Manusmriti And America’s Jim Crow Laws Against Blacks

by Promod Puri

An objective parallel can be drawn between the racial caste system, known as Jim Crow in the history of the United States between 1877 to late 60s, and the inhumane treatment of low-caste Hindus triggered by the centuries-old caste culture of India.
Jim Crow was a legitimized and even legalized anti-black racism which relegated African Americans not only as second-class citizens but designated them into a “way of life” by White Americans who had the right to be discriminatory.
(Jim Crow is a fictional name caricatured of a “clumsy, dimwitted black slave singing a tune called ‘jump Jim Crow’ in Louisville, Kentucky.” It was a creation of a White actor, Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice donned with blackface, and who staged jokes and songs in the typical accent of slave dialect.)
From church to the state, educational institutions at all levels to active civic groups, newspapers to politicians, all geared up under one belief that Whites were the Chosen people of God. Blacks lack morality and civilized behavior.
Blacks were cursed to be servants, and culturally and intellectually inferior. Ministers and theologians warned of any social integration with the Blacks including sexual relationships as that would produce a mongrel race. That could result in a change in the American character. New terms were created for Blacks like niggers, coons, and darkies.
It is a long list of customized Jim Crows laws and social behaviors expected from the Blacks towards the White population which reveals how discriminatory, unethical and cruel nature of these practices were against a segment of humanity with darker skin.
According to the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Interpretive Staff, the following rules and guidelines illustrate the perception and behavior of White people towards Blacks.
Burial. The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons (Georgia).
Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored (Alabama).
Child Custody: It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or another White person in this State, having the control or custody of any White child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a Negro (South Carolina).
Wine and Beer: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine…shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time (Georgia).

Education: The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately (Florida).
And many more laws and regulations related to the racial downgrading of the Black population were introduced and pursued by most White Americans.
Besides, Jim Crows in various states of the United States, there were many social etiquettes which the Blacks had to follow. Here are a few of them as outlined by Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide (1990).
Never assert or even intimate that a white person is lying.
Never impute dishonorable intentions to a white person.
Never suggest that a white person is from an inferior class.
Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.
Never curse a white person.
Never laugh derisively at a white person.
Never comment upon the appearance of a white female.
Racial laws along with imposed etiquettes for the Blacks and their almost total segregation were the norms under the overall hateful and heartless behavior of the White majority.
However, the more horrifying and barbaric aspect of the “way of life” was public lynching, murders, and looting of Black people. The Lynch Law victims were hanged, shot, burned at stake (post), castrated, beaten with clubs, or dismembered. Whites could physically beat Blacks with impunity.

