Inspirational story of women hockey captain Rani Rampal

Rani Rampal : “I wanted an escape from my life; from the electricity shortages, to the mosquitoes buzzing in our ear when we slept, from barely having two square meals to seeing our home getting flooded when it rained. My parents tried their best, but there was only so much they could do–Papa was a cart puller and Maa worked as a maid.
There was a hockey academy near my home, so I’d spend hours watching players practice–I really wanted to play. Papa would earn Rs.80 a day and couldn’t afford to buy me a stick. Everyday, I’d ask the coach to teach me too. He’d reject me because I was malnourished. He’d say, ‘You aren’t strong enough to pull through a practice session.’
So, I found a broken hockey stick on the field and began practicing with that– I didn’t have training clothes, so I was running around in a salwar kameez. But I was determined to prove myself. I begged the coach for a chance– maine bahut mushkil se convince kiya unko finally!

But when I told my family, they said, ‘Ladkiya ghar ka kaam hi karti hai,’ and ‘Hum tumhe skirt pehen kar khelne nahi denge.’ I’d plead with them saying, ‘Please mujhe jaane do. If I fail, I’ll do whatever you want.’ My family reluctantly gave in.
Training would start early in the morning. We didn’t even have a clock, so mom would stay up and look at the sky to check if it was the right time to wake me.
At the academy, it was mandatory for each player to bring 500 ml of milk. My family could only afford milk worth 200 ml; without telling anyone, I’d mix the milk with water and drink it because I wanted to play.

My coach supported me through thick and thin; he’d buy me hockey kits and shoes. He even allowed me to live with his family and took care of my dietary needs. I’d train hard and wouldn’t miss a single day of practice.

I remember earning my first salary; I won Rs.500 after winning a tournament and gave the money to Papa. He hadn’t ever held so much money in his hands before. I promised my family, ‘One day, we’re going to have our own home’; I did everything in my power to work towards that.

After representing my state and playing in several championships, I finally got a national call up at the age of 15! Still, my relatives would only ask me when I was planning on getting married. But Papa told me, ‘Play until your heart’s content.’ With my family’s support, I focused on doing my best for India and eventually, I became captain of the Indian hockey team!

Soon after, while I was at home, a friend papa used to work with visited us. He brought along his granddaughter and told me, ‘She’s inspired by you and wants to become a hockey player!’ I was so happy; I just started crying.

And then in 2017, I finally fulfilled the promise I made to my family and bought them a home. We cried together and held each other tightly! And I’m not done yet; this year, I’m determined to repay them and Coach with something they’ve always dreamed of– a gold medal from Tokyo.”

Don’t Use Savarkar In Your Agenda To Vilify Gau-Rakshaks; He Was An Advocate Of Cow Protection

By Arihant Pawariya for Swarajya

Snapshot
  • The narrative the media are trying to build — that Savarkar was somehow against cow protection itself and would’ve admonished gau-rakshaks — will fall flat because nothing can be farther from the truth. He was a vocal advocate of gau-raksha. ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Last month witnessed the release of two back-to-back biographies of Savarkar by Vikram Sampath and Vaibhav Purandare.

The fact that it took almost half a century for an English biography of a nationalistic icon to come out speaks volumes about our national apathy towards revolutionary anti-colonial heroes.

Perhaps it is a manifestation of the changing times that we are finally ready to stop demonising them and regurgitating the colonial propaganda, and stop insulting our martyrs by calling them misguided patriots or terrorists.

Both the works of Sampath and Purandare provide ample ammunition in helping understand the Savarkar phenomenon.

There is a lot to be learnt and celebrated about him — the difficult but inspiring childhood of a precocious boy, his role in the revolutionary movement for independence, him enduring inhuman incarceration in the Andamans with great fortitude, his Himalayan contribution to Indian political philosophy, his works as a social reformer and what not.

However, the usual suspects in the media, the intellectual heirs of those who have ignored or demonised Savarkar for decades, are not interested in highlighting any of these aspects.

Most of them are instead publishing excerpts from the books where Savarkar makes a case to not treat the bovine as divine. In the interviews with authors, leading questions about his views on cow worship are asked so that Savarkar can be used to run down present day gau-rakshaks.

