Monday, October 31, 2011



Below is an exchange of views between eminent Dawn Journalist Khalid Aziz and the Author,

Amb(Retd) K.Gajendra Singh



Thursday, October 13, 2011



By Khalid Aziz | From the DAWN Newspaper 14th Oct, 2011

RECENTLY, President Hamid Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with India in New Delhi. Among other things, it provides for the training of Afghan army officers in India.

Before departing for India, President Karzai had accused Pakistan of some involvement in the murder of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council. Irrespective of the merits of such a claim, merely the charge may have serious consequences and isolate Pakistan further during the forthcoming regional conferences in Istanbul, Bonn and later in Chicago that have been called to work out the Afghan transition.

Investigations into the death of Mr Rabbani may solve the mystery of his assassination. However, the party most threatened by peace in Afghanistan may be Al Qaeda as it would come under extensive pressure to move out of the region.

Secondly, the haste of the Indian government in pleasing Mr Karzai at the risk of harming its relationship with Pakistan may mean that another zero-sum game is in the offing. Normally, India makes decisions with prudence and after doing its homework. Can it be assumed that the agreement was actually negotiated some time ago and signed now to suit the circumstances?

The Indo-Afghan agreement gives a clear indication that it is aimed at Pakistan`s purported sphere of influence in Afghanistan. Does that mean that the US, India and Afghanistan have decided to jointly mount pressure on Pakistan? If so, this portends yet another conundrum for Pakistan.

The Indian military recently began manoeuvres near the Pakistan border in Sindh and Punjab. The simultaneous move of sophisticated Su-30 fighter jets to the region lends credence to Pakistani worries that India may be on the threshold of executing another `Cold Start` exercise to place Pakistan under pressure.

Why India would generate pressure in the region now when it is at the threshold of huge economic growth is inexplicable. One possible explanation may be Indian suspicions of a jihadi attack inside India. The exercise may be a pre-emptive message to force Pakistan to act more responsibly.

If such an event should occur, it would prove disastrous for the whole region; thus, extra care and vigilance is required of Pakistan. India`s moves and the strategic agreement are clearly meant to put Pakistan on notice regarding acting against jihadi networks in the country.

In June 2009, the US secretary of defence directed Centcom to prepare a report advising the US government on how the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) could achieve its objectives in Afghanistan. The report was prepared by Gen McChrystal, the Isaf commander in August 2009.

It highlighted many issues related to the challenges facing the international coalition in Afghanistan. Although it was not followed in letter or spirit, the report was honest and realistic and drew some forthright conclusions that are worth revisiting.

Amongst other conclusions drawn by Gen McChrystal, an important one was that "The Afghan government has not integrated or supported traditional community governance structures — historically an important component of Afghan civil society — leaving communities vulnerable to being undermined by insurgent groups and power brokers".

The breakdown of social cohesion at the community level has increased instability, made Afghans feel unsafe, and fuelled the insurgency. He further added: "The insurgency … is predominantly Afghan."

If the Afghan government has been unable to increase its capacity due to various reasons, is it not possible that the death of Mr Rabbani may have been the result of ethnic rivalries or the dynamics of Afghan politics?

Then, Gen McChrystal had said that "Stability in Pakistan is essential, not only in its own right, but also to enable progress in Afghanistan. While the existence of safe havens in Pakistan does not guarantee Isaf failure, Afghanistan does require Pakistani cooperation and action against violent militancy, particularly against those groups active in Afghanistan".

He cautioned about expanding India`s role in Afghanistan: "Increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India."

International politics are based on realism: relations are based on competition and conflict rather than cooperation. Realists consider states to be concerned with their own security and act in pursuit of their own national interests in their struggle for power. International politics are characterised by active or potential conflict among states.

In the current situation, the US, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan are obviously following the realism route. Pakistan, however, must calculate the cost of confronting a mounting coalition against it for its alleged support to the jihadis, including the Haqqani group.

Clearly, the survival of the Pakistani state is more important than tactical preferences. The parallels of the current crisis with the East Pakistan situation in 1971 are too close for comfort.

Pakistan`s geography on the junction of Punjab with Sindh has remained its Achilles heel. To cover this weakness, Pakistan considered Afghanistan as within its legitimate sphere of interest, and resultantly the new strategic agreement between India and Afghanistan is viewed with alarm. However, realism teaches us to watch out, for there is greater danger lurking.

The pieces on the chessboard clearly do not augur well for peace or for an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Common sense would suggest that the best strategy for bringing peace to the region would be to engage both India and Pakistan in a collaborative mode for the endgame in Afghanistan.

Such a result may best be achieved by the appointment of a special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations with a mandate to expeditiously consult the states concerned on how to create a regional consultative mechanism to ensure peace in Afghanistan and an orderly drawdown of forces by 2014 while also assisting in maintaining regional security.




Pathans in Afghanistan and Punjab are welcome to be ruled by Pak Punjabis.


No country except Delhi has shown the patience against pinpricks , serious intrusions and wars by Pakistan against India ,which Racist white Christians exploit .Pakistan was created to suit UK and then US interests to control the region and the oil well with Riyadh money which only perpetuates its corrupt Saud dynasty .The dynasty prospers by keeping Muslims backwards .



"India-Pakistan Geo-political mold


As for the geopolitical template of Hindustan or South Asia ,the people now dominating Pakistan, ie the Punjabi Musalman in Lahore or Islamabad have though out history been envious of  the rulers of Hindustan with their capital on Jamuna in Delhi or Agra with their vast territories for revenue , even without Deccan .They invited the Moghuls to invade Hindustan when Afghans were ruling in Delhi .Later they invited Pathans and Iranians when Moghuls were ruling in Delhi . The religion of the rulers in Delhi was immaterial .For its strategic defense , Hindustan  should control Kabul if not Kandahar as was done by early Moghuls . Once Kabul and Kandahar were lost , Hindustan became a plaything of invaders.  And the Punjabi people joined in the loot and robbed the invader if he failed .


