Corruption in India kept us from extending our School – 11 May 15

On 1st May, we had the last day of this school year at our school. The children came with their parents, got the result cards and we said good bye. We will see most of them again in July but this year, the eldest three classes will not return to school. That is something which I would like to share with you.

You may know that in the last school year, we had two pre-school classes and then classes one to seven. That was the most in classes we have had until this point. After having taught children until the 5th class, some years ago, we needed the permission to run a ‘Junior High School’, as it is called until the 8th class.

We consulted a few people and were told that we could start teaching the 6th class and start the process of getting further permissions. That’s how we filled the forms and filed the applications and at the same time started teaching the 6th class in our school.

Many months of constant phone calls, running to offices and trying to get to the right people. We did uncountable visits to various offices and slowly our filed moved. In all this effort however, nothing really got done! With time, we got annoyed and asked people to proceed, to finally reach somewhere. Again and again we were asked for one thing: money. We were told that everything could work and even quite fast if we paid a big sum as a bribe.

We explained to various people that we didn’t want to pay such sums as bribe! We are not a regular school. We don’t run our school as a business, don’t earn money from it and are not selling education! We are a charity school, don’t take fees from our pupils and are only there to support poor children. We don’t take a single rupee from the government for education or food either and our business is there to support our charity projects. None of the children has to pay to come to school. We have donors and sponsors but need our business to support the school.

No luck, in corrupt India, nothing works without giving unofficial money to the right people. Experts in that field, mediators and agents told us we had only one chance to get to our goal without a bribe: with the right approach, though a connection to some high politician. We didn’t have any such approach.

We once even thought about making a sting operation and recording the demands for money to expose corruption. Well-wishers warned us however that these were powerful people of the government who would find a way to take revenge and make us regret this step by putting up false allegations and charges.

No, we didn’t want to bribe. It didn’t feel right. So we thought, even after 8th grade, we would send the kids somewhere for class 9 and 10, so we could as well do that after the 5th class already. We can pay their fees and support them – and rather take some more of small children into our school and provide very basic education on a high level!

That’s how we opened the admissions to more school-beginners in this year and started the process of finding a school for our oldest students. And about the difficulties of finding that, I will tell you tomorrow!

A Dream of an independent and Corruption-free Media – India Samvad – 23 Mar 15

These days, there is something new and different going on in my life that I am getting personally involved in: I am part of a group of people with the vision of creating an independent news channel, free of corruption, run by the people and for the people.

Media is called the fourth pillar of democracy. Media plays a very important role in society, in the life of people, actually in nearly all aspects of life! People’s opinions are formed by media, media influences their minds and then of course, decisions are taken accordingly. This influence can be positive or negative for a certain topic! And of course, when those who run the media outlets become selfish and use their influence not for the benefit of society but for their own benefit, the results are horrible!

I have heard of this from America and we have seen it very clearly in India as well: there are just a bunch of people who are controlling and manipulating media. They don’t have the wish to give news and inform people but they see their own advantage and decide according to that.

In India’s latest general election, this was quite obvious: the biggest corporates of this country supported the BJP, the party of India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi by practically throwing money at them to hand it over to the press or by using their own influence – obviously gained by money – to make TV channels show and repeat advertisement and good news about Modi. And Modi won.

The media was heavily criticized for this behavior after the election as well – mainly in social media where everyone can say what he or she wishes. It seemed that there were no morals – only money. And it is clear what is happening: by buying ‘Network 18’, Mukesh Ambani controlled one of India’s biggest media networks and now he is planning to buy another one, Sun TV! He and his company will be paying to give certain news and not give others. The support that he gave to Modi is paying out to him: there are so many ways in which the government helps corporates, so that they get out the money they have invested!

Money, it seems, runs the world. Those who pay can manipulate the media and decide what the public gets to see. The poor however don’t get anything. Nobody hears their voice.

