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The Indian Elections -

braja - Tue, 18 May 2004 18:01:26 +0530
After the scathing attacks on her nationality and fall of the stock market, it seems that Sonia Gandhi is now not going to be prime minister. What a topsy turvy tale this one has been! I recall in the week leading up to the election, Vajpayee was polling at 65% for preferred PM; Gandhi was second on around 12%.

And now wading into the dangerous territory of politics: Despite the nationalistic and intolerant tone of some members, I thought the governance of the BJP was actually a good step for India, even in terms of India working out its own nature. Somehow the active religiousity, the rediscovery and promotion of the myths that underly the country seemed healthy in some ways, despite the overexuberance and violence employed by some. I felt that India came of age in the modern world and began to own its history and control its destiny. It started to make a real impact politically and economically. Of course, I say that with very little real knowledge of what makes that massive country tick and have to admit that the BJP reminded me of the modern Krsna consciousness movement in many ways--especially the willingness to believe in a religious tradition yet face the practicality of not quitting your day job. At the very least, there seemed to be more passion in the country.

Perhaps the BJP was elitist (and Congress does claim to have started the economic reforms that have brought India so clearly onto the world stage) but I cannot imagine that India's path out of the third world will come in any other way than through somewhat lopsided economic progress. You have to have the money before you can share it. Perhaps it will never be able to accept the harsh reality of international market--and maybe there is nothing wrong with that. The complexities are obviously massive and how can one not but have sympathy for the poor laborers and farmers and understand why leftist politicians offered free electricity and the like in order to be elected and to benefit their constituents.

And what an amazingly colorful group the India politicians are! Who can read of names like Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Jyoti Basu, Jayalalithaa and the like without thinking of the Mahabharata with its Shakunis, Duhshasans, and Naradas?

(Hopefully politics won't spoil anyone's day--and I am ready to be enlightened as to the real nature of that wonderful country--but if we are going to talk politics, we may as well talk this kind.)
Advaitadas - Tue, 18 May 2004 18:14:13 +0530
Rajiv's father was a Muslim and his wife is a Catholic. BJP is rightly claiming that India returns to the colonial era if Sonia becomes PM. Beef-eating atheist Nehru and his Muslim-wedded daughter were anyway extending colonial rule for 42 years into India's independence.
Madhava - Tue, 18 May 2004 18:27:54 +0530
From Brajmohan:

= = =

Today's stockmarket crash in Bombay may indicate that the election result will lead to a crisis:
Jagat - Tue, 18 May 2004 19:16:54 +0530
Was Rajiv's father not a Parsi?
Advaitadas - Tue, 18 May 2004 19:32:40 +0530

Nehru opposed Indira marrying Feroze Gandhi

Sunday, 23 November , 2003, 11:37

New Delhi: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was strongly opposed to his daughter Indira marrying a Parsi, Feroze Gandhi as he felt they had enormous differences in their background and mentality and besides that he had other plans and dreams for her, says a new book.
Nehru was shocked when Indira told him of her decision to marry Feroze on her return to India after cutting short her stay in Oxford in 1941.

Indira, who came in touch with Feroze, came back to India with him without an academic degree after she fell ill with a lung infection and fears that she would be plagued by a chest disease like her mother Kamla.

At meetings in prison and through letters, Nehru tried to convince Indira to reconsider the step, pointing to the enormous differences in background and mentality between her and Feroze, according to the latest book on Indira Gandhi, "The Story of a Leader" written by Shahana Dasgupta.

Besides, Nehru had other plans and dreams for his daugther, wanting her to follow the family tradition of public service and he wrote to her "gently, slowly but surely to train your mind in that wider understanding of life and events that is essential for any big work."

An early and hasty marriage, Nehru feared, would put halt to these plans and tie her down to the routine of domestic life.

But Indira stuck to her decision, defending it against her father's objections, as well as facing a storm of protest from conservative Hindus all over the country.

Feroze had fallen in love with Indira while she was attending to her mother at Switzerland where she was treated for her ailments during her last days.

A student of London School of economics and staunch supporter of the Indian freedom movement, Feroze knew the Nehru family from the Allahbad days and would often visit Kamla in Switzerland.

He had spoken of his feelings for Indira to her mother who felt that her daughter would be in safe hands, the book says.