RACISM IN HINDU CASTE SYSTEM
Now, let us take a brief visit to the racists and ultra sub-human practices embedded in the psyche of upper-class Hindus against the lowest in the hierarchy ladder of India’s caste system.
The people in this segment of the society were classified as Shudras according to Manusmriti, a manual written by self-proclaimed saint Manu centuries ago. He stratified society into four classes where Shudras’ main job description is described as to look after the above three classes. Manu also recognized the existence of an un-coded fifth class, as being the lowest of the lowest or “untouchables.”
Both the Shudras and the “untouchables” are also known as Dalits in present-day India.
Manu declared that Shudras and the “untouchables” were ineligible to study or even listening to hymns in the Vedas.
Besides stripping them from studying and access to knowledge a sampling of Manu’s treatment of Shudras and Untouchables is penned in the Manusmriti like this:
“—- men who, in their folly, wed wives of the low (Sudra) caste, soon degrade their families and their children to the state of Sudras,” (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, Para 15)”.
“A Brahmana (high caste) who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will (after death) sink into hell; if he begets a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana, (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, para17)”.
“For him who drinks the moisture of a Sudra’s lips, who is tainted by her breath, and who begets a son on her, no expiation is prescribed,” (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, Para 19)”.
Manu’s unjust and undemocratic caste system led to creating many social barricades advanced and nurtured by the priest class in conceiving the customs and practices against the Dalits and the Untouchables.
As time passed the culture of discrimination, hatred and inequality formulated by Manu became an increasingly horrendous practice. It came to the point when in most parts of India both Shudra and Untouchable communities were segregated to live outside the boundaries of a village or town. They were to enter and exit the township at certain hours.
They were not allowed to enter temples or keep religious idols in their homes, no admission to schools, nor allowed to draw water from the wells used by higher castes. The mere touch of their body or even their sight or shadow was considered impure.
In his book Annihilation of Caste, Dr. Ambedkar while arguing against the deep-rooted caste system in the Hindu psyche, gives a vivid description of the custom and practices prevalent in the society.
Dr. Ambedkar can be ranked along with Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and other world leaders who fought against the humiliating social disorder and break the shackles of virtual economic and social slavery.
He writes: “Under the rule of the Peshwas in the Maratha country the untouchable was not allowed to use the public streets if a Hindu was coming along lest he should pollute the Hindu by his shadow. The untouchable was required to have a black thread either on his wrist or in his neck as a sign or a mark to prevent the Hindus from getting them polluted by his touch through mistake. In Poona, the capital of the Peshwa, the untouchable was required to carry, strung from his waist, a broom to sweep away from behind the dust he treaded on lest a Hindu walking on the same should be polluted. In Poona, the untouchable was required to carry an earthen pot, hung in his neck wherever he went, for holding his spit lest his spit falling on earth should pollute a Hindu who might unknowingly happen to tread on it.”
In his crusade to end the ill-treatment of Dalits, as well as expressing his moral sense, that on December 25, 1927, he led a public protest of symbolic burning of Manusmriti.
The deep-rooted caste system in the Hindu psyche has plagued India for centuries.
And despite on-going educational and progressive movements, the “way of life” is the same for many Dalits as experienced by the Blacks under the Jim Crow laws and practices.
(Information sources for this article: Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, and Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions.)

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

2019 Poll: BJP Leads In Social Media Use

In India, WhatsApp is a weapon of antisocial hatred

File 20190419 28116 15hgsdx.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Smartphones are a conduit for misinformation about the Indian election.
AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Rohit Chopra, Santa Clara University

A general election in India, the world’s most populous democracy, seems a theoretical impossibility. Collecting the votes of nearly a billion people across a staggeringly diverse subcontinent has for more than half a century faced challenges of logistics, politics, economics, violence and law.

This year, a new challenge has arisen in the form of social media – specifically the text messaging app WhatsApp, owned by Facebook. Hate speech, disinformation and scary rumors on the platform are already responsible for violence and deaths in India.

A line of people wait to vote in the Indian election.
AP Photo/Dar Yasin

I have been studying the impact of the internet on Indian political, cultural and social life for the better part of two decades. Under the strict protocols of the Election Commission of India, voting has proved one of the more robust signs of Indian democracy. Voters turn out in large numbers, particularly the poorer segments of the electorate, making the process and its results a fascinating study and experiment in Indian politics.

The 2019 parliamentary elections, now underway, will show how social media affects Indian democratic life. They will also provide additional information about the nature of technological threats to democracy in general.

Indian social media in 2014

Two years before Russian troll farms infiltrated Facebook in an attempt to tilt the 2016 U.S. presidential election, social media played a critical role in Indian politics. It helped the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and its hard-line candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, come to power, though in a different way than the U.S. experienced.

Bharatiya Janata Party supporters rallied passionately in 2014.
AP Photo/Channi Anand

In India, the Bharatiya Janata Party ran a formidable social media campaign on Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter. The party’s online efforts complemented and supplemented its equally well-orchestrated campaign on the ground. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s trained social media teams, and a veritable army of enthusiastic volunteers, ensured that the party’s online presence was much more active than its rivals.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s information technology group, as well as the party’s supporters, exploited the political power of social media. They unleashed an often abusive barrage of criticism at the Congress Party, then-incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Bharatiya Janata Party opponents.

In the lead-up to the 2019 election, social media is being used in a far uglier and more dangerous fashion. The Bharatiya Janata Party even has its own official app, which is rife with disinformation and inflammatory propaganda about non-Hindus, posted by party members and supporters. More broadly, WhatsApp is being used to disseminate rumors and disinformation to spark fear among the populace, particularly about people who are perceived as outsiders.

