On being ‘Trumped’

On being ‘Trumped’

Whew! Finally, the charade is over. Donald Trump is now the President of the United States of America. What does that mean? It means that Simpsons prediction came true: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2146815/the-simpsons-correctly-predicted-a-donald-trump-presidency-16-years-ago-in-episode-set-in-the-near-future/
So now you know who to refer to for accurate predictions about the future. Goodbye Tarot cards, et al. In 1995 I recall reading a survey which concluded that America was not likely to be ready for a woman president for the next twenty years. Twenty-one years later, it looks like that prediction was true. Given that women in America to this day are paid 80% of what men are paid, it is not surprising that Americans find it tough to visualize a woman in the White House in any place other than the President’s bed.

So, what does Trump mean for America, for American Muslims, for Muslims worldwide, for non-whites in America and globally? I am asking this rhetorical question as I see all kinds of doomsday predictions flying around. I apologize for taking a different view. I see the Trump presidency as an opportunity for those who believe in the opposite of  everything that Donald Trump promoted in his campaign to put their actions where their mouths are and show that they are as willing to stand up for what they believe in as he was.

What does Trump mean for America? I hope he will be the best thing that happened to America ever. I hope that he can truly make ‘America Great Again’. I say that because though I am not American (should I say, ‘Thank God?’), I am one who believes that a truly ‘Great America’, can make this world great. The world truly needs to change. We need someone to lead the way to make the world compassionate, caring, fighting against injustice, corruption and poverty; disease and ignorance. Which nation is better suited to lead that fight? America has the resources, the intelligence, the education and the leadership ability which I hope it chooses to exercise. Trump won on the anti-establishment platform. I support that fully. The establishment has shown that what it can do is to fail spectacularly. The economy crashed and Obama rewarded those who crashed it. People were and are homeless when there are empty homes on foreclosed loans enough for every American to have two homes, not only one. Yet they are on the streets. I hope Trump can put Americans back in their own homes.

Bush father and son, started never ending wars. Obama continued them adding his own flavor to it of drone strikes – using technology to create bug splats (the arrogance is incredible) – thereby escalating the global threat level that comes from driving people to desperation. Obama’s dabbling (what else to call it?) in Middle Eastern politics resulted in continuing the misery for people of Afghanistan and Iraq and new misery for people of Syria and by inference for the rest of the world. And to top it all ISIS came into being because of all of the above. The credit can be shared by all of them. So, Trump standing against the establishment means that he is against all of this. I sincerely hope so.  

All the jingoism that he rode on will get tempered when it comes to facing reality. It is easy to talk about kicking out the Mexicans and so on. But they day he does that, reality will dawn on him and his cohorts like it did on those who voted Pro-Brexit; that the rich need the poor to survive while the poor don’t need the rich. When nice white Americans get to pay $3 per potato, they will realize the value of cheap labor. Meanwhile some contractor will get the contract to build the Wall, which he will do from the Mexican side, no doubt as otherwise his margin will not make it worthwhile. So also, the wonderful idea to outlaw the H-1 visa. I don’t think it will take very long for Trump and his gang to realize that there is a reason there are blond jokes. And that Indians are not blond. Go figure that.

The good news is that Trump made public what was private – racism, misogyny in a country that never stops ‘trumpeting’ about women’s equality, support for genocide, wars and weapons sales, the evils of unbridled capitalism, locker-room conversations which indicate attitudes – have all come out of the closet and locker-room. Now it is up to those who like to say that they believe in the opposite of all these things, to get off their backsides and bring about change. They can no longer live the lives of pretense and lies that they had become used to, saying, ‘It is not happening here.’ Trump proved that it is happening and trumpeted it from the top of Trump tower. Sorry for so much bad punning in one breath. But there you go.  

As for Muslims and Trump, believe me Trump is far better than what Muslims have seen in the past. He is far better than what we have today. Take Sisi, the Oily royals who are personal friends of every weapons dealer, the Paki leadership and I can think of several more and Trump begins to look like a choir boy. What will he do that is not already happening? Frankly I don’t know and don’t care to speculate because the prime movers behind Muslim affairs and how they are, are Muslims themselves. Our leadership or more correctly its spectacular failure. Ordinary citizens pay the price, but what’s new about that? The fact remains that until we sort that out and do something about taking charge of our destiny, we must remain satisfied with others writing the script we are compelled to live by. Play endings depend on the script, not on the players.

India is a classic example where a so-called minority of 200 million is kicked around like a football and used at will by every mercenary politician for his own ends. But Indian Muslims seem to be satisfied with that, so who is anyone else to complain. If you disagree and tell me that they are not satisfied, then I must ask you what it is that prevents them from doing what is glaringly obvious; get their act together, change their leaders and write their own script. 200 million is not a minority. It is a nation. But only if it chooses to be. Same story for Muslims globally. No point in blaming Trump or looking up to him to find solutions. It is our problem and we must solve it, so let us start doing that.

Two other points: what about wars, global warming and such issues? Well, when you have a nation that lives on perpetual warfare and is supported in that by all the other major industrial nations who either manufacture and sell weapons or buy them, how can you pin it all on Trump? If weapons are made and sold, there will be wars. Wars will happen if they continue to make profits for those who run them. That people die is incidental. Those at the top who laugh all the way to the bank, don’t. Those that do, don’t count. They are ‘collateral’, who are necessary to prove the efficacy of the weapons that were used to vaporize them. If it wasn’t for the bugs who splatted, how would you assess the drones or their operators? The fact that the bugs were innocent or that they had families and so on; well, bugs are bugs. And that’s all that there is to it.

Global warming? America decided on that when it chose Bush instead of Al Gore. For a minute I thought that was because they got confused because his name is Al Gore like Al Ghurair. But then I realized that it was because he had a terminal problem; he had a brain. See his famous movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and you will see what I mean. https://www.algore.com/library/an-inconvenient-truth-dvdIf you do nothing else, buy this and see it. At least you will know why you died. Since you chose that, especially Americans, I believe it is only fair that you understand what you did. With Trump, that came out in the open, so get used to summer all year long. You won’t need to go to the French Riviera for a tan. You can get it at home. That is not inconvenient.

Add to this the effect of unending wars, refugee movement, changing cultures, security nightmares coming true, widening gap between the rich and the poor, global poverty and hunger, preventable disease which is not prevented because there’s no profit in it – when I think about all this and Trump’s election, Nero comes to mind. Renewing our link with tradition. Let us dance to the tune. What’s the use of fiddling otherwise?

Final question that everyone is asking, ‘How safe is it to have someone like Trump with his finger on the nuclear button?’

My answer is, ‘The one who actually pressed that button was as different from Trump as could be. Yet he did it.’ Let me leave you to figure out the rest.

