Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Secularism and Communalism – the 2 most abused words!










Seshachalam Dutta, Ph.D. &

Shree Vinekar, M.D.


There is no equivalent to the term "secularism" in Indian languages. It was a term borrowed from the West and used without comprehending its proper meaning. It has been much abused by Indian journalists and politicians alike.

George Holyoakes's 1896 publication "English Secularism" defines secularism as:
(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable.


Its essential principles are three:

(1) The improvement of this life by material means.

(2) That science is the available Providence of man.

(3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good."


(None of the three principles are incompatible with Hindu philosophy or practice as expounded below in contrast to many other popular religions of today. In fact, there has not been any coflict with Science for the Hindus.)


Holyoake held that secularism and secular ethics should take no interest at all in religious questions (as they were irrelevant), and was thus to be distinguished from strong free thought and atheism. In this he disagreed with Charles Bradlaugh, and the disagreement split the secularist movement between those who argued that anti-religious movements and activism was not necessary or desirable and those who argued that it was.


"Secularism" is the assertion that governmental practices or institutions should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.

The term secularism was pejoratively used originally by the Christian Church in medieval period. The life of a common man in Europe was so miserable with widespread poverty and various form of slavery that Church in response to such misery, to protect the Nobles, propagated the doctrine that there is no happiness in this world and only by being "faithful" believer in this life, there will be happiness in the Heaven yearned for in ones imagined after-life.



Anyone who advocates worldly pleasures was considered by the Church as secular and to be condemned. By the time of European Renaissance, with the recognition of the autocracy and corruption of the Church, the intellectuals in Europe defied the church, challenged its teachings and accepted the term secularism to characterize the worldly concern irrespective of the promise of afterlife. They drew their inspiration from the writings of the Greek and Roman Philosophers. One such philosopher was Epicurus, who held Gods are busy in their own world and have no interest in this world and Man should seek happiness and fulfillment in this world.



The Church wrongly interpreted this pragmatic philosophy of his to mean that he was advocating licentious, immoral pleasures without caring for the heavenly salvation. Epicurus never advocated anti-social or immoral behavior; he simply advocated practical form of worldliness. Epicureanism was again revived in the 19th century by many philosophers, prominently by Karl Marx whose doctoral dissertation was on this subject. Marx took anti religious position and advocated pure dialectical materialism.

All the followers of Marxism avidly espouse antireligious secularism. Thus secularism had the connotation of anti-religiousness, as well as anti-traditional social attitude. Extreme individualism and defiance of social mores and norms as we witnessed by hippies and beatniks are attributed to this thinking, again unfairly. Several 20th century intellectuals, including scientists and Humanists like Julian Huxley and Albert Einstein called themselves secularists and interpreted the term to mean that their interest was to advocate welfare of this society in this world regardless of the religious beliefs of the members of the society. This thought was already prevalent among the framers of the American Constitution, especially Thomas Jefferson, who advocated strict separation of Church and State without diminishing the spirituality of the citizens. The word secularism was never used by Thomas Jefferson or any of the founding fathers of the United States of America to characterize religious neutrality of State.


At the present day this interpretation of secularism as a principle of mainly advocating concern for the social welfare without deliberately antagonizing the Church has been accepted – the emphasis is in not to antagonize the church or faith. In fact, even Pope Pius coined the term "Secular Christianity" to promote the church priests' social activism by who-so-ever willing to be active in matters of societal interest without wearing Church insignia.


It is, therefore, clear to all who are familiar with the Indian political scenarios and also the above-mentioned senses, connotations, and authentic meanings of Secularism that the term Secularism is used in India with no clear concept except by the Indian Communists who correctly accept the atheistic Marxian doctrine of wiping out any religious influence, as Marx called it "the opium of the masses."



However, in practice the Communists in India are becoming close allies of the Christians and Muslims as most of them adopted these religions in rebellion towards to the majority Hindus prior to their espousing Communism. They do not give up their identity as a religious minority and declare themselves as atheists, especially when there are affirmative action and reservation benefits. This unholy alliance is particularly evident in Kerala, West Bengal, etc. The Maoists in India are becoming allies of the Christian missionaries. All of these related facts are mentioned to illustrate that even the communists in India are not truly Secularists in practice. Neither are they likely to be secular if they become the ruling power at the center.


Now, is there such a thing as Secular Hinduism?

Where does secularism fit in with Hinduism? The relatively new term "secular" does not apply to Hinduism which has a history of nearly 10 thousand years, because Hinduism is both secular and spiritual. Refined form of Hinduism (Upanishadic) does not advocate that "salvation" is only to be achieved in the afterlife. It advocates Man's perfection in this life, here and now, promoting spirituality as the means to achieve inner peace and tranquility in a dissonant and chaotic world; furthermore, spirituality is hoped to raise the "state of Man" to "Divine" which is seen as the highest human potential.


