Why you should think twice before cheering for the Rio Olympics – 7 Aug 16

So the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil have started. A huge sport event each time, wherever on the world it takes place and people show their excitement by waving flags, posting on social media and of course watching TV to see how well their country’s athletes perform. Whenever I see such a batch on facebook however, I wonder whether the person posting knows at all what has been going on there before the start. I doubt it – otherwise there would be at least mixed feelings and not this enthusiasm that is for sure!

Obviously, a country applies for becoming host of the Olympics because they get a certain amount of benefits. The biggest of these is that a lot of tourists coming to the country bring business to the country. Another one is that infrastructure is improved for the games – and of course exists for the people of the country after the games, too! Towns are cleaned and made beautiful and some more bigger and smaller advantages compared to regular life.

In Brazil, things went a big different. One reason for this may be the big amount of corruption in that country which, similarly to India, blocks some very good initiatives and spoils the effect.

There were, for example, plans to clean the waters where boating and swimming competition will take place – because they were full of sewage water when the plans of the Olympics in Rio started. Unfortunately however pictures, reports and water tests today show that nothing much happened. Athletes are advised not to open their mouth to avoid diseases – ugh!

Coming to the point of infrastructure, you can see from the mere fact that stadiums were not ready until two days before the opening that things didn’t really go as planned in regards to infrastructure either! Cycle tracks had been built and broken down, transportation systems had not been extended as planned and more. Additionally there have been reports of workers being kept at slavery-like conditions!

Everyone going to Rio for the Olympics faces another issue which is not of small importance: life is not secure at all! There are already reports of athletes and visitors getting robbed at gunpoint – not something you would like to experience when going to this kind of event, is it?

It is no wonder that the people of the country itself are protesting! Protesting against the government and the games. Against corruption, neglect and everything that causes problems in their daily life. Because while the Olympic Games will be in town for a bit more than two weeks and Rio will do its best to shine, they will stay living with all these dangers and disadvantages which athletes and tourists will only keep as a negative memory! People work long hours for getting nothing in return, slums are growing with crime spreading like wildfire, children have little to no chance for education, malnutrition is too common and child labour normal for those families who simply need the money for survival! Corruption and violence come from police and government alike, making people disillusioned about any help they could get. It is a dire situation.

We cannot close our eyes to all of these facts and just see the glitter and glamour that the hosts and organizers want us to see! We have to see the whole picture and realize that at least there is one benefit: this event shows us what is happening in Brazil and that things are not all rosy there at all! If we want to support our athletes and enjoy the games, we should also see the background of the venue and the situation of people there. If there is any way we can help, we should. And be it just by telling people about the situation and raising awareness in this way.

Being positive even after my Friend Govind’s Accident – 4 Mar 13

I am just getting ready to go to Agra. That is what I have been doing for the past six days. I get up, do my daily work in the morning and then take off – to go to the hospital and visit my friend Govind.

Govind is my oldest friend. We went to nursery together when we were four years old and have ever since maintained our friendship. It was thus quite a shock when he called on Purnendu’s phone last week, on Tuesday evening at around eight o’clock, telling that he had had an accident on the way home from work. He told him to please come with the car and bring him to the hospital. Of course we took off immediately – but I was already not as much worried anymore when Purnendu told that Govind had spoken on the phone himself – this meant that he was conscious and speaking. He had actually analyzed the situation himself already, telling Purnendu: ‘My leg is broken!’

He had told Purnendu where he was and we picked him up – the movement made him scream of pain – and went straight to the closest hospital. He told us that he had been thrown out of the Tempo, a popular transport vehicle in India, when it was hit by a car. When he hit the floor, it made a big ‘crack’ and he knew already that his leg was broken. The X-ray report at the hospital confirmed this: both bones of the left leg, tibia and fibula, are completely broken and at the spot where it broke, there is only powder left.

Overnight he stayed at the hospital close-by but the next morning we took him to the bigger hospital in Agra where his surgery will take place. The doctors have to wait however until the swelling goes down – and until then he is lying there, obviously with painkillers which sometimes work and sometimes are not enough, during which times he is suffering from the pain!

This is how I have been going to Agra daily in the past week. I don’t usually leave the Ashram much, so it is really very unusual for everyone here to see me leave everyday but I love doing it for my friend! It is good to give someone company in such a situation, to divert his mind, make some jokes and laugh.

It is of course not a nice situation and horrible that he had this accident. It is a fact however that it happened and now, when you have to deal with it, it is best to see the positive factors! After all, it could have been much worse!

The advantages of having him lying there in bed, off work and resting, are obvious to me: we finally get some free time to talk! Although Govind is working not too far away and we are both living in Vrindavan now, we don’t have much time to meet. He comes by at the weekends but obviously he also has a lot of other things to do and so it is sometimes a rather short visit. Now however we can talk about everything and anything because he doesn’t have to go anywhere.