Meanwhile it is midnight where I live, far away from Trump and America and time to go to bed. Truly it is said that there is solace in sleep. So, good night, world. Sleep well. As long as you stay asleep you can escape responsibility. 
Close Encounters of the Terminal Kind

Close Encounters of the Terminal Kind

Ralph Chaplin said: “Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie, but rather mourn the apathetic throng, the coward and the meek who see the world’s great anguish and its wrong but dare not speak.”
A friend asked me for my opinion about the Bhopal ‘encounter’ which is in the news at present where eight young men, allegedly ‘dreaded terrorists’, were ‘encountered’. This is a cute term invented by the Indian media to describe what should correctly be called ‘extra-judicial killings’. And if you are among those who like to reduce everything to a single word, then you may like to experiment with the word, ‘Murder’. Truth and facts are boring and don’t sell papers or generate TRP ratings for so-called News Channels (which should be called by their real name – Propaganda Machine) but lace the truth with a dash (if required completely drench it) of fantasy, drama, excitement and fear and you can make a jaw-dropping, BP-raising, edge-of-the-seat, breathtaking clip of a cat catching a mouse. That is where the word ‘encounter’ came into being – murder being rather boring. And those who indulge in it on a regular basis were given the media medal of ‘Encounter Specialist’. I will leave you to arrive at what the logical, factual, straight and truthful word is, that should be used. No point in belaboring the point.
To give you an example of the monsters our media creates see this headline: http://bit.ly/1eBKIgu  Why would anyone fear someone whose specialty is killing innocent, unarmed people? If that is a definition they feel proud of and their law-abiding brethren are not ashamed of, then pray what is the difference between this and the way you would define every daku (dacoit) of Chambal or every supari hitman gangster of the underworld? If honest police officers find such media descriptions insulting, then why do they remain silent? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about ‘encounter’ killings: http://bit.ly/2eERe9jLet me leave such thoughts to those who should really reflect on them.
I decided to begin at the beginning and googled the term Encounter. Google, like Jeeves, gives satisfaction and so here is what came up.

I am not sure if those who had the encounter (or were ‘encountered’; such a useful language, English) would describe what they faced as, ‘we encountered a slight problem’, but fortunately they are not in a position to disagree with this definition, so we can ignore what they may have wanted to say.

So, what really happened in Bhopal?

God, of course, always knows. In this case those it happened to and those who facilitated that happening also know. But one lot is now speechless and the other lot are not speaking. Therefore, I am exactly where all of you are; with an enigmatic mystery to solve. Those addicted to mystery novels (I am, if Jeffery Arthur is the author) will be thrilled that one is unfolding before their eyes. I mentioned JA not by accident but by design. Because one of the most enjoyably infuriating thing about his writing is that the mystery is never completely solved. So, you gnash your teeth in frustration, curse him for being the cussed, devious man he is and wait with baited breath for his next novel, knowing full well that it is going to leave you in the exactly same state. We are all suckers for punishment. That is why I have read all his novels and pray for his long and productive life.

The Bhopal Encounter (it deserves upper case) is a mystery which will never be solved (at least for garden variety lizards like me) and will be followed by another and another as it was preceded by one and more.

Then why write anything at all about it?

I believe the Bhopal Encounter is a snapshot of what happens to democracies and what has been happening to our Indian democracy when those who make up the democracy decide to copout of the process. What defines and differentiates a democracy (India?) from a monarchy (Britain), a dictatorship (Egypt), an oligarchy (USA) or an anarchy (??) is the actions of its people. Democracy is not the name of a system of government. It is the name of a state of being that a nation of people choose for themselves. It is the name of a belief about yourself. It is the name of dignity of the individual. It is the name of justice where the law supersedes the individual (the opposite is the definition of feudalism). It is the name of self-determination, individual liberty, mutual compassion and concern. The system of government called ‘Democracy’, ensures all this. When its nature changes and it is no longer able to fulfill what the term ‘Democracy’ defines, it ceases to be a democracy and becomes whatever its actions display, no matter what its PR machine wants to portray to the world. People always see through the covers and know the truth because people listen with their eyes. They don’t care what you say, until they see what you do.

Democracy is defined by its three constituent institutions and by their separation; of the law makers, implementers and interpreters. Separation of the Institutions of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. “I am the law” or “I am above the law” are both feudalistic statements.  The separation is a safety measure to ensure that the democracy always remains a democracy and can’t be hijacked to become a dictatorship as we have seen happening all over the world, even though those regimes still call themselves ‘democratic’, because that is the buzzword to use. After all, how would, ‘The Undemocratic, Dictatorial, Fascistic, Murderous, Oppressive, Apartheid Republic of So-and-so’ sound? Not nice at all. So, they call themselves ‘Democratic’, while all the rest are fringe benefits that their citizens enjoy.

The ‘Encounter Specialist’, by his action (and all those who support that action directly or by remaining silent) collapses the three Institutions of Democracy, where he becomes the lawmaker, the law interpreter and the law enforcer. He decides who is guilty and what should be done to him. By his action, he declares that mere incidentals like evidence, establishment of guilt, judicial process, criminal code, sentencing and the legal procedure to ensure justice, are all immaterial.  He is the judge, jury and executioner rolled into one and by his action, hammers another nail into the coffin of democracy.
The question is not whether the one killed in an ‘encounter’ was guilty or not. The question is whether justice was done and seen to be done. If we declare that the killing of one by another who considers him guilty is justice, then we have legitimized every terror killing in the world. The man who drove the truck through the crowd in France thought he was doing justice. The person who killed the three Muslim medical students in North Carolina thought he was doing justice. ISIS thinks it is doing justice. Every Israeli soldier shooting Palestinian children thinks he is doing justice. Where do we draw the line, if we choose to obliterate it in one instance?

We either draw the line and say, ‘Let the courts decide who is guilty and who is not, based on evidence.’ Or we open the doors to anarchy and civil war. It is our call. It’s the choice of civil society, to raise our voice and say what we want; what we demand from our government; justice or anarchy? The ‘Encounter Specialist’ represents anarchy. The policeman/woman who investigates a crime and brings the murderer to the gallows, represents justice. Whose side are we on? Whose side are you on? I know whose side I am on. So do you.

So, who is guilty? Those who commit murder and call it ‘encounter’, those who order it and all those who sit silently and watch it happen. All of them are equally guilty of destroying the law, destroying the nation and destroying themselves.  Especially tragic is when those sworn to uphold the law and protect the innocent are guilty of violating that trust. There’s nothing more pathetic than a policeman committing murder at the behest of others. It violates and insults the uniform, the oath of office and the Constitution of India. It is the action of such of them that give a bad name to the entire force, where the term, ‘Police Martyrs’ sounds like an oxymoron. Those who really lost their lives honorably lose the honor they deserve. I remind myself that there are others who I know, who in this morass of shameless pursuit of personal wealth and pleasing political bosses, don’t even dream of sacrificing their integrity and stand, often alone, as shining lights proclaiming that honesty and truth are personal values which define us. And so, they are never to be compromised.