Example: Bhagavat Gita, chapter 2, last verse:

Esha Brahmi sthitihi Partha nainaam prapya vimuhyati,
sthitwa asyaam antakale api Brahmanirvanam rucchati

Having not attained such a state of perfection (Brahmi Sthiti) one would be subjected to illusions about the reality (and will not be free of temptations and misinterpretations of reality) and after attaining this state one will always be grounded in reality; but holding on to this state of mind even until the end of ones life- (i.e., in this world itself), one would reach divine perfection (Rucchati meaning "goes to" - Brahma Nirvana) experiencing eternal bliss and attain nirvana, (nirvana meaning liberation from all imperfect frames of reference, caused by the genetically inherited memories or by learned paradigms, with the ability to recognize the true nature of the Brahman and to identify with It as the only ultimate reality.)

There is some semantic confusion as to whether the above quote can be considered purely philosophical and extra-religious in the Hindu tradition, and whether it could even be universally applicable to all human beings as a supra-religious philosophical principle, or is it "religious" because Gita is considered to be one of the scriptures of the Hindus.


Nevertheless, one must note that this verse from Gita does not presume presence of God, presence of after-life, etc., and limits itself to the concerns of attaining a state of mind in this life that will permit one to do good irrespective of any other considerations, and ultimately liberate one even from the usual hackneyed paradigms like "theology." In that sense it is a similar stance like the "Secular Christianity" but goes deeper than focusing on not wearing the insignia.


(See "Dhee: Essence of Hinduness" Part I and II on http://www.swaveda.com/ and http://www.kalyan97.blogspot.com/ with discussion on freedom of thought and absence of dogma which make the term "Hindu Fundamentalism" an oxymoron.)

Most Hindus know that freedom of thought, absence of dogma, and even atheism are totally compatible with Hinduism, therefore, secularism even with its focus on pure materialism is not new for the Hindu thinkers (as propounded by Charvaka). That secularism does not need to be taught newly to Hindus is historically a self evident truth.



They have welcomed other religions and have practiced governance without regards to religious concerns long before the arrival of the British is well known. With all accusations about BJP being affiliated with Hindutva political philosophy, which is falsely characterized by the so-called "Secular" English media in India as anti-secular, these accusations of BJP being non-secular or anti-secular are unfouded when the governance by BJP dominated NDA government is scrutinized for its secular stance and performance in comparison to the stance taken by the Indian National Congress and policies implemented and endorsed by it when in power. (See "Indian Secularism: A Sham" Part I & II on this page)

So there is no such thing like "pseudo-secularism" in Hinduness, Hindutva, or Hinduism. There are both, secularism-this worldliness, and spirituality, which pertains to the inner life of human consciousness - in Hinduism; both of which are integral to reformed Hinduism as well as truly interpreted traditional Hinduism (as is by Kashmiri Shaivism). Both can co-exist and can be practiced concurrently by any knowledgeable Hindu. It is bothersome to hear the abuse of the term secularism by politicians and journalists alike but even more so when they portray it as totally absent in Hinduism and Hindu history or even more so when the word "secular" is used as an antonym of "Hindu."



Hinduism in its philosophy, principles, and practice is historically the most open minded and open system religion and Hindu society has historically been more pluralistic than any other society dominated by religions other than Hinduism. This is an undeniable fact which the modern so-called secular English media conveniently ignore. In the history of India there have been million Gandhis among the ordinary people all over India who have not had to be taught religious tolerance, and therefore, viewing Mahatma Gandhi as the first and only proponent of accepting other religions is also a myth that is propagated by these media.

The other abused term is "Communalism" and particularly "Hindu Communalism" which is pejoratively used to label "Hindu Nationalism", a universally accepted dignified term. On the question of Hindu Nationalism we could hold a healthy civilized debate without "name calling." The words "Communalism" and "Hindu Communalism" are essentially a form of name calling with no room for any critical thinking to analyze these terms.

What is communalism? It is not a bad word after all. People who formed the communes in the West like the Quakers and the Mormons and others who practiced collective agriculture and shared community life have used the term "communism." This word communism in this context was offensive to the orthodox leaders of these communes who associated the term with atheism as implied in Marxian parlance and hence preferred the term "communalism."

How did we get this term in India with the currently distorted usage? We have to hold the original protagonists of this term responsible for this perverted use, and others have been only blind imitators. If we want to use this term strictly, for example, it applies to Tamils in Bombay who live together and have their own linguistic groups, Bengali groups in Bihar and Assam, and Andhra Maha Sabha in Delhi or in Chennai, etc. These are aptly described as communal organizations. There is nothing wrong in socializing with a group that shares ones language and culture.

Is there anything like Hindu Communalists? Hindus are several communities or a conglomeration with different linguistic and caste divisions, as well as sub-cultures and, therefore, it is absurd to use the word Hindu Communalists.

This label or phrase of "Hindu Communalism" was framed by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, mischievously to denigrate anyone that would advocate Hindu welfare exclusively or organize Hindus exclusively without the consent, cooperation or addition of Muslims - no body cared for Christians as a politically significant group at that time any way. The emphasis then and even now was to include Muslims at every turn in public life to fully integrate them into a homogeneous society. The ideal propagated then was that of "Hindu-Muslim Bhai-Bhai." It is a wonderful Utopian concept (hoping for the brotherhood of Hindus and Muslims,) but inherently an oxymoron considering the fundamentalism of Islam as universally and historically refractory to any change.