Several renowned journalists in high positions of the country’s most known media houses saw what was going on. Money decided whether the news which they had in their hands would be shown to the public or not. It insulted their sense of journalism. That was not what they felt was right, what they wanted to work for. They got irritated and a few of them left their well-paid jobs with a vision for something different:

They wanted to create a media channel free of such issues. Can we have a media house which is not owned or influenced by a specific political party or any corporate but instead owned by the public? To do real journalism which is impartial and not sellable?

When I got to know about this idea online and expressed that I would support such an idea, I was approached by them. I believe it is necessary – especially after I have made my own disappointing experiences with media. That is another story which I will tell another time. I joined their efforts and we met a few times.

Now, a public trust has been created to run the channel. Our main motto is that it will be a channel against and free of corruption. I mentioned in our second meeting that the public, whose channel this will be, should not only be the consumers of news but also be reporters themselves! People from the general public who may not have diplomas but who come from normal life’s situations. They should have the courage to expose corruption around them.

The trust and mission is called ‘India Samvad’ and today, on 23rd March 2015, the death anniversary of martyr Bhagat Singh, we have launched our website www.indiasamvad.co.in. It is a first glance and over time, it will be developed further. People already have the possibility to share their own reports and we will connect more and more people, over this website, the facebook page and the facebook group. And of course we will go until there will finally be a news channel – by the people and for the people!

And as the news will not be shown – or not shown – because of money, we will have the strength and courage to give honest news and show what is really going on!

I would like to spread this idea and get your support for this mission. Please join the group, read the page, share your news and contribute in whatever way you can and feel is right! I believe it will be for the best of this country to get real news to the people who are not the small minority who is in power!

How India’s private Schools turn Education into a corrupt Business – 26 Mar 14

I started telling you my thoughts about private schools in India these days and the elaborate admission process that they use. One aspect that I have only shortly mentioned but which is the biggest problem with the Indian school system is, as so often, the money. Education has become a big business. A big, corrupt business.

We see again and again how people from the west react surprised when they get to know about the cost of education here in India. When we tell that our school is for children who cannot go to schools where they have to pay money, they ask ‘What, you have to pay money to go to school?’

In many other western countries, education is free. You may have to buy your books and your stationary but there are no admission fees, no education or exam fees. In India, things are a bit different.

Yes, there are state schools and they are free as well – or at least supposed to be free. There are no school fees and the government makes big advertisement with the free lunch – but the sad truth is that there is mostly no value to the education they provide! Teachers often don’t come to school at all or just sit next to each other and chat, the classrooms are used for storage or even as stables. Many times, teacher even send a representative, a less educated, less qualified person whom they pay a part of their own, guaranteed salary which they get by the government. In the meantime, they are busy in their private business and thus earn money from two places. The education for children at the government school? Nobody cares.

It is so obvious that even the uneducated parents of very low financial means notice. They have never been to school but they see that their sons and daughters pass one class after the other but still cannot really write their names. Cannot read a short sentence, even in Hindi.

Some of these parents do know about the value of education and want their children to learn more than they themselves could ever learn – but they don’t have the money for sending them to a private school! A school where they would actually get taught! The uniforms and books are too expensive, the monthly fees are too high, about 30 to 50 US-Dollar per month. This is what the families of our school children sometimes earn in one month – how could they send their child to such a school?

Even higher is what is not written in the official pamphlet: the unofficial admission fee, a donation to the school, a bribe to ensure that your child clears the admission process and gets into the school. 700 to 850 US-Dollar is a normal amount to be asked for. And if you love your child and have the possibility, you probably decide to comply.

Without giving a significant ‘donation’ to the school, you stand no chance to get your child in any of the good schools. Every single person who wants to get a place has to give this donation – and the corrupt administration of the school will take good care that the donation reaches the right hands.

Books have to be bought only from the school – who make a little extra money with every book they sell. Cloth for their uniforms is only available at the school – more expensive than any other uniform you could easily buy in the market.

Corruption. Money. Business. That is what is happening with education in India.

Definitely not the way to go for a bright future of this country and the next generation!