The same strategic paradigm is operating now .It is the outside powers , first Britain ,then USA and China , which are behind Pakistani aggressive confrontations against India , beginning with 1947 , then 1965 and Kargil among these instances .In the process Pakistan has been afflicted with opium ( in whose contraband cultivation and trade Pak elite specially elements in the military and ISI are involved both for financing their activities and for personal wealth) and Kalashnikov culture and remains envious of the economic progress India has made .

==A former Indian diplomat Narendra Singh Sarila, in a well researched book 'The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India's Partition', based on British documents, uncovers the truth that, after the 2nd world War, realizing that London had to relinquish India, the British leadership across the political spectrum, Conservatives and Labour, intrigued, told lies and finally partitioned the Indian subcontinent creating the state of Pakistan. Because with Mahatma Gandhi with his opposition to violence and war and Jawaharlal Nehru 's non-strategic idealism and the vision of creating friendship and understanding among colonized and exploited people of the world, New Delhi would not join Western military pacts to protect the oil fields in the Middle East from the Soviet Union .

Britain's ultimate objective was to retain at least some part in the North-West of India, for defensive and offensive action against the USSR in any future dispensation in the sub-continent. And Britain knew that this could be best achieved by having a willing and subservient Pakistan as its client. So the only way -- was to use Jinnah to detach areas of India, which borders Iran, Afghanistan and Xinjiang and create a new state there. Sarila documents in detail how after the end of World War II in 1945, the new Labor government of Clement Attlee and Wavell decided to divide India and used Jinnah and political Islam to protect their strategic interests. 

A top-secret telegram of Lord Wavell, then Viceroy, to the Secretary of State in London dated February 6, 1946, suggested the lines on which British India could be divided. On June 3, 1947, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, while addressing the Labor Party's annual conference, spilled the beans that the division of India "would help consolidate Britain in the Middle East". 

Sarila also traces the roots of the present Kashmir problem and how the matter was handled in the UN to favor ally Pakistan. That India should have no direct land access to central Asia, even via Afghanistan , motivated Western perfidious policy on the Kashmir Question has also been brought out in the book "War and Diplomacy in Kashmir 1947-48' by another Indian diplomat C Das Gupta .

THE US/ISRALE-SAUD DYNASTY/WHABIS-PAKARMY/ISI is the Exagon being used to exploit energy resources for western benefit as in Libya now with support from Riyadh and now going bonkers ERdogan .


"Stakeholders in Afghanistan

The Kingdom of Afghanistan was accepted as a de facto buffer state by the British and Russian empires at the end of 'the Great Game' in Central Asia in 19th century . Various British efforts to conquer Afghanistan ended in disasters . By the end of the 20th century , the British and Russian empires in Asia had unraveled and many new states have emerged out of them. Thus the very raison d'etre of a buffer state no longer exists. Since the US provoked entry of Soviet troops in 1979 ,their withdrawal in 1989 , fighting between residual Nazibullah regime and Pakistan supported warlords and finally take over of most of the Afghanistan territory by Taliban with Pak military and ISI participation and funds from the Gulf states established a rudimentary and medieval regime  under Mullah Omar  .How ever the Tajiks ,Hazaras , Ozbeks and other mainly non Sunni groups have been governed by their ethnic warlords and resistance fighters against Russian occupation troops like the legendry Masood , who was treacherously assassinated just before 11/9 .Masood had headed the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras , Ozbeks and others who resisted the Taliban regime .The Alliance was supported by Iran, Turkey ,India ,Ozbekistan, Tajikistan and others.


The 2001 December bombings and invasion of Afghanistan did not have UN sanction and was based on the premise of US and hence Nato's  right to defend US territory after 11/attacks .In spite of US wish to enter Kabul as liberators , the Northern Alliance troops of  Masood entered as liberators . Since then except by air attacks including by drones , which have killed large number of Afghan civilians , including women and children , ISAF and Nato troops have not fared too well on the ground. The increase in foreign troops deaths , reluctance of most Nato member states to go on, has put intolerable burden on the cohesion of Western occupation forces .The number of western troops killed has been highest in June , but West as per its racial attitude , in Gen Colin Powell's words do not do body count of enemy troops and civilians (both in Afghanistan and Iraq.) The Afghan territory is under control of different armed groups , foreign and local , with Washington installed President Hamid Karzai, with US mercenaries as his bodyguards, barely controlling the city of Kabul. Except for Karzai , a Pushtun ,most of the ruling elite consists of Northern Alliance ethnic leaders , with Karzai family making hay ( money ) while the sun shines .Recently US media reports gave details of how billions of dollars meant for military and development projects have been flown out of Afghanistan ( Similar loot of funds in Iraq has also been reported from time to time. Western governments and media mount propaganda campaigns for donor meets whether for Serbia or Iraq or Afghanistan and amounts are pledged ( but much less is given ) with large share being spent on foreign ( mostly Western ) experts or just plain stolen and brazenly shipped out by air .


The number of stakeholders in Afghanistan is large ,the Afghan people , 40% Pushtuns, the rest Tajiks , Hazaras , Ozbeks and others with their ethnic kins in Iran, Ozbekistan ,Tajikistan ,Turkmenistan ,Kyrgyzstan, who provide support and even manpower ,neighbouring countries like China via Xinjiang and the former ruler of central Asia , Moscow . India also has historic interests and invested billions of dollars in development projects to have influence and friendly relations with Afghans , which it had  when Pakistan was part of united Hindustan .