The narrative they are trying to build — that Savarkar was somehow against cow protection itself and would’ve admonished gau-rakshaks — will fall flat because nothing can be farther from the truth. He was a vocal advocate of gau-raksha.

In fact, Savarkar’s first brush with communal riots as a 11-year old boy in his hometown Bhagur, was also precipitated by cow-related violence among other things. As Sampath writes, ‘these experiences taught him how poorly organized and disunited the Hindu community was’ and ‘this made Hindus doubly vulnerable to attacks.’

Yes, Savarkar didn’t want Hindu society to treat the cow as a divine creature. “The cow eats at one end and expels urine and dung at the other end. When it is tired it lies down in its own filth. Then it uses its tail (which we call beautiful) to spread this filth all over its body. How can a creature which does not understand cleanliness be considered divine?,” he reasoned.

“Why are cow’s urine and dung purifying while even the shadow of a man like Ambedkar is defiling?” Savarkar raised a pertinent question to Hindu society.

When it came to cows, his approach was utilitarian. He believed the cow was meant for the man and not the other way around, hence, it must be looked after well to maximise her usefulness. After all, the Hindus treated the cow as holy only because she was so useful to them.

Today, some vested interests are quoting aforementioned arguments of Savarkar to run down gau-rakshaks but his intention was exactly the opposite. “I criticized the false notions involved in cow worship with the aim of removing the chaff and preserving the essence so that cow protection may be better achieved,” he said.

Clearly he was making a case that worshiping the cow was of no use if it is prioritized over its protection. He said,

A worshipful attitude is necessary for protection. But it is improper to forget the duty of cow protection and indulging only in worship. The word ‘only’ used here is important. First protect the cow and then worship it if you so desire.

This is a far cry from what the trigger-happy Hindutva-baiters want us to believe by quoting Savarkar out of context, exactly the same modus operandi they have employed in painting him as a British stooge based on the mercy petitions written by him during his incarceration in the Andamans.

In any case, Savarkar’s appeal to Hindus to not consider the bovine as divine was in no way a nod for non-Hindus to go ahead with killing cows as if it was their religious duty.

As Purandare writes, “Savarkar wrote that Hindus might be naive but they weren’t cruel” unlike those who kill the cow as part of their “dharma”’ and thus had “no right to ridicule cow worshippers for their beliefs”.

Savarkar charged cow killers with possessing an ‘asuric instinct’ and urged all non-Hindus to “discard their religious cow hatred and consider cow protection done for economic reasons to be their duty.”

Some too-clever-by-half agenda-peddlers have even said that Savarkar advocated eating beef, conveniently throwing the context again in the dustbin. He was talking of extreme situations.

If a fortified city of the Hindu nation was under siege and was running out of rations, then rather than dying of starvation and surrendering, he believes it would be better to slaughter cows, use their flesh as food, to fight and defeat the enemy.

According to Savarkar, sacrificing the cow was acceptable in national interest. He cited examples of Indians kings who would capitulate in front of foreign invaders whenever the latter threatened to harm the cows, temples or Brahmins.

“Foolishness led to the sacrifice of the nation for the sake of a few cows and Brahmins and temples,” he said.

Savarkar was forthright and unwavering in his views. It will serve us all well if we attempt to understand why he said the things that are being gleefully misused by the media. Quoting him without context is a disservice to his memory and will not work in this day of social media awareness.

Arihant Pawariya is Senior Editor, Swarajya.

9 अगस्त की सत्यता: इतिहास, भारत और औपनिवेशिक शक्तियां

-डॉ. मन्ना लाल रावत

हमारे जीवन में त्योहारों और उत्सवों का बड़ा महत्व है और भारतीय संस्कृति को तो त्यौहार और उत्सवों की संस्कृति रूप ही जाता है। जनजाति समाज के बंधु-भगिनियों में स्वाभाविक रूप से संस्कृति के सभी पक्षों से लगाव रहा है जो हमारी एक प्रमुख पहचान भी है। इसके माध्यम से हम अपनी सांस्कृतिक मूल्यों को जीवंत बनाए रखते हैं, परंतु विगत 2-3 वर्षों से एक नई प्रवृति आई है जिसे 9 अगस्त यानि विश्व आदिवासी दिवस के रूप में मनाये जाने के रूप् में देख सकते हैं। यह आयोजन बिना ऐतिहासिक सत्यता जाने और बिना भारत के संदर्भ के होने लगा है। हद तो ये है कि इसमें कई बुद्धिजीवी भी सम्मिलित होने लगे और शासन स्तर पर कुछ लोक लुभावने नीतिगत निर्णय भी होने लगे परंतु भारत गणराज्य के रूप में इस दिन की सत्यता को जानना अत्यंत आवश्यक है क्योंकि यह प्रश्न मात्र जनजाति समाज-संस्कृति का ही नहीं है बल्कि देश की संप्रभुता और राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा की दृष्टि से भी कीमती हो जाता है।