Temple Business – More God for more Money – 28 Mar 12

I read online reports about the Tirumala Venkateswaar Temple near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh recently which told about the situation of the temple, about the devotees that go there and about the corruption that takes place there. It seems as though there is a lot going on that would normally annoy the general public but this temple is and remains India’s richest and probably most popular temple.

Every day there are about 65000 pilgrims who want to go inside the temple and ‘see God’ there. That is only an average number, it is up to 80000 pilgrims on the weekends and 100000 pilgrims and more on religious holidays. The numbers are amazing by themselves and obviously a lot of people think that this must be an amazing spiritual experience to go to a place where so many people worship. To be honest, I don’t think so.

The very first fact is that you have to deal with those huge crowds whenever you go there. Wherever you go, there are people and when you move through the gates and into the temple, you can be nearly sure to be in the middle of a crowd that moves on and so you have to keep on moving, too, in order to avoid being run over. Temple workers keep on pushing people onwards, driving them onwards so that as many people as possible can see the deities in the temple in one day.

You can imagine that with so many people walking through the temple you don’t really have time to sit down and say your prayers in peace while looking at the deities which you believe are God. No – the estimated time that the pilgrims get to see the statue of God is 0.80 milliseconds to 1.5 seconds! Do you still think that this is such a special experience? Are these one and a half seconds really worth everything that the pilgrim has to go through before?

Because there is a lot to endure before you get this special honour! There are so many people queuing outside the temple that it often takes 15 to 20 hours until they get to be inside the temple! There is a way however to get there more quickly – just pay a bit more! They have difference entry tickets and the more expensive ones are for queues that move faster. They are selling God. If you have money, you can buy the entrance to the fast lane towards God.

And if you have some more, you can even get to the bypass! You can directly go in if you have a VIP pass! Yes, that is right, this temple issues VIP passes. They are for governors, ministers, other important government officials – and of course for everyone who donates more than one crore Rupees, which is about 200000 US-Dollars. There are special hours in the morning and the evening when God is there only for them. An ordinary pilgrim will have to wait, for them the temple is closed in that time. So God is obviously happier about believers with much money – he lets them see his face more quickly and for longer. Temples and religious buildings are the centers of the business of religion where they see religious people as cows and milk them for money and donations, even by selling tickets.

Pilgrims don’t only have to face long waiting times, they also have to face the corruption which is obviously prevailing in the temple administration. For getting your entry ticket and accommodation, there is an official way, you can do it yourself and run from one office to the other. You will spend hours and maybe have no success. Or you can get close to God more quickly and take the help of an agent which will of course cost you the double amount of money. He has his ticket from the same place but he paid a bit more for it and now you have to pay him for his efforts, too. Is God creating jobs here or is it just a simple way of ripping off pilgrims?

To summarize this: if you are a normal person with an average amount of money, you can wait in a hot crowd in summer for 20 or more hours and then be pushed through the temple and maybe get a glimpse of God’s statue. If you are a VIP politician or officer or if you have lots of money to donate, God welcomes you right away. Isn’t religion a great business?

I have written about this temple before, too. I told about their wealth, wrote about big donations that they get and I have also mentioned other temples where similar things are going on. They get very big donations, they have tons of silver and gold and their priests and employees are often very wealthy. Millions of people go there every day and think they are doing something good for themselves, their Karma and the world. What they really do is contributing in corruption. Don’t you think God would be happier if you invested your time, money and energy in doing service for the needy and humanity?

Here are the Reports:

21-hour wait for fleeting darshan of the Lord at Tirumala

Is Lord Balaji temple at Tirumala only for VIPs?

Corruption is a way of life in Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams

Anna Hazare’s Drama is over – Indian Public fooled again – 29 Dec 11

In the last days we witnessed a big drama in parliament about the Lokpal bill, the new law against corruption. The ruling party gave suggestions and drafts which the opposition party strongly opposed, as it is their role in this government. In the end they passed a very weak Lokpal bill. It is like a handicapped law that is not able to do anything. People are disappointed.