This connects with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s main message that Hindus should have first claim over India and that India should be a culturally Hindu nation, rather than a secular state governed by a diverse range of voices. The chief opposition, the Congress Party, seems to lack the Bharatiya Janata Party’s level of reach and skills at weaponizing social media.

Threats of violence

Online, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s volunteer army of internet trolls blurs lines between troublemakers, genuine supporters and party officials. Their collective intensity, especially about Hindu nationalism, has put everyone on edge about violence – including social media platforms, law enforcement officials and ordinary citizens.

The danger is real. By one count, the use – or misuse – of WhatsApp has already resulted in 30 deaths in India. Many of these are not political events, but rather because of fear of outsiders spread through WhatsApp messages carrying fabricated warnings about strangers allegedly coming to rural communities to kidnap children.

It’s not clear yet whether WhatsApp’s remedial measures, such as blocking users from forwarding any single message more than five times, will effectively counter the dissemination of dangerous and fake information. Earlier restrictions – including limiting forwarding to 20 times – did not.

Getting benefits but avoiding responsibility

Of course, media technologies do not make anything happen by themselves. Their effects depend on how they’re used. In the Indian context, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government and its digital allies have legitimized an unusually high degree of bigotry and virulence against minorities, particularly Muslims and the members of the lowest caste, called Dalits.

As a result, it’s easy for party members and social media volunteers to use digital platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to inflame sectarian sentiments. In the run-up to the election, they have created a climate of general distrust, fear and paranoia in which disinformation cannot be distinguished from credible facts.

My own research, explained in my forthcoming book, suggests that the decentralized nature of online networks has allowed the Bharatiya Janata Party government to benefit from hateful and violent messages sent out by other hardline Hindu nationalist groups, while being able to avoid accountability or responsibility for those messages. It also enables the Bharatiya Janata Party to benefit politically from religious violence while at the same time diverting blame to WhatsApp or Facebook.

These developments in India raise deeper questions about the nature of social media communications. In particular, these abuses of social media may cause people to rethink the relationship between free speech – including forwarding messages from others – and violence. The outcome of the Indian election will be just one signal of how one society is beginning to wrestle with how new technologies are letting people reshape their lives.The Conversation

Rohit Chopra, Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why I’m Not Buying Self Driving Car

By Promod Puri

Ever since the car manufacturers introduced the Cruise Control feature, I have rarely used it.

And I think many people like me seldom bothered about this extra driving maneuver. They might have their own reasons. But in my case, it is simple. My conscious mind does not feel relaxed in this mode. The logic is, it might fail when I need it in an abrupt or unexpected moment.

This is a mindset attitude I have. And for that reason, I will not be buying fully-loaded Autonomous Vehicles, AVs in short.

Safety is the issue. AVs can’t be as close to human safety because engineering can’t match personal intellect. Driving would always be a tense experience.

The pleasure of driving is gone when “someone” else is driving.

Two latest models of AVS, one by the Uber Technologies and the other by Tesla, are the cause of accidents in recent months. One hit and killed a passenger in Arizona, and the other collided with a highway barrier in California.

AVs also include most of the airplanes being built these days. Two fatal accidents in recent months are proof of that, which could have been prevented. The ill-fated planes autonomous steering system repeatedly forced the Boeing 737 Max into a dive. The resulting judgment for these two crashes has been produced by the investigators.

As we’re about to enter a world where AVs can be a mod choice when buying cars. These vehicles in which human drivers are never needed to safely operate them. Rather a combination of sensors like radars, sonars, GPS, and an advanced control system would analyze sensory information to identify navigation paths, obstacles, and the relevant traffic signs in various languages, all within a split-second timeframe.

They say to err is human, but to err is technology can be true as well.

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

Earth Day Message

Work Less,

Earn Less,

Spend less, And

Save The Earth.

– by Promod Puri

Hindutva Clashes With Secular, Liberal And Democratic Spirit Of Hinduism

via Hindutva Clashes With Secular, Liberal And Democratic Spirit Of Hinduism

Why giant statues of Hindu gods, leaders making Minorities nervous

Indulata Prasad, Arizona State University

Statues – big statues, the largest in the world – are being built all across India.