In her short life burdened by poor health, Kamla Nehru realised that she had not always been able to give her daughter the care and guidance that the girl needed. Nevertheless, she had tried best and her death at the age of 36 left in Indira a wound which never healed.

As her father grew older and espcially after her mother's death, Indira wanted to be near him and to take care of him. And then there was the fascinating world of politics without which she felt she was not in her element. In 1947, when Indira took the children and left for Delhi, from Feroze's point of view the inevitable split had happened, the book says.

Although Feroze moved to Delhi a few years later and saw his sons regularly, Indira and Feroze had drifted apart. So much so that even on some political issues they were at loggerheads.

Feroze's untimely death at the age of 48 in 1960 came as a great shock to Indira and for a while she was totally devastated. Although in later years Indira never spoke about her husband publicly she once told friends, "The Nehrus were very unmusical people. It was Feroze who introduced us to the joys of western classical music."
Advaitadas - Tue, 18 May 2004 19:55:24 +0530

This Moslem grocer by the name of Nawab Khan, had married a Parsi woman after converting her to Islam. This is the source where from the myth of Rajiv being a Parsi was derived. Rajiv's father Feroze was Feroze Khan before he married Indira, against Kamala Nehru's wishes. Feroze's mother's family name was Ghandy, often associated with Parsis and this was changed to Gandhi, sometime before his wedding with Indira, by an affidavit.
The fact of the matter is that (and this fact can be found in many writings) Indira was very lonely. Chased out of the Shantiniketan University by Gurudev Rabindranath himself for misdemeanor, the lonely girl was all by herself, while father Jawahar was busy with politics, pretty women and illicit sex; the mother was in hospital. Feroze Khan was then in England and he was quite sympathetic to Indira and soon enough Indira changed her religion, became a Moslem woman and married Feroze Khan in a London mosque. Nehru was not happy; Kamala was dead already or dying. The news of this marriage eventually reached Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi urgently called Nehru and practically ordered him to ask the young man to change his name from Khan to Gandhi. It had nothing to do with change of religion, from Islam to Hinduism for instance. It was just a case of a change of name by an affidavit.
Advaitadas - Tue, 18 May 2004 20:14:29 +0530
Sonia declines
betal_nut - Tue, 18 May 2004 20:33:09 +0530
The Gandhis are very superstitious about the Curse of the Gandhis which has followed any Gandhi who went into politics. Perhaps her astrologer told her if she took this post she would be assasinated within the next so many months or something.

It's India's loss.
nabadip - Tue, 18 May 2004 20:36:12 +0530
Interesting to hear about the source of the name Gandhi for the Gandhi clan. I knew that Indira got the name thru marriage, but thought until now that it was just a device to get the name for elections' sake. Many people in India I talked to believe the Gandhi clan to be descendants of Mohandas Gandhi. I dare to say: Most people in India believe just that.
Gaurasundara - Wed, 19 May 2004 07:06:14 +0530
This is exactly what I was thinking; the name 'Gandhi' is a complete laugh.

Now that she has declined, I wonder who will take the position?

Personally I preferred the BJP and I was also shocked at thow they lost the elections. Now I fear India is going to go backwards.
betal_nut - Wed, 19 May 2004 08:40:30 +0530
Rajiv's father was a Muslim and his wife is a Catholic. BJP is rightly claiming that India returns to the colonial era if Sonia becomes PM. Beef-eating atheist Nehru and his Muslim-wedded daughter were anyway extending colonial rule for 42 years into India's independence.

The very fact that the BJP feels like that proves that they suffer from a colonial era inferiority complex.
Advaitadas - Wed, 19 May 2004 09:15:53 +0530
I think that after more than 1000 years of foreign subjugation by the Muslims and the British, Indians are eager to finally have their country back. Perhaps Sonia wisely understood that and stepped back.
nabadip - Wed, 19 May 2004 13:10:29 +0530
That may be a general feeling that she respected. On the practical side however, I think she might have come to the conclusion, that she is not the politician-type really who is willing to adjust to the whims of 17 different parties. Remember, Indian politics is mostly about who is making how much money, and it is one big gambling hall, which the PM has to oversee and make some sense out of to present to the public. To become a member of Parliament in India each contestant has to spend so much money in bribes (and if only paying for tea to all attendants at a meeting) that he has to have the ability to retrieve that investment during his time of doing politics. Democracy in India (and most everywhere else too) is just a scam. It has a certain positive value due to the presence of the Press which can be quite aggressive and efficient in India, and the power NGO's and other forces exert on elected people and their sinister dealings. Any honest, good-hearted person in India dislikes the political class. To become a movie-star is the easiest way to ammass money in India in short time. When that has to be topped off, then movie-stars have to become politicians, to make even more money.