Pakistan's interests have already been brought out since the Soviet occupation in 1979 and involvement in Afghan affairs .As the major financial contributor of the 1980s Jihad against USSR , and even other wise the Saud dynasty , with its coffers bulging with petrodollars , its purchase of US and British arms would be of dubious value which many feel Saudis are unlikely of using , like the Kuwaitis in 1990 .But Riyadh has its Wahabi ideology and cheque  books for funding not only Madarsas, mosques but also for arms to Pakistan, and Pushtun Afghan groups .After the destruction of Iraq power , USA's Sunni allies  from Egypt to Jordan ,in western Sunni Iraq ,even Yemen are worried about the rising power and clout of Iran in spite of all obstacles and sanctions against Tehran by US led West .It has its advance guards in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza .Hezbollah , Iranian and Syrian leaders who stand up to US and Israel are extremely popular with Muslim masses not only in the Arab world but elsewhere too .


So what if after Afghanistan if Pakistan unravels too.Little effort has been made by its leaders since 1947 to even develop a territory based nationalism. China would not also escape further problems in Xinjiang and Tibet.




Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pyramids , Stupas , Tombs and Mausoleums

Pyramids , Stupas , Tombs and Mausoleums

 Shrimati Mayawati ,chief minister of India's largest state ,Uttar Pradesh and perhaps the tallest  Dalit leader (of  former untouchable class in the Hindu Caste system) , while inaugurating on 14 October  her multi-billion dream project ,a gigantic 82-acre memorial-cum-park Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden at Noida near Delhi declared;

 "I had to undertake this project because successive governments of different political parties never cared to give recognition to the rich contribution of these social ( Dalit) reformers, simply because they were drawn from the most downtrodden strata of society."  (Most of the opposition parties and others specially media, mostly from higher castes has been highly critical of this project ) Mayawati clarified that "First of all I would like to point out that the total expenditure on all the monuments that I have built during my tenure in honour of various Dalit icons did not work out to more than one per cent of my government's each year's budget."  

She further clarified  "And let me add that if successive governments including the Congress party which headed most regimes, had shown some consideration and given the dalit heroes their due, I would not have had to take up the task." She accused successive Congress governments of "building monuments after monuments for various members of the Gandhi-Nehru family"—" "if the Congress party has occupied all along the west bank of the Yamuna river in Delhi for building memorials of various Gandhis-Nehrus, I have raised this one memorial on the east bank of the Yamuna to honour the so-far neglected Dalit icons like Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedlkar, Jyotiba Phule, Narayan Guru, Chattrapati Shauji Maharaj, Kanshi Ram and others," she concluded. 

It is true that her statues also adorn various parks but then many a Pharaoh and Caesar built Pyramids and temples in their own honour while still alive . 

It is a fact that all over India streets, airports, buildings and the like have been named after members of Nehru/Gandhi family. Any one from Mahatma Gandhi's family becomes a scholar on non –violence and generally gets a good appointment . So what is wrong if Mayawati , who represents the epitome of the upsurge of resentment against Brahamanical order and other high caste repression of Dalits since millennia names some monuments  to honour Dalit leaders .She is the only one who has courage to do this .And the higher castes specially higher classes origin media snigger no end. This attitude exhibits cultural discrimination and domination by the higher castes . 

Brahmin created and dominated Bhartiya Janata party , which controls Delhi Municipal Committee is reportedly going to name 100 streets and squares for BJP and RSS leaders .Worse families of many dead leaders occupy precious real estate in the centre of capital Delhi and elsewhere .Once allotted as residence to the leader of the caste ,the family then made it a museum or mausoleum and it almost becomes a family property . There seems to be no consensus on such matters. 

The banks of river Yamuna which should have been used for public parks and other entertainment purposes for the masses as are river banks elsewhere in the world , in Delhi , Varanasi and elsewhere ghosts of the past occupy the river banks .Is it because the Pundits aka Brahmins control the profitable business of mourning , death and beyond .For example , if a cow is gifted to a Pundit , a dead person is escorted to heaven aka Swarg . Just go 50 kms away from Delhi and you will witness this kind of obscurantism. 

Below is a write up on funerary monuments like Pyramids, Stupas ,Tombs and Mausoleums.

Pyramids like Stupas or Muslim tombs are funerary monuments to honour /preserve memory of the dead or his signs as relics  .Such a construction is as old as the belief in after life or even reincarnation. The earliest and the most magnificent pyramids are of ancient Egyptian rulers Pharaohs.( As Third Secretary in Cairo ie errand boy in early 1960s , my first post to learn Arabic , I was detailed alternately with the other probationer to take visiting/transiting VIPs and Ambassador's guests to various pyramids and the rich antiquities museum on Tehrir Square)

If one studies the Egyptian or Pharoanic civilisation, one learns that quite a bit has been contributed by the Nubians of Upper Egypt. Many Pharaohs had thick lips and crinkly hair.  For the West, Egyptians are bad enough as contributors to Greek civilization and now to claim that the Sudanese might have influenced the Greek and hence the Western Judo-Hellenic Christian civilization is too much to accept . Yes, after the development of civilisations in Mesopotamia and the Nile valley, it filtered to eastern Mediterranean, which became a cradle of civilisations, with exchange of ideas through trade and people. That is how the Greek island of Crete acquired civilizations from where Greek and European civilization emerged. 



Unlike Mesopotamia ( even now invaded by the Americans for its oil ) Egypt with its populated and irrigated area only 3% of the country along river Nile is surrounded by deserts and with no rains remained protected and its monuments are well preserved ,buried under dry sand .But lack of communications with other cultures left the ancient Egyptian civilisation rather linear in its development and richness.

The achievement of a civilization may be expressed in terms of its best points—moral and ethical, aesthetic, scientific, and, not least, literary. In Mesopotamia legal theory flourished and was sophisticated. Early on, it was expressed in several collections of legal decisions, the so-called codes, of which the best-known and the earliest is the Code of Hammurabi.  Throughout these codes recurs the concern of the ruler for the weak, the widow, and the orphan.