The attempt to unify Hindus and Muslims then in the early Independent Nehruvian India utterly failed because of the rejection of this thrust by Muslims themselves. This was amply demonstrated by Muslims when they responded to the call for Direct Action by Jinnah with their atrocious widespread violence towards the Hindus. Riots broke out throughout the country from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari, giving a foretaste of what was to come at the time of the partition of India. In any case the phrase "Hindu Communalism" gained popularity as a pejorative term to malign anyone whose philosophy was to advocate welfare and protection of Hindus exclusively even in the face of such extreme violence directed exclusively at the Hindus by the Muslims or others. As a great skilled sloganeer Nehru managed to successfully convey in one innocuous sounding term, many subcomponents of pejorative meanings including Hindu orthodoxy, narrow-mindedness, alleged hatred of all other religions, especially Muslims!



Communists chose to translate the term as "Mata tatva vadins"- "advocates of religion or religious theories."- Hindu Nationalism is not of a religious identity, it is a cultural identity of a people, albeit belonging to religions of their native land, but as one people, of one origin, one culture, one shared history, and tradition. Cultural Nationalism invokes unity of all Hindus as "Vishva Hindu" no matter where the Hindus live in the world, whether in Sri Lanka, South Africa, UK or USA; Hindu nationalism means they are "our people" and most Hindus are broad-minded to include others who have adopted Hindu culture, who use indigenous Indian languages of the Hindus, and also attires and customs of the Hindus as "our people" regardless of their religions if they would be open minded to mingle freely with them and freely associate in a harmonious manner, as exemplified in many "India Associations" in foreign countries.

The overarching concern of Hindu Nationalist is to make the public and political life of India "Hindu-centric." From the above discussion it should be clear that Hnidu-centric society and government is not antithetical to Secularism. This is not as un-modern as some seem to think. We can see examples of similar lines of thinking and social processes elsewhere outside India demonstrated by the governments that are secular in a true sense more than the current Indian Government. With diverse immigrants entering the U.S, the leftists, anarchists and libertarians argue against sanctifying any traditions. Intellectuals like Patrick Buchanan and George Will in contrast have taken a position that America is and should be Judeo-Christian centric.



Multiculturalism may be allowed so far and no further, lest the other cultures may wipe out the soul of the Nation represented by its History, tradition, and faiths. This realization also came to France recently with the influx of large number of Muslim immigrants into that country demanding special treatment to distinguishing themselves as Muslims. President Sarkosy has stamped down on this trend. Similar message was given to the Muslim immigrants by the Prime Minister of Australia. In Denmark, the traditional free press was attacked by Muslims for hurting their sentiment by printing a picture of Mohamed. The Europeans are waking up to this intrusion or overbearing attitude of the Muslims in their countries. Germany has already made the laws to certify incoming religions and restricting proselytizing. They banned the church headed by Rev. Moon and did not allow Moon to enter into Germany. Likewise, Russia instituted certification of non-Russian, non-orthodox, churches. In UK where there is relatively liberal attitude, Muslims are demanding enforcement of Sharia Law for their people with an ambition to apply it to all people in their adopted country. The British are waking up and resenting this intrusion and threats of death directed at them in the absurd "peace march" by Jihadi Muslims. People who argue against Hindu Nationalism (not communalism) should pause and think which way Indian liberalization goes. Such liberalism as is practiced under the name of secularism calling names like communalism to Hindu Nationalism will be a disaster in India if it already is not.

The Nation of Israel is based on Zionism which should be respected by anyone entering that country. Milk in coffee is not served in McDonald restaurants, for it offends Kosher. Countries like Saudi Arabia which is so vocal of protecting the rights of Muslims would not allow any non-Muslim religious symbols or scriptures into their country. As an atheistic Communist country, China was fighting Falun Gong and Unification Church of Rev. Moon. But, they do retain the ancient Chinese culture; therefore, initially supported Falun Gong which was native to their culture until political considerations caused the reversal of the policy.


From all this, there should be no surprise that Hindu Nationalists advocate the preservation of Hindu centric polity and civil society that honors the great traditions and languages of India that is Bharat. People have the freedom to celebrate Valentine day as long as they don't scoff at Vasant Panchami which is more meaningful to the Hindus. They may celebrate demons and goblins of Halloween without demeaning Diwali or Holi. When it comes to the question of opening a male or female strip joint, offending Hindu sensibility and sentiments the line has to be drawn. Anarchistic individualism is not a right, it is a concession gifted by the society in which the majority shows a generosity, for no individual can survive without organized society which should have control on the limits of individual freedom. Hindus will draw that line of limits pursuant to their tradition. That is the essence of Hindu Centric society which is not to be called "communalism."



Such efforts to maintain decency in accord with the sentiments of the majority including ban of the cow slaughter is not "communalism." This right of the majority of the community is respected in all nations and all societies. The people in the United States will not permit slaughter of dogs because this species is viewed as pets although in some Eastern countries dog-meat is routinely considered for table food.


The majority in all countries enjoy this privilege without stepping on the fundamental rights to liberty, life and pursuit of happiness of any individual belonging to any religions.


If Proselytization is a demographic assault on the majority, then the right to practice religion must not be expanded to include right to convert others, alienate and cleave them from the native traditional culture, especially the members of the majority community.



