, 2012

What is India? - A speech by Markandey Katju

A very interesting and thought provoking piece : K K Punchhi

By Markandey Katju

The following is the text of a speech delivered by Justice Markandey Katju, chairman of the Press Council of India, at Jawaharlal Nehru University on November 14, 2011.


I am deeply honoured to be invited to speak before all of you. My time is limited, as I was told I should speak for 30 minutes and after that there will be a question answer session. As my main speech will be restricted to 30 minutes, I may come to the topic of discussion immediately, that is, What is India? I will present before you five thesis for your consideration.

(i) India is broadly a country of immigrants like North America. Over 92% people living in India are not the original inhabitants of India. Their ancestors came from outside, mainly from the North West.

(ii) Because India is a country of immigrants like North America there is tremendous diversity in India - so many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups etc.

(iii) Despite the tremendous diversity in India, by the interaction and intermingling of these immigrants who came into India a common culture emerged in India which can broadly be called the Sanskrit-Urdu culture, which is broadly the culture of India.

(iv) Because of the tremendous diversity in India the only policy which can work and hold our country together is secularism and giving equal respect to all communities, otherwise our country cannot survive for one day.

(v) India is passing through a transitional period, transition from feudal agricultural society to modern Industrial society. This is a very painful and agonizing period in history. If you read the history of Europe from the 16th to 19th Centuries you will find that this was a horrible period in Europe. Only after going through that fire, in which there were wars, revolutions, turmoil, intellectual ferment, chaos, social churning, etc.,modern society emerged in Europe. India is presently going through that fire. We are going through a very painful and agonizing period in our history which I think will last for around another 20 years. I may now briefly elaborate these theses.

(1) India is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America.The difference between North America and India is that North America is a country of new immigrants, where people came mainly from Europe over the last four to five hundred years, India is a country of old immigrants where people have been coming in for 10 thousand years or so.

Why have people been coming into India? Very few people left India, except on two occasions namely (i) in the 19th century when under British rule Indian poor peasants were sent to Fiji, Mauritius, West Indies, etc. as plantation labourers and (ii) the Diaspora for the last 30-40 years or so of highly qualified engineers, scientists, doctors, etc. Apart from this, nobody left India, everybody came into India. Why?

The reason is obvious. People migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas, obviously, because everybody wants comfort. Before the Industrial Revolution which started in Western Europe from the 18th century and then spread all over the world there were agricultural societies everywhere. Now what does agriculture require? It requires level land, fertile soil, plenty of water for irrigation, etc. All this was in abundance in the Indian sub continent. If you go from Rawalpindi to Bangladesh and to the deep South upto Kanyakumari, everywhere you will find level land, fertile soil, plenty of rivers, forests, etc. You scatter some seeds and there is a bumper harvest. Why will anybody migrate from India to, say, Afghanistan which is cold, rocky and uncomfortable. If you have seen Afghanistan on your television screen it looks like a desert covered with snow for four to five months in a year. I have never seen snow falling in my life. I don't know what a snowfall looks like. For agricultural society India was really paradise, hence everybody kept rolling into India, mainly from the North West and to a much lesser extent from the North East.

Who were the original inhabitants of India? At one time it was believed that the Dravidians were the original inhabitants, but now that theory has been disproved. Now, it is believed that even the Dravidians came from outside. There are several proofs of that, one of which is that there is a Dravidian language called Brahui which is spoken in Western Pakistan even today by about three million people. The original inhabitants of India, as it is believed now, were the pre-Dravidians tribal, who are called adivasis or Scheduled Tribes in India e.g. the Bhils, the Santhals, the Gonds, the Todas, etc., that is, the speakers of the Austric, pre Dravidian languages e.g. Munda, Gondvi, etc. They are hardly seven or eight percent of the Indian population today. They were pushed into the forests by the immigrants and treated very badly. Except for them all of us are descendents of immigrants who came mainly from the North West of India. (See in this connection the article `Kalidas Ghalib Academy for Mutual Understanding' on the website ( http://kgfindia.com/ ).

(2) Because India is a country of immigrants there is tremendous diversity in India so many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, etc. Somebody is tall, somebody is short, somebody is fair, somebody is dark, somebody is brown, with all kinds of shades in between, someone has got Mongoloid features, someone has got Caucasian features, someone has got Negroid features, there are differences in food habits, dress, traditional festivals, etc. We may compare India with China. Our population is about 1200 million while China has about 1300 million and they have perhaps 2 ½ times our land area. However, there is broad (though not absolute) homogeneity in China. All Chineese have Mongoloid faces, they have one common written script called Mandarin Chinese (although spoken dialects are different), and 95% Chinese belong to one ethnic group called the Han Chinese. So there is broad homogeneity in China. In India, on the other hand, there is tremendous diversity, because whichever group of immigrants came into India brought in their own culture, their religion, their language etc.

(3) Is India a nation at all, or is it just a group of hundreds of kinds of immigrants? Is there anything common in India? The answer is that the immigrants who came into India over the last 10 thousand years or so, by their interaction and intermingling created a common culture which can broadly be called the Sanskrit- Urdu culture. This is our culture.

Now this has to be explained because some people asked me when I put forward this thesis how do you say this is the culture of India? How are Tamilians part of Sanskrit Urdu culture, what have the people of Nagaland got to do with Sanskrit and Urdu, etc.

The answer is that you must first understand what is Sanskrit and what is Urdu? I will take a little time to explain this, but details can be seen in my articles on the website kgfindia.com under the titles `What is Urdu', `Great injustice to Urdu in India', `Sanskrit as a Language of Science', etc. Both of these languages have been misunderstood. People think that Sanskrit is a language of chanting mantras in temples or in religious ceremonies. However, that is only 5% of Sanskrit literature. 95% of Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion. It deals with a whole range of subjects like philosophy, law, science (including mathematics, medicine and astronomy) grammar, phonetics and literature. So you can not compare Bengali and Tamil with Sanskrit. Bengali and Tamil have only stories, novels and moral literature (like Thirukkural) butthey do not have any discussion on mathematics, law, medicine, etcSanskrit was the language of people with an enquiring mind, who enquired about everything, and therefore there is a whole range of subjects which have been discussed in Sanskrit. In the paper on the website kgfindia.com `Sanskrit as a Language of Science' all this has been discussed in detail, therefore, I am not going into great detail here. I may, however, just mention two things: one is the contribution of Panini and the other is the contribution of the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy.
Sanskrit is not just one language there are many Sanskrits. What we call Sanskrit today, and what is taught in schools and colleges is really Panini's Sanskrit, which is called classical Sanskrit or Laukik Sanskrit. But there were earlier Sanskrits. The earliest Sanskrit book is the Rigveda which was composed anytime between 2000 or 1500 B.C (it was subsequently passed on orally). Now language changes with the passage of time. For instance if we pick up a play of Shakespeare we will not be able to understand it without a good commentary because the English language has changed over these 4½ centuries since the time of Shakespeare. Many of the words and expressions which were in vogue in Shakespeare's time in English are not in vogue today. Similarly, Sanskrit language kept changing for about 1500 years, from 2000 B.C. to the 5th century B.C., until Panini who, was the perhaps greatest grammarian the world has ever seen, in his book 'Ashtadhyayi' fixed the rules of Sanskrit in the 5th century B.C. Thereafter no further changes in Sanskrit were permitted, except some slight changes made by two other grammarians, one was a man called Katyayana who wrote his book "Vartika' written about 100-200 years after Panini, and another was Patanjali who wrote his book 'Mahabhashya' about 200 years after Katyayana. Except for these slight changes, what is taught in schools and colleges is really Panini's Sanskrit.
What Panini did was that he studied the crude Sanskrit prevailing in his time and he rationalized it and meticulously systemized it, so as to make it a powerful vehicle of expressing profound and abstract ideas with great precision.
Science requires precision. Panini made Sanskrit a powerful vehicle in which scientific ideas could be expressed with great precision and with great clarity and it was made uniform all over India, so that thinkers in one part of the sub-continent could interact with thinkers of another part easily. That was his great contribution.
I will give you one small illustration, since a lecture on Astadhyayi will take too much time. Take for example the alphabets in the English language, from A to Z. Now they have all been arranged in a haphazard manner. Why is B followed by C, why is D followed by E. There is no reason why F comes after E, why P is followed by Q or Q is followed by R. There is nor reason at all in this arrangement of the alphabets, which are jumbled up haphazardly.

