Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Sabarimala Verdict

On 28/9/2018 a five –judge bench of the Supreme Court by 4-1 majority ruled that females of all ages can enter Sabarimala Temple. It struck the rule that forbade girls above 10 and women below 50 from entering the temple.
CJI Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Nariman, Ajay Khanwilkar, Dhananjaya Chandrachud said that the provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorised the restriction, violated the right of Hindu women to practice religion. It also said that patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump the right to pray.
They found the practice discriminatory in nature and that it violates Hindu women’s right to pray. They said devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination. “Patriarchal rules have to change. Patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump right to pray and practise religion.” “To exclude women of the age group 10-50 from the temple is to deny dignity to women. To treat women as children of lesser god is to blink at the Constitution.” “Religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity.” “Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries.”
They ruled that devotees of Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman Justice on the bench, dissented with others. She said the notions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion. She added that the shrine and deity are protected under Article 25 of the Constitution and that it was not up to the court to decide which religious practices should be struck down, except in issues of social evil like ‘Sati’. Worshippers of Sabarimala temple constitute a separate religious denomination.
The matter was debated for years on TV channels. Rahul Easwar has said there is differentiation at Sabarimala, no discrimination. There is one temple where only women are allowed, men not allowed.
The verdict has consequences for others. Indian Young Lawyers Association had petitioned for removal of restriction on females of 10-50 age group. They are not devotees of Ayyappa. We see unrelated people meddling in affairs of life and religion. In Aruna Shanbaug case, Pinki Virani had petitioned for ending life of Aruna Shanbaug though she was not her relative or guardian. Nurses of KEM Hospital were taking care of Aruna Shanbaug. Nurses won the case and Aruna Shanbaug lived for more years.
Recently National Commission for Women wanted ban in Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Leaders of Churches opposed ban. In Catholic Church the commandment is to confess mortal sins once a year. If a person has not committed a mortal sin in a year there is no obligation to confess.

Around 12 years back Kannada actress Jayamala had said she had entered the Sabarimala temple dressed as a man. Some people said the power of the deity had gone down because of that. Recently some people blamed the petition for all females to the temple for flood in Kerala.

Many religions are collectively known as Hindu. Legally, anyone who is not a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Zoroastrian is a Hindu. That includes atheists, agnostics, rationalists, Bahais, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

Judiciary should not determine what forms an essential practice of religion unless followers of that denomination or religion come to court. Constitution forbids the State from discrimination on the ground of sex. It does not forbid private or religious entities from discrimination on the ground of sex.

Terror and talks

Terror and talks cannot go together.
That was the BJP line when UPA was in power. BJP opposed talks with Pakistan. After BJP came to power there were talks with Pakistan for some time. Terror continued. Talks stopped.
Army controls Pakistan. Pakistan’s army does not want peace with India because it reduces the importance of army. Nawaz Sharif tried for peace. Once he was overthrown by the army. Second time army used judiciary to disqualify him. Army dictates to judiciary what orders to give. One judge said army and ISI should not dictate to judiciary. That did not make a difference. During Pakistan’s elections Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were in jail. They continued in jail for a month after Imran Khan became Prime Minister.
On 20/9/2018 MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Sushma Kumar and Shah Mehmood Qureshi will meet in New York during United Nations General Assembly session. This came as a surprise as terror had not stopped. Pakistanis had shot dead and slit the throat of a BSF jawan. Raveesh Kumar repeatedly said the meeting was at the request of Pakistan. It was not dialogue. Repeating was unnecessary as if a favour was being done. To say it was a meeting and not a dialogue was playing with words. When two sides talk it is a dialogue.
On 21/9/2018 MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the meeting has been cancelled. Two reasons were given. One, abduction and murder of three J&K policemen by terrorists. Two, Pakistan releasing 20 postal stamps honouring terrorists.
Imran Khan had talked to Narendra Modi and written about having talks. Modi agreed for talks though situation in Kashmir had become worse. Imran Khan wants Kashmir to be part of Pakistan. For him India’s terrorists are Pakistan’s freedom fighters. This was well-known.
Terrorists killing Kashmiris is a new phenomenon. Their targets used to be Indian soldiers and paratroopers from outside Kashmir. Kashmiris in army, paratroops and police force were spared. Now they are also targets.
Surgical strikes in 2016 did not have the desired effect. Modi’s talk of 56 inch chest before he became Prime Minister sounds hollow.
Government should crack down on sections of media that do not mention terrorists as terrorists but refer to them as militants or extremists. They should be warned and if they do not comply their licences should be revoked.
India does not allow bilateral cricket series with Pakistan. It allows cricket matches with Pakistan in tournaments like World Cup, Champions Trophy and Asia Cup. This time India is the host for Asia Cup. Government did not permit BCCI to invite Pakistan. BCCI shifted Asia Cup to UAE. Government should tell BCCI that when India is the host the matches should be held in India. Otherwise BCCI should not be host. When there are Lok Sabha elections BCCI shifts IPL matches outside India. Government should tell BCCI if they shift IPL matches outside India during any year they will not get security during other years.

2+2 Talks

On 6/9/2018 India and USA held 2+2 talks. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister represented India. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Secretary James represented USA. The talks were postponed at least twice; once because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson resigned and second time because USA preferred talks with North Korea over India.
Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) was signed. It allows India to buy equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms. It enables greater communications interoperability between militaries of India and USA. The agreement is effective immediately valid for 10 years.
India can buy Sea Guardian drones which can identify enemy targets fire missiles or drop bombs on them.
The representatives discussed Indo-Pacific area, cross-border terrorism, India’s NSG bid and H-1B visa issue.
USA wants India to stop buying S-400 missiles from Russia and oil from Iran. India should have told USA that it is its right to buy anything from any country. Instead it has asked for waivers. Successive Indian governments have allowed rupee to weaken against dollar. Today a dollar is around 72 rupees.
Michael Pompeo had gone to Pakistan to meet Imran Khan before coming to India. USA wants Pakistan to end support to terrorists. The joint statement after 2+2 talks mentioned Pakistan.
USA wants to reduce its trade deficit with India. In 2017 USA’s goods trade deficit with India was 22.9 billion dollars.
USA accusing Pakistan of supporting terrorists is pot calling the kettle black. USA, UK, Israel support terrorists in Syria. Idlib is occupied by Al Qaeda under a different name. USA does not want Syria to defeat Al Qaeda. When USA supports terrorists it calls them freedom fighters. When USA and allies bomb and kill civilians it is collateral damage. When other countries attack terrorists it is humanitarian tragedy. India has to fight its battle against terrorism and should not depend on USA. USA blows hot and cold with Pakistan. We have seen this movie before.
India should not plead with USA for H-1B visas. Our talented engineers can help India to develop. Americans don’t want their jobs to go to Indians.
Rupee should be strong against dollar. On 5/6/1966 dollar rate was 4.76 rupees. On 6/6/1966 it became 7.50 rupees. That was the official rate for many years. Later official rate changed and there has been continuous decline. Talk of overvalue of rupee should be treated as treason and those who want to weaken the rupee should be put in jail.
In the 19th century there was the Great Game between Russia and UK. Now there is the Great Game between China and USA. China has occupied Indian territory. There is trade war between China and USA. China has border disputes with Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. COMCASA was an attempt by USA to get India on its side.

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