This is the contemporary crisis in present day Africa where competing Christian and Muslim proselytizing outfits have brought unending treacherous civil wars. The Pope has nothing to comment on this tragedy, while he is quite ready to condemn Evangelists who convert Catholics in Latin America; Evangelists don't believe Catholics are true Christians!


Such views of opposition to religious conversions are not "communalistic" and not even nationalistic. They are common sense mores in a live and let live type of harmonious living of groups belonging to different religions that need to learn to co-exist peacefully.



Religious freedom is not freedom to attack and convert others; nor is religious tolerance religious acceptance.






Other thought-provoking articles by the author can be read at




Related posts from this blog:-











Monday, April 27, 2009

Being a Hindu is not communal…




Vigil Pulic opinion Forum













"Maut ka Saudagar", 'Liar", "the Ugly Indian" etc etc etc.


All the kind of epithets, the like of which till now used to come easily out of the mouth of President George Bush of the US and the pens of his Neo Conservative supporters.



Mr.Bush should be worried that he has now a growing number of competitors in the coining of demonising epithets in the community of the self-styled secularists of India .



What epithets they did not use against Shri Narendra Modi for the last five years and particularly in the weeks before the recent elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, in which the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a spectacular victory despite the best (or worst) efforts of these self-styled secularists to demonise him day in and day out!



The pathological dislike----even hatred--- that some of our journalists----particularly in the electronic media--- have for Modi could be seen or sensed as one watched the TV coverage of the counting of votes on December 23,2007. Initially, as it appeared that the BJP might not do well in the final tally, there was excitement among many of the TV anchors. They thought they have tasted blood. After an hour, the BJP candidates started racing ahead and it became clear the the Congress (I) was in for a drubbing.



The disappointment on the faces of some of the anchors was to be seen to be believed. A five-star lady anchor could not help remarking: "Modi might be able to win the elections in Gujarat, but he still can't get a visa to go to the US and other Western countries." Some consolation!



Instead of spending their time searching for abusive expressions in the dictionary and in their copy-book of such expressions, if these self-styled secularists had only visited the web sites, discussion groups and blogspots of members of the Hindu community not only in India, but also in other countries of the world----particularly in the US--- they would have noticed something, which might have given them cause for introspection.



They would have noticed that Modi is becoming the icon of a growing number of Hindus not only in India, but also in the Hindu diaspora spread across the world. The support for him is not confined only to the Gujarati-speaking Hindus of the world. It is spread right across the Hindu spectrum---- whatever be the language or ethnicity or place of origin of the Hindus concerned.



They would have noticed that in the Hindu diaspora in the West, more young people admire Modi than grown-ups. Many of his young admirers in the US were born and brought up there and had the benefit of the best of secular education. In spite of this, there is a sense of pride in them that the Hindu community has at long last produced a leader of the calibre of Modi.



What is it they see in him?


His simple and austere living of the kind associated with the late Kamaraj of Tamil Nadu, but not seen in the leaders of today?



His reputation as an incorruptible politician, the like of which is not found anywhere in India----not even in his own party?



His style of development-oriented governance, which even his detractors on other grounds do not hesitate to praise?



The fruits of his policy, which Gujarat and its people are already enjoying?



His tough stance on terrorism?



His lucid-thinking on matters concerning our national security?



His defiance in the face of the greatest campaign of demonisation mounted against him, the like of which only Indira Gandhi had faced from her political opponents and sections of the media in the 1970s?



All these are factors, which influence their favourable perception of him, and which have already been highlighted and analysed in the articles on his impressive election victory.



But there is one factor, which is more important than these and which has not found mention in the analyses.



That is, for large sections of the Hindus----young and old, even more among the young than among the old--- he gave them a sense of pride in their identity as Hindus.



They feel that he removed from their minds long habits of defensiveness as Hindus carefully nurtured by the self-styled secularists.



As if to proclaim one's Hindu identity and to assert one's rights as Hindus in their own homeland in which they are in a vast majority (80 per cent of the population) is to be communal, is to become an ugly Indian.



For these self-styled secularists, a pretty Indian is a Hindu, who is all the time on the defensive, fights shy of proclaiming his Hindu personality and asserting his rights as a member of the majority community.



These self-styled secularists would not address their sermons of secularism to the Islamic countries, where for a Muslim to convert a non-Muslim into Islam is an act blessed by Allah, but for a non-Muslim to convert a Muslim into his religion is a crime calling for the death penalty.



For them, secularism is a virtue which a Hindu should practise towards others, but not others towards him.



It is Modi's rejection of this hypocrisy of the self-styled secularists, which makes him stand apart as a Hindu leader with a difference in the eyes of his admirers.


Bharathiyar, the Tamil poet who inspired millions of Tamil youth to join the independence struggle under Mahatma Gandhi, wrote: "Tamizhanenru Chollada, Talai Nimirndhu Nillada"



"Say You Are a Tamil, Hold Your Head High."



The growing legion of Modi's admirers in the Hindu community all over the world are saying: "Hindu Enru Chollada, Talai Nimirndu Nillada."



"Say You Are A Hindu, Hold Your Head High."