There are 25 firsts achieved by Sumerians.  These include wheels, the plough, the loom, the potter's wheels, the brick, and the sail, working with metals and finally writing. Technical accomplishments were perfected in the building of amazingly accurate Ziggurats (temple towers resembling pyramids), with their huge bulk, and in irrigation, both in practical execution and in theoretical calculations.  At the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, an artificial stone often regarded as a forerunner of concrete was in use at Uruk (160 miles south-southeast of modern Baghdad), The ultimate weapon to spread civilisations remains systematic writing.  

The ancient Indians by not developing writing and keeping knowledge to Brahmins and family only hindered spread of civilisation and keeping the people backward. This genetic trait among policy makers/law givers persists even today. That is why the present day rulers ( of all castes and religions ) dislike RTI.

Pyramid, a Greek term ,is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge at a single point. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or any polygon shape, meaning that a pyramid has at least three triangular surfaces (at least four faces including the base). The square pyramid, with square base and four triangular outer surfaces, is a common version. A pyramid's design, with the majority of the weight closer to the ground, and with the pyramidion on top means that less material higher up on the pyramid will be pushing down from above. This distribution of weight allowed early civilizations to create stable monumental structures.


For thousands of years, the largest structures on Earth were Egyptian pyramids—first the Red Pyramid in the Dashur Necropolis and then the Great Pyramid of Khufu, both near Cairo, the latter the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still remaining.

The Bent Pyramid  near Cairo is unique, and represents a transitional pyramid form believed to have been the result of an engineering crisis encountered during its construction. The Red Pyramid is the world's first true smooth-sided pyramid. Near Cairo at Saqqara ,there is the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base.( Earliest Budhist Stupas as at Sanchi and also at Bukhara are tomb like, built over a square raised platform )


Khufu's Pyramid is built entirely of limestone, and is considered an architectural masterpiece. It contains around 1,300,000 blocks ranging in weight from 2.5 tonnes (5,500 lb) to 15 tonnes (33,000 lb) and is built on a square base with sides measuring about 230 m (755 ft), covering 13 acres. Its four sides face the four cardinal points precisely and it has an angle of 52 degrees. The original height of the Pyramid was 146.5 m (488 ft), but today it is only 137 m (455 ft) high, the 9 m (33 ft) that is missing is due to the theft of the fine quality limestone covering, or casing stones to build houses and Mosques in Cairo. It is still the tallest pyramid.


( India's nuclear power builder, Dr. Home J.Bhaba ,while going around the famous antiquities museum in Cairo in 1963, remarked that perhaps the ancient Egyptians ,who transported such big blocks of stones by boat from Aswan, 500 km away ,might have tied the wooden boats over them and then floated then in river Nile , to reduce the apparent weight taking advantage of Archimedes principle )


Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death , so the rulers built huge Pyramids , which apart from the desire of the powerful to show off also provided a secret and difficult place to reach inside it where the embalmed dead body with food , real and symbolic figures ie the servants etc were buried .Throughout the sweep of time thieves have tried to infiltrate into Pyramids for the dead bodies of rulers and steal gold and other precious things .Not many succeeded , fortunately .So the embalmed Mummies with magnificent casings  of gold and other rich objects of ancient Egyptian civilizations have been unearthed and are displayed in museums in Cairo and elsewhere  ,stolen by Western conquerors ,


But the largest pyramid by volume in the world is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, in the Mexican state of Puebla. Pyramid like structures abound all over central and south America showing great civilizations ,like the Incas , also in China and one natural geological formation in Bosnia ,unlike Europe which has little of such monumental remains of  civilizations .

Buddhist Stupas ,darghas and tombs

In Buddhism symbols represented Buddha and Tantras. Sculpture representing Buddha in human form is a Greek contribution through Gandhara art from Afghanistan. Starting from Bactria, Buddhism evolved the concept of Bodhisattva Maitreya as incarnations for attaining Nirvana and return to guide and help the laity. This universal and secular religion found favour with Central Asian Turks and Mongols (also with Uyghurs in Xinjiang) when it reached there.

Excavations have revealed Viharas and Stupas all over eastern Turkistan, up to Bukhara and into Turkmenistan. To begin with, Stupas were built to keep sacred relics (of Buddha and some of his disciples) although Buddha himself was against such practices. Later Stupas became associated with the symbols of remains of saints and cemeteries. The respect and veneration is , perhaps ,based more on Aryan belief in Brahman or the Reality (Universal Soul) and Atman (individual Soul) with the saints having achieved the Union with the Reality.

Prophet Mohammed had underlined that God and man are different. (Christians have still not resolved this dilemma fully about the nature of Jesus ). Miracles and veneration of dead persons are denounced in Quran (Sura XI, 31).

Stupas started as simple structures, as in Sanchi in Central India (1st or 2nd Cent BC) with a semi-spherical dome for the remains, fenced by a wall and 4 entrances and a Chhatri (umbrella symbolising the Lord and the Sovereign). Later a raised square platform was added under the dome with the structures then becoming more complex and sophisticated, adorned with sculptures like Bamiyan Buddhas and paintings (some times in caves i.e. in Ajanta and Barhaut in India). Viharas are monasteries with cells constructed around a court yard, with Stupa in the middle, for monks to stay during the heavy Indian monsoon rains. As a rule the monks were not to attach themselves to any fixed place.

With the spread of Buddhism Central Asians including Turks and Mongols adopted and assimilated phrases from Buddhism i.e. Sanskrit and Pali words like Nirvana =Nirvana (Nibanna), Dhamma =Dharma, Cindan =Chandan (sandalwood), used for funerary ceremony, Aratna =Ratan, Stup =Stupa, Mandal= Mandala, Chakra= Chakra, Bodhistava =Bodhistav, Bakshi (accountant)=Bhikku /Bhikshu (because a Bhikshu once did accounts for the Mongols in Xinjiang) etc.