A person who wants to be elected chooses his constituency himself, and he chooses the one that is easiest to bribe for him. I visited once the place out in Bareily U.P. where Rajiv made sure they got good roads, or at least promised them that, and of course he got everyone's vote. It was a matter of pride for everyone to vote for him. Order an Indian to do one thing, and he does it mechanically without much thinking. That is how they get trained in school, parroting what the "teacher" makes them learn by heart.

Sonia gave up after she heard that the communists would support the government only from outside, which means she would have been totally in control of those communists' support or all the other parties fussing with each other, over whom she would not have had any direct control. She would have made enemies in no time. Two of her clan were already assassinated. Among the one billion there is certainly one crazy enough to think that there is merit in being the killer of number 3.
betal_nut - Wed, 19 May 2004 20:35:24 +0530
India lost a good leader when we lost Sonia.
braja - Wed, 19 May 2004 21:11:15 +0530
QUOTE(betal_nut @ May 19 2004, 11:05 AM)
India lost a good leader when we lost Sonia.

Betal, can you elaborate on what is good about her? My impressions gained while living in India and more recently looking at Congress's website and Sonia's speeches, were that she lacked substance. In fact, she reminded me of Bush in many ways--the lack of experience, the emblematic role, the dynastic component, the speech problem, etc.
betal_nut - Wed, 19 May 2004 21:27:10 +0530
India needs a woman to lead it.
Advaitadas - Wed, 19 May 2004 22:09:06 +0530
Braja, you dont know Betal yet. She is of the dynastic type. Not qualities but birth - 1. Sonia is female 2. She is not a darn Indian..... wink.gif
jagannathdas - Wed, 19 May 2004 23:07:50 +0530
What stock market crash? This is what The guardian reported today!
The departure of Mrs Gandhi leaves the way open for Manmohan Singh, who would be India's first Sikh prime minister. Mr Singh is an economist who orchestrated the financial reforms that have seen India become one of the world's fastest growing economies. Reports that he could become prime minister helped send the country's stock markets soaring. The Mumbai stock exchange jumped nearly 372 points to close at 4877, the biggest one-day gain in more than five years.
jatayu - Wed, 19 May 2004 23:46:46 +0530
QUOTE(betal_nut @ May 19 2004, 03:57 PM)
India needs a woman to lead it.

The danger of getting murdered as a leading woman in India is extremely high. Sonia Gandhi surely thought about that risc from the very beginning. Still her message of showing India the power of a woman to be a qualified leader of India is quite important.
India together
Anand - Thu, 20 May 2004 00:11:55 +0530
My impressions gained while living in India and more recently looking at Congress's website and Sonia's speeches, were that she lacked substance.

sonia Gandhi:
it was always clear in my mind that if there was ever a situation like today then I would listen to my inner voice

It doesn't get any more substantial than this, in my view.
braja - Thu, 20 May 2004 00:31:03 +0530
QUOTE(Anand @ May 19 2004, 02:41 PM)
sonia Gandhi:
it was always clear in my mind that if there was ever a situation like today then I would listen to my inner voice

It doesn't get any more substantial than this, in my view.

"If there was ever a situation like this..."

Hmm. You head up an election campaign representing a dynasty of leaders but don't think ahead as to what you would do if your campaign succeeded?

Unless there is some secret threat being referenced in "a situation like this," to step aside is somewhat irresponsible. "If you are going to dance, don't wear a veil." The issues she would face leading a country of a billion, as a foreigner, were always clear. Perhaps the only real unforeseen element was the rise of the Left, which certainly would have made her role very difficult. If she opted out knowing the tough days that lie ahead, I guess there is some merit, but better to have been clear all along.
Anand - Thu, 20 May 2004 00:44:00 +0530
but better to have been clear all along.  