They are no longer prepared to be defensive in proclaiming their Hindu idenity, in asserting their rights as Hindus.



They are secular in the genuine sense of the word, but for them secularism does not mean developing a guilt complex about being a Hindu and all the time conceding the rights of others. They do not accept the argument that a Hindu, who asserts his rights, ceases to be a secularist.



(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai)






Related post:-




Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dr R.Vaidyanathan's lecture on tax havens on 1st May.

Indian Liberal Group,
Rajaji Centre For Public Affairs &
Institute of Economic Education

Jointly Organize a 

Lecture Meeting on 1st May 2009 at 5:30 PM

in P.S.High School Auditorium,

Mylapore, Chennai.


Dr R.Vaidyanathan will speak on "Tax Havens and Illegal Funds of India".

Dr R.Vaidyanathan is a Professor of Finance at IIM in Bengaluru.

He obtained his Fellowship in Management from IIM-Kolkata where he taught for few years.

He has published a number of articles in India and abroad on Corporate Finance and Capital Markets. He has also published extensively about the role of unincorporated sector in the Indian economy.

He is a National Fellow of ICSSR, member of the Advisory Committee on Secondary

Markets & Risk Management of the Security Exchange Board of India,

Member of the Standing Advisory Committee on Data Base of the Indian economy of the RBI and is the President of the Asia Pacific Risk and Insurance Association.

Professor Vaidyanathan is also the trustee of the Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony, Delhi.

The aim of the foundation is to bring together thinkers and leaders to share ideas and find solutions for today's deepest concerns for civilizational harmony (vaidya@iimb.ernet.in)


Ingenious young Chartered Accountant M.R.Venkatesh will also address on the same topic during the Lecture Meeting.

MRV passed Chartered Accountancy in 1992 with an all India Ranking and has been in active practice since 1993. He is also a commentator on International Trade/Economic Affairs and a regular contributor to the prestigious publications in India. M R Venkatesh has also authored a detailed report on the farm sector in India in the context of ongoing Doha Round of negotiations and the aegis of WTO.

In 2007, his remarkable book 'Global Imbalances and the impending Dollar crisis' was released in Chennai.

He is a visiting faculty in various professional institutions, Chambers of Commerce and Universities (mrv@mrv.net.in)


Interested ones can  attend the lecture meeting.

Related posts on tax havens by Dr Vaidyanathan:-


by Mr Arun Shourie:-


Friday, April 24, 2009

Petition online to get back black money from Swiss banks

Requesting the readers to read and sign the petition to get back Indian money in Swiss banks:-

Petition at www.petitiononline.com/India000/

The estimated money deposited in tax havens is $1500 Billion (Rs.100000 crore) which has been stashed away by corrupt officials and politicians of our country.

If this money is brought back to India, the entire foreign debt can be repaid in 24 hours. After paying the entire foreign debt, we will have surplus amount, almost 12 times larger than the foreign debt. If this surplus amount is invested in earning interest, the amount of interest will be more than the annual budget of the Central government. So even if all the taxes are abolished, then also the Central government will be able to maintain the country very comfortably.

Please sign it and forward it to all your friends.

We have to do it to create public awareness and

to put pressure on the Indian Government.


Read the following news reports on how the other governments are acting on this issue.

First U.S. citizen arrested in UBS tax evasion case

A wealthy client of UBS AG became the first U.S. citizen to be arrested for tax evasion stemming from an investigation into secret offshore accounts at the Zurich, Switzerland, bank.

Michael Steven Rubinstein, a 55-year old yacht company accountant, was charged with one criminal count of filing a false and fraudulent tax return in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

According to court papers, Mr. Rubinstein deposited more than $2 million in Kruggerand gold coins into his UBS accounts and bought securities worth more than 4.5 million Swiss francs through the accounts from 2001 to 2008.

UBS is under criminal investigation for helping U. S. citizens hide nearly $20 billion and evade taxes through secret offshore accounts that went unreported to the Internal Revenue Service.

In February UBS admitted to conspiracy to defraud the IRS and paid $780 million to settle the charges.

Federal prosecutors say Mr. Rubinstein is the first U.S. citizen to be criminally charged in the UBS case. Judge Barry Seltzer ordered Rubinstein held in jail until a hearing next date.

Other Tax Havens Matters:-

Gov't to crack down on tax evasion: vice premier

The China Post, April 21, 2009

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government will work harder to crack down on tax evasion, Vice Premier Paul Chiu said yesterday.

Chiu made the remarks during a tax forum held yesterday in Taipei.

According to Chiu, given the forces of globalization, many companies have set up operational points in different parts of the world.

However, Chiu said this gives way for tax evasion.

He said anti-tax evasion has become a global trend and was a topic during the G-20 Summit held recently between some of the world's most industrialized countries.

In his speech, Chiu cited some of the most common ways Taiwanese individuals or businesses evade taxes.

First, he said, individuals or businesses set up operational points in other countries and keep earnings or profits in those operational points.

Furthermore, some individuals take advantage of their dual citizenship status to evade taxes, as Taiwan gives different tax treatments for foreign residents.

Chiu said a Cabinet-level tax reform committee has approved a resolution listing anti-tax evasion as a target of mid- to long-term tax reform.