Everybody watching the scenes in parliament could see that it was only drama, a theater show staged for media and public. With this outcome however everybody knows that the politicians were only doing effort to save themselves. All these politicians who have decided about this law are corrupt. They know that they are the ones to go to jail if the law that they pass is strong and effective.

It doesn’t matter whether they are in the ruling party or in the opposition or even in one of the many small parties, they will go to jail. Members of the ruling party may take the risk of losing in the next elections because they brought a useless law but they will not risk going to jail. So they all created a law that will save them but will not help our country. In front of the camera politicians of the opposition put on a big fight but in reality they all know that they are all in the same boat. The majority of the politicians of our parliament is corrupt. There is no hope that something could change through our government.

And what about the big hope of this country, Anna Hazare? Today he seems to be just another cunning politician, nothing else.

Hazare and his team had a big plan for these days: they wanted to do another fast for three days, starting on the 27th December and ending on 29th December 2011. After that they wanted to make a big campaign, filling the prisons of India with the support of the people. They called the Indian population to go to offices of ministers and to enter in buildings of official work where they are usually not allowed to go. They should remain peaceful and have themselves arrested. Anna Hazare himself was planning to go to the head of the ruling party, Sonia Gandhi’s home. Obviously there is a lot of security in that place and trespassing would lead to being arrested. They had asked the Indian public to voluntarily go to jail in order to fight against corruption.

Yesterday however, on the second day of the fast, the 28th December, they cancelled the whole campaign. The fast was cancelled as well as their plan to go to jail. Their reason? The government is cheating with this weak law and we think it is best to oppose them in the next elections. Obviously you will oppose them, that we knew before but why did you cancel the current campaign?

Some people ask whether the team Anna got money from the government and were bought. The most popular idea and what I believe is however that they did just not see enough people when they started their fast in Mumbai. About two thirds of the grounds where they were fasting were empty. This does not mean that there was nobody but it was not the overwhelming response they had expected. So they cancelled.

But why were the grounds empty? Because the Indian public had already understood that they were not really interested in fighting against corruption but in their own politics and their own benefit. They got a confirmation by this cancellation: Anna Hazare and his team want popularity and are not interested to fight against corruption if there are not millions of people visibly with them.

The media previously reported about every little step that Anna Hazare did. They greatly contributed in the success of the campaign before and I believe they did an important contribution in making his fight public. Now however I think it would be best if they just left Anna Hazare alone and ignored him and his team. We should not give further importance to him – we feel cheated and see that he did his politics for his own ambitions. It is unfortunate to see that with this amazing success in August, which was actually due to people's anger against corruption, he could not manage to keep people's faith and love for him because of his ego.

In June Baba Ramdev ran away from the fight, now Anna Hazare gave up. The innocent public of India feels fooled by so-called social activists like Anna Hazare and his team. They wasted time, money and energy and got nothing.

What will happen to our country now? Corrupt politicians will keep on sucking money out of people who have already got used to giving extra money on every corner in order to get their work done.

Disappointed from Anna Hazare but still supporting the Fight against Corruption – 5 Dec 11

Some days ago I read about the ‘corruption index’ of an organization called Transparency International. Every year they make a report on over 180 countries and list them all according to their level of perceived corruption. Last year India was on position 87, this year it is on 95, eight positions further down.

New Zealand and Denmark are on top of the list as the two countries with the least amount of corruption perceived. I have been to both countries and I have experienced that also the general population of both countries is very honest. I remember my first visit to New Zealand. I had been invited to a village and my hosts came to pick me up at the airport. It was a two hour drive back to their home, so they had been gone for more than four hours. Nevertheless, when we arrived there, they entered their home by only turning the doorknob. They did not need a key because they had not locked their home! I was very surprised. The same I experienced in Denmark. People in these countries feel secure and the fact that their government is not corrupt surely has a big deal to do with that.