In Sanskrit, on the other hand what Panini did was that he arranged the alphabets in a very scientific manner. For example, take the consonants. There is a sequence ka, kha, ga, gha, nga (called the `ka varga') which you must have heard of. Now all these sounds come from the throat. Also the second and the fourth consonants in this sequence are what are known as aspirants. An aspirants means a consonant in which 'ha' is added. For instance, 'ka' + 'ha' is 'kha' 'ga' + 'ha' is 'gha', etc. Similarly, the second and fourth consonants in every sequence (of 5 consonants) is an aspirant.

The sounds in the second sequence of 5 consonants (the `cha varga') ch, cha, ja, jha, yan all come from the middle of the tongue. The sounds in the `ta varga' Ta, tha, da, dha, nda come from the roof of the mouth, the sounds in the sequence ta, tha, da, dha, na come from the tip of the tongue, the sounds in the sequence pa, pha, ba, bha, ma come from the lips. We can see how scientifically these consonants are arranged. Thus even in such a simple thing as the arrangement of alphabets a careful and scientific study was done. Panini made Sanskrit a powerful vehicle of expressing profound ideas in a very concise and exact manner, as is required in science.
The second contribution of Sanskrit to the development of rational and scientific thinking was the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy. I do not know how many of you are students of Indian philosophy, but I may tell you very briefly that there are six classical systems of Indian philosophy, Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Sankya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Uttar Mimansa, and three non-classical systems, Buddhism, Jainism and Charvak. Out of these nine systems eight of them are atheistic as there is no place for God in them. Only the ninth one, that is Uttar Mimansa, which is also called Vedanta, has a place for God in it. One of the classical systems is called the Nyaya system. The Nyaya system says that nothing is acceptable unless it is in accordance with reason and experience, which is precisely the scientific approach. Vaisheshik was part the physics of ancient times (the atomic or parmanu theory). Physics is part of science, and hence at one time Vaisheshik was part of Nyaya philosophy. However, since physics is the most fundamental of all sciences subsequently Vaisheshik was separated from Nyaya and made into a separate philosophy altogether.
It was the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy which provided the scientific background and gave great encouragement to our scientists to propound their scientific theories. People in our country were not persecuted for being scientists, unlike in Europe where scientists were burnt on the stake like Bruno for propounding their his scientific theories. Galileo was almost burnt on the stake, and he narrowly escaped by recanting his views. As recent as in 1925 in America a teacher John Scopes was criminally prosecuted in the famous (or infamous) monkey trial for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution because it was against the Bible. This never happened in our country because behind science was a scientific philosophy, that is the Nyaya Vaisheshik philosophy, which says that nothing is acceptable unless it is in accordance with reason and experience.

I want to tell you about the scientific achievements of our ancestors. But before doing so let me tell you that a lot of people talk non-sense that in ancient India there were atom bombs, guided missiles, etc. This is all non-sense, and you make a laughing stock of yourselves by talking like this. Some people say that we had aeroplanes in ancient India, because in the Ramayana it is mentioned that Lord Ram brought Sita back from Lanka on a Pushpak Viman. They conclude from this that there were aeroplanes in ancient India. Everyone, including children, know that the first aeroplane was invented by the Wright brothers in America in 1903. so it is total nonsense to say that we had aeroplanes in ancient India.

Now it is true that in the Ramayana there is mention of PushpakViman. But what is the Ramayana? It is an epic poem. A poet has what is called poetic licence. That means that he has a right to exaggerate. So we should not take words in a poem literally. If there were aeroplanes in ancient India then that means there were engines. Then why did the ancient warriors fight on chariots, horses and elephants, they should have fought in tanks. This kind of talk is all nonsense, and we make a laughing stock of ourselves by talking like this.

The real great achievements of our ancestors most people are totally unaware of, and instead they talk such nonsense.

At one time we were leading the whole world in science and technology. I may give you a few illustrations. The ancient Romans who built a very great civilization, the civilization of Ceasar and Augustus, and were the cultural ancestors of the Europeans, felt very uncomfortable with numbers above one thousand. This is because they expressed their numbers in alphabets. One was I, five was V, ten was X, fifty was L, hundred was 100, five hundred was D and 1000 was M. 'M' stands for millennium or one thousand. There was nothing above 'M'. So if the ancient Romans wanted to write 2000 they had to write MM, if they wanted to write 3000 they wrote MMM, etc. To write one million they would have to write M one thousand times, as that was the only way they could express one million. On the other hand, our ancestors had invented the concept of zero.

You see these numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 do not really exists, what exists is one table, two chairs, three men, etc. These have existence in the objective universe. One, two, three, four has no existence in the objective universe, they are pure abstractions. And the concept of zero required a further flight of imagination which Europeans could never achieve. The Arabs borrowed it from us and the Europeans borrowed it from the Arabs. So we could express numbers in astronomical terms. For example, one thousand requires 1 with three zeros, add two more zeros it becomes one Lakh, add two more zeros it becomes 1 Crore, two more zeros one Arab, two more zeros one Kharab, two more zeros one Padma, two more zeros one Neel, two more zeros one Shankh, two more zeros one Mahasankh, etc. Each one of these large numbers have names. On the other hand, the ancient Romans felt very uncomfortable after one thousand, as already stated. They had difficulty in expressing large numbers.

At one time the numbers in the decimal system were called Arabic numerals. The Europeans called them Arabic numerals, but the Arabs called them Hindu numerals. The question is whether they were Arab numerals or Hindu numerals? Now these languages Arabic, Persian and Urdu are written from right to left, but if you ask any writer of these languages to write any number randomly say 253 or 1045 he will write it from left to right. What does it indicate? It indicates that these numbers were taken from a language which was written from left to right, and now it is accepted that the decimal system was invented by Indians who could conceive very high numbers unlike the Romans.