An excavation in 1930s at Moghoki Attar mosque in Bukhara, perhaps the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia, revealed under it ruins of a Zoroastrian temple destroyed by Arabs and an earlier Buddhist temple beneath it. The name Bukhara itself perhaps derives from Vihara. (Tashkent could be from Tashkhund; region of stones in Sanskrit). There are many ruins of Viharas and Stupas in Termez on Amu Darya (Uzbekistan), Merv (Turkmenistan), Afrasiab (Samarkand), Khojand etc in Ferghana valley and around Lake Issik Kul in Kyrgyzstan .

Of course in Eastern Turkistan (and Tibet) apart from the ruins, many thousand old Buddhist manuscripts (300 pages found in Merv too) and books were recovered. Buddhist paintings have also been found in Afrasiab and elsewhere in Central Asia. It is not a simple coincidence that after Islam's arrival all these places became centres of Sufi Islam. From Stupas and Viharas have perhaps emerged sacred tombs, khankahs, darghas and madarsas.

Tombs were not accepted in Arab heartland around Saudi Arabia. But the Persian, Turkish, Asian and African, even Berber Muslims accepted Pirs, Calandars, Sheikhs, Babas, Dervishes and others and their tombs became places of worship. Freedom loving eclectic nomads and others resisted Arab warriors in Sogdiana and Central Asia and their still austere Islam. It was only the modified, personalised and spiritual Islam of Persian Samanids based in Bukhara (Ismail's tomb looks like a simple Stupa) that was first accepted by Turks and others in Central Asia .To Islam had been added strands of local religions and beliefs .It is this form of Islam that was spread in India mostly by Sufi saints, but also by forced conversions and inducements


Sufism developed fully by 12th century by which time Arab Islam had been modified and enriched by streams from Persian, Central Asian and other religions, beliefs and philosophies .It was in the heartland of Arab Islam ie Baghdad and Aleppo, where Sufis saints Al Hajj (for insisting " Ana Al-haq "-I am the Truth) and Suhrawardy were martyred. Because of Sunni hostility tombs were erected much after the martyrdom of Imam Ali and Imam Hussein in Najaf and Karbala. The Wahhabis/ Salafis remain deadly opposed to Sufism.

The major Sufi Tariqas ( ways) had central Asian origin or influence i.e., Qadiriyas, Nakshabandis (many current Turkish leaders are its adherents), Rumi's dervishes, Bektashis, the patron saint of non-Turkish (mostly Slav), non-  Muslim ( mostly Christian) born Janissary corps and top Administrators of the Ottoman Empire based on devshirme (slave ) system. Turkey's Shia Alevis' faith (majority from Turkmen Oghuz tribes) has strands from Christian, Shaman and other beliefs.

Intermingling of beliefs and faiths;

Human wish to comprehend and experience the Reality is as old as the natural talent to transcend beyond oneself, until this faculty was dimmed by technological afflictions. There are glimpses of it in earliest Aryan writings like Vedas and Avestan, even among Greek philosophers like Orpheus, Pythagoras, Socrates and others .So the environment and tools existed before formal religions evolved or were revealed.

Buddha himself went through the whole gamut of experiments and meditations including Jain like and other austerities, Hindu systems before realising Nirvana. And his path and method of meditation were modified in east India, Tibet, China and Japan. If Buddhism influenced the evolution of Sufi Islam then Buddhism itself was influenced earlier by other religions and practices.

Indo-Iranian religion Mithraism flowered between the 2nd and 4th centuries in the Roman world and became very popular among the Roman aristocracy, military leaders and soldiers, traders and slaves with powerful patrons among Roman emperors, like Commodus, Septimium Severus, Caraculla and others. Diocletian built a temple for Mithra near Vienna on Danube as "the Protector of the Empire". He was the god of Light and Sun, contract, loyalty and justice. Celebrations for Mithra's birthday on December 25, the sun's solstice, was so popular in the Asia that Christmas had to be shifted to this day from January 6 to make it acceptable among the masses. Christianity also took over many of the rituals and symbols of Mithraism, like baptism, resurrection and prayers to honor the Sun.

India's Sikh religion also known as gurmat, the teachings of the guru, founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), combines many elements of Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak believed that one could come close to the God through meditation and devotion .God is the true guru and his divine word has come to the humanity through the 10 historical gurus. Their sacred scripture Adi Granth is also called "Guru Granth Saheb ". The Sikh temples are known as gurdwaras, Guru's door. Many Shi'ites Ghulat groups believe that Ali and the Imams are doors to God. When the Sunni Moghul emperors persecuted the Sikhs and their gurus, Sikh religion took to militancy and those who died for the panth ( gurus' path) became martyrs.

Human beings have evolved many paths to the Reality ie various Yoga systems; Tibetan, Zen, Vipassana and other Buddhist Margs, Jewish Kabbalah, Christian Hesychasm, Gurdjief way, Sufi Tariqas and Transcendental Meditation (TM) in modern times for spiritually challenged materialists. The masses accept what the saints and holy men they trust teach them.

Mosque and tombs

The word mosque itself derives from the Arabic masjid, "a place where one prostrates one's self (in front of God)." In earliest times any place could be used for private prayer with correct direction (qiblah, originally Jerusalem, but soon towards Mecca). The community prayer on Fridays, with a collective swearing of allegiance to the community's leadership also strengthens common bonds among all members of the Ummah.

According to some experts, the Quran does not utter a word for or against the representation of living things. But from about the middle of the 8th century a prohibition was formally established .It became a standard feature of Islamic thought, even though the form in which it was expressed varied from absolute to partial. It has been suggested that Islam developed this attitude when it came into contact with other cultures and it was felt that the dreaded idol worship might return. The Qur'an (Sura ix, 31) prohibits the veneration of holy men and saints. In early Islam there was no special embellishment of funerary sites; 'the tombs of the rich and poor are alike'. But the human desire to venerate and by many to be venerated is too old and deep rooted. The first changes occurred through veneration of the tombs of holy persons.