Seeing India’s name so far down the list is a shame. Unfortunately it seems that our politicians and the government don’t experience this as shameful. There is no end to the corruption, the scams and the disappearance of public money into private pockets.

This year Anna Hazare started a campaign against corruption and it brought so many people together that even international media broadcasted about this effort of India’s population to make a change. Of course, many people already went to jail or are charged for corruption but even after this all, there were big scams in the central government as well as in the different states of India. Politicians and bureaucrats shamelessly eat money which was earned by the public through hard work.

The public, so enthusiastic about the anti-corruption movement just some months ago, is now disappointed by Anna Hazare and his team. I, too, spoke out in support of the fight against corruption but also watched that the team’s effort seemed to change from pure and focused on the aim of removing corruption to something else. People started worshipping the person of Anna Hazare. He and his team started changing their statements from one interview to another, just like other politicians do. He gives strange solutions to problems and talks nonsense about various topics. The public is disappointed from them.

In the same way however they are disappointed from the government. The issue of the Lokpal bill, a law for punishing corrupt people, is still being discussed. The promises that they made only some months ago however are already being broken in those drafts that they present. They seem to form this law according to their convenience, not for relieving the public from corruption.

Due to this, the ‘Team Anna’ is preparing another protest campaign against corruption, another fast unto death.

Even though I am not convinced about Anna Hazare and his co-workers and even though I do not like neither their way of working, nor their attitude and most of all their ego, I will keep on supporting the fight against corruption. People came together because they are fed up with the corruption in our country, not because they liked Anna Hazare. The public has made him and his helpers popular. They should understand and respect that. It is not about Anna Hazare. Don’t worship a person, fight for an issue.

We all need to come together and stay strong on this point: We want to have a corruption-free India. Maybe then we someday have a chance for a better ranking in the report of Transparency International.

Anna Hazare forgot Mahatma Gandhi – Beating Alcoholics in Public – 28 Nov 11

Last week India read something that many people could not believe to be true. Anna Hazare told how he thought alcoholics should be treated and how he had treated them before in his village. To everyone’s surprise he appreciated the cruel method of beating alcohol addicts in public.

He, the anti-corruption fighter who was seen like a second Gandhi for some time, told that the common treatment for alcoholics in his village was to warn them three times that it was not good to drink. If he still got drunk, the villagers would take him to a temple and make him swear to God that he would not touch alcohol anymore. If he nevertheless was caught drinking or drunk, he would be tied against a pole in a public place of the village and be flogged.

You can imagine that this statement created quite an uproar in India. He, the man who was even worshipped just a few weeks or months ago, for his Gandhian way of fighting corruption, talks about violence against alcoholics! Of course the political parties, the Congress and the BJP, who were previously trying to convince the public that they are not against Anna Hazare, immediately gave their statement that they do not support this way of treating people at all. Those who have previously felt threatened by Anna Hazare’s campaign now have a good point to use against him. A spokesman of the Congress said these were Taliban method and you would need to beat up ‘half of Kerala, three-fourth of Andhra Pradesh and about four-fifth of Punjab’ if you followed his advice. I guess it is safe to say that his image of the Gandhian non-violent fighter is gone forever!

I was supporting the cause of fighting corruption by my writing. I wrote a letter to Anna Hazare, one letter to Manmohan Singh and appealed to people not to oppose him because we needed to come together as one in the efforts to stop corruption. From the beginning however I also told that it was wrong to worship the person, to get fixed on the idea that this man will end corruption. When listening to news and interviews with him and his team, I felt that the worship of the individual had already started. The issue of corruption had become less important than the person Anna Hazare. I felt ego in him, too, to be in this role and the media was supporting this ego by focusing on his person instead of the issue. To me, it was clear from the beginning that I support a cause, the fight against corruption, and not one individual person. I supported him because an opposition would have weakened the cause but I cannot agree with such statements in any way.