In the words of the song:

मझधार में नैया डोले तो मांझी पार लगाए,
मांझी जो नाव डुबोये, उसे कौन बचाए

What is the solution?

In my view the solution is very simple. Justice. Let justice be done. Murder is a crime. It is fashionable today to call for tougher laws. The fact of the matter is that our existing law is more than good enough. Murder is a crime and its punishment is death. What more can anyone do? The issue is not with the law but with the implementation of the law. When murder done by someone special is not punished, changing the law and making it tougher is not the solution. The solution is to bring the criminal to justice, by proper investigation of the crime and collection of evidence. It is not possible for any police force to anticipate a crime of random violence. Neither is it possible for the police to prevent such crimes from happening because we have no knowledge of hidden things. The only way to be forewarned about the possibility of such crimes is through Community Policing by building trust in civil society such that the Police Force is seen as their compatriot and friend. I know that there are a few officers who are working to this end. But one incident of extra-judicial killing destroys years of trust building.

It may not be possible to prevent every crime of politically motivated random violence but it is eminently possible to investigate a crime once it happens and catch the criminals. When there is a price that the criminal is convinced he will have to pay, then he will think many times before committing the crime. Instead of that, when innocent people are killed because the police is too lazy to investigate or is subservient to others and has accepted the role of hitman, then instead of fighting terrorism, you end up creating more terrorists. An extra-judicial killing is a dream come true for the terror group recruiter. Every real terrorist killed in a staged encounter gives birth to ten more recruits. Every innocent killed in a staged encounter gives birth to a hundred. The nightmare of the genuine law enforcer is the false encounter because it closes doors of cooperation which could have prevented future crimes.

My suggestion is that given the dismal record of police investigations, it is time for civil society to launch an independent investigation into these terror crimes and encounters. We need to set up a fund to pay for a top-class investigation agency to independently investigate the crime and collect evidence. This can then be given publicly to the police to take to a conclusion. I say publicly because if the police know that there is real evidence then trying to cover up is not so easy. Criminals must be punished and not rewarded, if we are serious about fighting crime. If crime pays, criminals will flourish. If criminals start paying, crime will end. The law must be respected and applied, no matter who tries to break it.

If we do that, then we would have taken the right steps to change the script. Once the script is changed, the results will be different. It is time for us to wake up and realize that polluting the water in the lake affects all those who live in the lake. Those who sit quietly will not escape the effects of pollution.

The time has come to speak and to act if we want to bequeath a world to our children that they will not curse us for. Stand for justice. Speak for justice. Or sit silently and support the terrorist, the murderer and the oppressor.

The choice is yours. I made mine a long time ago.
If I advised the AIMPLB

If I advised the AIMPLB

Okay! So, you are laughing. Good! I love to make people happy and after all we all have our right to fantasize. The question I asked myself was, ‘If I were to be invited to advise the AIMPLB at this rather heated moment, what would I say?’ Key word? IF. Please don’t get too worked up and excited.

Before I talk about the advice, let me draw the picture that I am seeing as I look at the political landscape in my country.

I see a ruling party that is afraid to rule. So, it takes every opportunity to draw the attention of the public away from the non-delivery of promises it made when it was elected. Muslims are a dream come true; a prayer answered for the ruling party. They are their greatest helpers as they provide readymade issues and then react with blind emotion – josh without hosh – when the ruling party makes use of these issues. If Muslims demanded payment to do what they seem to be doing for love, I am sure purse strings would not only be loosened but the entire purse would be handed over. I can well imagine the ruling party chiefs praying for the continued presence of Muslims in their midst but in their current state of ignorance and singing, ‘Na hota gar yeh AIMPLB ka sahara, hum kahan jatay?’ It would be very tough otherwise to tell those who have intelligence the real reasons why Achchay din abhi kyon nahin aye.

The biggest challenge that the ruling party has at present is the UP election. Any central government which is not in control of UP is DOWN. So UP must be won at any cost. And if it is at the cost of Muslims, then it is Sonay pey Suhaga – two birds with one stone and so forth. That the UP rulers; the Yadav clan looks hellbent on helping the ruling party to win the election by voluntarily self-destructing is a boon. The Nehru-Gandhi family remains comatose. But what will help even more is if the Muslims continue to react instead of responding intelligently and acting proactively. I can see the grin on your face and your eyebrows raised like world-famous McDonalds arches. But give me a break. I told you this is my fantasy. Which brings me back to the title of my article; ‘If I advised the AIMPLB’, what would I tell them to enable Indian Muslims to take our puppet strings away from the puppeteers and stop being puppets in the hands of those making us enact a tragedy.

The AIMPLB whether it likes it or not has suddenly been ‘kicked upstairs’ into the role of LEADER OF INDIAN MUSLIMS. I say ‘Kicked upstairs’, as it is the term used in the corporate world for someone who has been promoted first time as manager and is clearly at sea, clueless about what to do and how to act. So, he does what he knows, which is to work at the level he has been at all his life. This is such a common phenomenon that one of the most successful courses that I teach is, ‘NMDP (New Managers Development Program)’. This is a course that I teach at GE, Crotonville, the greatest leadership university in the world. It is a five-day residential program which every first-time manager in GE is mandated to attend. That GE is happy to take managers out for five days and pay them to attend this course is testimony to one simple fact; that to succeed in a new role, you need new competencies.  

People don’t get promoted because they are bad. They get promoted because they are good. But what happens in most organizations is that the powers-that-be don’t factor in one simple but fundamental fact. That in the new role, your strengths, most often, become your biggest weaknesses and that without the new competencies that the new role requires you are destined to fail. The Titanic didn’t sink so fast because it struck the iceberg and its engine failed. It sank fast because its engine didn’t fail and its propeller didn’t stop turning. Its engine kept running and so the propeller which was designed to drive the ship forward continued to drive it forward even when the ship was pointing south – to the bottom of the ocean. The very thing which was the source of power for the ship, became the means of its demise.

In my view, that is the dilemma of the AIMPLB. The AIMPLB was founded by one of the greatest of our scholars, Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi in 1973 as an NGO to be a single point of reference for the interpretation of Muslim Personal Law. It is not an elected body, has no legal authority, can’t enforce anything and is not the representative of Indian Muslims in any formal sense of the term. The name of the organization is testimony to what it was supposed to do. In other words, it was a collective Darul Ifta, which would consult internally with Ulama of the many different sects of Muslims and then speak with one voice on any issue dealing with Muslim Personal Law. This was a need. It still is. The AIMPLB has admirably fulfilled it over the years. This ‘brief’ (albeit unwritten) is also reflected in its membership which consists almost entirely of Ulama. This was appropriate given it frame of reference. However, over the years, the AIMPLB has been promoted to become the ‘representative of Indian Muslims’. Now that is a very different ballgame from speaking about the Personal Law alone. Telling Muslims what to do is very different from speaking to the Supreme Court of India on issues of Muslim Personal Law that the Court raises; but which are in reality, issues of power and authority about who will be the final arbiter on Islamic issues in this country. The complexity is that for the people on either side of this debate, the answer is obvious. But if life were that simple, we wouldn’t have the heat and light show that we are witnessing where the heat far outweighs the light. I believe therefore that the time has come for all concerned to dunk our heads in a bucket of cold water (not the same bucket) and think with cool heads and with our emotions locked up in a safe place. Emotions and intellect are companions but don’t work well together.