"This is a first step towards legalizing anti-tax evasion and related laws," Chiu said.

New legislation seeks to close tax haven loopholes

Deutsche Welle, April 21, 2009

Liechtenstein is a favourite destination for German tax dodgers, but for how long?

After weeks of political wrangling, Germany's ruling coalition has reached agreement on a draft law to combat tax evasion. The revised draft law is to be presented to Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck (SPD) and Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) have resolved their differences after heated debate over several issues blocked passage of the proposed legislation.

Steinbrueck appears to have won this battle

The law makes it harder to illegally transfer money abroad. Steinbrueck's initial law proposal met with stiff opposition from SPD's conservative coalition partners.

Around 30 billion euros ($40 billion) are lost to Germany every year due to tax evasion and at least 10 times this amount has so far been illegally transferred abroad from Europe's largest economy, according to calculations by the DSTG tax union.

Indus script - a literate script!





Scholars at odds over mysterious Indus script


                               19:00 23 April 2009 by Ewen Callaway 

http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn17012/dn17012-2_300.jpg Tablets and scrolls containing 4500-year-old Indus script were first discovered in the late 19th century, though no one has successfully translated the script (Image: J M Kenoyer/Harappa.com)


http://www.newscientist.com/articleimages/dn17012/2-scholars-at-odds-over-mysterious-indus-script.html Most inscriptions are just a handful of characters long, leading some researchers to propose that the script was used for religious or political imagery, not a written language (Image: J M Kenoyer/Harappa.com)

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17012-scholars-at-odds-over-mysterious-indus-script.html The new study contends that ordering of the symbols in Indus script suggests that it is a genuine language (Image: J M Kenoyer/Harappa.com)


An as yet undeciphered script found on relics from the Indus valley constitutes a genuine written language, a new mathematical analysis suggests.


The finding is the latest chapter in a bitter dispute over the interpretation of "Indus script". This is the name given to a collection of symbols found on artefacts from the Indus valley civilisation, which flourished in what is now eastern Pakistan and western India between 2500 and 1900 BC.


In 2002, a team of linguists and historians argued that the script did not represent language at all, but religious or political imagery.


Ordered or random?

From an analysis of the frequency and distribution of the script's characters, the team concluded that it showed few of the hallmarks of language. Most of the inscriptions contain fewer than five characters, few of the characters repeat, and many of the symbols occur very infrequently.


The new analysis by computer scientist Rajesh Rao and his team at the University of Washington in Seattle comes to the opposite conclusion.



Rao's team assessed the script samples using what is called "conditional entropy". When aimed at language, this statistical technique comes up with a measure for the "orderedness" of words, letters or characters – from totally ordered to utterly random.


"If you look at strings that contain words, then you should see that for any particular word in the string there is going to be some amount of flexibility in choosing the next word, but they're not randomly ordered," Rao says.


Which word next?

For instance, in English text, if you find the fragment "The boy went to the", there is some flexibility in what follows. Nouns like "park" and "circus" make sense, but a verb such as "eat" does not.


Rao's team applied this analysis to Indus script, Sanskrit, an ancient south Indian language called Old Tamil, and English. They also tested the conditional entropy of the Fortran computer programming language and non-languages, including DNA and protein sequences.


Indus script characters turned out to be about as randomly ordered as the other languages. Unsurprisingly, they proved less random than DNA or protein sequences and more random than the computer language, where unambiguity is essential.


Grammatical structure

"Now we can say, based on this evidence, that they probably were literate, so the big question becomes: Can you get at the underlying grammar?" Rao says. He hopes to refine his team's technique to determine the grammatical structure of Indus script and, potentially, the language family it belongs to.


"I think we are going to need more archival data, and if we are lucky enough we might stumble on a Rosetta Stone-like artefact," Rao says.


Rao's paper has already drawn a strong response from the researchers who proposed that Indus script represents religious and political symbols, not language.

"There's zero chance the Indus valley is literate. Zero," says Steve Farmer, an independent scholar in Palo Alto, California who authored a 2004 paper with two academics with the goading title "The Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis: The myth of a literate Harappan civilization."



Simulated language

As well as comparing the conditional entropy of Indus script to that of known languages, they compared it with two simulated character sets – one totally random, one totally ordered.


Farmer and colleagues Michael Witzel of Harvard University and Richard Sproat of Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland contend that the comparison with artificially created data sets is meaningless, as are the resulting conclusions. "As they say: garbage in, garbage out," Witzel says.



Unlocking history

Farmer says that the debate over Indus script is more than academic chest thumping. If Indus script is not a language, a close analysis of its symbols could offer unique insight into the Indus Valley civilisation. Some symbols are more common in some geographical locations than others, and symbol usage seems to have changed over time.


"You suddenly have a new key for unlocking how that civilisation functioned and what its history was like," he says.


J. Mark Kenoyer, a linguist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says Rao's paper is worth publishing, but time will tell if the technique sheds light on the nature of Indus script.


"At present they are lumping more than 700 years of writing into one data set," he says. "I am actually going to be working with them on the revised analysis, and we will see how similar or different it is from the current results."