Like many public monuments, they attempt to convey history in a concrete form. But India’s new statues convey something else, too: the power and vision of one dominant group – and the vulnerability of others.

That’s because India’s biggest new public monuments all pay tribute to Hindu gods and leaders.

As a scholar of social change in India, I see statues as a projection of a nation’s values at a particular moment in time. For many Muslims and other religious minorities, then, these hulking public monuments of Hindu icons send an ominous message about their status in society.

Rising Hindu nationalism

The mammoth public shrines to Hindu nationalism are a pet project of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi has used his power to promote Hindu nationalism, a polarizing ideology that sees Hindus as India’s dominant group. Yet India is a constitutionally multicultural country with the world’s second largest population of Muslims – comprising over 170 million people.

Twenty percent of its 1.3 billion people are Muslim, Christian or another religion.

By 2021 India, which is already home to the tallest statue in the world – Gujarat state’s 597-foot-tall “Statue of Unity,” commemorating Indian independence hero Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – plans to unveil two more record-breaking monuments, both portraying icons idolized by Hindu rightists.

A 725-foot bronze likeness of the god Ram planned for Uttar Pradesh state will soon surpass the Statue of Unity in size. And in Mumbai construction has been halted on a 695-foot-tall likeness of the medieval Hindu warrior Shivaji, pending the results of an environmental review.

Guinness World Records also recently judged Tamil Nadu state’s 112-foot depiction of the face of the Hindu god Shiva as the world’s largest bust statue.

All this is happening under Modi, who is up for re-election in monthlong general elections that start on April 11.

He was voted into office in 2014 on a platform of “development for all.” Promising to boost the economy in a country where nearly 22% of people live in poverty and millions go hungry, Modi and the BJP won an historic parliamentary majority over the center-left Indian National Congress, its main competitor.

Since then, India has improved in international “ease of doing business” rankings, passing regulations that improve commerce and the protection of property rights.

But some of Modi’s boldest moves to improve cash flow and boost public revenues, including a 2017 tax reform initiative and a ban on saving in certain high-value currencies, have failed. Unemployment has risen under BJP rule, particularly in rural areas, and the national economy suffered during the “demonetization” process.

Over the last five years, under Modi’s administration, India has also seen a startling rise of Hindu vigilante violence.

Indian vigilante ‘cow killings’

The attacks – often called “cow protection” – are sometimes deadly assaults that target Muslims and other Indians who, unlike many Hindus, do not consider cows to be sacred.

Hindu militants killed at least 44 Indians and injured 280 in about 100 attacks between May 2015 and December 2018, according to the international not-for-profit Human Rights Watch. Most of the dead were Muslims in states run by Modi’s political party.

The prime minister and his BJP have faced criticism for being slow to condemn anti-Muslim violence and for prioritizing legislation to safeguard cows, not the victims of vigilantism. Cow protection violence has also crippled India’s beef and leather industries, since they are primarily Muslim-run.

Muslim men who date Hindu women are another common target of vigilante violence, as are students, journalists, academics and artists perceived to be critical of Modi’s leadership.

The Hindu nationalists’ crusade against pluralism takes place even as the Modi administration cracks down on civil liberties. Between 2014 and 2016, 179 people were arrested on charges of sedition for protests, critical blogs or anti-government posts on Facebook, according to government crime statistics.

Fears of religious minority groups

This is the cultural context that has Muslims worried over India’s statue-building spree.

The BJP is not the first party to build public monuments celebrating only one segment of Indian society.

From 2007 to 2012, a top politician named Mayawati built numerous memorials and parks across Uttar Pradesh state commemorating leaders from India’s marginalized Dalit class, formerly known as the “untouchables.” Mayawati, a Dalit, commissioned statues of herself, her political mentor Kanshi Ram and other Dalit icons who fought against India’s caste system.

It was the first time such grand homage had been paid to the Dalit leaders who crusaded against India’s deep-rooted caste system.