For example, it is believed that Kaliyug in which we are living, has 4,32,000 years according to the Vishnu Puran. The yug (age) before Kaliyug was Dwapar yug, in which Lord Krishna lived. That is twice as long as Kaliyug, therefore it is of 8,64,000 years. Before that there was Treta yug in which Lord Ram lived. It was thrice as long as Kaliyug. And before that there was Satyug which is four times as long as Kaliyug. One Kaliyug + one Dawapar Yug + one Treta Yug + on Satyug is known as one Chaturyugi, and one Chaturyugi is hence ten times long as one Kaliyug (1+2+3+4=10). That means one Chaturygi is 43,20,000 years long. 72 Chaturyugi make one Manwantra. Fourteen Manwantras make one Kalp, and 12 Kalps make one day of Brahma. Brahma is said to have lived for trillions of years.

When our traditional Hindus do their sankalp everyday they have to mention the particular day, the yug, the chaturyugi, the Manvantara and the kalp, and the date changes daily. For instance, it is believed that we are living in the Vaivasusat Manwantar. It is believed that out of the 72 Chaturyugis in this Manvantara 28 have passed and we are in the 29th Chaturyugi of Vaivasusat Manvantar.

 You may not believe all this but look at the flight of imagination of our ancestors, how high they could go. Similarly in various fields of science e.g. in Medicine Sushruta invented plastic surgery 2000 years ago. In plastic we do not use plastic, we take one part of the body and put it in another part. For instance, in a by-pass heart operation, we take a vein from the man's leg and put it into his heart, because the immune system will not reject. This was invented 2000 years ago by Sushruta. Westerners invented it only 200 years back. If you go to the London Science Museum you will find one whole gallery displaying about 40-50 surgical instruments used by Sushrut. Thus, Indians were far ahead of Westerners in medicine. In astronomy, the calculations which were made 2000 years ago are still the basis of predicting with great accuracy the day and time of a Surya Grahan (Solar Eclipse) or Chandra Grahan (lunar eclipse) by reading a 'patra'. These calculations were made 2000 years ago by our ancestors who did not have telescopes and modern instruments but by sheer observation by the naked eye and the power of intellect they predicted what is going to happen 2000 years in the future. This was the scientific level which we had reached in the past, we were far in advance of Westerners in science and technology at that time.

Today we are far behind them, so what happened? Why did we not have an Industrial Revolution? Why did we lag behind? This is known as Needham's question or Needham's Grand Question, first posed by Prof. Joseph Needham. He was a brilliant Professor in micro-biology in Cambridge University who born in 1900 and became a Professor in 1925. Prof. Needham posed this question why did India and China who were ahead of whole world in Science and Technology at one time later fell behind and did not have an Industrial Revolution. This question has been sought to be answered in various ways, but that discussion will have to be held some other day.

As I was saying, Sanskrit was the language of people with enquiring minds, of people who enquired into every aspect of life.Therefore it is the language of not only Hindus or North India but it is in that sense the language of everybody who has a rational approach, because the emphasis in Sanskrit is on reason. There is emotion also in it, but the emphasis is on reason.

Coming now to Urdu, in my opinion the best poetry is in Urdu. I have read the poetry of many countries, England, America, France, Germany, Russia etc., apart from reading some of the poetry of Indian language e.g. Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir, etc. Tamil poetry, Bengali poetry etc. but there is no match to Urdu because the voice of the heart which is expressed in Urdu poetry, is, in my opinion, not expressed in any language of the world.

About Urdu there is a misconception that it is the language of Muslims and of foreigners, which is a totally false propaganda made against Urdu after 1947 that is after Partition.

Before 1947, all educated people in large parts of India were studying Urdu. It was not the language of Muslims alone. It was the language of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs everybody. For instance, in Punjab the Sikhs used to write in Urdu script, it is only after 1947 that they switched over to Gurumukhi script. Before 1947 all they were writing in Urdu even now they know it. So it was the language of all of us. But after Partition a deliberate propaganda was made by certain vested interests that Hindi is the language of Hindus and Urdu is a language of Muslims. This was done to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other (part of the divide and rule policy). A lot of effort was made to crush Urdu in India.But a language which expresses the voice of the heart cannot be crushed as long as people have hearts.
Unlike Arabic and Persian which are foreign language, Urdu is an indigenous language, and is loved by the people of India even today. If you go to a bookstall on a railway platform in India you will find a lot of poetry books of Mir, Ghalib, Firaq, etc. of course, nowadays in Devanagiri script. You will not find any book there of Mahadevi Verma or Sumitra Nandan Pant, the Hindi poets. Very few people read Hindi poetry, everybody reads Urdu poetry. Urdu has a dual nature, it is a combination of two languages i.e. Hindustani and Persian, that is why it was at one time called Rekhta, which means hybrid. Since it is a combination of two languages, Hindustani and Persian, the question arises: is it a special kind of Persian or a special kind of Hindustani? The answer is that it is a special kind of Hindustani, not a special kind of Persian. Why? Because the verbs in Urdu are all in Hindustani. The language to which a sentence belongs is determined by the verbs used in it. Supposing I say: Mr. Ram you and your wife 'aaiye' to my house tomorrow night for dinner at 8 pm. This sentence has 16 words of which 15 are in English. But it is a Hindustani sentence, not an English sentence, because the verb the 'aaiye' is in Hindustani. In Urdu all the verbs are in simple Hindi (which is called Hindustani or Khadi Boli). For example Ghalib says; -

"dekho mujhe jo deeda-e-ibrat_nigaah ho
 meree suno jo gosh-e-naseehat_niyosh hai"

The verbs 'dekho', 'suno',' hai' are all simple Hindi, though the nouns or adjectives may be Persian or Arabian. It is the verb which determines the language to which a sentence belongs, and the verbs in Urdu are all in simple Hindi. It has to be so, otherwise, it is not Urdu, and this shows that Urdu is an indigenous language, unlike Arbian and Persian which are foreign languages.

Urdu has a dual nature, because it is a combination of Hindustani and Persian. Hindustani is the language of the common man, while Persian is the language of aristocrats.

Where did Persian come from? Persian is the language of Persia, how did it land up in India? To explain this it has to be noted that it often happens that the elite or upper class of a society speaks a foreign language. For instance, in India and Pakistan the elite speaks English. In Europe upto the end of the 19th century the Russian aristocrats spoke to each other in French, though a Russian aristocrat would talk to his servant in Russian. Similarly, a German aristocrat would talk to another German aristocrat in French, but he would talk to his servant in German. French was the language of the elite in large parts of Europe for many centuries.
The elite wants to distinguish itself from the common people. In India Persian was the language of the Court and of the elite for centuries. Although Persian originated in Persia it later spread to much of South Asia. This was because Persian writers like Hafiz, Firdausi, Sadi, Rumi, Omar Khayyam, etc. developed Persian as a language of sophistication, culture, etiquette and dignity and that was adopted by large parts of South Asia including India. It was the Court language of India for several hundred years. Akbar's foreign minister Todarmal passed an order that all Court records throughout the Mughal Empire will be maintained in Persian.

Urdu is the combination of Hindustani and Persian, and that is why it has a dual nature. It is the common man's language, 'awaam ki zubaan', and also the aristocrats' language because one part of it is Persian. The content of Urdu is that of the common man. The feelings, emotions etc. in it are of the common man. But the form, the style, the andaaz-e-bayaan is that of an aristocrat.That is what gives Urdu such great power.