Journal reference: ScienceDOI: 10.1126/science.1170391 (in press)





Analysis of the 4500-year-old Indus Script

Despite a large number of attempts, the script of the
Indus civilization (circa 2500-1900 BC) remains undeciphered. The absence of a multilingual "Rosetta stone" as well as our lack of knowledge of the underlying language have stymied decipherment efforts. Rather than attempting to ascribe meaning to the inscriptions, we are applying statistical techniques from the fields of machine learning, information theory, and computational linguistics to first gain an understanding of the sequential structure of the script. The goal is to discover the grammatical rules that govern the sequencing of signs in the script, with the hope that such rules will aid future decipherment efforts. 


Rajesh PN Rao Faculty Member, Neurobiology & Behavior ProgramUniversity of Washington

http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rao/ e-mail: rao@cs.washington.edu



In the opinion of  DR S. Kalyanaraman 

A possible resolution of the problem lies in thinking out of the box. Many attempts at decipherment have assumed that the signs have to represent alphabets or syllables and many have ignored the reading of pictorial motifs which are very unambiguous. A simple solution is that both signs and pictorial motifs represent words of spoken language. The whole code unravels as related to the repertoire of mine workers, smiths, metal workers, minerals, metals, alloys, furnace/smelter types. See details at http://sites.google.com/site/kalyan97/ presented in 15 volumes. There are rosetta stones such as the tin ingots with glyphs of the writing system. The fact is  that many inscriptions of the Indus script also occur on copper plates, metal objects, pointing to the link of invention of the writing system with the invention of alloying to create new metal artefacts during early bronze age. Hieroglyphs are signs and pictorial motifs which enabled communication of words related to these bronze-age artefacts and repertoire of a mine-worker or smithy/mint.






Indus Valley civilisation was literate, new study reports

The4,000 year-old Indus Valley civilisation that thrived on what is now Indo-Pak border might have been a literate society which used a script close to present-day languages like Tamil, Sanskrit and English, reveals a new finding announced on Thursday.


A group of Indian scientists has conducted a statistical study of the symbols found in the Indus Valley and compared them with linguistic scripts and nonlinguistic systems like the encoding of DNA and computer programming.


They found the inscriptions closely matched those of spoken languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit and English.


The results published in the journal Science show that the Indus script could be "as-yet-unknown language." Scientists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Indus Research Centre in Chennai collaborated with Mr Rao to develop models which helped comparing the symbols with modern languages.


Symbols in any language have some amount of flexibility, or conditional entropy, which helps in analysis of a language structure.


"For example, the letter 't' can be followed by vowels like 'a', 'e', and some consonants like 'r' but typically not by 'b,' 'd' etc. We measured this flexibility (or randomness) in the choice of the next symbol," Mr Rao explained.


Scientists found that randomness in symbols for Indus inscriptions closely matched those of spoken languages. "Despite more than 100 attempts, the script has not yet been deciphered.


The underlying assumption has always been that the script encodes language," Mr Rao said.


The Indus Valley civilisation also known as Harappan civilisation, a contemporary to Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures, spread across present day eastern Pakistan and northwestern parts of India.


The researchers are now working on deciphering the grammar and rules governing the language. "For now, we want to analyse the structure and syntax of the script and infer its grammatical rules. Some day we could leverage this information to get to a decipherment," Mr Rao said.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Caste – devised by the British!

Castes have never existed in the Hindu society and there had never been discrimination of one section against the other in the name of caste.

It all began with the census taking in the British era. When the British wanted to use statistical method to arrive at the demographic details of the vast population of India for the purpose of better administration, they introduced the clause on caste. The British have had discriminatory practices in their land on the basis of castes. They thought of the same for the Indian society and created 'castes' differences among the people of India.

The census gave them a basis to thrust their views on Aryan race versus Dravidian race and superiority of a caste in relation to another. They saw the Hindu society through their perceptions of race back home.

Until then all the sections of India had remained together in a symbiotic relationship. Every hamlet or a town had people of all 'castes' living together in a way of give- and –take economic inter-dependence. That was given a caste color of social hierarchy by the British.

Until then each section enjoyed superiority in their field of specialization and enjoyed respect for what they were. But all that was vitiated by the British with little understanding of the Hindu society.

A detailed study on this by Mr Kevin Hobson reveals the true picture of how a major twist to the Hindu society having serious ramifications was evolved by the British.

His research paper can be read at


Some excerpts from the research paper:-

"The word caste is not a word that is indigenous to India. It originates in the Portuguese word casta which means race, breed, race or lineage. However, during the 19th century, the term caste increasingly took on the connotations of the word race. Thus, from the very beginning of western contact with the subcontinent European constructions have been imposed on Indian systems and institutions.

To fully appreciate the caste system one must step away from the definitions imposed by Europeans and look at the system as a whole, including the religious beliefs that are an integral part of it. To the British, viewing the caste system from the outside and on a very superficial level, it appeared to be a static system of social ordering that allowed the ruling class or Brahmins, to maintain their power over the other classes.

What the British failed to realize was that Hindus existed in a different cosmological frame than did the British.