It appears that the construction of commemorative buildings over certain burial places began in the late 9th and 10th centuries especially over those of Shi'ite saints. Then over the tombs, mostly in Iran and Central Asia, of rulers of marginal or semi-independent regions, who often followed non-Sunni beliefs?  They were to project status symbols of secular power and were rather ambitious .In contrast, the tombs of holy men were simpler – which went towards satisfying the devotional needs of the population. Generally complex ensembles grew up around the tombs of many saints, like that of the mystic Sufi poet Jalal ud-Din Rumi in Konya, or of Bayazid in Bistam (1313). 

Therefore the earliest surviving tombs belong to Shi'ite persona; the shrine of Fatima, sister of the Imam 'Ali ar-Rida at Qum, and that of the Imam Ali in Najaf. The earliest rulers' tombs are of 'Abbasid Caliphs al-Muntasir (in Samarra in 862), al-Mu'tazz and al-Mohtadi (built as a domed square building enclosed in an octagonal ambulatory) and are better preserved. A feature of royalty mausoleums was its concentration, like the Timurid Shah-i Zinda ensemble in Samarqand of 14th and 15th centuries or the Mamluk tombs of Cairo. 

Mausoleums were also built to commemorate Biblical persons, companions of the Prophet and scholars, popular heroes and ghazis (fighters for the Faith). From 12th century secular mauso­leums proliferated all over the world, in Egypt and Central Asia, northern and north-eastern Iran and Anatolia, and also in India and North Africa. They continue to be built, both for spiritual and secular leaders e.g., Firdausi, Avicenna, Umar Khayyam, the late Agha Khan and the poet-philosopher Iqbal, and particularly im­posing structures for Riza Shah Pahlavl, Ataturk and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.


The mausoleum of the Samanids in Bukhara, commonly referred to as the Tomb of Isma'il, was constructed before 943 and consists of a square structure with a large central dome and four small corner ones set over a gallery. Especially noteworthy is the use of bricks to create different pat­terns in its various parts. 

Then of course there are the famous imperial Moghul mausoleums, of Humayun (d. 1556) in Delhi, built of red sandstone and white marble; and the marvel in marble, the Taj Mahal, built in Agra by Emperor Shah Jehan for his favourite queen Mumtaz Mahal. The mausoleum of Akbar (d. 1605) is at Sikandra, and of his son Jehangir (d1627) near Lahore. The word mausoleum comes from the structure built in Asia Minor (Bodrum -Western Turkey) for an Asian ruler, Mausolus by his Queen, around the time Alexander the Great passed that way.


K.Gajendra Singh 14 October, 2011.Mayur Vihar, Delhi





Friday, October 7, 2011

Ch Dalbir Singh; An Impeccably Honest & Dedicated Congress Leader

Ch Dalbir Singh; An Impeccably Honest & Dedicated Congress Leader 

In mid 1960s when I was posted back to South Block after posts in Cairo and Algiers, quite often I would go over for lunch or after office hours to South Avenue , where Chaudhary Dalbir Singh , newly elected Lok Sabha (Lower House) Member of Parliament (MP) from the new state of Haryana carved out of Punjab, resided .Two things left an abiding impress on my mind .One , a few months after his election , Chaudhary Dalbir Singh returned an Ambassador model car to his constituents who had gifted it to him to help him discharge his lawmakers duties saying that in MP's salary and allowances he could not afford to pay the petrol (Rs 1.10 per litre then).

 The other incident was very poignant. One day he confessed ,"Gajender, it is very embarrassing that children now say ; papa , you used to bring sweets and apples when in Patiala and Chandigarh earlier but now no more ." Just before his return to politics , he was member Punjab Public Service Commission to select state level top civil servants .Prior to that he was a member of Punjab council of ministers under Sardar Partap Singh Kairon. 

In these days of brazen and almost whole sale corruption of the political class across the political spectrum except perhaps some leftist parties and individuals , as evidenced by the acts of central cabinet minister Raja , MPs Kalmadi , Kanimozhi and many others & counting ,the present generation of Indians would find it hard to believe that once such totally honest and incorruptible politicians walked on the Indian soil. 

Dalbir Singh was born in a Dalit family of landless agriculture labourers family of  Kani Ram in village Prabhuwala in Hissar district of pre-partitioned Punjab, traditionally a neglected and backward region of the state. Youngest child in the family, Dalbir lost his mother early in childhood. His extended family including uncle Chandgiram were all very poor but were very keen that Dalbir , an intelligent and active child, should get the highest possible education and uplift the family fortunes .A family story goes that once when very seriously ill , a wise Sadhu (holy man) cured him and predicted that he would one day ride an elephant ie be a great man . 

Sensitive even as a child Dalbir Singh faced and suffered upper caste discrimination right from the very first day in primary school , a behavior he had to face , resist and fight all his life in schools and colleges .He finished his primary school education at Prabhuwala and a neighbouring village .He was then shifted to Hissar for education in a charitable middle school and later government high school .Here he met with and forged a lifelong friendship with Mani Ram Godara , a Bishnoi, and both took plunge into politics at a very young age. 

During the closing decades of 19 century, Punjab , including the region around Hissar fell under the influence of Arya Samaj movement which had emerged to counter caste based discriminatory and obscurantist Hindu thought and practices .The movement also laid great emphasis on education and organized modern and science education at DAV schools and colleges .All members of Dalbir Singh family were imbued with, influenced and followed the precepts and teachings of Arya Samaj . 

The author born at Bhiwani , then a subdivision of Hissar district is aware of the backwardness of the desolate , waterless sandy district . During 1940s and 1950s , the region specially Bhiwani and Hissar areas were dusty and waterless towns, with sand dunes encroaching right inside Bhiwani's western limits. There used to be perpetual water scarcity in the region. Summers brought in hot abrasive sand storms. There were many big ponds dug to store rainwater for drinking, washing and for the cattle. 