Using my ‘consultant’ hat and invoking my knowledge acquired from being 35 years in the field of leadership development with a consulting practice on three continents and on the faculty staff of some of the greatest leadership development corporate universities of the world, here is my diagnosis and cure for what ails the AIMPLB.

Organizational Diagnosis:

1.     The AIMPLB finds that it has been catapulted into a place that it was neither designed for nor wanted to be in and therefore has no idea what to do.

2.   Its Core Strengths have become weaknesses and acquiring new strengths is not an easy task especially when that journey starts from accepting that one is in need and so needs a teacher.

3.     The public demand to be led. They are willing to follow without thought. They are willing to trust, even blindly. But what will happen when that trust is not fulfilled and the scales drop from the eyes of the people? I fear that day more than anything else.

4.   At the same time the AIMPLB has the unique opportunity to become a single point of reference for all matters relating to Indian Muslims with a mandate given by the people and represent all their needs and not the Personal Law alone; as well as an opportunity to take advantage of the high interest in Muslim matters to highlight Islam for the entire nation.

5.  Balanced with this opportunity is the very real threat that if the opportunity is not handled well and the AIMPLB doesn’t upscale its game, it will become redundant and Indian Muslims will get even more divided and lost. There will be (isn’t that happening already?) huge damage to the image of Islam and Muslims if current high visibility is not handled competently.

6.   The structure of the Board is another symbol of its role as being more scholarly than action oriented. It has a Working Committee (Majlis Amla) of fifty-one members. If there is one formula to guarantee inaction, it is to have a Working Committee of more than five people. The AIMPLB’s committee is ten times that size.

7.     The membership of the Board is not open. Membership is lifelong. So, you must die to get out. No terms of office for members and no expiry dates for membership except what our Creator wrote for us all. I don’t know who is more delusional; those who expect octogenarians (even nonagenarians) to work full time or O’s and N’s who think they can do so? But this is the fate of all our Muslim organizations; no term of office and no retirement date. The result is that youth leadership is throttled at birth and succession planning doesn’t exist. So, every time a leader falls, we have a crisis. Yet after over fourteen centuries of history we still haven’t learned this lesson. As the saying goes, ‘Nations that don’t learn from their history are condemned to repeat it.’ I bear witness that this applies to the Muslim nation globally. It is almost as if being blind to our faults is a pillar of Islam.

8.     ‘The Competition’, is ramping up its efforts at influencing and thought steering, big time. RSS Think Tanks are a case study in collecting competent people and inspiring them to work for their cause. They AIMPLB has not even attempted to do anything in this line and I am not sure if they even feel the need.

9.   I did a comparative study of other organizations which represent other minorities globally and was astounded with the differences I saw. I am not mentioning them here but am happy to share that information with the AIMPLB, if ‘I advised the AIMPLB’.

10.  Structures define behavior and behavior drives results. The structure of the AIMPLB doesn’t need modification. It needs to be dismantled and rebuilt.

So, what would I advise the AIMPLB?

The Cure

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004) was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book, ‘On Death and Dying’, where she first discussed her theory of the five stages of grief. The five stages are, Shock (denial), Anger, Resistance, Acceptance, Help. It is only after acceptance that we can talk about the cure. Note the stages before acceptance. Shock (denial), Anger and Resistance. Only then will people even consider alternatives. That is why we say, ‘If you want to change, you have to make friends with ‘SARAH’. I can tell you clearly which stage I believe the AIMPLB is at, but it is for them to recognize and accept it. Only then can they go forward to the next stage. The one single lesson I learned in thirty-five years of leadership development consulting is that this process can’t be hurried. Like pregnancy it is painful and the pain must be endured.

Here’s the cure, conditional upon the AIMPLB coming to the stage of acceptance.

1.    Redefine AIMPLB and accept the bigger mantle of leadership consciously and knowing that the mantle has been placed on their shoulders but the shoulders need to be strengthened to carry the load. The AIMPLB must change its name to Indian Muslim Council (IMC). That would be more in keeping with the much larger and powerful role than of being a glorified Darul Ifta. This role is critically needed and the AIMPLB is the best organization to take it on. But to do that it must metamorphize. To change its very being from caterpillar to butterfly. Only then will it be able to visit every flower in the garden and attend to its need.

2.   The IMC must strive to create a genuine partnership between all Indian Muslims to address all critical to survival issues, not only Personal Laws. The IMC must enable active participation of all sectors of Indian Muslims in matters that concern them to enable Indian Muslims to positively impact their own future and the future of our nation, its security and development. The IMC will be Constituted under the appropriate legal framework, will not be affiliated to any political party or Maslak. It will support and work with all existing organizations. It will have Ulama as members along with others and will have effective participation of women, not merely token representation.

3.     The AIMPLB after restructuring, must build in competence development into its schedule and budget for it and do it on a structured plan. Without regular competence development, you can’t expect anyone to remain current and relevant.

4.     The AIMPLB must have a structured mentoring plan to develop successors and ensure that there are ample opportunities for youth to grow and take leadership positions in due course. For this having a retirement age is absolutely essential.

The overall Organizational Structure of the IMC will be as under:

The Local Council is the fundamental building block of the IMC. This will be at the city, or smaller level. Membership is open to all members of civil society. Members of the Admin & Finance Task Force will be fulltime professionals but will not have voting rights. 

Each Council at every level will be organized as under:

Matrix Structure
All Councils will be organized in Task Forces of specialists who will elect one member to the Governing Council. The Governing Council will take policy decisions which the individual Task Force will implement. This ensures that everyone has a say in the decision-making process. The Governing Council will elect an Ameer who will be the spokesperson for the council. This structure will apply to all councils at all levels.

Each Task Force will decide on the issues it needs to deal with and prepare a budget. This will be presented to the Governing Council. There will be a half-yearly Internal Assessment and an Annual External Assessment of achievement of goals.

IMC Election & Term

All members of the Local Council will be elected by their community for a period of 5 years. Members will be eligible for re-election for another term. Members under 50 who have served 2 terms may be re-elected after a cooling off period of 5 years. All Members will compulsorily retire at the age of 65 years on their date of birth.

Board of Emeritus Advisors

Retired leaders will automatically become members of the Board of Emeritus Advisors which will be an advisory body to provide guidance, counsel and dua for the organization. The Board of Emeritus Advisors will have no executive powers.

Election Rules

Elections will be conducted by an Election Commission which will be constituted every 4 years for the elections in the 5thyear. The EC will be made up of prominent members of society represented as per the constituents of the IMC. Members of the Election Commission will not be eligible to stand for election in that year.