9 अगस्त, दिवस की ऐतिहासिक सत्यता:- हमें याद है कि मध्य काल में भौगोलिक खोजों के दौरान स्पेन और पुर्तगाल के राजाओं ने कैसे अग्रणी प्रयास किए। इस दौर में कैथोलिक मिशन की आर्थिक मदद से भारतवर्ष के व्यापार मार्ग खोजने के उद्देश्य से एक नाविक कोलंबस को समुद्री मिशन पर भेजा गया जिसके द्वारा भूलवश 12 अक्टूबर, 1492 को नई दुनिया की खोज की गई। नई दुनिया कुछ और नहीं, बल्कि उत्तरी अमेरिका का पूर्वी तट था। इस काल खण्ड में पुरे अमेरिकी महाद्वीप पर मूल निवासियों का अधिपत्य था जिसमें चेरोकी, चिकासौ, चोक्ताव, मास्कोगी और सेमिनोल प्रमुख थीं। इन सभी मूलनिवासियों को कोलंबस ने इंडियन कहा। कोलंबस की खोज के बाद धीरे-धीरे यूरोपीय शक्तियों ने अमेरिका में अपना साम्राज्य फैलाने की पूरी रूपरेखा तैयार की और सबसे पहले यहां के मूल निवासियों से संघर्ष करना पडा। इस क्रम में सबसे पहला युद्ध वर्जिन्या प्रांत में पवहाटन आदिवासियों से करना पड़ा। तीन युद्ध की इस श्रंृखला में पहला युद्ध 9 अगस्त 1610 को हुआ जिसमें पवहाटन कबीले के सभी सदस्य युद्ध करते हुए मारे गए। यह युद्ध भारतीय इतिहास के संदर्भ में अंग्रेजों के विरूद्ध सन् 1757 में प्लासी के युद्ध के समान माना जाता है। इस युद्ध की जीत के साथ ही अंग्रेजों को अमेरिका के आदिवासियों को पूरी तरह से खत्म करने का रास्ता खोल दिया।

त्रासदी भरी इस यात्रा में ‘आंसुओं की रेखा‘ व ‘धर्म प्रचार की शुरुआत करने के दिवस‘ को भी जानना आवश्यक है।

इस बात के समय में लगभग 250 वर्षों में अमेरिका के मूल निवासियों का भारी रक्तपात करके भी यूरोपीय शक्तियां केवल थोड़े से भैगोलिक भूभाग पर ही अपना आधिपत्य जमा सकी थीं, तब जॉर्ज वाशिंगटन और हन्नी नॉक्स के नेतृत्व में पहला ब्रिटिश-अमेरिकी युद्ध शुरू हुआ। इस युद्ध में सफलता अमेरिका को मिली एवं पेरिस की संधि के तहत अमरीकी कॉलोनी पर अधिकार, अमेरिका को मिला परन्तु और अधिक भूभागों पर कब्जा करके उसे आपस में बांटने की भी संधि हुई इंडियन रिमूवल ऐक्ट, 1830 के तहत सभी मूलनिवासी को जोर जबरदस्ती मिसिसिपी नदी के उस पार धकेला गया। इस संघर्ष में 30,000 स्थानीय मूल निवासियों (आदिवासीजन) रास्ते में ही मर-खप गए। यह घटना श्ज्ीम जतंपस व िज्मंतेश् (आंसुओं की रेखा) कहलाती है। इस दरमियान इतनी संख्या में मूलनिवासी लोग मारे गए कि मात्र 5 प्रतिशत ही जीवित बच सके।

