Sunday, April 28, 2019


An objective parallel can be drawn between the racial caste system, known as Jim Crow in the history of the United States between 1877 to late 60s, and the inhumane treatment of low-caste Hindus triggered by the centuries-old caste culture of India.
Jim Crow was a legitimized and even legalized anti-black racism which relegated African Americans not only as second-class citizens but designated them into a “way of life” by White Americans who had the rights to be discriminatory.
(Jim Crow is a fictional name caricatured of a “clumsy, dimwitted black slave singing a tune called ‘jump Jim Crow’ in Louisville, Kentucky.” It was a creation of a White actor, Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice donned with blackface, and who staged jokes and songs in the typical accent of slave dialect.)
From church to the state, educational institutions at all levels to active civic groups, newspapers to politicians, all geared up under one belief that Whites were the Chosen people of God. That they lack morality and civilized behavior.
Blacks were cursed to be servants, and culturally and intellectually inferior. Ministers and theologians warned of any social integration with the Blacks including sexual relationship as that would produce a mongrel race. That could result in a change of the American character. New terms were created for Blacks like niggers, coons, and darkies.
It is a long list of customized Jim Crows laws and social behaviors expected from the Blacks towards the White population which reveals how discriminatory, unethical and cruel nature of these practices were against a segment of humanity with darker skin.
According to the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Interpretive Staff, the following rules and guidelines illustrate the perception and behavior of White people towards Blacks.
Burial. The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons (Georgia).
Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored (Alabama).
Child Custody: It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or another White person in this State, having the control or custody of any White child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a Negro (South Carolina).
Wine and Beer: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine…shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time (Georgia).
Education: The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately (Florida).
And many more laws and regulations related to the racial downgrading of the Black population were introduced and pursued by most White Americans.
Besides, Jim Crows in various states of the United States, there were many social etiquettes which the Blacks had to follow. Here are a few of them as outlined by Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide (1990).
Never assert or even intimate that a white person is lying.
Never impute dishonorable intentions to a white person.
Never suggest that a white person is from an inferior class.
Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.
Never curse a white person.
Never laugh derisively at a white person.
Never comment upon the appearance of a white female.
Racial laws along with imposed etiquettes for the Blacks and their almost total segregation were the norms under the overall hateful and heartless behavior of the White majority.
However, the more horrifying and barbaric aspect of the “way of life” was public lynching, murders, and looting of Black people. The Lynch Law victims were hanged, shot, burned at stake (post), castrated, beaten with clubs, or dismembered. Whites could physically beat Blacks with impunity.
Now, let us take a brief visit to the racists and ultra sub-human practices embedded in the psyche of upper-class Hindus against the lowest in the hierarchy ladder of India’s caste system.
The people in this segment of the society were classified as Shudras according to Manusmriti, a manual written by self-proclaimed saint Manu centuries ago. He stratified society into four classes where Shudras’ main job description is described as to look after the above three classes. Manu also recognized the existence of un-coded fifth class, as being the lowest of the lowest or “untouchables.”
Both the Shudras and the “untouchables” are also known as Dalits in present-day India.
Manu declared that Shudras and the “untouchables” were ineligible to study or even listening to hymns in the Vedas.
Besides stripping them from studying and access to knowledge a sampling of Manu’s treatment of Shudras and Untouchables is penned in the Manusmriti like this:
“—- men who, in their folly, wed wives of the low (Sudra) caste, soon degrade their families and their children to the state of Sudras,” (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, Para 15)”.
“A Brahmana (high caste) who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will (after death) sink into hell; if he begets a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana, (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, para17)”.
“For him who drinks the moisture of a Sudra’s lips, who is tainted by her breath, and who begets a son on her, no expiation is prescribed,” (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, Para 19)”.
Manu’s unjust and undemocratic caste system led to creating many social barricades advanced and nurtured by the priest class in conceiving the customs and practices against the Dalits and the Untouchables.
As time passed the culture of discrimination, hatred and inequality formulated by Manu became an increasingly horrendous practice. It came to the point when in most parts of India both Shudra and Untouchable communities were segregated to live outside the boundaries of a village or town. They were to enter and exit the township at certain hours.
They were not allowed to enter temples or keep religious idols in their homes, no admission to schools, nor allowed to draw water from the wells used by higher castes. The mere touch of their body or even their sight or shadow was considered impure.
In his book Annihilation of Caste, Dr. Ambedkar while arguing against the deep-rooted caste system in the Hindu psyche, gives a vivid description of the custom and practices prevalent in the society.
Dr. Ambedkar can be ranked along with Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and other world leaders who fought against the humiliating social disorder and break the shackles of virtual economic and social slavery.
He writes: “Under the rule of the Peshwas in the Maratha country the untouchable was not allowed to use the public streets if a Hindu was coming along lest he should pollute the Hindu by his shadow. The untouchable was required to have a black thread either on his wrist or in his neck as a sign or a mark to prevent the Hindus from getting them polluted by his touch through mistake. In Poona, the capital of the Peshwa, the untouchable was required to carry, strung from his waist, a broom to sweep away from behind the dust he treaded on lest a Hindu walking on the same should be polluted. In Poona, the untouchable was required to carry an earthen pot, hung in his neck wherever he went, for holding his spit lest his spit falling on earth should pollute a Hindu who might unknowingly happen to tread on it.”
In his crusade to end the ill-treatment of Dalits, as well as expressing his moral sense, that on December 25, 1927, he led a public protest of symbolic burning of Manusmriti.
The deep-rooted caste system in the Hindu psyche has plagued India for centuries.
And despite on-going educational and progressive movements, the “way of life” is the same for many Dalits as experienced by the Blacks under the Jim Crows laws and practices.
(Information sources for this article: Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, and Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Ever since the car manufacturers introduced the Cruise Control feature, I have rarely used it.
And I think many people like me seldom bothered about this extra driving maneuver. They might have their own reasons. But in my case, it is simple. My conscious mind does not feel relaxed in this mode. The logic is, it might fail when I need it in an abrupt or unexpected moment.
This is a mindset attitude I have. And for that reason, I will not be buying fully-loaded Autonomous Vehicles, AVs in short.
Safety is the issue. AVs can’t be as close to human safety because engineering can’t match personal intellect. Driving would always be a tense experience.
The pleasure of driving is gone when “someone” else is driving.
Two latest models of AVS, one by the Uber Technologies and the other by Tesla, are the cause of accidents in recent months. One hit and killed a passenger in Arizona, and the other collided with a highway barrier in California.
AVs also include most of the airplanes being built these days. Two fatal accidents in recent months are proof of that, which could have been prevented. The ill-fated planes autonomous steering system repeatedly forced the Boeing 737 Max into a dive. The resulting judgment for these two crashes has been produced by the investigators.
As we’re about to enter a world where AVs can be a mod choice when buying cars. These vehicles in which human drivers are never needed to safely operate them. Rather a combination of sensors like radars, sonars, GPS, and an advanced control system would analyze sensory information to identify navigation paths, obstacles, and the relevant traffic signs in various languages, all within a split-second timeframe.
They say to err is human, but to err is technology can be true as well.