He has disappointed those who saw him as a kind of holy individual. There are no holy people who don’t have faults and if you expect a person to act as holy, you will be disappointed. He showed what he really thinks and obviously it has nothing to do with the loving, non-violent approach that he displayed earlier. He is frequently shown sitting at the Raj Ghat memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, meditating there. Do you think Mahatma Gandhi would be in favour of this method? Now everything he did in this way simply looks like a big drama.

Alcoholics are actually poor people. They have an addiction. By beating them or making them afraid of public humiliation, you cannot cure their underlying problem. You have to understand how they got stuck in this addiction so badly. If you know that problem, you can do something against it. Violence and cruelty will not help you in this task though! It could have been nice if he had suggested a meditation for those who really have the wish to leave their addiction but no, he suggested violence.

It is of course ridiculous to even discuss this kind of idea and a man speaking about national problems and solutions for them should know this. It is the way how villages have always treated problems – they set up a village court and a bunch of people who were thought to be the most important ones passed a sentence which often included beating or another physical punishment. It is an old-fashioned way that does not fit with modern civilization. With this statement Anna Hazare managed to ruin his reputation.

This does not mean however that now all hope for an end to corruption is gone. No, it was never about Anna Hazare, no matter how much the media and people tried to worship him as the savior. People have power when they get together and I want to tell everyone to please unite against corruption to finally erase it from our country.

More blog entries about Anna Hazare:

Anna Hazare arrested – Game of Politics and Corruption – 16 Aug 11
Anna Hazare fights Corruption like Gandhi fought the British – 8 Apr 11
Privilege Notices to Kiran Bedi and Om Puri – India losing Freedom of Speech – 2 Sep 11

Indian Government taking Revenge on those who protested – 9 Sep 11

Last week I explained that the Indian parliament has sent out privilege notices to some people who supported Anna Hazare. Kiran Bedi was one of them and now Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal have also received their notices. Additionally we have got the news that Arvind Kejriwal has received an Income Tax notice, too, demanding a payment for something that lies a few years back. Doesn’t it seem as though the government is taking revenge? And doesn’t it seem as though they are doing a big mistake there?

I really don’t see what the government is doing if it is not taking revenge. This started already with their actions against Baba Ramdev. The baba may not have taken the most clever way to start his own protest in Delhi but after evicting him from Delhi, the government started investigations and inquiries about Ramdev, his companies and his aide Balkrishna. They may be right in asking about all those things but how come this was never done before? Why do they start this now? For years Baba Ramdev has been working the way that he is working today but nobody ever wanted to know something more exact. Only when he started becoming uncomfortable for the government did the government start becoming uncomfortable for him.

How come Arvind Kejriwal got his Income Tax notice at this point of time, after so many years? Is that really a coincidence? Or is the government trying to show their power and to frighten anybody who could be thinking of fighting against the corruption of the government? It looks like a punishment for those who did and a warning to those who might do the same. At the same time it somehow looks like an act of desperation. There is a saying that animals attack when they are cornered and see no other way out. Is that the situation?

Really, if I would have a word with all those Members of Parliament, I would warn them of the consequences of what they are doing. You have seen your failure before when you tried to forcefully end a peaceful protest by arresting Anna Hazare. You backpedaled only some hours later, realizing that you brought up the whole country against you. When you don’t find a nice way to handle things, you become nasty. Is that the message you want to give? Do you want to challenge anybody who could come and stand up to say their opinion? But then again, Anna Hazare said the same thing, how come you did not send a notice to him, too? You can say anything and behave in any way in your parliament, insulting anyone but whoever insults you has to face dire consequences?

A government should not do this. It does not look as though we are in a democracy anymore, it looks as though you suppress everyone who says anything against you! Who is your advisor and who had the idea to send out those notices? I tell you, you cannot win! Kiran Bedi already said she would not apologize. She is eager to come to parliament and hold her speech there. Please invite them all and punish them all by putting them in jail. Both, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi asked you which sentences exactly were those that offended you. Tell them and you will see what will happen: Millions of people will start saying exactly those phrases that the protesters said and even more. They will dare you to put them all into jail. How many will you be able to punish in this way?