काल साक्षी है कि क्रूरता का भी अपना एक लम्बा इतिहास है। इसके संवाहक शक्तियां अपने पुरखों की उपलब्धियों को समृतियों रूप में जिंदा रखने की कुचेष्ठा करती है और क्रूरता के इतिहास को जश्न में भी बदलना चाहती है। 12 अक्टूबर, 1992 कोलंबस की नई दुनिया की खोज के 500 वर्ष पूरे होने पर औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों ने एक बड़ा जश्न मनाने की योजना बनाई परंतु इन उत्सवों के विरोध में ‘कोलंबस चले जाव‘ नाम से एक अभियान चलाया गया। इस अभियान को शांत करने के लिए अपराध बोध के भाव से इस दिन को अमेरिका का ‘इंडिजिनस पीपल्स डे‘ घोषित किया गया। संयुक्त राष्ट्र द्वारा विश्व मूलनिवासी दिवस भी 12 अक्टूबर को ही मनाया था, मगर अमेरिका में विरोध और ब्रिटिश-पवहाटन युद्ध में ब्रिटेन की सत्ता वर्जिन्या प्रांत में स्थापित होने के कारण वहां धर्म प्रचार की शुरुआत करने का मौका प्राप्त हुआ। वह दिन भी 9 अगस्त ही था। क्रूरता के इतिहास के इस दिन को यादगार बनाने के लिए संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ में एक गुप्त षड्यंत्र के तहत 9 अगस्त को ‘मूल निवासी दिवस‘ मनाने का निर्णय लिया गया।

अब आप समझ गये होंगे कि ‘मूलनिवासी दिवस‘ इतिहास के तथ्य व मर्म क्या हैं़? वास्तव में 9 अगस्त, 1610 को अमेरिका के मूल निवासी यदि ब्रिटिश सेना से अपना पहला युद्ध नहीं हारते तो आज भी अमेरिका के मूल निवासी पुरे अमेरिकी महाद्वीप के शासक होते। उनकी सभ्यता एवं संस्कृति अक्षुण्य रहती। उनका इतिहास भी उज्जवल व समृद्ध होता। क्या मूलनिवासी समूहों को अंग्रेजों द्वारा खत्म कर दिया गया या नहीं? क्या उक्त मूलनिवासी समूह के इतिहास से हम भारतीय को कुछ सीखने की आवश्यकता नहीं है? हमें याद रखना चाहिए कि यू.एन. की वर्किंग ग्रुप की विश्व मजदूर संगठन (प्स्व्) की पहली बैठक 1989 का हवाला दिया गया है, जो 9 अगस्त की तिथि की ओर संकेत करता है। यह वास्तव में एक सफेद झूठ है।

9 अगस्त: यू.एन. के मंच से वैश्विक बाजार में भ्रामक सूचनाओं का प्रसार विश्व मजदूर संगठन (प्स्व्) मजदूर के अधिकारों के कार्य हेतु एक विश्व स्तरीय संगठन है जिसका उद्देश्य मजदूरों के अधिकारों की रक्षा करना है। इसके द्वारा 1989 में ‘राइट्स ऑफ इंडियन पीपल कन्वेंशन‘ क्रमांक 169 घोषित किया गया जिसमें ‘इंडिजिनस पीपल‘ शब्द का प्रयोग किया गया परंतु किसी परिभाषा में इसे स्पष्ट नहीं किया गया है। इसका मुख्य संबंध तत्कालीन औपनिवेशिक कॉलोनी से है, जहां बड़ी संख्या में देशज लोग रहते हैं जो वहां तब भी दूसरे दर्जे के नागरिक निवासरत थे। भारत ने इस संधि पर हस्ताक्षर नहीं किए थे क्योंकि इसका संदर्भ भारत से नहीं था।
इस संधि की विफलता को देखते हुए विश्व मजदूर संगठन (प्स्व्) द्वारा इस विषय पर और अधिक आम राय बनाने और अन्य देशों को इस हेतु शामिल करने का काम करने के उद्देश्य से एक अलग संस्था बनाकर इस घोषणापत्र को अधिक से अधिक देशों द्वारा स्वीकार कराने का मंतव्य बनाया गया। इस दिशा में ‘वर्किंग ग्रुप फॉर इंडिजिनस पीपल‘ (ॅळप्च्) का गठन किया गया। ॅळप्च् की पहली बैठक 9 अगस्त को हुई थी, इसलिए सन् 1994 में 9 अगस्त को ‘विश्व इंडिजिनस पीपल डे‘ मनाने की घोषणा संयुक्त राष्ट्र द्वारा की गई। कई देशों में इस दिन अवकाश रखा जाने लगा।