It is not in the scope of this article to write about this structure and working in detail but I will be happy to explain it to the AIMPLB – ‘If I advised the AIMPLB’. This is only as a teaser for those who share my anguish and frustration at what is happening today.

Information about me and my work, clients and consulting practice is here www.yawarbaig.comIf the AIMPLB is interested and wants to actually do something about understanding what I have proposed in detail, then I am available.

If not, I have completed my task and stand absolved before my Rabb.
Uniform Civil Code and the Law Commission Questionnaire

Uniform Civil Code and the Law Commission Questionnaire

An alternate perspective
The ongoing debate on the questionnaire circulated by the Law Commission on the proposed implementation of a Uniform Civil Code and the predictable knee-jerk reaction of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), is a very good opportunity to learn the basics of conflict resolution. With over thirty years’ experience in negotiation, conflict resolution and arbitration on three continents working with people of different genders, races, politics, religions and nationalities, I want to share my observations and an alternative perspective of what the course of action could be, instead of the boycott of the questionnaire that the AIMPLB has announced. 
While negotiating and resolving conflicts, one of the most essential skills is to be able to separate the facts from inferences. To separate facts from the emotions that those facts or actions may excite. That is not because inference, conjecture and hypothesis are not important. They are. But unless you begin with the basic facts, you will not be able to take objective decisions about them. Only then will the course of action become clear and not one but often more than one alternatives appear. If not, then one is only reacting which means that one is thinking only in a yes-no way and that is the most difficult and limiting way to think.
It appears to me that the call to boycott the questionnaire is an emotional reaction to the fact that the questionnaire comes from the Law Commission which is an arm of the government. Given that this government in particular has been responsible for vitiating the peaceful climate of the country by remaining silent despite all kinds of violence against Muslims and Dalits in the name of so-called ‘Cow Vigilantism’, it is only natural that it is not viewed as being Muslim/Dalit friendly. Its agenda to get the UCC implemented and the Muslim Personal Law removed, is well known. But strangely what few have stopped to ask is, ‘Why has the government not tabled the Uniform Civil Code for discussion by all concerned?’ The reality is that only that which exists can be implemented. After all the government is not saying, ‘We need to create a Uniform Civil Code and then implement it.’ It is saying that it wants to implement the UCC. So table it. Let the country see what it is that the government wants to implement.
Laws are not made in the Supreme Court. They are made in the Legislature. So let the UCC be brought before the entire nation. Let the people of India debate it and then let it pass into law in the Legislature. That is the democratic process and let us follow it. What is the need to attempt apparently clandestine moves using the Law Commission? The Law Commission is not the Legislature. Let responsibility be shouldered by those to whom it belongs; the people of India and their elected representatives in Parliament. I am sure nobody can object to following the process.
Having said that, in the famous case of ‘Shamim Ara versus state of UP (2002)’, the Supreme Court declared triple Talaq invalid and banned. So how can you ban a banned thing? And so therefore why is one of the questions in the Law Commission’s questionnaire about triple Talaq? Does the Law Commission seek to do what the AIMPLB didn’t do for fourteen years (as of this writing in 2016), i.e. raise the matter of the ban on triple Talaq again? In view of the strident calls to boycott the questionnaire and the claims that the AIMPLB (which interestingly uses the term, ‘Muslims of India’ unilaterally and without any endorsement from the alleged ‘Muslims of India’) will not tolerate any ‘interference’ in the Muslim Personal Law, it is pertinent to ask why this call was not given in 2002? After all the responsibility to fight for our laws didn’t suddenly become reality today. So what was the AIMPLB doing for 14 years? Why no protests screaming interference in Personal Law and Shariah?
The questionnaire of the Law Commission is couched in very persuasive language.
I quote from the covering letter of the questionnaire which is titled, ‘APPEAL’ and which you can read on the link above, “The Law Commission of India welcomes all concerned to engage with us on the comprehensive exercise of the revision and reform of family laws as the Article 44 of the Indian Constitution provides that ‘the state shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.’ (Italics are mine)
It is clear from this august beginning that while the Indian Constitution’s Article 44 provides that the ‘State shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code’, it didn’t specify how this is to be done. There could be several ways to arrive at a uniform civil code ranging from creating a civil code from scratch to borrowing all or parts of it from elsewhere, to using parts of the existing Personal Laws of different religions to arrive at one which is acceptable to everyone. Imagine a Civil Code that takes from everyone to give us all the equivalent of the HUF/Karta/IT concessions, freedom to bear arms, marry four times, and wear turbans and beards (men only please). The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. But jokes apart, the questionnaire definitely looks like it is covering some other, not-so-noble intentions.

I began with the plea that we need to look at facts. So here are some for us to consider.

Laws can’t change social behavior. Let us ask how existing laws have changed the reality for women. If they haven’t, and they haven’t, then how will news laws do otherwise?

1.  Protection of Women from Domestic        Violence Act (2005)

2. Indecent Representation of Women     (Prohibition) Act (1986)

3.     Dowry Prohibition Act (1961)

4.     Nirbhaya Act (2013)
The problem is not Talaq but of men honoring the rights of women. For the record let me say what I have said many times before that triple Talaq is not in keeping with the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is not the prescribed way to give Talaq in the Shariah. Triple Talaq is itself a violation of the Shariah and so it is declared Haraam and Bidat by all the jurists and schools of jurisprudence in Islam. How someone can declare something Haraam and Bidat and in the same breath call it valid is something only the brain of a Mufti can understand. Mercifully I am not blessed with a brain that can think around corners and so I go by what the Book of Allahsays and what His Messenger did. Neither allowed triple Talaq.
It is strange and indeed laughable that all these emotional declarations by both parties, ‘Triple Talaq should be banned’ and ‘We will not stand for interference in the Shariah’, are both apparently ignorant of two cardinal facts:
1. That triple Talaq has already been banned in 2002 (wake up)

2. That banning it will not change the reality of Muslim women at all
However, the difficulties that Muslim women are facing are not a result of Talaq (triple or not) but of the unislamic customs and practices that we have not only allowed into our marriages but have made them mandatory. Islam prohibits dowry. We demand it and it is paid. Islam puts the entire responsibility of incurring all expenses for the marriage on the man but we insist on dumping them on the woman and she and her family accept this. Islam mandates that marriages must be simple and inexpensive but we insist on expensive, ostentatious weddings. Islam prohibits any kind of harassment at the time of divorce if that becomes necessary but our men do the opposite. All these and more are the real reasons why Muslim women are left high and dry and are the victims of the oppression of their men. How is banning triple Talaq going to solve these problems?
The fact that triple Talaq was banned in 2002 but the problems continue, including the fact that people are still giving triple Talaq, should give the Law Commission (and us) cause enough to pause and reflect if laws alone are enough to bring about social change or whether we have to work together, supporting and helping each other to bring about gender justice. We need to work with sincerity and genuineness and reject all guile, hidden agendas, deception and political jugglery. It is only the truth which will prevail.
So what should the AIMPLB do?
1.  Accept that juristic law doesn’t have precedence over Divine Writ. Talaq as mentioned in the Qur’an is Divine Writ. Triple Talaq, at best, is juristic law. So declare triple Talaq to be invalid and that it will be counted as one.

