Letters from Readers
BJP has always been a “communal” party
In response to the editorial in February 2020’s Khabar, revocation of 370 and 35A will not cause any demographic change in J&K. Demographic change occurred over the course of hundreds of years, with the latest being in 1990. January 19th of this year marked the 30th anniversary of the genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits, when nearly 600,000 fled their home and became refugees in their own country.
The “communal” decisions that came in 2019 have always been part of the BJP’s manifesto. It is a different matter that for 70 years, party manifestos gathered dust after the election. For the first time, a government is acting on its mandate.
The editorial’s claims on the CAA are misleading. Only those non-Muslim citizens of neighboring Islamic countries that arrived in India before 2014 gain a path to citizenship through the CAA. One must have citizenship of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Bangladesh and have arrived before December 31st, 2014 to benefit from the CAA. And until the Supreme Court rules otherwise, the Act is as much part of the constitution as Article 14 is or “socialist secular” is.
India is at a fragile juncture today, much as it was in 1947. The parties that supported partition against Gandhi’s pleas now quote Gandhi to attack the CAA. A protest leader urges his community to cut off the northeast from the rest of India. We need to question their intentions and the forces behind the protests. Are they anti-CAA, are they anti-Modi, or are they anti-India?
Sanskrit must be preserved and revitalized
I very much enjoyed reading the article “Sanskrit Language: Dead, Dying, or Dormant?” by Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar in the February issue of Khabar. Dr. Majmudar rightly lauds the Sanskrit-English dictionary by the late Sir Monier Monier-Williams, comprising 1,333 pages with 200,000 words. I just read about Oscar Pujol, a Catalan Indologist, who taught Spanish at Banaras Hindu University, India, and earned a PhD in Sanskrit. He has just published the first Sanskrit-Spanish dictionary, a work that exceeds 1,500 pages with more than 64,000 translated words, an essential tool for students of the Sanskrit language and “lovers of Indian culture.” In the Sanskrit-Spanish Dictionary, Mythology, Philosophy, and Yoga, a reader interested in the classical culture of India will find articles dedicated to the great characters and deities of the Sanskrit epics. “It is an encyclopedia of ancient India, and users can consult it without necessarily being great connoisseurs of the Sanskrit language.” says the author. Today, many people take interest in Sanskrit because of yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation.
On a personal note, having been born in Tanzania and grown up in Nairobi, Kenya, I had no opportunity to learn Sanskrit. I enjoyed listening to recitation of Sanskrit shlokas every morning and evening by my dad who was a BA (Hons.) graduate of the iconic Elphinstone College, Mumbai and a Sanskrit scholar. Because of my poor knowledge of Gujarati, I was scared to request him to teach me Sanskrit. In Atlanta, while helping my granddaughter learn Spanish, I picked up a few Spanish words like pelota (ball), bailar (to dance), or poquito (a little bit), but gave up as I could not cope with grammar. Guess I lacked the tenacity and passion of perched-on-the-porch scholar Sir William Jones, so while my granddaughter graduated with Spanish, I forgot even a few Spanish words I had learnt!
While it is praiseworthy that Sanskrit is gaining popularity outside India, it is lamentable that in India, according to Dr. Majmudar only 24,821 Indians and 1,669 Nepalese people consider Sanskrit as their mother tongue.
But all is not gloom and doom. In September 2019, Uttarakhand Government has made Sanskrit compulsory across all grades from 3 to 8. To promote Devbhasha (divine language), recently Lok Sabha passed Central Sanskrit Universities Bill 2019 to convert three Sanskrit deemed Institutions, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in New Delhi, and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Tirupati into central universities. In Karnataka, Mattur village with 5,000 residents converse in Sanskrit. I agree with Dr. Bhagirath that Sanskrit needs to be rejuvenated by CPR—Consistent Persistent Revival. Let us hope that the 18th World Sanskrit Conference in Australia in January 2021 gives the much needed boost to the ajaramar language, which it richly deserves.
Should overstaying migrants be sent back?
I want to congratulate Khabar magazine for publishing a bold cover story in the February issue about undocumented (illegal) Indian population in America. I was not only shocked and infuriated just by reading the cover page “one of the largest undocumented populations in the U.S.” but also ashamed of my Indian heritage. If Gandhi ji were alive today, he would have gone on indefinite fast and had not survived.
Most illegal Indians are scattered around big cities and they survive in an underground economy created by Indian businesses such as gas stations and motels. You can spot these people in most Indian cultural programs and temples.
It will be interesting to add that when I immigrated to America in 1965, my chief engineer and his wife had come to the airport to receive me and my family! Can it happen now?
It is our moral responsibility to send these illegal Indians back to India voluntarily instead of harboring them in our homes, or report them to ICE because they have ruined our reputation. If the illegal population is unchecked, soon the counties across America will be forced to name “Little India” towns since the Indian population will swell to 10 million in just five more years!
Editor’s comment: Sending all undocumented South Asians back is a “solution” that does not consider the nuances. It’s the kind of rigid black and white thinking behind “What part of illegal don’t you get?” that is a problem. Some of the people whose stories we tell in the cover story may be undocumented, but they are people caught in difficult situations, not necessarily people to be ashamed of.
It is a known fact that a large number of Indians are among the 10 million or so illegals in America. These people knowingly come to America with impunity, break the law, and get lost in the masses. As far as I know, there is no law in America that allows economic asylum. Most of these people lie and make unauthorized and illegal entry into United States. The safety and security of any nation will be in peril if the border is not secured. True for America and true for India. As the former attorney general (Jeff Sessions) said, if a country has no secured border, it cannot remain as a country. It is our responsibility to expose the illegals and turn them in to authority and ICE.
I do not see the Indians or other illegals creating a Shaheen Bagh situation in America [Shaheen Bagh is a Muslim working class neighborhood in New Delhi that has emerged as epicenter of anti-CAA protests across India]. Because, they know that America is a country of rules and everyone is required to carry proper ID. The administration is right in including citizenship question in the upcoming census.
Illegal entry into any country is especially dangerous when there is threat of Islamic extremism. True for America and and even more so for India. Going unchecked, the metastasis of Islamic fundamentalism and Gajwa-e-Hind will be reality one day in India, and it will be too late then. Despite some opposition, the administration must take strong action to protect the country and its citizens. India must make that correction or else there will be no India as we know it.
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