But the US$800 million price invited scrutiny, and the courts have asked Mayawati to repay some of those funds.

India’s election commission also insisted that Mayawati’s statues be shrouded ahead of state elections in 2012, saying the visibility of the then-chief minister and her party symbol might sway voters.

In contrast, resistance to India’s giant new statues has been muted. And Hindu nationalists are pushing for more public commemoration of their faith.

In November 2018, tens of thousands of Hindus gathered to demand the construction of a Hindu temple in the Indian city of Ayodhya – at the same spot where, in 1992, Hindu zealots demolished an ancient Muslim-built mosque.

The proposal to build instead an enormous statue of Ram in Ayodhya is widely seen as an effort to placate Hindu nationalists in their decades-long quest for a Ram temple.

Fearing a repeat of the deadly violence that destroyed the ancient mosque, some local Muslims fled the city last November.

Indian elections

Indians will decide whether to give Modi another five years when they vote this spring in the world’s biggest election.

Recent polls show Modi and his BJP leading in a race in which several competitor parties have allied to defeat him.

The prime minister’s public approval got a 7% boost, to 52%, after India’s brief but sharp escalation of recent tension with neighboring Pakistan, a majority Muslim state.

Border disputes are a classic move for a strongman leader during election season. Paying homage to Hindu nationalist icons in the form of giant public monuments, however, is something different. Modi is transforming secular India, one statue at a time.

GOD DOES NOT NEED “THANK YOU” ONLY:

Sometimes it is ok to complain (shikva) to God, Otherwise, it may be monotonous for Him/Her if loaded with “thank you” all the time. Oh aasman wale shikva hai zindagi ka/ film Anarkali. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItuzNnF9LoQ

In The Habit Of Postponing Things

By Promod Puri

In my school days as the bell ring, all the kids assembled for the morning prayer which was quite secular in nature. I don’t remember the whole prayer which was in Hindi, but a couplet of that I can still recall.

The words of advice in that morning ritual go like this: jo kal karna woh ajj karle, jo ajj karna woh abb karle. A loose translation of the wordings can be “whatever one thinks to be done tomorrow, should be done today, and whatever to be executed today, should be tackled right now.” Basically, all it means not to dither, not to delay whatever is supposed to be done.

In practice, the advisory was seldom followed by me especially working on that massive load of “school work” wrecking our countdown-wait of two-month-long summer vacation. In fact, it was the opposite in my case, jo abb karna woh ajj karle, jo ajj karna woh kal karle.

Later in life, advancing the doing task by day or date waned with the developing attitude of ‘get it over’ as tomorrow would be like missing the train. But some traits of the delaying behavior are still there in me as most of us have it too, for example postponing a visit to the dentist, writing or reviewing the will, fixing or get it fixed that dripping tap, etc. etc.

Temporizing can be an evasive action, which some people justify as time management because things should be done or tackled on a priority basis. But priorities keep piling up in our busy life’s schedules. Yesterday’s priority becomes secondary, and the one for today is superseded by tomorrow’s agenda.

In fact, it is a dilly-dallying habit or obsession which psychologist call procrastination. Chronically, it is the nature of avoiding tasks, mainly the difficult ones.

Life’s urgencies have made us not to procrastinate our duties and responsibilities. Most of us are in that get-it-over class of on-time doers.

But some people find a bit thrill in postponing things till the last moment. Example being a friend of mine who gets gas fill in his vehicle only when it starts stalling. He may be keeping an empty gas cylinder in his car in case…. But he loves the adventure of being a practicing procrastinator.

My procrastination experience once was neither an adventure nor fun. Rather it was more of escalating tension when we just made it to the nearest gas station after crossing the border for the cheap US gas.

 (Promod Puri is a journalist, writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

 

 

Redesigning Political & Economic Systems

An integrated approach is needed where modern sciences, ethics, and environmental updates can be part of both the political and economic systems

Promod Puri

Redesigning of our political and economic systems based on changing social needs as well as our ethical and environmental commitments will be more viable, responsive and revered than the outdated, impractical and utopian Socialist idealism, and greedy Capitalism. The contemporary world society seeks that the idiosyncrasy of the present sociopolitical Left and the Right cultures should be replaced by a new political and economic ideology. An integrated approach is needed where modern sciences, ethics, and environmental updates can be part of both the political and economic systems

-Promod Puri

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Atheism Part of Hinduism

via Atheism Part of Hinduism

Coalition Politics In India More Than Fighting Election And Sharing Power

By Promod Puri

Politics of coalition has been the norm in India for the last over two decades.