I often used to go to functions where I would say that Hindi does not have the power or 'dum' which Urdu has, and they would get very angry, but I believe I spoke the truth.

Urdu places more reliance on emotion and Sanskrit more on reason, We require both for our country's progress. In Europe they had two very great thinkers, Voltaire and Rousseau. Voltaire emphasizing reason and Rousseau emphasizing emotion. These two thinkers played a major role in the creation of modern Europe. Similarly Urdu and Sanskrit they complement each other, and in fact, Sanskrit is the grand mother of Urdu because 70% of the words in Urdu are from Sanskrit.

Since there is so much diversity in India the only policy which will work is the policy of secularism and giving equal respect to all communities. Otherwise India will break up into a hundred pieces since there is so much diversity.

Two people can be said to be the creators of modern India. One is the Emperor Akbar, and the other is Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. There was no ruler in the world like Emperor Akbar.

I have studied the history of the whole world, but I have found no ruler in the world like Emperor. He was far ahead of his times.In the 16th Century Akbar proclaimed the doctrine of Suleh-e-kul which means universal toleration of all religions. At that time Europeans were massacring each other in the name of religion, Catholics massacring Protestants, Protestants massacring Catholics and both massacring Jews. Horrible massacres in the name of religion were taking place in Europe at the time when Emperor Akbar proclaimed his doctrine of Suleh-e-Kul. Similarly in recent times religious passions were inflamed in 1947 and people had become like animals, Hindus and Muslims butchering each other. Pakistan had declared itself an Islamic State. There must have been tremendous pressure at that time on Pandit Jawarhlal Nehru and his colleagues to declare India a Hindu State. It is their greatness that they kept a cool head, and said that India will not be a Hindu State but will be a Secular State and provided this in our Constitution. For this reason today we have relatively more stability as compared to neighbouring countries.

In this connection I wish to tell you that the initial Muslim invaders who came into India no doubt broke a lot of Hindu temples, like for instance, Mahmood Ghazni who broke the Somnath temple. That is true, but their descendents who became local Muslim rulers in various parts of India, far from breaking temples used to give grants to temples and celebrated Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali. For instance, Babar was an invader but Akbar was not an invader, he was born in India and was very much an Indian. Now the descendents of those invaders who became local Muslim rulers had a population of 80-90% Hindus. If they broke temples everyday there would be a revolt or turmoil which no ruler wants. Just use your common sense, if you are a Muslim ruler in an area where 80-90% population is Hindu would you break temples? You would like to have a jolly good time enjoy life as a king, you would not like everyday revolts and turmoil. So in their own interest every one of the local Muslim rulers fostered communal harmony they gave grants to Hindu temples, they celebrated Hindu festivals. For instance, the Nawab of Avadh used to organize Ramleela, and celebrate Holi and Diwali. Tipu Sultan used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu Temples, his Prime Minister was a Hindu called Punaiya his commander-in-chief, was a Hindu called Krishna Rao. Tipu Sultan sent 30 respectful letters with grants to the Shankaracharya, of Shringeri (see online History in the Service of Imperialism which is a speech given by Prof. B. N. Pandey in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament in 1977). In one of the thirty letters sent by Tipu Sultan to the Shankaracharya of Shringeri it is mentioned that because of great saints like you who are in my kingdom there is prosperity and happiness, there are good rains and good harvest, people are happy here because of presence of great saints like you.

Now the first part, that the Muslim invaders broke temples, has been mentioned in our history books, but the second part, which is of ten times longer duration, that the descendents of these invaders, who were local rulers used to foster communal harmony they used to give land grants for building Hindu temples, they celebrated and organized Hindu festivals, has been deliberately suppressed by the British from our history books, the whole game being divide and rule. Hindus and Muslims must be made to fight each other. If you go on line and read the speech called 'History in the Service of Imperialism'
http://www.cyberistan.org/islamic/pande.htm ) a speech by Professor B. N. Pandey, Professor of History in Allahabad University, who later became Governor of Orissa, given in 1977 in the Rajya Sabha, the upper House of Parliament. Prof. Pandey has mentioned in great detail how the British policy was to make Hindus and Muslims inimical to each other. For instance he has mentioned that in 1928 when he was a Professor of History in Allahabad University some students came to him with a book written by one Professor Harprasad Shastri, Professor of Sanskrit of Calcutta University in which it was mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000 Brahmins to convert to Islam otherwise they will be killed, and those 3000 Brahmins committed suicide rather than becoming Muslims. On reading this Professor B. N. Pandey wrote to Professor Harprasad Shastri asking him on what basis have you written this? What is the source of your information? Prof. Harprasad Shastri wrote back that the source of information is the Mysore Gazetteer. Then Prof. Pandey wrote to Prof. Shrikantia, Professor of History in Mysore University asking him whether it is correct that in Mysore Gazetteer it is mentioned that Tipu Sultan told 3000 Brahmins to convert to Islam. Prof. Shrikantia wrote back that this is totally false, he had worked in this field and there is no such mention in the Mysore Gazetteer, rather the correct version was just the reverse, namely, that Tipu Sultan used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu Temples, he used to send grants to the Shankaracharya of Shringheri, etc.

Now, just imagine what mischief has been done. Deliberately our history books have been falsified so that the mind of a child at an impressionable age is poisoned so that he should start hating Muslims in India and in Pakistan he should start hating Hindus. The poison put in the mind of an impressionable age is very difficult to remove at a later age. All our history books have been falsified in this manner.

It is time we re-write our History books and show that in fact upto 1857 there was no communal problem at all in India. A composite culture in India had been developing. Hindus used to participate Eid and Muharram, and Muslims used to participate in Holi, Diwali etc.. There were some differences no doubt but they were becoming narrower. In 1857 the great Mutiny took place. Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. After suppressing that Mutiny it was decided by the British rulers that the only way to control this country to divide and rule. In other words, Hindus and Muslims must be made to fight each other. All communal riots start after 1857. The English Collector would secretly call the Hindu Pandit and give him money to speak against Muslims, and similarly he would secretly call the Maulvi and give him some money to speak against Hindus. A very beautiful racket was started in this way, and this resulted ultimately in the partition of 1947.

I am just telling you this to show that now the time has come when we must see through this game. I mean how long are you going to be taken for a ride. Are we fools that anybody can come and make fools out of us and make us fight each other.

About two months back I read in the newspapers that there was some violence in Aligarh Muslim University, and the University had to be closed for some days. I thought that it was a Hindu Muslim issue but some friends of mine from Aligharh came to Delhi and said it was not a Hindu- Muslim issue but it was Azamgarhi versus Biharis. I said what! What nonsense! We should be united, and brothers of each other. We should be one country, instead we are fighting on such silly matters.

In Maharashtra some people have proclaimed a bhumiputra theory (son of the soil theory). They say that only Maharashtrians should be allowed to live in Mahrashtra. South Indian UPites, and Biharis should get out of Maharashtra. Such people do not realize that in that case they will also have to leave Mahrashta because they also are not bhumi putras. Bhumi putra are hardly 7 or 8 % of the people living in Maharashtra e.g. the Bheels and other adivasis (tribals). This is a country of immigrants.

India is passing through transitional period, transition from feudal agricultural society to modern industrial society. We are presently neither totally feudal nor totally modern. We are somewhere in between.