2.     Declare Halala to be Haraam, which it clearly is. The juristic arguments in its favor are such that I choose not to mention them here for making those jurists and by inference, Islamic Law, the laughing stock of the world. The AIMPLB knows what those arguments are. They know they are wrong. And so they should declare that Halala is Haraama.

3.      Give women a meaningful role in the functioning of the AIMPLB with the power to play a decisive role, especially in matters that concern women. Why should men rule on such matters when we have many highly qualified women scholars and theologians? AIMPLB needs to invite them on them on the Board and give them positions of authority and real power.

4.     Invite prominent Muslim members of civil society (male and female); politicians, academicians, lawyers, businesspeople, journalists, educators, youth leaders, social activists and administrators to become members of the Board. I am happy to provide the Board with an organization structure for this, if they are interested.

5.       Move to English as its language of communication because its current language, Urdu, is not the language even of all Indian Muslims, let alone others and is a serious impediment in thought share as well as in communicating with the rest of the nation.


6.       Set a specific term of office and a retirement age for all Members irrespective of who they may be. Lifetime employment is detrimental to organizational health.
It is essential that in the world of today and tomorrow the Board evolves to become more representative of all Indian Muslims, if it intends to retain its position as the self-proclaimed leader of Muslims. It must move from being self-proclaimed to acclaimed representative to be truly effective and powerful. To represent, you must be representative. That means more participation, more transparency, more empowerment and more equality. That means that the nature of the Board must change from being an exclusive boys club of elites to becoming a truly democratic, body of equals, all working for the benefit of the nation and the pleasure of our Creator.

For the time will surely come when we will meet Him. And at that time we will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ We will be asked, ‘What did you do?’
When the voiceless get a voice

When the voiceless get a voice

If there’s one overwhelming sign that numbers mean nothing and organization means everything, it is the plight of Dalits and Muslims in India. Dalits and Muslims are officially 17% and 13% of the population. That means that together one in three Indians is a ‘Dalim’ – Dalit Indian Muslim (my coinage today – in case it ever makes it to the Oxford Dictionary like Ayya and Ayyo have done). Yet these two are the most powerless and oppressed communities in the largest democracy in the world. That sounds like an oxymoron because in a democracy where one man may not have food, clothing or shelter, but he has one vote (and so does every woman); how can it be that the most populous segments of citizenry are the weakest? But so it is. Like snake charming and the Indian Rope Trick, this is also the essence of being Indian.

To know what the meaning (linguistic) of Dalit is, please see the website of the NCDHR http://bit.ly/2e5Kcso
Do notice the ticker tape at the top which gives you an idea of what being Dalit means in real life terms, not merely linguistic. But to understand what it means, there is only one way; be reborn as one. I believe that it is literally impossible to understand what it means to be Dalit (untouchable) unless you are born as one. I have had the privilege of living off and on with my Gond friend, Shivaiyya (his photo graces this article and I have written about that in my book, ‘It’s my Life’ (it’s on Amazon and Kindle). I would spend every waking hour with him all my summer and winter holidays which I spent with my dear mentor and friend Venkat Rama Reddy. Shivaiyya belongs to the Gond tribe (forest tribals are also Dalits) and was my hunting partner. He and I would walk about the forests of the Aravalli hills in search of game. In that process we would share food, time and stories. Especially on cold nights sitting by a small fire trying to keep warm and alive. When you are in that situation what you have a lot of, is time.

Once we became friends, Shivaiyya talked freely about his life and circumstances to the 17-year-old boy from another planet who was his friend. This story doesn’t have a happy ending; quite common in Dalit stories. The last I saw of Shiviyya was in the 70’s when I went off to Guyana. Then in 2012 more than 40 years later I visited Sethpally village in Adilabad District where Shivaiyya lives and went looking for him. I found two things; one changed and one the same. Shivaiyya now had cataract in both eyes and no money to have it operated. And Shivaiyya still had the smile that I remembered so well.

All the rest was the same. Same mud and grass huts, emaciated cattle walking into the forest to graze every morning and little Gond children (3rd generation from the ones I walked with) still following them collecting dung because that was the main produce of those cattle, not milk. Too many more details to go into here. Read my book. That’s my tribute to Shivaiyya and his people and all those who walked into my life. The purpose of this story is to tell you that despite having lived so closely with Shivaiyya (and with many more over the years) can I say that I ‘understand’ what it means to be Dalit? The answer is, ‘NO!’ It is not possible to understand that unless you are born one. And that it is because until then you don’t understand what it means to be born into a cage. There is a difference between visiting prisoners and being a life convict where only death can set you free. That is what it means to be a Dalit in India.

I am a Muslim from one of the so-called Ashraf castes of Indian Muslims. Then there are the Ajlaf and the Ardhal (which consists basically of Hindus of lower castes who converted to Islam thinking that they would now be treated as human). How sadly they were disappointed to find out that what the Prophet of Islam declared (absolute equality of all people irrespective of race or origin) and what Indian Muslims practice are two opposite things. Please see these two articles which explain the situation very well. Same situation in Christianity with even graveyards segregated.

Masood Alam Falahi’s excellent book, Zaat-Paat aur Musalman deals with the caste system among Indian Muslims in detail but to the best of my knowledge it has had as much effect on the Indian Muslim caste system as the many anti-untouchability laws have had on the situation of the Dalits in Hindu society. The caste system among Muslims in India goes back to the time of Qutubuddin Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century and the politics of convenience. Like all kings he was interested in ease of administration and so did nothing to change the social order amongst his subjects. He realized that if he tried to abolish caste, it would raise all kinds of conflicts with the powerful Brahmins and Kshatriyas which he could neither afford nor was he interested in. Islam came a far second as it does to this day with all manner of politicians and political groups all over the world. Sultanate scholars (Ulama) declared that the invaders were superior to the locals (not surprisingly) but they went on to declare that they were also superior to local Muslims (Hindus who converted to Islam). It didn’t end there. They also declared that among local Hindu converts, those upper caste Hindus who converted to Islam would retain their class superiority over lower caste Hindus who also converted to Islam. The Prophet of Islam declared that all human beings are equal. Indian Ulama starting with Qutubuddin Aibak’s Court Muftis declared that some human beings are more equal than others. 