Agreed. But if uncertainty is present in the beginning, better left at the beginning. So her first decision was correct, in my view.
Hari Saran - Wed, 26 May 2004 10:45:43 +0530
I’m not closely following the Indian Elections, but Vipin Kumar, M.S., Ph.D.
Professor at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, has e-mail me this article which he subjects as “Interesting perspective from”


The White Woman and India

Francois Gautier

The author is the correspondent in South Asia for Ouest-France, the largest circulation French daily (1 million copies)

May 20, 2004

The spectacle on the night of May 18, of all these Congress leaders, many of them intelligent men and women, debasing themselves in front of Sonia Gandhi, pleading with her to lead the country, made me feel sick. If Sonia had any dignity, she would have stopped it, but she just listened, with a slightly bored expression, right till the last Congressman and woman had wallowed in dirt before her.

And again I asked myself the question which has baffled me for 35 years, although I am myself a white man and a born Christian: why do Indians have such an attraction towards the white skin?

After reading the newspapers on Wednesday morning and seeing how newspapers
such as The Times of India still root for Sonia Gandhi, with columnists such as Dileep Padgaonkar saying that her becoming prime minister would be in tune 'with the highest Vedantic ideals,' I wonder: does India, one of the most ancient civilizations on the planet, need a white woman to govern her?

I am sure Sonia has great qualities, but are Indians so dumb, stupid and backward, that they cannot find among themselves someone intelligent enough, non-corrupt enough, to lead them? And what about this craze for Mother Teresa? She may have been a saint, but nobody has harmed India's image in the 20th century so much: when you say India in the West, their eyes light up and they answer: 'Mother Teresa/ Kolkata/ poor people/ dumb people/ starving people/ who do not know how to care after their own underprivileged/ who need a white woman to show them how to pick up the dying from the streets/ to look after orphans'!

Is this the image Indians want today? An image that is harming them, which is stopping Western investors from investing in India? Yet, Mother Teresa is worshipped here, from Kolkata to Chennai, from Delhi to Bangalore, and when she will be made a saint by the Vatican, perpetuating this colonial, superior-minded, Christian symbol of white superiority over the brown/black man, all the Indian media will rejoice in its own mental slavery and the Indian government will probably declare a national holiday!

Why don't Indians understand that brown is beautiful? White people spend hours on the beach and put on a hundred creams to get tanned. And in winter they even artificially lie under infrared lamps in beauty parlors to get brown! Why this obsession for the Indian woman to have white skin?

How come the two most popular actors in India have fair skin and nearly blue eyes? Why this craze for 'fair' brides? If you find the answers to these, you will understand why the fatal attraction for Sonia Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

Obviously, colonisation has frozen the Indian mind in certain patterns and the British made sure, through Macaulay's policies, of leaving behind an enduring inferiority complex among Indians, by constantly harping on the flaws of Indian culture and inflating them. That is why today Indian intellectuals repeat like parrots what their masters had said before them:

'Hindus are fundamentalists/Brahmins are exploiters/Gowalkar was a Nazi/Indians are corrupt and no good.'

But that does not explain everything: most colonised countries have aped their masters after having hated them. No, in my mind the greatest factor behind India's love for the white is the absurd theory of Aryan invasion

According to this theory, which was actually devised in the 18th and 19th centuries by British linguists and archaeologists, the first inhabitants of India were good-natured, peaceful, dark-skinned shepherds called the Dravidians, who had founded what is called the Harappan or the Indus Valley civilisation. They were supposedly remarkable builders, witness the city of Mohenjo Daro in Pakistani Sind, but had no culture to speak of, no literature, no proper script even. Then, around 1500 BC, India is said to have been invaded by tribes called the Aryans: white-skinned, nomadic people, who originated somewhere in western Russia and imposed upon the Dravidians the hateful caste system. To Aryans is attributed Sanskrit, the Vedic or Hindu religion, India's greatest spiritual texts, the Vedas, as well as a host of subsequent writings, the Upanishads, the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, etc.