The transition period is a very painful and agonizing period in history. If you read the history of Europe from the 16th to 19th centuries you will find it a very horrible period which Europe went through. It was only after going this fire that modern society emerged in Europe. India is presently going through this fire. We are going through a very painful period in our history which I think will last another 10 to 20 years. In my opinion the duty of all patriotic people is to help in shortening this transitional period, in reducing this pain, although we cannot totally eliminate it because there is going to be turmoil in this period since the vested interests in the old feudal order will not give up their vested interests without a fierce struggle. So there is going to be pain but we must try to explain to our people about the transition period, and try to reduce the pain and shorten the transitional period.

Here is where the role of the Judiciary becomes very important. We were talking about the Judiciary and some people said that I should speak about the Judiciary also. Well, I will give you one example. In Northern India in some States e.g. western U.P, Haryana, Rajasthan etc. (also in Pakistan) there is the phenomenon called 'honour killing'. If your daughter falls in love with a boy of another caste or religion, or within the same village or in the same Gotra, both are killed, and often brutally murdered. This has been happening in a very large scale in some areas, and sometime it is organized by caste panchayats. The problem is that the Chief Ministers are often unwilling to interfere because these caste Panchayats supply the vote banks to the politicians. In India politics often runs on caste on religious basis. So the Chief Minister usually relies on the vote banks supplied by the caste panchayats. Therefore, he does not want to annoy them, he will not interfere, and the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police even though they know that this honour killing is going to take place (through their intelligence agencies) will not interfere out of fear that if does so the Chief Minister will get angry with him.

But I am not dependent on your votes, I am not an elected authority, and that makes me very strong, in fact, it makes me more democratic than the so called democratic bodies because I am not bothered about your votes. I therefore passed the order that those who do honour killing will be given mandatory death sentence and the District Magistrate and Superintendent of that area must be immediately placed under suspension. This was a very strong judgment after which 'honour killing' has considerably declined. This could not have been done by the politicians because they are dependent on the votes of these people. So, here is where the Judiciary becomes very important, by the very fact that we are undemocratic. In fact we are more democratic then the so called democratic bodies because we can take responsible decisions to help the country get modernized.

Many of you were mentioning about corruption in India. It is true that in India there is rampant corruption. You rightly said that it is a matter of shame, and it is true absolutely true. It is disgraceful what is happening. Here is where the Judiciary is playing a little role. Recently we passed strong orders in the 2G scam case. The result was that one cabinet Minister was dismissed, and he is in jail, one member of Parliament, daughter of a Chief Minister, is in jail and we are taking such other steps to the extent we can.

In environmental matters Delhi had become like a gas chamber. 10 years back there was so much pollution because of the pollution from vehicles and factories. Hence the Supreme Court passed strong orders. Today Delhi is relatively is much better.Thus, the judiciary can play a very important role in this transitional age which we are passing through. We are trying to do something but we cannot do everything. After all we are not Gods, who can solve all problems.

I will conclude by one couplet of Faiz Ahmed Faiz whose centenary we are celebrating this year. He is in my opinion the greatest Urdu poet of the 20th century. The greatest Urdu poet was of course Ghalib. Ghalib is far above everybody else. But I will talk some other day about Ghalib. In the 20th century the greatest poet in my opinion was Faiz and I would like to quote from his famous poem;-

"Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-naubahaar chale
Chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chale"
What does this mean? Urdu poetry often has an outer superficial meaning and an inner real meaning. The outer, superficial and literal meaning of the above couplet is:
"In the flowers the colourful breeze of the new spring is blowing Come forward, so that the garden can function"

However the inner real meaning of the couplet is that the objective situation in the country is ripe which invites the patriotic people now to come forward to serve the country. The word 'gulshan' literally means 'garden' but here it means the country. You have not to take it literally. So it is a call to the people of the country including the people of the Diaspora like you to come forward since our country is in difficulties and you are required now to help it.

Questions & answers

Q. According to some analysis that I read a while ago, if you want to know what decision the Supreme Court of India is going to give in any controversial case all that you have to do is to read the editorials or read the English language newspapers of India for the last one month and you can pretty much predict very accurately what the Supreme Court's decision is going to be and that was proven in my mind because the issue came true totally in Binayak Sen's case. Before the case was heard the overwhelming majority of opinion in English language newspaper in India was that he is going to be let off the charge of sedition. There are numerous other instances where the Supreme Court has followed the public opinion as articulated in the English language newspapers. In general the Supreme Court tends to take the view of the English speaking middle class in the country.

A. Well, certainly that has an influence, and the educated middle class is relatively more enlightened than the backward people, but their opinion is not binding on us. We apply our own mind also, though certainly we take everybody's point of view. What is wrong in that? May be I am in the wrong path you may persuade me that I am wrong then I will accept I was mistaken and correct myself. There is nothing wrong in listening to the views of others.

Q ........interpretation of the law is determined .............

A. Of course, we have to broadly follow the Law. We can not normally change the Law. Law is normally changed by the Legislature. But on certain occasions we do make law, in certain exceptional cases. Normally that should not be done.

Q. I have two part question here, I do want to know if this power of the Court, this activist power of making the laws in some cases is founded in our Constitution or is it extra Constitutional? Second question is can it actually address some fundamental flaws which I consider, I will take the liberty to use that word, in the Constitution such as creating dual marriage inheritance law in the Hindu Family Law, the Muslim Family Law which I consider is not secular, but it is actually part of the inheritance of the British divide and rule legacy still living. Can the Supreme Court have the power to change those kind of laws?

A. As I said changing the law is the job of the Legislature not of the Judiciary. In exceptional cases we do change the law, but ordinarily that should not be done. I will give you one example from Ireland. Ireland is a Catholic country. There was a law against the sale and use of contraceptive in Ireland. Now, no politician had the courage to bring a Bill to abolish this totally out dated law against the sale and use of contraceptives out of fear that if he brought such a Bill the Catholic Church would use its enormous influence to destroy the political career of that politician. So nobody had the guts to bring such a Bill.

Now what happened was that in 1973 there was one Mrs. Mary McGee who had four children and her doctor told her that if she had a fifth pregnancy she may die. She imported contraceptives jelly from England. When that landed on the Irish coast it was seized by the customs authority of Ireland. She then filed a case against the customs authority of Ireland and that went up to the Irish Supreme Court, and the Irish Supreme Court said that the law against the sale and use of contraceptives is against the Right to Privacy in the Irish Constitution. Now, surprisingly enough, there is no mention of any Right to Privacy in the Irish Constitution, just as there is no mention of a Right to Privacy in the U.S. Constitution nor in the Indian Constitution. So the Irish Supreme Court really did judicial legislation, just as the U.S. Supreme Court did in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

The point is that if a norm is required for the smooth functioning of society at a particular stage of its historical development, and society cannot function without that norm, then that norm will emerge somehow. Normally norms emerge out of the legislative process, but if the Legislature is paralyzed for some reason then it will emerge by the judicial process or some other process. It has to emerge because society may not be able to function without it. In modern times the right of a woman to have sex without having pregnancy is a basic right. We all have two children because we can not afford more, and hence we have to practice contraception because for every child we have to invest a lot of money. In old days every woman would have fifteen children or so as there were no contraceptives. Of course most of them died because medical science was not advanced then. In the modern times the right of a woman to have sex without having pregnancy is a basic right. If you deny her that right modern society can not function, so you have to allow contraceptives. If you do not allow it then either by the legislative process the law against the sale and use of contraceptives will be abolished, or if the legislature is paralyzed then it will be done by the judicial process or by some other process. You have to have that change otherwise society can not function. So what I am trying to say is that sometimes the judiciary may have to legislate in exceptional cases where the legislature is paralyzed or for some reason it cannot or does not create that norm which is required for the smooth functioning of society. But that should be done only in exceptional cases and very carefully. Judges should otherwise not transgress into the field of the legislature or executive. There is broad separation of powers of the three organs of the State, and one organ of the State should not encroach into the domain of other organs, otherwise there will be a confrontation and all kinds or problems will arise.