Please see Falahi’s interview below.  http://bit.ly/2ebngLY 

Muslim kings, and the Muslim ruling elites more generally, in collaboration with so-called upper caste Hindus, supported the caste system and the oppression of the so-called ‘low’ castes, both Hindus and Muslims. As Mullah Abdul Qadir Badayuni’s “Muntakhab Al- Tawarikh”, Maulvi Sayyed Ziauddin Barni’s “Tarikh-e-Firoz Shahi” and Kunwar Mohammad Ashraf’s “Hindustani Maashra Ahd-e-Usta Main” make amply clear, they refused to allow so-called low or razil castes, both Hindus and Muslims, to be educated or even to enter their courts, which was preserved as a monopoly of the ‘high’ caste Hindus and Muslims. 

In fact, Muslims’ caste-consciousness runs so deep Allama Iqbal reprimanded them in a couplet: “Yun to Syed bhi ho, Mirza bhi ho Afghan bhi ho/Tum sabhi kuchch ho batao ke Musalman bhi ho? (You are Syed, Mirza and Afghan/You are everything but tell me are you Muslim?)”.

What is tragic is that this caste system didn’t end with the Delhi Sultanate but continued to be supported by the Ulama of India all through the history of Muslim rule in India, into the period of British rule and to this day into post-independence free India. Free from the British, but still chained by caste. Falahi has quoted from the published works of Indian Ulama and I was shocked to see some of the names. May Allah have mercy on those who tried to change the religion that He sent and who denied to the people what Allah had promised and who contradicted His Messenger Muhammad. Truly these people have some serious answering to do before Allah who many have met and all the rest will meet. The greatest disservice to Islam and Indian Muslims was that it took away from Islam one of its cardinal benefits, equality and non-discrimination; all for the benefit of ruling elites. Everyone else be damned.

This is my own history of how I came to be interested in Dalit affairs. The result was that when I returned home from America in 2000 and was invited by Chindu, a newly formed organization to promote Dalit art and Dalit human rights to help them in leadership development, I gladly agreed. It is a matter of honor for me to be listed among their teachers http://www.chindu.org/teachers.html I was also honored to be invited to be on their Board of Directors, on which I served for five years before I left due to other engagements.

So what is this article about? Rather late in the day to ask this but it is neither about Dalit history nor my own. It is about what I believe needs to be done today and done at the level of a national emergency to bring about measurable change in the situation of Dalits (and Muslims for that matter) so that 33% of the population comes into the mainstream of productive employment. It is suicidal for any nation to have one third of its population living in and subject to conditions which won’t stand the light of day. They can only be a drain on the economy and add little value while breeding all kinds of extremism as anger grows at the situation they find themselves in for no fault of theirs. So what is necessary to bring this about?

There are two things which are required to remove caste discrimination:

1.    Changing religious sanction for discrimination and bringing up a new generation which believes in and lives by the new ideology of equality.

2.    Create a level playing field where irrespective of caste the historically oppressed can compete on equal footing with the historically preferred.

I am an idealist. But I am also a realist. So while advocating the first with all my heart and soul, I admit that it is beyond my capability to bring this about except in my own life. That I have always done but to try to change people’s beliefs is at best a long term matter and can’t be done by force. Laws must be passed and have been passed. Equality must be and is a guaranteed right in our Constitution. But as everyone knows, there is a huge gulf between what the law dictates and what happens in practice.

It is not in the scope of this article to go into how the anti-discrimination laws actually work when it comes to implementation especially where cases of discrimination are sought to be redressed. I will leave you to lose some sleep over this research if you are interested with the guarantee that the amount of sleep you will lose searching, will be far less than what you will lose once you find what you are looking for. I hope then you will join the ranks of those who are trying to bring about this change and together we can hope to achieve something in our lifetimes.

It appears that to discriminate, to look down upon others is such a powerful need of the human being that even where religion decrees the opposite as in the case of Islam and Christianity, people who claim to follow those religions seem to find ways to discriminate and legitimize it by creating convenient self-serving arguments in the disguise of theology. The fact remains that Allah made people equal and no argument or Fatwa of any so-called A’alim can change that Hukm (Order or Ruling) of Allah and His Messenger. Class inequalities have always been prevalent in all societies but what is particularly heinous about caste inequalities is that there is no escape. Class inequalities also have this element to various degrees in different societies. But when caste comes into the picture, religion sanctions it and so the force is much more powerful. Mobility out of your caste is practically non-existent and when such people are faced with the same situation even when they try to escape the oppression by changing their religion then the situation appears truly hopeless.
For the record Islam doesn’t recognize any caste or class inequality at all. 

Allah says: Hujuraat 49: 13. O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may recognize (honor, appreciate) one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who is the most pious. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.
Rasoolullah  said in his last sermon of Hajj, popularly known as Khutbatul Wada (Farewell Sermon):

All mankind is from Adam and Hawwa (Eve). An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. A white has no superiority over black nor does black have any superiority over white except by piety (Taqwa) and good action. 

Let nobody blame Islam or its Prophet  for what people do in its name.

Discrimination comes out of a lack of self-confidence and self-hate where a person feels confident and good about himself only when he compares himself to someone else and feels superior. You can’t talk about equality of Dalits until you remove all inequality of all the Varnas. For it to work, you have to dismantle the entire system, which is not easy to do when it is sanctioned by religion. The reality is that you either have caste or you don’t. Like pregnancy you can’t have it partially. In 1933 Dr. Ambedkar said, “There will be outcastes as long as there are castes, and nothing can emancipate the outcaste except the destruction of the caste system.” So either there is no inequality between Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysyas and Sudras or you can’t say that Dalits are equal to…to whom?? Gandhiji made this mistake when he was unwilling to talk about dismantling the Varna system but wanted the Dalits to be included into it as the 5th Varna. For this he invented the term Harijan (Children of God). However, that was not a solution because even if it had come about, it would have meant that the Dalits would still be the lowest and have to be beholden to those who deigned to recognize that they were at least human.

The second matter has also sought to be addressed firstly by creating ‘Reservations’ in education and jobs for Dalits by lowering the standards of entry (not Muslims who are equally discriminated against but since they are not part of the Hindu caste system, they don’t qualify. I consider this poetic justice for their having joined the discriminators when they had the upper hand and so I say, ‘Jolly good.’). The purpose was to try to help those who had been discriminated against for centuries and so didn’t have the advantage that wealth and education brings by making it easier for them to enter institutions of higher learning and to get jobs.

This action, irrespective of the good intentions behind it, created more problems than it solved. It had a reverse effect by retaining discrimination in another form and actually increasing hatred against the historically deprived people who are seen as ‘stealing’ the rights of others. That others stole their rights in broad daylight for centuries is neither here nor there because logic, historical data and reason have no place in emotion based hate mongering which is standard political strategy in our country. Xenophobia ennobled by affiliation to a higher cause (religion) supported by gross, deliberate ignorance always works wonders.

American politics today is a classic example of the efficacy of this time-tested method. Historical data from the Affirmative Action movement in the United States of America where after its official beginning in 1961 http://bit.ly/1U1f509 decades in time and billions of dollars in Federal funding notwithstanding, has not resulted in achieving even a fraction of what it was supposed to do. To this day there are more African American young men in prison than at university or in the higher echelons of the corporate world and Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President in 2016. Truly fact is stranger than fiction.

