Monday, April 22, 2024
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Indian Knowledge System needs robust questioning

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Editor,
I am writing to express my deep appreciation for the article, “Indian Knowledge System and Pseudo Science (ST Mar 6, 2024), by H. Srikanth, who is spot on right in pointing out the Hindutva agenda underlying BJP proposals for the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) for all levels of Indian education.
After being invaded so many times and colonized by Britain, India’s hankering for authenticity is natural. But which India should we return to? The current nation state of India never existed in prior times. So Indians have to invent a new India as the most authentic ever. Our authenticity lies in the future — not the past.
Almost all authenticity projects in the former colonies have gone religious and wrong. Westernization was the fate of the world. There is no escaping this fate, except by true authenticity, which comes from self-purification and humility – not irrational narcissism. Moreover, not everything western is bad. There are great virtues in the west, as well as great intellectuals and saints.
Greatness of any kind is universal. Finally, a politics of envy, and emulation usually goes wrong. Hindutva politics has perfected this genre of narcissistic protest politics that always leads to absurd conclusions. Almost all our contemporary protest politics, worldwide, belong to this genre.
Just outside Belur Math (bastion of the highest rationality, spirituality, and pure holiness), I once saw a bus stop painted with bizarre Hindutva slogans claiming that ancient Hindus had invented all the gories of modern western inventions (airplanes, etc.). Given the stark contrast between them, it is hard to believe that both Belur Math and Hindutva belong to the same religion. The feeling of inferiority is perhaps more dangerous morally than that of superiority. Feelings of inferiority before the west cannot be conquered by bizarre myths, but by assiduous practice of truthfulness and moral purity.
It is possible to believe in the multiple divine Incarnations of higher Hinduism, without losing sight of empirical reality. This means accepting Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and others as historical figures, while at the same time, acknowledging that we must have evidence of their historical lives. Moreover, it does not matter if they did not exist historically. That they exist in our consciousness suffices. For, their very presence in us sanctifies the world through us.
One may say the same of Christ. Today there are questions about the actual historicity of Christ. Did He really exist historically? Spiritually speaking, it does not matter if He did not. His very presence in our consciousness redeems and saves fallen men. In short, true belief and faith should take us beyond the extremes of Hindutva credulity and western cynicism.
It is this kind of true faith and the universality of real goodness that should be reflected in India’s knowledge projects for the youth — especially for children. They need exposure to ALL worthy religions, so as to develop a rounded consciousness and possess the wisdom they need to face the challenges of life. If we deny them this wisdom and faith, we not only betray them — we feed the therapy industry, which is minting money off the misery and emptiness of modern man.
Yours etc.,
Deepa Majumdar,
Via email

Another landmark judgement!
Editor,
The Supreme Court on 04.03.2024 made a significant ruling in the JMM bribery case, which has far-reaching implications for lawmakers.
Background: In 1998, a five judge Supreme Court bench had granted immunity to Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies from prosecution for accepting bribes. This immunity applied specifically to situations where they accepted bribes in exchange for making speech or casting a vote within the legislative house. The 1998 ruling was based on the interpretation of Article 105(2) (for MPs) and Article 194(2) (for MLAs) of the Indian Constitution.
Recent decision: On March 4 2024, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court overruled the majority judgement from 1998. The new ruling states that lawmakers who engage in graft have no immunity. In other words, MPs and MLAs can now be criminally prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act for accepting bribes, regardless of whether the bribe was related to a vote or a speech. The court emphasized that the crime is complete the moment the bribe is accepted, irrespective of any subsequent voting or speech-making. The location where the bribe was offered or received is irrelevant; lawmakers cannot escape prosecution by claiming parliamentary privilege.
Impact and significance: The groundbreaking decision opens the doors for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to initiate prosecution against accused legislators involved in bribery cases. The court highlighted that taking bribes undermines the fabric of representative democracy and erodes public trust in parliamentary debates and processes. Voting or speaking in favour of a party after accepting money from them is considered a breach of discipline and goes against the fundamental duties of a legislator.
The JMM Bribery Case: The reference for this ruling came from an appeal filed by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Sita Soren. She was accused of accepting a bribe to vote for a particular candidate in the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections. Although she later denied culpability, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against her. The Jharkhand High Court had refused to quash the chargesheet, leading her to approach the Supreme Court. Notably, Sita Soren is the daughter-in-law of JMM chief and former union minister Shibu Soren, who was also involved in the alleged JMM bribery case. In 1993, four JMM MLAs and eight other MPs were allegedly bribed to ensure the survival of the then PV Narasimha Rao government during a no-confidence vote.
The verdict was delivered by a distinguished bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, and Justices A S Bopanna, M M Sundresh, P S Narasimha, J B Pardiwala, Sanjay Kumar, and Manoj Misra. “We disagree with the judgment in the PV Narasimha Rao case. The judgment in PV Narasimha Rao which grants immunity to legislators for allegedly bribery for casting a vote or speech has wide ramifications and overruled,” Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, while reading out the order. “Such a claim for immunity fails to fulfil the test whether such immunity is necessary to discharge legislative functions.” This ruling marks a significant shift in the legal landscape, reinforcing accountability and transparency in our democratic institutions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted “A great judgment by the Supreme Court which will ensure clean politics and deepen people’s faith in the system.”
Yours etc.,
V K Lyngdoh,
Via email

Justice for Brazilian woman tourist
Editor,
Through your esteemed daily I appeal to the citizens of this country to step forward and join hands in demanding justice to a woman tourist of Brazilian- Spanish nationality who was allegedly gang raped by seven men in Jharkhand’s Dumka District on the night of March 1 last. This incident, along with other cases of harassment and assault on female tourists in India, has once again put India’s security concerns in the spotlight. As per the National Crime Records Bureau an average of nearly 90 rapes were reported in India every day in 2022.The crime of rape is a major problem in India. The accused has usually gone free either because the victim did not file a complaint or because of poor evidence collection and investigation. Other countries have brutal punishments for committing such crimes whereas in India justice is a long-winded process and justice is always delayed. We hope that this case proceeds in fast track and the rapists are punished as per the law of the land.
Yours etc.,
Pinaki Nandy
Shillong

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