So far, this has been essentially an alluring and opportunist wangling when political parties form coalitions with the sole intent of sharing power. United Fronts of Left and Right, Centre-left and Centre-right, or a mix of all is the reality of India’s vibrant, dirty and still maturing democracy.

In recent years, especially after the near-fatal downfall of the once mighty Centre-left Indian National Congress in the last 2014 election, and the sharp emergence of the Centre-right Hindu religious-leaning Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the inevitable coalition politics of the country can and should be more relevant for the diverse Indian society than just political maneuvering and horse trading.

Coalition alignments of multi-parties in multi-dimensional societies need more spaces, adaptations, and adjustments compared to the governance of monolithic populations to conform to the order of manageable and functional democracy.

Traditionally, India has been a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious and geographically diverse country.

For that reason, democracy in this nation of over a billion people (1,350,438,098) can only be covered by a multiplicity of political parties catering to its diverse masses rather than two or three parties as the case in most culturally, linguistically and religiously homogeneous countries.

In India’s heterogeneity, coalition politics is the innate necessity as a result of its accepted and reasonably functional multi-party system.

It is in this coalition of diversities that the regional parties are obligated to meet the needs and distinct cultural, linguistic and religious values of their peoples rather than just filling the numbers to have a piece of pie in their hunger for power.

Since the overall composition and spirit of national alliances depend upon its constituent partners, a challenge to the Indian democracy lies in how it accommodates a multiplicity of regional demands, issues, and identities. For example, immigration, minorities’ rights, and job or educational reservations are the matters which demand regional understanding, concerns, and sentiments.

Consequently, the regional parties of India can be more assertive in their distinct provincial responsibilities and commitments while extending their support for the existing two national parties, the BJP, and the Congress.

The BJP leads the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), while the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is led by the Congress Party.

The NDA was formed by the BJP in 1998, and since 2015 it has 37 member parties. Except for the BJP, most of the constituents of the NDA are all regional parties representing the various states of the country. It is the ruling front since the last general election.

The UPA is a center-left fluctuating union of around 30 parties. Except for the Congress Party, most of its membership belongs to the regional parties as well.

Besides the BJP-led and the Congress-led national fronts, a third alternative has recently emerged. It is presented as Mahagathabandhan, which is an alliance of Centre-left opposition groups of 15 parties with secular fundamentals unlike the claims of the BJP and even the Congress Party.

Except for the All India Trinamool Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (recognized as national parties by the Election Commission of India), the Mahagathabandhan can be viewed as an assemblage of regional parties. And that gives a different flare to the coalition system of India’s democratic outlook as there is practically no dominance of a major national party in this BJP and Congress free political bloc.

The ‘gathabandhan’ is basically a union of ideologically-related constituents unlike that of BJP-Akali Dal in Punjab or now dissolved BJP-PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In the absence of a dominating national party, whose leader often holds dictatorial powers, the regional ‘gathabandhan’ or alliance can be more autonomous and democratic in its entity and operation than the BJP-led and the Congress-led alliances.

The almost monocratic aspects of Indira Gandhi and later Sonia Gandhi of the Congress Party, and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi are the known realities of disregard and even abuse of democracy in India.

In that respect, the Gathabandhan is a positive new feature of coalition politics of the country which can offer the true spirit of democratic functioning as there is little chance of emergence of dictatorial dominance in this arrangement.

The wheels of democracy can only move when these are not stalled by the authoritarian controls of national parties’ leadership. Otherwise, it is an autocratic functioning within a shell of so-called democracy.

The unity of India lies in its diversity. And that diversity can only be safeguarded when its politics of coalition is not impacted by autocratic behavior of any single party leadership.

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Promod Puri is a journalist, writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com