This was indeed a masterstroke on the part of the British: thanks to the Aryan theory, they showed on the one hand that Indian civilisation was not that ancient and that it was posterior to the cultures which influenced the Western world -- Mesopotamia, Sumeria, and Babylon -- and that whatever good things India had developed -- Sanskrit, literature, or even its architecture -- had been influenced by the West.

Thus, Sanskrit, instead of being the mother of all Indo-European languages, became just a branch of their huge family; thus, the religion of Zarathustra is said to have influenced Hinduism, and not vice versa. On the other hand, it divided India and pitted against each other the low caste, dark-skinned Dravidians and the high caste, light-skinned Aryans, a rift which is still enduring. Yet, most recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries point out that there never was an Aryan invasion and many historians, including the malevolent Romila Thapar, are distancing themselves from it. Yet, most Indians still believe in this absurd theory.

Wake up O Indians: you are as great, if not greater than the white man. You can do as well, if not better than the white man. Not only did your forefathers devise some of the basic principles of mathematics, astrology, and surgical medicine, not only are your people among the most brilliant in the world today -- half of Silicon Valley is of Indian origin, 30 percent of the United Kingdom's doctors are Indians -- but you still hold within yourselves a unique spiritual knowledge, which once roamed the world but which has now disappeared, replaced by the intolerant creed of the two major monotheistic religions which say: 'if you don't believe in my true God, I will either kill you or convert you'.

Wake up India, brown is beautiful, smart and it is the future. Dr Manmohan Singh, whatever has to be said about the Congress, you have partly redeemed India's pride, and our good wishes are with you.
jatayu - Thu, 27 May 2004 16:34:52 +0530
Some forwarded trivia about Mrs. Sonia Gandhi...

1.. Sonia Gandhi is ONLY a high school graduate. It is not even sure
if she is Matric pass or fail. Cambridge University has
confirmed that they have no Sonia Maino on their alumni list.

2.. Her sister, Nadia Mario, who had never visited India before
rushed to New Delhi, after Vajpayee govt.fell, to be by her side
amidst reports that she might soon become India's Prime Minister.

3.. If an italien like Sonia Gandhi become Prime Minister, her relatives in
Italy would be fully entitled to round-the-clock protection by
the Black Cat commandos at the Indian taxpayer's expense.

4.. She worked as an house maid in UK while taking classes to learn
English in some no name school. She was from a poor family in
Italy but now has almost as much money as Bill Gates (guess
whose money is it).

5.. During the 1971 war, while all Indians stood ready to fight for
the Indian cause Sonia Maino and her husband Rajiv Gandhi went on
vacation in Italy.

6.. In 1977, when Indira Gandhi and Congress lost elections, Sonia
Gandhi with her children and husband in tow took refuge of
Italian embassy in New Delhi. Only after Indira Gandhi, Sanjay
and his Indian wife Maneka convinced her that they came back.

7.. Sonia married Rajiv in 1968 and was eligible to become Indian
citizen 5 years later yet she did NOT become Indian citizen till
1984 I.e. 16 years after her marriage) This late bloom of
Sonia's love for India also was out of political consideration.
In 1984, Rajiv, was heir apparent and most likely next Prime
Minister. It would be awkward for a PM to have a foreigner wife.
Voila, Sonia became an Indian Overnight.

8.. She has not given a single interview or offered any ideas on a
single issue facing India now. Her only qualification is that she
married a Gandhi. No newspaper has taken up the issue; no
political party is opposing this, people are falling in line as
if this is nothing unusual.

9.. Sonia became an Indian citizen in 1984 but did not surrender her
Italian citizenship. She continues to be simultaneously a
citizen of India and Italy as Italian law does not require her
to surrender her Italian citizenship or passport. Simply put,
Sonia is a dual citizen of India and Italy (she can also legally
become the prime minister of Italy!)...

Question: Why the absurd Indian system even allows such a person to take part at the election of the prime minister?
betal_nut - Sun, 30 May 2004 03:11:46 +0530
I am sure Sonia has great qualities, but are Indians so dumb, stupid and backward, that they cannot find among themselves someone intelligent enough, non-corrupt enough, to lead them?
betal_nut - Mon, 31 May 2004 03:27:06 +0530
I see that nobody has argued with the above...... cool.gif
Gaurasundara - Mon, 31 May 2004 08:36:30 +0530
What difference will it make?