हमें याद रचाना चाहिए कि वर्किंग ग्रुप फॉर इंडिजिनस पीपल द्वारा लगभग 20 वर्षों तक विचार विमर्श के उपरांत एक घोषणा पत्र जारी किया गया जो विश्व मजदूर संगठन के 1989 की संधि क्रमांक 169 का ही विकसित/संशोधित/परिमार्जित रूप था। यू.एन. द्वारा इस विषय पर आयोजित मतदान में 13 सितम्बर, 2007 को, में भारत गणराज्य की ओर से श्री अजय मल्होत्रा ने भारत का आधिकारिक मत रखा जो हमारे संप्रभूता, नागरिकों के मूलाधिकारों के साथ ही देश के सभी निवासी देश के मूलनिवासी होने के तथ्यों को लिए हुए था।
9 अगस्त का महत्व औपनिवेशिक शक्तियां सदा ही अपने क्रूरता के इतिहास को जीवित रखने की कोशिश करती रहीं हैं। अमेरिकी मूल निवासियों की धरती पर कोलंबस द्वारा पैर रखने के दिवस 12 अक्टूबर को ‘नेशनल इंडिजिनस पीपल डे/कोलंबस डे‘ जिसे ‘थैंक्स गिविंग डे‘ के रूप में मनाया जाता है, को ही ‘विश्व इंडिजिनियस ड‘े के रूप में मनाने की कोशिश की गई थी परंतु विवाद होने की और अमेरिका सहित कई देशों में मूलनिवासियों पर यूरोपीय औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों के अमानवीय कृतियों के पुनः उजागर एवं आधुनिक जगत में प्रसारित होने के भय से इस प्रस्ताव पर सहमति नहीं बन पाइर्, परंतु 1992 में 500 वर्ष पूरे होने के अवसर को ॅळप्च् द्वारा ‘विश्व इंडिजिनियस ड‘े मनाने के प्रस्ताव को 2 वर्ष के लिए टालना पड़ा। वर्ष 1994 में ैजण् ज्मतमें ठमदमकपबजं व िजीम ब्तवेे ;म्कपजी ैजमपदद्ध थ्मंेज क्ंल यानि 9 अगस्त के दिन हुई बैठक को कई कथोलिक सदस्यों ने शुभ दिन माना, इसलिए इस दिन को ‘विश्व इंडिजिनियस ड‘े (9 अगस्त) की घोषणा की गई। विश्व भर कैथोलिक चर्च थ्मंेज क्ंल को इंडिजिनियस लोगों के मध्य बड़े ही धूमधाम से मनाने हेतु प्रोत्साहित करते हैं। एक मान्यता अनुसार इस दिन से ही अमेरिका में ईसाई धर्म प्रचार की शुरुआत हुई थी, जो क्रिसमस या अंग्रेजी नव वर्ष तक जारी रहता है।