India is awake now and the population will protest! Don’t think the public is stupid. They don’t forget, they remember, see what you are doing and understand it. They will give you a lesson at the latest in the next elections.

Please do not worship Anna Hazare – 5 Sep 11

Here in India I sometimes watch news on TV and daily read the newspaper. While I was looking for news on TV, I stopped on a channel for a minute on which I saw Anna Hazare sitting on a stage and in front of him there were many people, some of them performing Aarti. Aarti is an Indian ceremony in which you worship a statue of God or a river for example with fire.

I had a very funny feeling when I saw this. Did Anna Hazare become a God now? Did he ask people to do this? But then I had a closer look and my impression was rather that he was not interested and even irritated by what people were doing there. So why do people worship a person if that person doesn’t even want to be worshipped?

I saw this on TV but later I came across an article and realized that he does not even need to be present, people do that nevertheless and they even make money with it! On 1st September India celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the God Ganesha. India is a religious country with a Hindu majority, so of course there is always a big celebration, many ceremonies and in many cities they have big festivals with enourmous tents called pandals. This time you could not only see statues and pictures of Ganesha in the tents, there were big pictures of Anna Hazare, too! They did not only worship Ganesha in the ceremonies but Anna Hazare, too! And of course they sold T-shirts with Anna Hazare’s image on them and caps of the style that he is wearing.

I wrote before about the flexibility of Hinduism and here you can see once again that they do not mind taking in something new and changing their ceremonies a bit. Priests and organizers are like agents. Religion is their business, those tents are their shops and now they are selling the image of Anna Hazare. They have to sell something and get income to make their living and if they can attract people to buy at their tents by selling Anna Hazare as a God, it is fine for them. I believe it is human worship and it is wrong.

I know that many Swamis and Gurus are promoting human worship, even if they don’t say it as clearly as I do. I was against one of Baba Ramdev’s political ideas for exactly this reason. He wanted to change the political system that we have now in India, with more power in the hand of the parliament than in the hand of the president, to a system more similar to America, with the president in power. Ramdev tried to get higher on the ladder of his political career and may have even tried to become president. Imagine he changed the political system in India and became president with so much power. India is a religious country and many people have many emotions when religion and their guru are concerned. If he had become president in this way, he would be worshipped like nobody else in the country!

We have seen on examples all over the world that human worship is never good and cannot be accepted. Hundreds of names can be listed as examples but I believe you all have an idea what I mean and I don’t have to point out more names here. Anna Hazare was already seen with such people who promote human worship and I believe he should be careful. It can even weaken his cause because human worship is corruption, too!

Please do not understand me wrong, I am not blaming Anna Hazare for the worship of his person but the public and more than that those money oriented, religious people who want to cash in on his popularity. Please don’t do this! This is not right and surely not what he wanted. He did not fight to be worshipped religiously! Let him be Anna, don’t make him God. He is a nice person, let him be a nice human being. Don’t worship him. He woke you up and made you aware of a good cause but now the rest is up to you. I wrote a letter to him in support and one letter to the Prime Minister stating clearly that he is only a symbol for the fight against corruption. I even asked those who were opposing him to please support his cause because it is not about him but about the issue of corruption. It is now our responsibility, the responsibility of everyone together, to further fight corruption. If you put it all on him and make this kind of drama, the real spirit of this fight will get lost!

It is great that the media supported this issue by reporting about it. I thank them for bringing regular news out to people but I also want to say please leave him alone now! You don’t need to follow each and every step that he does as if he was holy. You create the image of a holy person by showing where he showers, where he eats, what he does and more! He is not a guru! You greatly supported the cause by passing out information but now you are responsible not to create this kind of image for him. I supported his campaign because of the fight against corruption, not to make him a God.