Arya Samaj teachings taught equality and opposition to caste and religious discrimination .It also forbade liquour and even meat eating .The author ,a Rajput, took to meat eating only when he went over to Banaras for his engineering degree . But now ,in the wake of prosperity following  extension of irrigation to the region and the green revolution the situation has unfortunately changed to increased violence and alcoholism, a serious menace.  

Adjoining Rajasthan ,Hissar district produced many rich Baniyas aka businessman who with others established many charitable educational institutes .Apart from many schools ,Bhiwani city boasted , a degree Vaish ( now Kirori Mal ) college and a Textile Engineering Institute attached to one of the two textile mills .Neighbouring Rohtak city boasted , two degree colleges and a Medical college too. 

When in class X Dalbir Singh was married to Kalawati in 1946 , a marriage arranged through the good offices of a common Arya Samaj reformer .Such child marriages were common in those days .But the bride would stay home till puberty .Kalawati's family was better off with its own lands , her brother Ram Singh ,the first Dalit graduate among Dalits of the region ,was a Panchayat Officer in Punjab state .It was a good match for her family since Dalbir Singh , a promising and intelligent student would do well in life . Ram Singh and his family, also Arya Samajis, had wholesome impact on young Dalbir. Since Ram Singh was once posted at Lahore , a major centre of education , it was felt that Dalbir Singh instead of studying at Hissar should pursue his college education at DAV College Lahore .Here apart from Godara , Ch Chand Ram ,also a Dalit studied and they became good friends. Ch Chand Ram also emerged as a major political leader. 

In 1947 ,after India's division into India and Pakistan and partition of the Punjab province  Dalbir Singh was forced to shift to Rohtak to complete his graduation , which he duly did .It must be emphasised that , tall and wiry lad ,he was an excellent athlete both in his school and college days .Till his terminal illness in mid 1980s he maintained excellent health and spirits. 

After graduation, at Ram Singh's prodding Dalbir Singh did apply for the job of a Block Development Officer ,a very good job in those days, and received the appointment letter too .But he declined  to take up the appointment  , much to the consternation, anguish and distress of his family specially father Kani Ram .They had slogged and made extreme sacrifices so that he could complete his education, not that Dalbir Singh himself had not undergone many privations .The family expected him to take up the job and alleviate poverty ,bring some prosperity and happiness to the family . 

Finally one day Dalbir Singh told his father that he would not take up a job .He had endured too much caste , creed ,regional , rich and poor discrimination so he was determined to devote his life to resist evils of the Indian society and help reform it . He remembered that while studying at Lahore he was constantly a victim of cruel and inhuman treatment at the hands of princelings and rich students . His mind was made up and he would strive and try to eliminate various evils and ills of the Indian caste based society .Father Kani Ram agreed . 

Next day Kani Ram watched his son speaking for the first time at a Congress party public rally at Hissar and criticizing Punjab chief minister Kairon , whose achievements in the development of the state were eulogized and lauded by all and sundry . Dalbir Singh rightly proclaimed that ' yes, Punjab had progressed but only the Punjabi speaking part i.e. Jullundur division and not the backward Ambala divison of which Hissar was a part  It remained so till the Sikhs after many agitations and Morchas got their Punjabi Suba and the backward region emerged from the shadow of under development and neglect in 1966 . The new state of Haryana led by some dynamic leaders , taking advantage of many inbuilt and inherent advantages including proximity to Delhi has emerged as a most dynamic and rich state of India. While a minister in Delhi for nearly two decades , Ch. Dalbir Singh assiduously helped out in pursuing the economic development of Haryana by taking up his state's cause with the centre . I have a feeling that he cherished a deep desire to lead the Haryana government and implement his vision of his home state himself. But his opponents in the party in Haryana ganged up and kept him away from the state . 

Having watched the freedom movement from close quarters under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and Congress party's ideology of secularism, equal rights for  all religions and special incentives to uplift scheduled caste and tribes , neglected, humiliated and exploited since millennia attracted young and idealistic Dalbir Singh , since he had himself suffered at the hands of upper castes and rich all his life . But he rarely mentioned these hurts to me. He sometimes would relate how petty officials mistreated the public specially the poor and the downtrodden. 

Ch. Dalbir Singh remained steadfast and true in his loyalty to the Congress and its ideals and policies , in a state where many a politicians ideology is fickle and saleable ,which gave the name Gayaram Ayaaram politics ie of shifting and changing party affiliations for gain .I remember very vividly one evening in 1967 when I dropped at Ch Dalbir Singh's flat on South Avenue .A number of well known Haryana politicians , who did well for themselves had just visited him after having pledged loyalty to Moraji Desai who had challenged PM Indira Gandhi's leadership." How dare they even suggest such a thing , he fumed .He remained steadfast to the Congress and its ideology till the very end. He never wavered , never ever . 

Young , enthusiastic , wide eyed and idealistic when the 1952 elections were, he and Godara turned up at the Congress party office in Delhi .By luck Nehru arrived and was very impressed by Dalbir Singh , a young enthusiastic graduate , a rarity among Dalit aspirants .He and Godara , in spite of opposition from older and well established leader's opposition like Devi Lal , were both allotted Congress party tickets . Dalbir Singh won from Tohana but his election was set aside on the pretext of being under age ie less than 25 years .By the time he won the election petition time had arrived for the 1957 elections . 

Kairon had returned to power by then .A down to earth politician and good administrator , he recognized the talented , idealistic Dalbir Singh's dedication and gave him Congress ticket in 1957 . Not only that after the elections Dalbir Singh was inducted into the council of ministers as deputy minister .He was barely 30 years in age .The rest as they say is history. Chaudhary Saheb was soon a great favourite of Kairon because of his sincerity , hard work , sense of purpose and integrity .  