Another similar benefit is that he finally gets time to read! Govind loves books and reading but normally has absolutely no time to really immerse himself in a book! Now he has these days in hospital and after that weeks of rehabilitation ahead in which he will not be able to go to work – and thus have plenty of time to just grab a book and read it from the first word to the last!

Going to Agra every day has been beneficial for me, too: Of course I already start missing Apra after just a small time out of home but it makes me realize once more how wonderful our living and working situation is! I am normally here the whole day and I can see her at any time. Whenever I want, I can get up from my desk and go to play with my baby! I am again thankful for being able to be with her so much! And of course it is not only Apra! Normally I am sitting next to Ramona the whole day, who of course misses me when I am gone – but that also means that I am welcomed with great joy when I get back home!

So you see, an accident happened, Govind is in hospital and of course there is pain and everyone wishes him to be back home soon, fit and healthy again. At the same time however you can see the positive effects of the negative things that happened, so that you can say in the end: everything is fine.

3 Groups of People who want to keep the Caste System and their Reasons – 20 Jun 12

Yesterday I wrote five ideas that could help getting rid of the caste system. If it was only necessary to have such ideas, I am sure the caste system would have been extinct from society already. If everyone really wanted to get rid of this system, we would not see it in today’s society anymore. Today I would like to write a bit about the three different groups of people who don’t want the caste system to be forgotten.

1. Politicians – because it is useful for them

I already mentioned that politicians and the government will never try to make my ideas reality. They would not because it would destroy the base of being elected for so many politicians. They get elected in their area often not because people like their ideology or their ideas for the country but because they belong to the same caste. Politicians know that especially uneducated people vote with this thought and they don’t want to lose those votes. They would have to work much harder. So although politicians may not actually believe that this is God’s will, they use the caste system for their purpose.

2. Higher Castes – because they honestly believe in it or they simply like the benefits

Another group of people who would not like the caste system to finish seems kind of obvious: the people of the higher castes who believe in the caste system. That is of course Brahmans, people of the highest caste, but also people of the other castes which are considered high. Nowadays this attitude is called ‘Brahman mentality’ because there are Brahmans who don’t believe in the caste system and there are people of other castes who absolutely want to keep it.

The strange reality is that there are people who really and actually believe that the caste system is a valid system, that it should be like this and that it is meant to be like this. God wanted some humans to be untouchable by others. This is seriously what they believe.

Other people with Brahman mentality may not fully believe that this is really the case. They don’t actually think that God meant it to be like this but they like the special status that they have. There are advantages and they like to keep it like this. They are not honest believers in the caste system but simply take advantage of this wrong system.

3. Lower Castes – because of caste pride and the victim mentality

Further there is a group of people of whom you may have least expected to be in favour of the caste system: people of the lower and lowest caste. Yes, there are people in the lower castes who have no interest in finishing the caste system.

You have to see that each caste has developed a kind of pride for their caste. Even in the lowest, the untouchable caste, people are in some way proud of belonging to their caste. It is just a part of human psychology. They identify with being a person of this caste, it is who they are and they are proud of their community, of their ‘type’ of people. Destroying the caste system would mean to them to lose a part of their identity. It is an illusion but to them it is real.

The second and maybe biggest reason for lower caste people to be against abolishing the caste system is that they enjoy being victims. I have written about people who enjoy being victims before, too, and many lower caste people belong to this category. They like to complain, to find injustice, to demand more but in the end they are not really keen on having a change. How ironic that even these people, who are being discriminated, often don’t have the courage to get out of their role of being a victim!
 

So you see, while there may be many activists and many people like me who abhor the caste system and want it to finish once and for all, there are quite a lot of people who don’t want to even think about how to do this. As long as this is the case, as long as politicians and Brahmans think only of themselves, as long as people stupidly believe that this is how it is meant to be and as long as lower caste people don’t want to stop being victims, the caste system will go on. Change has to come from within the society. I am ready for it, are you?

5 Ideas how to get rid of the inhuman Caste System in India – 19 Jun 12

When talking about the caste system and saying that it is an outdated, crazy way to separate people and suppress those who are categorized as ‘lower’, you of course also hear the question how you could finish it. What would be a way?

I wrote in an earlier blog entry that politicians actually take advantage of the caste system. This is why the government and politicians actually have no interest in finishing it. They take advantage of the votes, knowing that people of their caste would rather vote for them than for a candidate of another caste. And this is something that happens for higher castes and lower castes in the same way. This is why they keep the caste system intact. So the very first thing that I believe would be necessary would be for politicians and the government to change their attitude. They should no longer support the caste system but work against it. I had a few ideas in which way.