बाबा साहब भीम राव आम्बेडकर सहित सभी ने इस बात को संविधान निर्माताओं ने अपने प्रखर बुद्धिमत्ता से स्थापित भी किया है कि भारत में सभीजन इस देश के मूल निवासी हैं परंतु यह क्या कुछ तत्वों के प्रभाव में हमारे चिंतक भी हमारे अपने इतिहास और महापुरुषों के एकत्व के विचारों के परे कहां निकल गए? इंडिजिनियस पीपल्स की अवधारणा सहित ये मनगढ़ंत बातें क्या जनजातियों के राष्ट्रीय मूल्यों, स्वतंत्रता हेतु दिये गये बलिदानों की संस्कृति की अनवरत श्रंृखला के गौरव के अनुकूल है? यह हमारा राष्टीय कर्तव्य है कि हम हमारे गणराज्य के यू. एन. में रखे गये मत दिनांक 13 सितम्बर, 2007 के अनुरूप ही चिंतन व कार्यव्यवहार रखें।
 जाने कैसी हवा चली और भारतवर्ष में भोला भाला जनजाति समाज एक भेड़ चाल का हिस्सा बनकर मूलनिवासियों के पतन ऐतिहासिक दिन 9 अगस्त को, विश्व मूलनिवासी दिवस मनाने लगे; जबकि यह अमेरिकी मूल निवासियों के नरसंहार का दिन है। इस दिन पवहाटन युद्ध में पांच मूलनिवासी कबीलों के नष्ट होने का दिवस जिसे औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों ने बड़ी चतुराई से संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ के मंचों का उपयोग करते हुए सजावटी तौर पर प्रस्तुत किया है। यह सजावटी दिवस भारतीय संप्रभुता, भारतीय गौरवशाली इतिहास और जनजाति समाज के स्वतंत्रता सैनानियों/नायकों द्वारा औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों के विरुकिये गये अपने संघर्ष और बलिदानों की सच्ची श्रद्धांजलि नहीं हो सकता। हमारा प्रश्न हमारे पूर्वजों के प्रति प्रतिबद्धता और राष्ट्रीय मूल्यों में आस्था का ही रहा है व इसी के लिए हम नतमस्तक होते हैं। साथ ही साथ विश्व समाज में अमेरिकी आदिवासियों के समुदायों को नष्ट करने वाले विदेशी तत्वों के विरुद्ध ही होना चाहिए, क्योंकि 9 अगस्त को हर वर्ष कई हजार मूलनिवासी संयुक्त राष्ट्र के मुख्यालय के बाहर अपने पुरखों के पक्ष में खडे होकर 9 अगस्त, 1610 के क्रुर युद्ध की रीति, नीति व गति के विरोध में आंदोलन करते हैं, और तो फिर हम संवेदनशील, चिंतनशील व विवेकशील मानस वाले होकर भी 9 अगस्त को उत्सव कैसे बना सकते हैं?
……) का गठन किया गया। ॅळप्च् की पहली बैठक 9 अगस्त को हुई थी, इसलिए सन् 1994 में 9 अगस्त को ‘विश्व इंडिजिनस पीपल डे‘ मनाने की घोषणा संयुक्त राष्ट्र द्वारा की गई। कई देशों में इस दिन अवकाश रखा जाने लगा।

हमें याद रचाना चाहिए कि वर्किंग ग्रुप फॉर इंडिजिनस पीपल द्वारा लगभग 20 वर्षों तक विचार विमर्श के उपरांत एक घोषणा पत्र जारी किया गया जो विश्व मजदूर संगठन के 1989 की संधि क्रमांक 169 का ही विकसित/संशोधित/परिमार्जित रूप था। यू.एन. द्वारा इस विषय पर आयोजित मतदान में 13 सितम्बर, 2007 को, में भारत गणराज्य की ओर से श्री अजय मल्होत्रा ने भारत का आधिकारिक मत रखा जो हमारे संप्रभूता, नागरिकों के मूलाधिकारों के साथ ही देश के सभी निवासी देश के मूलनिवासी होने के तथ्यों को लिए हुए था।
9 अगस्त का महत्व औपनिवेशिक शक्तियां सदा ही अपने क्रूरता के इतिहास को जीवित रखने की कोशिश करती रहीं हैं। अमेरिकी मूल निवासियों की धरती पर कोलंबस द्वारा पैर रखने के दिवस 12 अक्टूबर को ‘नेशनल इंडिजिनस पीपल डे/कोलंबस डे‘ जिसे ‘थैंक्स गिविंग डे‘ के रूप में मनाया जाता है, को ही ‘विश्व इंडिजिनियस ड‘े के रूप में मनाने की कोशिश की गई थी परंतु विवाद होने की और अमेरिका सहित कई देशों में मूलनिवासियों पर यूरोपीय औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों के अमानवीय कृतियों के पुनः उजागर एवं आधुनिक जगत में प्रसारित होने के भय से इस प्रस्ताव पर सहमति नहीं बन पाइर्, परंतु 1992 में 500 वर्ष पूरे होने के अवसर को ॅळप्च् द्वारा ‘विश्व इंडिजिनियस ड‘े मनाने के प्रस्ताव को 2 वर्ष के लिए टालना पड़ा। वर्ष 1994 में ैजण् ज्मतमें ठमदमकपबजं व िजीम ब्तवेे ;म्कपजी ैजमपदद्ध थ्मंेज क्ंल यानि 9 अगस्त के दिन हुई बैठक को कई कथोलिक सदस्यों ने शुभ दिन माना, इसलिए इस दिन को ‘विश्व इंडिजिनियस ड‘े (9 अगस्त) की घोषणा की गई। विश्व भर कैथोलिक चर्च थ्मंेज क्ंल को इंडिजिनियस लोगों के मध्य बड़े ही धूमधाम से मनाने हेतु प्रोत्साहित करते हैं। एक मान्यता अनुसार इस दिन से ही अमेरिका में ईसाई धर्म प्रचार की शुरुआत हुई थी, जो क्रिसमस या अंग्रेजी नव वर्ष तक जारी रहता है।

