After hibernating for over a decade, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is back playing the Rama temple dhun.
It is certainly not in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent assurance to the minority community of not allowing any religious group, belonging to the majority or minority community, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. That is if the assurance was not a typical example of a politician’s doublespeak.
Senior office bearers of Ram Janma Bhoomi Nyas met in Ayodhya on Tuesday, 16th of June, to reiterate their demand for the enactment of law or creation of special bench in the Supreme Court to fast track the temple/mosque case.  Ironically, it was almost after 12 years that the full board meeting of the Nyas was held in the temple town and the first after Modi came to power in May 2014 without any divine intervention. The All India Muslim Personal Board has been making similar demands.
By now, we all know that the emotive issue of Rama temple/Babri mosque is a matter of faith and may ignite communal temperatures but the disputed issue has lost much of its political charm in India, which is on the move. Modi and BJP’s national president Amit Shah also knew that their development model had more electoral appeal than the contentious issues of Hindutva, including construction of Rama temple in Ayodhya, in 2014. Then how would it help the BJP mobilise votes in the upcoming Bihar elections followed by UP. Undoubtedly, the two states were worst affected by the temple movement in the 1990’s. But not now.
The meeting did not limit itself to resolutions but also announced another public mobilisation campaign. In 1989, they had launched ‘shila pujan’ across the country and brought shilas to Ayodhya amidst much fanfare. The shilas are now rotting there . The Nyas will now be gathering stones from Indian villages for their use in the construction of Rama temple even though there is no guarantee when and how it would be used. Loads of carved stone have been lying in desolate Kar Sewak Puram in Ayodhya for almost two decades.
Ashok Singhal, now 25 years older than his age in the 1990’s, told the media that their stone gathering movement would be akin to the one taken up during 1989, when the temple movement was at its peak.
However, much water has flown down the Saryu all these years. A new generation born after the demolition of the disputed structure doesn’t get excited by such religious issues. They respect their faiths  but won’t die for it.
It’s time the saffron brigade realises that building of a Rama temple or even Babri Mosque is unlikely in another century. The dispute dates back to 1885 when the first petition was filed by Nirmohi Akhara seeking permission to pray inside the disputed structure. In 1986 the Faizabad court had observed, “It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land especially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance.”
It’s time the Sangh Parivar accepts it.
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After hibernating for over a decade, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is back playing the Rama temple dhun.

It is certainly not in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent assuran Read more

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Sometimes even healthy moves become unpalatable when seen through myopic lens.

The ongoing controversy over the upcoming International Yoga Day on June 21 elucidates the point as the Yoga Day is not about ideologies or manifestoes but your health.

Yoga is also not about personal laws or Narendra Modi’s political health and it has nothing to do with any religion or culture. May be Modi conceptualised the idea but it was the General Assembly of the United Nations that declared June 21 as International Yoga Day after recognising Yoga’s holistic approach to health and wellbeing. UN would have dismissed it had it promoted Hindu religion.

Though the NDA government has buckled under the mounting pressure from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and dropped ‘Surya Namaskar’ from their exercise plan for the day, but the fact is even the set of 16 exercises are for overall physical and mental health and has nothing to do with obeisance before a deity. Won’t patients, irrespective of their religion, follow exercises if recommended by a doctor, including ‘Surya Namaskar’?

Let me share my eye-opening tete-e-tete with bold, brave and beautiful people at Iyengar Yogashraya situated on Mumbai’s busy Senapati Bapat Marg. I remember the wrinkled and smiling face of BV Nayak. His leg was amputated when he was barely four years old as he had developed gangrene. But determined to play pranks like his healthy friends he got an artificial limb. He served RBI as senior executive till Parkinson’s disease set in when he was in his fifties.

When I met him in 2007 he was 74 and unstoppable despite the ailment and age. His body was trembling from head to toe as he vigorously matched steps with other Parkinson’s disease patients. There were props like ropes, rods, belts and bolsters to help all.

His words became my catchphrase, “Life is so beautiful. Why not live it fully till the end.” That was the motto of all the 25 Parkinson’s disease patients practising yoga to improve their quality of life. And they simply loved the toughest of the asanas. It didn’t matter which faith they pursued — what bonded them was their will to improve their quality of life.
Few years back I was in Agra and happened to meet Father John Ferreira, principal of St Peter’s College. The school has 4,000 students from all faiths and yoga is a part of their daily calendar.

Significantly, yoga has helped the school management to discipline students, control their aggressiveness and stress levels.

Let’s not drag religion in everything.

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Every Republic Day the nation honours people with the Padma Awards. Awardees come from different spheres of life – from medical to entertainment- and are achievers indeed. Read more

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The Uttar Pradesh government on November 18 allocated Rs 556 crore for toilets in state’s villages. Media was quick in linking it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Clean India campaign. Read more

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My friend walked into my home in a flurry on the Diwali day. Instead of festival hug and greetings, she said with excitement, ‘I have become a Modi fan’. Incidentally, she is a Muslim and wife of a retired colonel. The couple strangely had this weird idea of leaving India and settling somewhere abroad when the news about Narendra Modi’s crowning came after BJP’s spectacular victory in 2014 general election. Read more

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s Independence day speech has triggered a debate in the urban circles of the country on whether the country’s premier should speak on mundane issues like hygiene, toilets and mothers putting a check on their errant sons. The overwhelming majority has reacted with why not?
In fact, many feel that Narendra Modi should have shown the guts to even touch the most serious issue of country’s growing population which no political party has dared  to touch after the rejection of  Sanjay Gandhi forced sterilisation in the country.
And now when he is planning to address students on Teacher’s Day, the same critics are questioning his ‘inclusive’ step. Jawaharlal Nehru had many political enemies bu they found nothing unusual when he related with children so well. Take President APJ Abdul Kalam who has a huge fan following amongst students.
It’s not Narendra Modi’s fault that many of his predecessors did not interact with the students. And if he wants to address them, then why oppose it – only because he is from a rival political party. Some school principals are finding the four pm time as impractical and that’s understandable too. Perhaps the PMO should have thought of pre- lunch or the morning assembly timings that would have suited the schools better.
The fact is as long as the prime minister is pursuing inclusiveness, there is no reason to be critical of his each and every move. The students should not only know the name of the country’s prime ministers but should have heard them also. The students can play a crucial role in achieving hygiene while understanding their social responsibilities.
Perhaps not many know that by constructing toilets you not only save women from every day humiliation but also from sexual assaults and stave off diseases by maintaining hygiene levels.
To me it is immaterial whether we call September 5 as Teacher’s Day or Guru Utsav.
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The by-polls in states held after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections have sent two clear messages.
First one is to the Bhartiya Janata Party. The by-polls results, beginning with Uttarakhand, have punctured the euphoria created by the party’s landslide victory across the country. Read more

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What is wrong with the Aam Admi Party? The party, which was so charged up till their leader Arvind Kejriwal was contesting from Varanasi, has suddenly gone all quiet; at least one doesn’t hear the many noises it made almost daily on every burning issue. Is this how they are going to take forward their battle against corruption? Read more

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The day the CBI took over the investigations into Badaun rape cum murder case that made headlines across the globe because of the hanging of the victims from a tree, some confidence of the people was restored. Those who were crying for justice and had little faith in the state machinery were convinced that at least the investigations would be fair and reach a logical end. But that was not to be. Read more

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