1. Law against Organizations based on Castes

First of all there should be a law forbidding any organization that is based on caste. Yes, there are plenty of such organizations in every small town, everywhere. They are registered with the name of a caste and have only members of their caste. Their goals can vary but one thing is for sure: they will do anything in the interest of their caste. This kind of organizations should be banned. Registered or unregistered, it should not be allowed to form an organization based on a caste.

2. No Castes in Matrimonial Ads in Newspapers

Something else that should not be allowed is the way how the matrimonial section of newspapers looks like. I once wrote a diary entry about how the ads are categorized by caste. People search directly for ‘a Brahman Girl’. The government has the power to make a law that would change the complete structure. People would just be able to look for a partner with certain characteristics, not of a certain caste.

3. Encouragement of Intercaste Marriages

This would simultaneously be the first step to my next point in the action plan. Intercaste marriages should be encouraged by the state. If you protest now saying that this is a private matter, the government cannot do anything about it, I have to tell you that you are not completely right. The government encourages people not to have a lot of children, too. They run campaigns in which men receive money if they get a vasectomy, if they get sterilized. So why would you not encourage people to look for a partner outside their caste by offering money or maybe giving the possibility for a loan to the new couple once they got married and want to build a house?

4. Appointing lower Caste People as Priests in Temples

Of course there is another point that I always mention when discrimination of lower caste people is discussed: They are currently not allowed to even enter the temples where people of other castes go. The government has full influence on the temples and the authority to appoint lower caste people as priests. I would like to see untouchable priests giving prasad, the holy offering of Gods, to Brahman people. Why not? Why are lower caste people not allowed to enter a temple?

5. Changing last Names

At the moment it is still possible to recognize the caste of a person by their last name. Although this is slowly changing, I believe it would be good if the government gave people a one-time-possibility to change their last names to anything they like. After that there would be no way to tell whether they were higher or lower caste.

I realize that this is not all that one has to do. The main problem and task is the work on people’s mentality. They have to change their thinking. Many people who support the caste system will not agree with my writing here and will say that these points are not practical. But if there is a wish to change and to start, it can be done. It will definitely be effective.

I would love to read your ideas in the comments!

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.

The rich deciding about the poor – Poverty in India – 27 Sep 11

Yesterday I wrote about poverty in India, the poverty line and how ministers are now trying to change the criteria of who is poor and who isn’t. What made me most angry about this situation is that those who make those plans, the ministers who decide who should be called poor in India, are millionaires and billionaires! They have more money than they can ever use in their complete lives! I read that more than 77% of the ministers of our country are ‘crorepatis’, which means that they have more than 10 million Rupees! And this money is increasing every day! I have looked at the figures and saw that the wealth of India’s members of parliament has increased enourmously in the last years. They sit in their posts, they run this country and accumulate large amounts of money while deciding that others are not poor if they earn less than a Dollar a day!

What do they, who own helicopters to fly around the country, know about the situation of those who worry about their dinner the next day? They cannot understand the pain of hunger! How come there is no poor person involved in making these policies and laws? They might have a better understanding of what a person really needs and how the situation in this country really looks like!

The problem is again corruption! In today’s India you need a lot of money to take part in any election and even more money to win it! We have ministers who are wealthy and who become millionaires while sitting in their chairs! A poor person could never think that far because there is no day on which he is not working on something that could secure his living! I don’t say that our ministers should be poor but I wonder how they can be as rich as they are? No normal person has a chance to increase his wealth that much in a year! People in this country are poor, the government is poor and has no money but those who run the government are rich.

In that respect I have read another article, about the food in the parliament canteens. Their ten canteens are highly subsidized and this is how the members of parliament get a full vegetarian meal for only Rs. 12.30, a cup of tea for one Rupee and soup for only Rs. 5.50. When media found out about those ridiculous prices for these rich people, they complained that they eat food that is subsidized by the state while the rest of the country faces price rises for their every day’s food. The MPs have decided that they can do without that discount on their food in order to avoid such complaints.

The former President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam recently said: “India is not a poor country at all. It has been kept poor and uneducated for centuries by a small group of people in order to exploit the masses.” The country is poor, those who run it are not.

Who in India is really poor? – 26 Sep 11

Last week the Planning Commission of India, a government institution that looks at how much money India has and recommends how much should be spent in which sectors, suggested to update the Indian criteria for who lives below the poverty line and who doesn’t. They are of the opinion that everybody who has enough money to spend more than 32 Rupees per day in a town or more than 26 Rupees a day in the countryside cannot be considered poor. 32 Rupees are currently about 0.64 US-Dollar. This has caused another uproar in media, among activists and of course among the general population.