Q. Tell me what went wrong in the Aurangzeb era where million of Hindus were converted into Muslims? How it changed the entire picture, what was going on?

A. I think you did not do your home work, because if you had, you would have read in the article called 'Kalidas Ghalib Academy for Mutual Understanding' on the website called kgfindia.com which is the website of the organization of which I am a patron called Kalidas Ghalib Foundation. It is mentioned there that Professor B.N. Pandey, former Professor of History of Allahabad University and former Governor of Orissa delivered a speech in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, in which he said that when he was Professor of History some people brought some documents showing that Aurangzeb had given grants to Hindu Temples, he gave grants to the Someshwar Mahadev Temple in Allahabad, he gave grants to the Mahakal Temple in Ujjain, one of the biggest Shiva temples, he gave grants to the Chitrakut Temple where Lord Ram spent 12 years of His exile. He thought these must be forgeries because Aurangzeb was said to be the destroyer of Hindu temples. He took these documents to Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, who was a top lawyer in Allahabad High Court and also a great scholar of Persian and Urdu scholar. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru examined these documents very thoroughly and he found that they were genuine documents. Now this seemed very strange, a person who was supposed to be the destroyer of Hindu temples, had given grants to many Hindu temples. So what I am trying to tell you is please keep an open mind.

I went to Bikaner about 10 years back and I went to the palace of the Maharaja of Bikaner, a part of which has been converted into a Museum. I went to the Museum, and at one place there was a letter of Aurangzeb written to the new Maharaja of Bikaner. His father had died and his son who was about 20 years of age became the new Maharaja. Aurangzeb wrote in this letter, which was exhibited there in English translation, that I know what it means to lose a father, and I know how sad you must be, but do not worry I will be like a father to you, tell me anything you require I will send it to you. It was a very kind and tender letter. Now, this was a different Aurangzeb. What I am trying to say is that more research on Aurangzeb is required because he has been demonized totally. As I said, in our history books the demonization of Muslim rulers has been done very systematically by the British, so as to generate Hindu-Muslim hatred. But the fact that Muslim rulers used to promote communal harmony, they used to organize Hindu festivals like Ramleela and so on, they used to give grants to Hindu temples, this will not be found in any history books. It has been very conveniently suppressed. So about Aurangzeb also I would request you please read that speech 'History in the Service of Imperialism', it is online, and more research is required. I would request that about Aurangzeb please keep an open mind.

Q. I just want to understand your opinion on the Constitution that we created after Independence, the Indian Penal Code, Hindu Law and Islam and what impact it has had in today's communal disharmony having those three different Constitution? Particularly, one is Hindu versus Islamic Law and monogamy versus polygamy and all these issues and about property. Should it be abolished or should there be only one Constitution like the one in US?

A. Regarding this question of uniform Civil Code, my opinion is that this is for Parliament to decide, not for the judiciary to decide, because making law is the job of the Legislature not of the Judiciary. It is for the Parliament to make one common Civil Code or not to make it. Judges cannot legislate, legislation is the task of the legislature.It is not proper for Judges to interfere in it. It is a highly sensitive matter, as you know people have been trying to promote communal hatred in our subcontinent. Please let us not further give them ammunition for that.

Q. The example you gave in Ireland, the contraception example, this is a similar case. The judiciary should come in here.

A. Listen you must realize one thing: in our country we must cater to aspirations of different people, in fact that is why we have federalism. Federalism means catering to regional aspirations. Thus, in Nagaland, there is a State Legislature for Nagaland and in this way the Nagaland people are happy, there is also a Central Government which looks after everybody. Similarly, in the State of Tamil Nadu there is a State Legislature for them, and so on. You have to cater to regional aspirations. You cannot have uniformity. Our country will break up into a hundred pieces the moment you try for uniformity. India has such tremendous diversity, the moment you go in for uniformity, one uniform Civil Code, one this, one that, then you will have one hundred countries, you will not have one country and that will be fatal for us because modern industry requires a big market. We must keep united. Today in our Constitution there is a provision that trade and commerce shall be free throughout the territory of India (Article 301). What does it mean? It means that a factory in Tamil Nadu can sell its goods freely in UP or Punjab or anywhere. The UP Government cannot say we will not allow entry of goods from Tamil Nadu. Article 301 ensures the economic unity of India, and political unity is based on economic unity.

Q. Moving back to recent times my question about the Lokpal Bill and specifically about the legality issues. There have been arguments made that the Prime Ministry and Judiciary or certain types of people cannot come under the Lokpal Bill because it is against the Constitution. I wanted to find out what is your opinion in terms of whether such a issue exists or it has been politically created.

A. I would not like to express my opinion on this issue because it is a highly politically sensitive issue, it is premature for me to comment.

Q. Any comments about the corruption in the judiciary and what needs to be done to eradicate that?

A. Yes, there is corruption in the Judiciary, we have been taking strong steps. The present Chief Justice of India, Justice Kapadia is a thoroughly honest man, he is taking strong steps. There is no corrupt Judge in the Indian Supreme Court today. I am not commenting about the past, but today none of my colleagues is corrupt. I am talking about the Supreme Court not of High Courts. So we do take steps to check it, I myself have been taking steps to check it, I passed a very strong Judgment about my parent High Court, the Allahabad High Court because some wrong things were being done, and I said 'something is rotten in Allahabad High Court' which made some Judges unhappy. But I clarified that there were excellent Judges too.

Q. My question is more with the current times, if you look at the US Supreme Court there are some Justices like Justice Scalia and others who are basically very, so called, Constitutional. So my question is what is your thinking in terms of any of those, is your thinking in line with those in terms of opinions that is one question, and the second is who is your favourite US Supreme Court Justice?

A. I agree with Scalia that Judges should not normally legislate, Judges should normally not encroach into the legislative or executive domain. Where I disagree with Scalia is that he thinks that even in exceptional cases this should not be done. I feel in certain exceptional cases it has to be done. Sometimes in exceptional cases we have to legislate where the situation is so drastic. For example, Delhi had become a gas chamber, those of you who had visited Delhi 10 years back know that it was almost impossible to breathe properly then. Today in Delhi there is relatively fresh air, because of the Supreme Court directives, which were legislative in nature. So sometimes we have to do it, though normally that is the job of the ececutive or legislature, but where the legislature or executive is not performing its function and the situation is becoming so critical that people cannot live then the Judiciary should interfere. So there I do not agree with Justice Scalia. My favourite US Judges are Holmes, Brandeis, Douglas and Brennan. In recent times my favourite US Judge was Justice Souter but he has resigned. There is no retirement age but he has resigned. He was my favourite Judge but he is no longer there, I do not know so much about the present Judges.