Monday, April 22, 2019







Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Coalition Politics In India More Than Fighting Election And Sharing Power

By Promod Puri
Politics of coalition has been the norm in India for the last over two decades.
So far, this has been essentially an alluring and opportunist wangling when political parties form coalitions with the sole intent of sharing power. United Fronts of Left and Right, Centre-left and Centre-right, or a mix of all is the reality of India’s vibrant, dirty and still maturing democracy.
In recent years, especially after the near-fatal downfall of the once mighty Centre-left Indian National Congress in the last 2014 election, and the sharp emergence of the Centre-right Hindu religious-leaning Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the inevitable coalition politics of the country can and should be more relevant for the diverse Indian society than just political maneuvering and horse trading.
Coalition alignments of multi-parties in multi-dimensional societies need more spaces, adaptations, and adjustments compared to the governance of monolithic populations to conform to the order of manageable and functional democracy.
Traditionally, India has been a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious and geographically diverse country.
For that reason, democracy in this nation of over a billion people (1,350,438,098) can only be covered by a multiplicity of political parties catering to its diverse masses rather than two or three parties as the case in most culturally, linguistically and religiously homogeneous countries.
In India’s heterogeneity, coalition politics is the innate necessity as a result of its accepted and reasonably functional multi-party system.
It is in this coalition of diversities that the regional parties are obligated to meet the needs and distinct cultural, linguistic and religious values of their peoples rather than just filling the numbers to have a piece of pie in their hunger for power.
Since the overall composition and spirit of national alliances depend upon its constituent partners, a challenge to the Indian democracy lies in how it accommodates a multiplicity of regional demands, issues, and identities. For example, immigration, minorities’ rights, and job or educational reservations are the matters which demand regional understanding, concerns, and sentiments.
Consequently, the regional parties of India can be more assertive in their distinct provincial responsibilities and commitments while extending their support for the existing two national parties, the BJP, and the Congress.
The BJP leads the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), while the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is led by the Congress Party.
The NDA was formed by the BJP in 1998, and since 2015 it has 37 member parties. Except for the BJP, most of the constituents of the NDA are all regional parties representing the various states of the country. It is the ruling front since the last general election.
The UPA is a center-left fluctuating union of around 30 parties. Except for the Congress Party, most of its membership belongs to the regional parties as well.
Besides the BJP-led and the Congress-led national fronts, a third alternative has recently emerged. It is presented as Mahagathabandhan, which is an alliance of Centre-left opposition groups of 15 parties with secular fundamentals unlike the claims of the BJP and even the Congress Party.
Except for the All India Trinamool Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (recognized as national parties by the Election Commission of India), the Mahagathabandhan can be viewed as an assemblage of regional parties. And that gives a different flare to the coalition system of India’s democratic outlook as there is practically no dominance of a major national party in this BJP and Congress free political bloc.
The ‘gathabandhan’ is basically a union of ideologically-related constituents unlike that of BJP-Akali Dal in Punjab or now dissolved BJP-PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the absence of a dominating national party, whose leader often holds dictatorial powers, the regional ‘gathabandhan’ or alliance can be more autonomous and democratic in its entity and operation than the BJP-led and the Congress-led alliances.
The almost monocratic aspects of Indira Gandhi and later Sonia Gandhi of the Congress Party, and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi are the known realities of disregard and even abuse of democracy in India.
In that respect, the Gathabandhan is a positive new feature of coalition politics of the country which can offer the true spirit of democratic functioning as there is little chance of emergence of dictatorial dominance in this arrangement.
The wheels of democracy can only move when these are not stalled by the authoritarian controls of national parties’ leadership. Otherwise, it is an autocratic functioning within a shell of so-called democracy.
The unity of India lies in its diversity. And that diversity can only be safeguarded when its politics of coalition is not impacted by autocratic behavior of any single party leadership.
Promod Puri is a journalist, writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites:,, and