The concern of the true Hindu was not his ranking economically within society but rather his ability to regenerate on a higher plane of existence during each successive life. Perhaps the plainest verbalization of this attitude was stated by a 20th century Hindu of one of the lower castes who stated: "Everything lies in the hands of God. We hope to go to the top, but our Karma (Action) binds us to this level."

If not for the concept of reincarnation, this would be a totally fatalistic attitude but if one takes into account the notion that one's present life is simply one of many, then this fatalistic component is limited if not eliminated.

Therefore, for the Hindu, acceptance of present status and the taking of ritual actions to improve status in the next life is not terribly different in theory to the attitudes of the poor in western society.

The aim of the poor in the west is to improve their lot in the space of a single life time.

The aim of the lower castes in India is to improve their position over the space of many lifetimes. It should also be borne in mind that an entire caste could rise through the use of conquest or through service to rulers. Thus, it may be seen that within traditional Indian society the caste system was not static either within the material or metaphysical plane of existence."

"Unlike its predecessors in England, the census of India attempted not only to count, but to define and explain. As a result, the census became not simply an accounting of what existed but an active participant in the creation and modification of the society."

"A further example of Indian reaction to judgments made within the censuses becomes apparent from the claims of castes that they should have higher ranking following the census of 1901.

One claim in particular, that of the Mahtons, is of particular interest for the present paper. The Mahtons claimed that they should be granted the status of Rajputs because of both history and the fact that they followed Rajput customs.

Therefore, since they had not received this status in the 1901 census, they requested the change to be affected in the 1911 census. Their request was rejected, not on the basis of any existing impediment but on the basis of the 1881 census which stated that the Mahtons were an offshoot of the Mahtams who were hunter/scavengers. Thus, it appears that the census system had become self reinforcing.

However, after further debate the Mahton were reclassified as Mahton Rajput on the basis that they had separated themselves from the Mahtams and now acted in the manner of Rajputs.

Interestingly, it was at this point that the reasoning behind the claim became evident. Some of the Mahton wanted join an army regiment and this would only be possible if they had Rajput status.

The Mahton, a rural agricultural group, were fully aware that the change of status would allow their members to obtain direct benefits.

In and of itself, this definitely shows that the actions of the British in classifying and enumerating castes within the census had heightened indigenous awareness of the caste system and had added an economic aspect that the Indian people were willing and anxious to exploit."

"Contrary to what the British appear to have believed, it seems doubtful that the Brahmans were dominant within the material world in pre colonial Indian society.

A cursory examination of any of the ruling families quickly shows a dearth families of the Brahmin caste.

Rather, one finds that the majority, though by no means all, of rulers were Kshytria and occasionally Vashnia.

This suggests that although the Brahmin caste had power in spiritual matters, their power and control within the material world was limited to the amount of influence that they could gain with individual rulers.

No doubt there were instances when this was quite considerable but there is also little doubt that there were times when Brahman influence was very weak and insignificant.

With this in mind, it is not difficult to imagine a situation where, Brahmans, seeing the ascendancy of British power, allied themselves to this perceived new ruling class and attempted to gain influence through it. By establishing themselves as authorities on the caste system they could then tell the British what they believed the British wanted to hear and also what would most enhance their own position.

The British would then take this information, received through the filter of the Brahmans, and interpret it based on their own experience and their own cultural concepts. Thus, information was filtered at least twice before publication.

Therefore, it seems certain that the information that was finally published was filled with conceptions that would seem to be downright deceitful to those about whom the information was written. The flood of petitions protesting caste rankings following the 1901 census would appear to bear witness to this.

To fully understand how the British arrived at their understanding of Indian society it will now be necessary to look at where British society was during the 19th century in both its concepts of self and of other…."

"What seems, however, to have confused the British, was the fact that when they asked Indians to identify the caste, tribe or race for census purposes, they received a bewildering variety of responses.

Often the respondent gave the name of a religious sect, a sub-caste, an exogamous sept or sections, a hypergamous group, titular designation, occupation or the name of the region he came from.

Obviously Indian self identifying concepts were quite different from those concepts that the British expected. In response to this problem, those in charge of the census data took it upon themselves to: "begin a laborious and most difficult process of sorting, referencing, cross-referencing, and corresponding with local authorities, which ultimately results in the compilation of a table showing the distribution of the inhabitants of India by Caste, Tribe, Race, or Nationality."

Certainly this leaves a great deal of room for error. It also virtually ignores the fact that many Indians, when questioned, did not identify themselves in the way that the British expected.

Rather than ask themselves why this was, the British appear to have assumed that either the respondents did not understand the question or that they were incapable of correctly answering the question.

It never seems to have occurred to any one involved with the census that the British may have been asking the type of question that had a variety of correct answers depending upon the circumstances in which the question was asked.

It is interesting to note that when modern sociologists posed the same type of question to Indians in the 1960s, they too received a wide variety of responses.

The simplest explanation for this is that on a day to day basis caste may not be the most important factor in the life of a Hindu.

This notion is given support by a handbill that was distributed by Arya Samaj in Lahore just prior to the 1931 census:

Operations Have Begun


You Should Answer


Vedi Dharm


Arya Samajist






Arya Bhash

Related post:s-



Research paper on castes by Dr Raj Pandit Sharma of HCUK:-