Q. I have one comment and one question, the comment is that not many people have migrated but 180,000 Roman people (gypsies) migrated out of India. They are called Roma people in Southern Europe and Rumania and Bulgaria, they are all from India?

A. They are not from India. Please use your common sense, if you wanted to go to Europe you had to go on foot in those days, there were no aeroplanes and trains. You would have to go via Afghanistan to Russia and then to Europe. Why should a large number of people do that? Everybody wants comfort, why should you leave India and go to such an uncomfortable place like Afghanistan? You have to go through Afghanistan and Russia to reach Europe. Please use your common sense, will you do it? In those days will you leave such a comfortable country like India and go to Afghanistan which is cold and rocky, you will have to travel through Afghanistan? Who will do it, it is against the common sense. A handful of traders or missionaries may do it, but not a large number of people?

Q. Here in US what happens is that when a lot of foreclosures happened, even bank foreclosures, without knowing who actually owns the property, so several banking derivatives and all kinds of things. So now there is a big loss. But in India if you own a property there is no protection, it could be sold four times before you know.

A.That is true, a lot of fraud has been taking place in India and I think this is a good system in America, we should have it in India too.

Q. So is it Judicial aspect or legislative?

A. See, Judges should not normally legislate, I raised my voice against it. You know, when I became a Judge of the Supreme Court many of my senior colleagues were very angry with me at that time. They thought that here is a new young man, a junior Judge and he is giving us lectures. But I stuck to my guns and I said it is not your job to perform legislative or executive functions. Some Judges are building a school, some Judges building a slaughter house, some running a hospital. I said this is not your job, this is the job of the Executive. And I raised my voice against it in a Judgment called Divisional Manager, Aravali Golf Course vs. Chander Has. If you will go online you can find it. I said Judges should not behave like Emperors, you must have modesty and humility, you must know your limits, you must not try to run the Government. This is not proper, only in rare and exceptional case you can perform legislative and executive functions, but not normally.

Q. So first of all it is an absolutely fantastic talk I really enjoyed it. I think the biggest problem in India is corruption and you saw the corruption problem in Delhi outside of Legislature so perhaps something can be done about corruption. What is your solution to the corruption problem in India?

A. Corruption is a very massive problem. I was just discussing it with some people here. I mentioned that my salary is 2000 dollars a month. I get a lot of perks of course. My house is free, government accommodation and my car is free, electricity, water, servants etc. but cash in hand I get only 2000 dollars. After deducting income tax I get about One Lakh Rupees which is around 2000 dollars a month. Now my food is not a perk, I have to buy the food, my clothing is not a perk. I am a Kashmiri Pandit, solid non-vegetarians [Please note that Kashmiri Pandits are solid non-vegetarians]. In childhood I used to have meat both morning and night. Now I can afford it only once a week. Meat is so expensive and I cannot afford to eat it everyday even though I am a Supreme Court Judge. Now, see the point is that prices of real estate have gone up the roof. In Delhi if I want to buy a flat in a posh area it will cost about Rs. 5 Crores or One Million dollars, in Noida it will cost around 2 Crores. Either I start taking bribes or I cannot have a decent roof over my head. I also want that. After retirement I should have a roof over my head, after retirement I want to keep my wife comfortable, live in a modest middle class life style. How can I do it? In my salary it will take 200 years to collect that much money.

In the British rule, the British Collectors were paid say 2000 rupees a month in those days, which amounts to perhaps 5 Lakh Rupees per month today, and there were hardly any income tax. Within 10 years the British Collector could buy a house in London on his salary. So he did not have to be corrupt because he was paid so well he had no worry. Today I am worried, where I will go after retirement, how can I buy a flat, I do not have the money.

Now, the cases which come before me, the stakes are 500 Crore Rupees or One Thousand Crores, there are huge stakes and therefore the temptation to take bribes is so strong that if my parents had not instilled good values, good sanskars, into me that you should not do wrong things, possibly I would have surrendered to this temptation. Very quietly I could have put say 5 Crore Rupees in my Swiss Bank account and decide in your favour, because I also want to buy a house but the prices of real estate in India have gone up the roof. Please consider this, it is very easy to lecture everybody, but please remember we are not angels. We are also human beings, we too have temptations, and many people may not be able to resist that temptation. It all depends what values have been instilled into you by your parents, it's a big problem.

Q. Firstly, thank you very much, it is a real honour to have a word with you. I have a very simple question, there is a huge august gathering here of the Indian Diaspora. You said that the time has come for people to actually contribute and help India to make that transition. In your view what are the few things that you think that people here can do to sort of help India which will have the most impact in sort of helping us overcome that transition?

A. First of all, in the transitional period, it is absolutely essential to explain to people what is India, and that is what I have sought to do in the talk I have given today. First of all clarification of your ideas is very important, because once you realize that this is a country of immigrants, it follows that there must be tolerance, in view of the tremendous diversity we must respect each other, we must treat everybody as equals, and in this way half the battle is won by that itself, and then our own people will solve their problems. Once they are told not to fight each other and that we should be like brothers, we should help each other, half the problem is solved just by that. So the first thing what everybody has to do, including all of you, is to tell the people what is India. There was no communal problem until the British came and started sowing the seeds of hatred between Hindus and Muslims, falsifying our history deliberately, and starting all these problem. So educating the people, that is the first step. How many people know that India is a country of immigrants? How many people know that we have a common culture called Sanskrit-Urdu culture? First all this has to be taught to our people, the educated people have to be educated and thereafter this will filter down and our country will move forward, there is no doubt about that.

Q. One of the things you just touched upon is Swiss Bank accounts and may be this is something which you do not want to answer. But what do you think of Baba Ramdev?

A. I do not comment on individuals, I discuss ideas, I do not discuss individuals. So I will not like to talk about Ramdev or this and that individual. I never do that. I discuss ideas. So far as is Swiss Banks are concerned, first of all you must understand the Swiss Laws. Swiss Banking laws are so strict, if you go to Switzerland and go to any Bank and ask whether you have a bank account of Mr. X, you will immediately be arrested, it is a serious criminal offence to even make that enquiry. Only now because of American pressure, Swiss Banks are disclosing things to the American intelligence agencies but not to Indian intelligence agencies or not any other intelligence agency. The whole Banking Industry in Switzerland is dependent on secrecy. For 200 years all the corrupt politicians and generals and businessmen throughout the world have dumped their money in Swiss Banks. There it is kept in secret. If you send 100 thousand dollars in the name of Mr. X to some Swiss Bank it will come back with a letter 'addresee unknown' but if you send that to a numbered account, it will be deposited. The laws are so strict. How will you get the money back, you have no jurisdiction over Switzerland? Our country, our authorities or our Judges do not have jurisdiction over Switzerland. Supposing, if I pass an order that all the money be refunded. The Swiss authorities will say who are you to give us orders we are a sovereign country, you can not pass an order over us.

Q. But in US it happened.

A. See, US situation is different. As I told you, US put pressure on Switzerland, and the Swiss Banks agreed to disclose the names to the US intelligence agencies, but Swiss Banks will not disclose to Indian intelligence agencies. Please do not compare India with USA.