First Meeting with Ch. Dalbir Singh and some Memories 

It was 1960, when I taught electrical engineering at Thapar institute, Patiala .I had just finished my written examination for IFS and was waiting for the UPSC personality test .  Around this time my wife's college friend Basheshar Nath , a political worker of the Congress party from Karnal ,turned up along with someone who had some problem to be redressed in the department of Irrigation and Power, then under Ch. Dalbir Singh . The young politician had made news in the Chandigarh's newspaper 'The Tribune' for being an unusual politician who attended law classes in the evenings to further educate himself. 

So Basheshar and a few others, we all travelled  to Chandigarh . When we reached the Kothi (residence)  of Chaudhary Saheb , we were told that he was out and would return soon.  So we sat down in his living room.  It so happened that Basheshar went to the bathroom when somebody looking like a politician, in Dhoti -Kurta and Nehru jacket and Gandhi cap entered the sitting-room, looked at us . Naturally he did not recognise us.  Nor did we . But we naturally stood up somewhat non-plussed .  With a straight face he said that he was the younger brother of the minister who would be soon returning and climbed up the stairs. We had not seen his photograph or met him, but we were not convinced that he was the minister's younger brother. 

Of course soon Chaudhary Saheb  came down by which time Basheshar had come back and we all had a good laugh.  Through out our long friendship we had a very easy and bantering relationship about babus and netas . We were young straight forward and perhaps came closer because of his coming from Sirsa and me from Bhiwani , both then subdivisions in the same Hissar district , a backward region of Punjab. 

Chaudhary Saheb  had a tremendous sense of humour. He would relate stories with great aplomb and timing with a straight face  He then joined with a hearty laughter which was very infectious .  With a slight crinkliness in his eyes , his smile was dazzling, which could have set many a heart aflutter.  

Once a man from his constituency came to him, requesting that his transfer be stopped . Chaudhary Saheb  knew that the man never voted for him and even worked against him during polls. But instead of ticking him off , Chaudhary Saheb laughed and narrated how he himself was transferred from one ministry to another in Delhi .If he could not stop his own transfer how could he help the constituent. This was his way of telling the constituent off  ,politely and with humour . He was a storehouse of Haryanvi jokes. 

Chaudhary Saheb  was very happy when I qualified for the then coveted IFS in 1961, since none from our region had done so . When I was leaving for Cairo in end 1962 , he came over to Delhi to wish me bon voyage and best of luck . We kept on meeting regularly whenever I was posted at the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi , since he had shifted to central politics in 1967 after being elected a member of the Lok Sabha .He was made a member of the council of  ministers soon after.  Some times we would play rummy with some of his political friends .It was perhaps the only way he would sometimes relax . He was totally devoted to political work for the party and for the people. 

He was a man of sterling qualities with a long term vision and devoted to the uplift of the downtrodden. He had unimpeachable honesty and integrity. This was evident from his very simple life style . Knowing his honest nature , he was never asked to collect funds for the party but quite often he headed the Congress party organization in Haryana. He spent all his time to ameliorate the conditions of the masses and for the Congress party . 

When barring two wins in north India , all Congress candidates ,including Indira Gandhi lost the post emergency 1977 elections , being not too well off , some friends suggested that why should he not supervise agriculture of some land he possessed .He replied that he was good only at solving poor peoples' problems and laughing added ,and also being taken by one ambassador car or another from one public platform to another and do ' vichar pragat 'ie express his views on various problems facing the country and the people. 

Quite often  I would stay with him when I visited India from abroad for vacations and met with some of the political leaders from Haryana and elsewhere like Devi Lal , Bhajan Lal,  Prof Sher Singh and others  . Our friendship built on mutual respect and affection since 1960 meeting at Chandigarh never changed . He was very hospitable and would even get non-vegetarian dishes from outside for me , although he himself was a vegetarian. 

In 1985 before I took over as Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd , I went over to him for advice since he was once minister of Fertilisers and Chemicals , the controlling ministry . Apart from other advice he told me how some of senior officers in the ministry had shares of Pharma companies which was a clear conflict of interest .His advice was very useful . During my tenure I found that ministry officials would increase drug prices for private sector units ( which had perhaps allotted them shares ) but dillydallied when I asked for increase for government owned IDPL's drugs . Some big private Pharma companies had an MP or two almost on a retainer basis to promote their interests. 

Although I was very surprised and distressed when he told me that he had pleurisy , I was stunned when he passed away in 1987. Unfortunately I was not even in Delhi . 

Fortunately for his friends and admirers , his daughter Kumari Selja joined politics , encouraged by Rajiv Gandhi .A capable politician , she has been in the council of ministers when ever Congress has been in power ,almost since she was elected to the Parliament in 1992 , again at a very young age . She is MA, M.Phil and became a cabinet minister in 2009 .Her elder sister is also MA and a married housewife .Never in our discussions did Chaudhary Saheb ever express any unhappiness or regret at not having a son , a never failing male obsession in India. He gave the best possible education to his daughters. 

I have known Kumari Selja , same age as my daughter since she was a child . Like her father ,tall and slim , always elegantly dressed in Salwar Kameez , she is his replica .In 1995 she came to Ankara , where I was then posted to sign Cultural Agreement with Turkey. Turkish ministers and others were very much impressed with her .Such a capable and likeable politician at such a young age , they told me .She has amply delivered on the promise shown then.  

K.Gajendra Singh 7 October, 2011.Mayur Vihar, Delhi. 

K Gajendra Singh served as ambassador of India to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he was ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. Apart from postings in Dakar, Paris, Bucharest , the author spent his diplomatic career in North Africa , Middle east and Turkic countries ( ten years in Turkey in two tenures ) 

He spent 1976 with National Defence college , New Delhi , established the Foreign Service Institute for training of diplomats ( 1987-89), was chairman / managing director of IDPL , India's largest Drugs and Pharmaceuticals company ( 1985  and 1986 ) and while posted at Amman( 1989-92) evacuated nearly 140,000 Indian nationals who had come from Kuwait. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.