So what works and how can we bring that about?

What works is quality. So create quality. Focus on creating quality and the rest will follow.
Here is what I believe we should do.

1.    Create world class primary and secondary schools in Dalit areas but open to everyone. Let anyone who wants a world class education send their children to these schools. However, what happens to this day even in government schools our villages, segregation of children based on caste, will not happen here. All children will be treated as children should be treated, equally with love and compassion. They will sit together, study together, eat together, rest together, play together and be trained to the highest standards in education.
There are numerous instances where upper caste children will not sit with Dalit children in government schools and Dalit children are relegated to a separate seating area. When the government insists that this kind of discrimination will not be allowed, upper caste Hindus don’t send their children to these schools. However, it is interesting to note that everyone goes to the Christian schools in the area and sits in the same room without demanding segregation. The reason is that the quality of education which those Christian schools provide is incentive enough to put caste considerations on hold.

Of course if the anganwadi cook is Dalit, upper caste children won’t eat the food he or she cooks and teachers may discriminate against Dalit children, but at least there is no ‘official’ discrimination against a child because he or she was born in a particular family.

2.    Create a Vocational Training Center in each school with vocational training as a part of the curriculum. To learn a trade and work with your hands must be a compulsory part of education. This will teach children dignity of labor and give them the joy that you only get from creating things with your own hands. It will give them also training in systems, quality, time management, leadership and teamwork; all of which are excellent life skills that one needs and which are not part of our standard school curricula. The centers will also provide employment for artisans and experts in different arts and crafts who are scrounging for jobs today and in the process many are even losing their skills.

3.    Create a Center for Entrepreneurial Development where students of these Vocational Training Centers (and others) are trained in setting up small businesses. All kinds of training in hiring, organizational development, selling, raw material procurement, product development and organizational leadership can be provided so that new businesses have a good chance to succeed. The Center will also run a mentorship program where new entrepreneurs will be mentored by experienced entrepreneurs and will have access to consultant services through the Center.

4.    Create a Venture Capital Fund which will offer interest free loans to entrepreneurs. These will be given after a rigorous annual selection process where hopefuls will have to present their business plans and pilot projects to a team of experts who will decide on the viability of the project. This is to ensure that businesses funded actually succeed and the process can continue ad infinitum. 

http://bit.ly/2dHP5YZ is a very interesting TV show about venture capitalist/entrepreneur interaction. I know that reality is not exactly so neat and neither do decisions to fund always get taken so fast but it is a very good example of participation of haves and want-to-haves which can lead to everyone-has-more.

In short what I am suggesting is that while we need to continue to work to change our beliefs and ideology to promote justice, we need to do something that is more easily doable and can show results and will hopefully also result in a change of heart which must eventually come. The world wants quality products and services. If we prepare people well by enhancing the standard of education, then they will be respected when they gain entry beating others over the same high entry standards. More importantly it will enhance their own confidence and self-respect which is more critical than anything else. That will be real service. That will truly add value and will take away discrimination over time because when people can stand on their own feet, they don’t need others to affirm their humanity. Those who provide quality will automatically get clients, customers and friends and will not be beholden to anyone.

In time, it is my hope that we can completely dismantle the caste system in all religions. Any religion which considers one human being superior to another because he was born into a certain caste is not a religion that I recognize as coming from the Creator. 

Caste prejudice is a shame on our honor as human beings, which we must remove.
Advice to a young friend going to university

Advice to a young friend going to university

Five things to keep in mind:

1.      Always be thankful. It is true that we succeed by our own efforts but it is good to remember that some of them were made standing on someone else’s shoulders.  And they helped us when they didn’t need us and without expectation of reward. Don’t forget them because without them you would still be crawling. The biggest fallacy is the so-called ‘self-made man or woman.’ There’s no such thing. We are all the products of the Grace of God, of our time, environment, nation, family, friends – of all those who stopped by to lend a hand. To every one of them we owe a debt which must be repaid. So always be thankful and express thanks. People are not mind readers and even mind readers like to hear it from you. So tell them. Thankfulness increases blessings, opens new doors, inspires people to do things for you and increases your circle of influence. Thankfulness also fills your own heart with joy. Try it and see.

2.     Never compromise your legacy. Never lose sight of your purpose. Ask, ‘Why am I here?’ Write it down and stick it on your wall. Look at it every morning and re-dedicate yourself to that. Stick to that. There will be times when all sorts of other things will seek priority. Different issues will demand importance. Friends will pull in various directions. At such times look at your purpose and know that everything else must be subordinated to that if you are serious about success. Ask, ‘What do I want to be remembered for?’ Focus is the art of ignoring.

3.     Everyone has friends. The worst of them and the best of them, all have friends. Ask Mother Teresa and ask any drug dealer or pickpocket. They all have friends. The key is to have the right kind of friends. Who is the right friend? Someone you can look up to. Someone you can learn from. Someone who challenges you to be your best. Someone who tells you what you need to hear, not only what you want to hear. So it is not how many friends you have but who those friends are, which is important. Also ask, ‘What kind of friend am I to my friends?’ Do you measure up to the same criteria? Being a leader means to take hard decisions and not follow the herd. Sheep have lots of company all the way to the abattoir.

4.     No one walks alone: Every one of us is a reflection of his family, community, nation and humanity. We are never alone. Everything we choose to do or choose not to do, reflects brand value and character. Character is the tree and fame is its shadow. But of the two only the tree is real. So judge every action not only by whether it pleases you but by how it will reflect on your parents, family and nation. And most importantly how it reflects on humanity. We are human because of our values alone. That is what distinguishes us from animals. So focus on values. Compassion supercedes them all. Do to others better than what you would have them do to you. That is the Platinum Rule. A picture is worth a thousand words. An action is worth a million.

5.     Finally remember that popularity doesn’t matter: So never buckle under the pressure of popularity. It doesn’t matter at all. Dr. Rene Favaloro invented the technique and performed the first bypass surgery in 1967. Michael Jackson began his solo career in 1971 (he made his debut in 1964). Who was more popular? Whose contribution has more value? So think contribution, not popularity. In our world today, if you stand up against injustice, oppression, cruelty and discrimination, you will be very unpopular. But the world owes a debt of gratitude to those who do. Otherwise oppressors would rule unchallenged. Peace as defined by oppressors has always been, ‘Absence of resistance to my oppression.’ All those who resisted were given the honorifics of ‘insurgent, terrorist, traitor etc.’ But history is witness that it is thanks to those who disturbed that peace that we abolished slavery, have human dignity and continue to fight for freedom. So it is not whether you won or lost which matters. What matters is which side you fought on. Pick your side for you will be known by it. That is your signature.

I wish you every great dream in life and the courage to make it come true.