Q. My question is why people in India do not follow traffic rules? Is it the transition to industrialization or is it the lack of law enforcement or is there something intrinsic in your culture?

A. No, as I told you we are passing through a transitional period between feudal agricultural society and modern industrial society and we are somewhere in between. So a large section of our people are still not modern, they do not follow rules. For example, just take a simple thing, when I come to America, I stay with my daughter Vandana, my job which Vandana has given me, is everyday to take the garbage from the house and take it outside and put it in a huge garbage bin. In India you take the garbage and throw it out of the house, while traveling on a car we throw out the garbage and anything outside. In the West it is taught in childhood to a child that littering garbage is not proper, the value is put in you by your parents in childhood that this is not done. Garbage must be put it in the garbage bin. On the other hand, in India because people are still partly feudal and backward, not completely modern, therefore these values are not there, they will come after 10-20 years when we also become industrialized. But at present people just throw out the garbage, everywhere in India you will find a huge pile of rubbish, on every road you will find rubbish, people moving by the car just throw out the garbage, nobody cares, that mindset has to be created, that modern mind set, it is not created in one day it requires a whole era to create it. In London the whole Thames river upto the 19th century was full of sewage, people used to just dump the sewage there, today it is clean. So it will come when we will become totally modern, but today we are neither totally backward nor totally modern.

Q. My question is going back to the ancient times in India. How did the caste system evolve? Who created this caste system in India and why does it still linger on and why is it still so powerful in India?
A. Caste system originated from a racial basis, that is, a white race, the Aryans came to India and conquered a dark coloured race, and the proof of this is that even now India is a racial society, we prefer white colour When we advertise in newspapers we say "wanted fair colour bride", when a child is born if the colour is fair, the grand mother is very happy. But, having originated from a racial basis caste later on developed into the feudal occupational division of labour in society. That means that every vocation became a caste, like for instance, carpenter 'badhai' became a caste, 'lohar', blacksmith became a caste, potter, 'kumhar' became a caste etc.

This happened in Europe also, it is nothing unique in India. Even today in England a large number of people have surnames like, Baker, Butcher, Gardener, Mason, Carpenter, Shoemaker, Smith, Goldsmith, Taylor, Barber, etc. What does this indicate? It indicates that their ancestors were following these professions. In those days, there was no engineering colleges or technical institutes, the only way to learn a trade or craft was to sit with your father since childhood and see how he works. Supposing, your father is a carpenter, you sit with him when you are 6 or 7 years of age, you see how is working and he also guides you and you pick up the trade. So you had no right to choose your profession, you had to follow your father's profession because there was no other way to learn a trade or occupation, there was to technical institute, no engineering college in those days.

So caste system was in Europe also, it was on vocation basis, every vocation became a caste. Today, the situation is totally changed. For instance if a person of the badhai (carpenter) caste comes from a village to a city he becomes a motor mechanic or electrician or clerk, he does not now do the job of carpenter which was his caste. So now people are not following their father's profession on a very large scale. Many of you are here, are you following your father's profession? Many of your fathers were lawyers, but now you are entrepreneurs, you are not following your father's profession. When this happens on large scale the very basis of caste has been smashed because of the advance of technology. Now the caste system is being propped up by certain politicians for their vote banks. But when the foundation of a building has been smashed by the advance of technology how long can that building be artificially propped up? When its foundation has been demolished, it will last only for another 10 or 20 years. Now people are not bothered about what is your caste. If you go for a job in some place nobody asks what is your caste, they will see your resume, your CV, your technical achievements.

Q. I know that this current issue of Lokpal is a little sensitive but perhaps you can give us a little bit of understanding of the Constitution. Is it possible to create such a thing and if we do it can it be like what has happened with the Chief Election Commissioner having very high powers to really control things during election? So something like this, can it be done and what can we all do that makes sense from a Constitutional point of view?

A. As I told you, it is going to take a long time. Corruption has seeped into every level of our society in India. In USA if your are exceeding your speed limit in a car and a policeman stops you, you dare not offer him a hundred dollar bill, it will be another crime. In India you just offer him a 100 or 500 rupee note and he will say 'achha jao'. If you want to build a house on your land in any city in India you have to take permission from the Municipality, the rate of bribe is often fixed 10 lakhs or 20 lakhs or whatever. Corruption is on such a massive scale that it is going to take a long time to weed it out. Please do not expect things to change rapidly.

Q.Why is your salary not raised?

A.Listen, I can not fix my own salary, it is for the Government to fix it. What I am telling you is that look at the temptation which I have. If my parents had not instilled good values strongly into me perhaps I too would have become corrupt. 2000 Dollars a month is my salary, and cases which are coming before me have stakes hundred of millions.

Q.Thank you, I really enjoyed your talk that was very informative. I would like you to elaborate or touch very briefly why India did not step into the industrial age. I mean you commented on the Sanskrit-Urdu culture that India has. Sanskrit is very analytical and rational and scientific, then how come it was not translated on and why did the not rest of the population not become as scientific as the Western States.

A. As I said, this is called Needham's question, There was a Professor Needham, he raised this question for the first time. Needham's question, or Needham's grand question will require another session it can not be discussed here. Many theories have been advanced as to why India and China, which were once far ahead of the West in Science and Technology, today are far behind, we never had an industrial revolution, what happened? This is Needham's question also called Needham's grand question. You can read about it online.

Q. I do have a question that is puzzling me. You know corruption in India might be understandable for people who are not paid well. But it permits not only people who are employed by the Government but people who are working in private companies, who are paid quite well and whenever there is responsibility you get authority, the authority gets used as a way of making money and much of the bribery is not to get something which you do not deserve but it is to actually get what is your right to get and so somebody does not do things in order to actually get it done. Normally in US the accountability would mean that somebody who does that would get fired, would loose his job and what prevents that from happening in India where at least you are not trying to solve the whole country's problem but of its individuals? Why is there corruption in the private sector?
A. For the same reason. Private sector is not different essentially form the public sector. Private sector people also want to buy flats, but they cannot buy it on their salaries. Do you have any idea what a three bed room flat in Greater Kailash would cost? It is about Rs. 5 Crores. Even in the private sector's salary can you buy it? Prices have gone up the roof in India, so the temptation to take bribe has become so strong. This is only one of the reasons for the corruption in India. I am not saying that it is the only reason. Another reason is that there is massive commercialization of society because people have now made money their God. The British Collector was not corrupt because he did not have to be corrupt. You never heard an ICS officer being corrupt because he did not have to be corrupt because with his salary he could buy a house in London in 10 or 15 years. I am a Supreme Court Judge can I do it? What to say of a house I cannot even buy a two room flat in Delhi on my salary even if I remain in service for a hundred years, I will not able to buy it.

Sent by  Krishan K Punchhi

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    Nice article has been shared on "Varanasi Hotels". i really like the way you have put every single point in this article and also did get lots of good information from here. thanks for sharing such article here. i would like to see some information related to Varanasi Hotels in mohali here in this article. keep on sharing such article here in future too.

    Flexi said...
    Varanasi Hotels
    Your blog is looking so good and postin is really nice ..
    Thanks Again.
    Varanasi Hotels