According to the new suggestion, you are only poor if you daily spend less than Rs 5.5 on cereals, Rs 1.02 on pulses, Rs 1.55 on edible oil, Rs 1.95 on vegetables and 44 Paise on fruits. You are well off and not poor in this country if you spend more than Rs 49.10 a month on your rent in a city like Delhi and more than Rs 61.30 a month on clothing.

Who can live nicely in this amount of money? Nobody! They want to say if anyone earns more than 32 Rupees a day, he is not poor but the reality is that he will hardly have enough to eat, not to mention clothing and health care! But for the government he will be living above the poverty line and so they don’t need to care about him.

I tried to find out how many people actually live below the poverty line in India. The problem is that there is not any clear number! When you look up ‘Poverty in India’, you find at least five different committees, reports and organizations that give you different figures according to different criteria. The World Bank estimate of 2005 says that 41.6% of the population is below the international poverty line of 1.25 US-Dollar per day but at the same time the World Bank mentions that an estimated 80% earn less than 2 US-Dollars per day. The Tendulkar Committee counts 37% of the population as poor while the N. C. Saxena Committee mentions a figure of 50%. The Arjun Sengupta Report states that 77% of the population lives on less than 20 Rupees a day, which is currently about 0.40 US-Dollar. The only thing that seems to be clear is there are more poor people even only in North and East India than there are in the 26 poorest African nations!

The government officially accepted the estimate of the Tendulkar Committee with 37% of all Indians living below the poverty line. This is not surprising as it is the report with the lowest figures and officially the government supports those who live below the poverty line. We see that this support in reality never reaches those whom it is intended to help but the less poor people India officially has, the better it is for the government! It is just a game of numbers. This suggestion to update the criteria for the poverty line is thus seen as only this: a way to reduce the official number of people who live below the poverty line. Nobody earns more money than before, people still have to fight to make ends meet but India suddenly has a lot less poor people.

Can this be right?

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.

Is Michelle Obama corrupt if she goes on Holiday? – 25 Aug 11

Today is the tenth day of Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption in India. He is still fasting and his health is deteriorating. Doctors say his kidney is being affected by the long fast. They recommend hospitalizing him soon if he does not break his fast. He is however still full of hope and does not want to give up. It is nice to see that a court judge joined him in his fight, stating that he knows how much corruption is in the judiciary system, too. The government, after having showed a softer side previously and accepted some demands of the protesters in the last days, they organized a parliament meeting of all parties. Nobody in this meeting agreed on accepting Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill. This seems to have strengthened their stand and now news reach us that the negotiations went back to the place where they started from.

It is actually quite understandable. Why would any party, even the opposition party BJP, support this? In public they recently showed their support for Anna Hazare’s protest but in this meeting of parties they told that they would not agree on it. Hazare’s team now asks them to clarify whom they actually support. They would not however support the creation of very strict anti-corruption laws. Also in their party, there are a lot of politicians who are already charged with corruption. You will not find any party where there is no corruption!

In this whole atmosphere I happened to see different news online, about another person who allegedly uses taxpayers’ money for their own holidays and fun: Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States of America. When I saw this headline, I was in a way surprised, as I had not expected that this could happen in USA, too. I then read the complete article and saw that while it was very careful on saying that she actually used public money on her private fun, they only talked about things that the government would naturally pay to their president and his family. They named government jet flights, extra staff that also stays at the hotel they are staying in and of course the money which is spent for the security of their family – bodyguards, more police attention and simply overall readiness for anything that might happen.

When I read this, I had to think: is that corruption, too? Can we really accuse Michelle Obama for getting the security that she is getting? Of course she gets security, she is the wife of the president! If she flies in economy class of United Airlines, stays in a cheap bed and breakfast, walks around in the streets without any bodyguards, there is danger to her security! Not only to hers, to the security of her children, too! Someone could kidnap her and try to blackmail the president! And in this way it could be a danger to the country! Should her children and she not be allowed to go on holidays because the security for them costs too much? Wouldn’t that be a punishment for the family?

Of course I believe the bill for her shopping or the hotel and breakfast costs should be paid privately. I am sure though, that Mr. Obama’s salary is high enough to cover that and the article admits that they do spend their own money for their leisure activities. It is not a politician’s or his family’s fault that they need more security when they go out. It is normal that this security is paid by public money because the public wants this politician to work and think for the country in future, too.

So this is not corruption in my eyes and the author of this article probably knows that, too. Of course, there are politicians that overdo it but then there are also so many who openly take public money for their private expenses. We see in India how this works and it is very obviously different from what Michelle Obama does. I cannot believe that the level of corruption that we have in India is possible in America. It is sad to see that in India there seems to be still not enough awareness and too much effort to weaken the fight against corruption. We cannot convince those who are corrupt to put themselves into prison. But still, we need to keep on hoping and supporting every effort that is made towards this change!