Privilege Notices to Kiran Bedi and Om Puri – India losing Freedom of Speech – 2 Sep 11

When we were still in Germany, I read news that the Indian parliament made a resolution and accepted the main demands of Anna Hazare and the protesters. So the protesters have left the public places in Delhi and life has come back to normal. Not completely for everyone though! While India’s population is waiting for the government to take action and to change something about corruption, they started something else: taking vengeance on the speakers of the protests.

When people protested at the Ramlila Maidan, there were also some famous people among them who were invited to come to the stage and take the microphone. One of them is Om Puri, a popular Bollywood actor. Another one is Kiran Bedi, one of the most important members of Anna Hazare’s team. Om Puri, in the heat of the moment and with the atmosphere of the crowd in front of him, called the members of parliament incompetent and even illiterate. Kiran Bedi accused them of wearing different masks, which is a metaphor for dishonesty.

You ask yourself what the big deal is? They were in protest and of course had to say something against those whom they were protesting against. The parliament members are not very amused though and they issued privilege notices against them. The speaker of the house still has to consider this matter but it could lead to serious reprimands and, as I read, even up to 15 days in prison for the popular speakers.

You can imagine the uproar in the media and country when this news got out in public. Doesn’t this sound horribly undemocratic? Can you not anymore say what you believe in this country? Will anybody who says something like this against the government and politicians have to go to prison? I can promise you that there are millions of people who have said worse things about these politicians! In any political debate you can hear politicians accusing each other of dishonesty. Why would Kiran Bedi face charges for what she said? And why did they not give a privilege notice to Anna Hazare himself who repeatedly said that these members of parliament were enemies of the country and ate the money of the country? Many people have expressed their anger publicly, why are they not punished, too?

I like the statement of another Bollywood actor, Anupam Kher: ‘I am with Om Puri. He said nothing else than what millions of people say in their homes every day.’ I was surprised when I read the statement of another member of the team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal: ‘That is their personal comment, not one of our group.’ The next day however I was happy to see the team united again and to hear their statement that they all are with Kiran Bedi, who refuses to apologize for what she said, no matter which punishment she will have to face.

Om Puri actually apologized for his words and insulting language. In my eyes he did not need to. Even if the parliament punishes them with jail time, they will be big heroes in the Indian populations. Millions of people will stand in front of the parliament repeating their words in order to go to prison, if saying such things is a crime in this country! Why should people not say that the members of parliament are dishonest if there are so many members of parliament and of the assemblies who went to jail and so many more who are facing serious criminal charges such as murder, attempt to murder and rape?

When you see the behavior of those respected members of parliament, you really have to wonder. When I watched a parliament session of the Indian parliament online, my European friends who watched along had to laugh because everybody there is shouting around, nobody listens to the speaker and they even throw things like shoes, papers and chairs at each other! We have even seen members of parliament and the assemblies getting into real fights there! They don’t show any kind of manners and like in a Kindergarten the speaker of the house keeps on trying to create order. She continuously says ‘Please sit down, sit down, quiet please!’ but nobody seems to care! They don’t have manners there but want everybody else to criticize them only with sweet words?

What about the member of parliament who said that Anna Hazare is fully corrupt himself? Should he not face charges, too? Or is it only a crime to insult a member of parliament, not any other person? If this starts, no cartoonist will be able to draw his pictures and have them published in newspapers or magazines. In this case, critical articles will be suppressed and no other opinion will be heard than the opinion of the government. I still cannot believe that this will be the situation in India. We live in a democracy and have freedom of speech! It is unbelievable.

I read in newspapers that after seeing the role of media in the success of Anna Hazare’s movement the government wants to keep eyes on the media. They want to create a committee that will advise the government how they can better manage and maybe control the media. We know that the media played a big role in this case but are we going to get censorship of media now because people stood up for their rights? If anybody in future will criticize the government, like Om Puri and Kiran Bedi did, will they be punished and media will be prohibited from publishing such statements? Whether you supported Anna Hazare or not, you have to see that such actions by the government limit your basic right for freedom of speech.