February - March 2007
News & Views
COURT RULES TEMPLE
A bastion of Hindu caste-ism crumbled this week in the face of more enlightened
times. In a landmark ruling, the Orissa High Court in India legislated that
Dalits – ‘outcastes’ from the traditional Hindu caste system – could
no longer be banned from entering any Hindu temple.
"Every Hindu, irrespective of his caste, has a right to enter any Hindu
temple which is open to other persons professing the same religion," a
division bench of Chief Justice Sujit Burman Roy and Justice M M Das observed.
The dispute over whether dalits should be allowed to pray in the Jagannath
temple in the Keredagada village in Kendrapara district reflects an earlier
statement issued by Mr. Pravin Togadia, the international general secretary
of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) regarding foreign nationals belonging to
ISKCON (Hare Krishna movement) being allowed full access to Hindu places of
worship , including the large Jagannath temple in Orissa : “There is
no harm in allowing inside temples foreign nationals who practise Krishna worship.
They are like ordinary Hindus who pray to Lord Krishna. They should not be
denied the opportunity to offer prayers at Hindu temples,” said Mr Togadia.”
Anil Bhanot, General Secretary of the Hindu Council UK, welcomed the decision
of the High Court: “Banning people from worshipping in a Hindu temple
based on their social status or philosophical belief is completely antithetical
to the principles of Hinduism. We therefore welcome this significant ruling
of the Orissa High Court and demand that any Hindu temple, whether in India
or the UK, which practices such bannings immediately cease this morally unlawful
discrimination. Hinduism has a long tradition, grounded in our ancient Vedic
scriptures, of accommodating all classes of men and all schools of thought
and no one has the right to prevent anyone from offering prayers to God."
Mr Bhanot explains how the well meaning scriptural order is turned upside down
by man to appease his arrogance, "at the beginning of civilisation,
the first civilised Man, Adi-Manu, says in his Samriti ( scripture), that
Brahma the creator has unified four functions of a civilised life into Man.
Symbolically the illustration is given as Brahmins (education & metaphysics)
as Brahma's mouth, the Kashatriyas (defence & politics) as Brahma's arms,
the Vaishyas (trade and agriculture) as Brahma's thighs and the Shudras (labour
and hygiene) as Brahma's feet. Each function is equally important and Man is
not complete without either one of them. Adi-Manu then goes on to say that
the feet touch the Mother earth which must be worshipped as Brahma's divine
energy. Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha treated all as equals and
the Ramayana, the Gita and all other scriptures have several verses to testify
Contributed by Suraj Sehgal
Director for Defence and Security
Hindu Council UK
Sunita ninth woman to
walk in space
Indin-American astronaut Sunita Williams has successfully made her spacewalk
debut, joining an exclusive club of eight women who achieved this feat since
the first ever space walk in 1965.
Sunita spent over seven hours on the walk in an effort to retract a jammed
solar panel at the International Space Station - a job that remained incnclusive.
For the 41-year old Williams it was a great outing as she stepped out from
the station into the vacuum of space for an Extra-vehicular activity, a venture
that by its very nature is regarded as hazardous.
Balakrishnan appointed Chief Justice of India.
Known as ‘Bala’ among his colleagues, Balakrishnan takes over from
CJI Sabharwal who was Chief Justice for 14 months. He is the first dalit’ to
reach the top position in Indian Judicial system. His term will last up to
Born in Keral, dist. Kottayam, Balakrishnan graduated in law from Maharaja
Law College, Ernakulam and became an advocate in Kerala bar Council, Kochi
in 1968.. following his promotion as additional judge of Keral High Counr on
Sep26, 1985, Balakrishnn was appointed Chief Justice of Gujarat high Court
on July 16, 1998. He then moved to Madras High Courtr in 1999, before being
appointed as judge in the Supreme Court.
Manmohan Singh’s plea for ‘Muslims entitlement
to first claims on resources’
Addressing the National Development Council, the Prime Minister took up the
issue of devising “innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly
the Muslim minority are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development”.
He emphasised that these (minorities including Muslims) must have first claim
Is it a ploy to woo the Muslim vote? or genuine concern of the Prime minister
for the backward communities?
We leave it to the readers to decide and send us their comments.
To help the readers we reproduce India’s first Prime Ministe Pandit Jawahar
Lal Nehru’s letter sent to chief ministers on June 27, 1961. One has
to read it to see the contrast - between the high ideals that inspired him
and the cynicism and opportunism which spur our leaders today.
“I have referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of our traditional
ruts. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of reservations and
particular privileges being given to this caste or that group. The recent meeting
we held here, at which the chief ministers were present, to consider national
integration, laid down that help should be given on economic consideerations
and not on caste. It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions
aboutt helping the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. They deserve help but, even
so, I dislike any kind of reservation, those particularly in service. I react
strongly against anything which leads to inefficiency and second-rate standards.
I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we
encourage the second-rate, we are lost.
The only real way to help a backward group is to give opportunities for good
education. This includes technical education which is becoming more and more
important. Everything else is provision of some kind of crutches which do not
add to the strength or health of the body. We have made recently two decisions
which are very important: one is, universal free elementary education, that
is the base; and the second is scholarships on a very wide scale at every grade
of education to the bright boys and girls, and this applies not merely to literary
education, but much more so, to technical, scientific and medical training.
I lay stress on the bright and able boys and girls because it is only they
who will raise our standards. I have no doubt that there is a vast reservoir
of potential talent in this country if only we can give it opportunity.
But if we go in for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the
bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate. I am grieved to
learn of how far this business of reservation has gone based on communal consideration.
It has annoyed me to learn that even promotions are based sometimes on communal
or caste considerations. This way lies not only folly, but disaster. Let us
help the backward group by all means, but never at the cost of efficiency.
How are we going to build our public sector or indeed any sector with second
(Jawaharlal Nehru, Letters to chief ministers 1947-1964, Vol5, Oxford University
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