बाबा साहब भीम राव आम्बेडकर सहित सभी ने इस बात को संविधान निर्माताओं ने अपने प्रखर बुद्धिमत्ता से स्थापित भी किया है कि भारत में सभीजन इस देश के मूल निवासी हैं परंतु यह क्या कुछ तत्वों के प्रभाव में हमारे चिंतक भी हमारे अपने इतिहास और महापुरुषों के एकत्व के विचारों के परे कहां निकल गए? इंडिजिनियस पीपल्स की अवधारणा सहित ये मनगढ़ंत बातें क्या जनजातियों के राष्ट्रीय मूल्यों, स्वतंत्रता हेतु दिये गये बलिदानों की संस्कृति की अनवरत श्रंृखला के गौरव के अनुकूल है? यह हमारा राष्टीय कर्तव्य है कि हम हमारे गणराज्य के यू. एन. में रखे गये मत दिनांक 13 सितम्बर, 2007 के अनुरूप ही चिंतन व कार्यव्यवहार रखें।

 जाने कैसी हवा चली और भारतवर्ष में भोला भाला जनजाति समाज एक भेड़ चाल का हिस्सा बनकर मूलनिवासियों के पतन ऐतिहासिक दिन 9 अगस्त को, विश्व मूलनिवासी दिवस मनाने लगे; जबकि यह अमेरिकी मूल निवासियों के नरसंहार का दिन है। इस दिन पवहाटन युद्ध में पांच मूलनिवासी कबीलों के नष्ट होने का दिवस जिसे औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों ने बड़ी चतुराई से संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ के मंचों का उपयोग करते हुए सजावटी तौर पर प्रस्तुत किया है। यह सजावटी दिवस भारतीय संप्रभुता, भारतीय गौरवशाली इतिहास और जनजाति समाज के स्वतंत्रता सैनानियों/नायकों द्वारा औपनिवेशिक शक्तियों के विरुकिये गये अपने संघर्ष और बलिदानों की सच्ची श्रद्धांजलि नहीं हो सकता। हमारा प्रश्न हमारे पूर्वजों के प्रति प्रतिबद्धता और राष्ट्रीय मूल्यों में आस्था का ही रहा है व इसी के लिए हम नतमस्तक होते हैं। साथ ही साथ विश्व समाज में अमेरिकी आदिवासियों के समुदायों को नष्ट करने वाले विदेशी तत्वों के विरुद्ध ही होना चाहिए, क्योंकि 9 अगस्त को हर वर्ष कई हजार मूलनिवासी संयुक्त राष्ट्र के मुख्यालय के बाहर अपने पुरखों के पक्ष में खडे होकर 9 अगस्त, 1610 के क्रुर युद्ध की रीति, नीति व गति के विरोध में आंदोलन करते हैं, और तो फिर हम संवेदनशील, चिंतनशील व विवेकशील मानस वाले होकर भी 9 अगस्त को उत्सव कैसे बना सकते हैं?

Forgotten Heroes: A Tribute to U Tirot Sing Syiem on his 187th Death Anniversary

By: Dr. Ankita Dutta

The story of the Indian freedom struggle in the Khasi hills of Meghalaya would remain incomplete without U Tirot Sing Syiem. The Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills were brought by the British under their political control in phases after their annexation was complete. There was vehement resistance from the traditional chiefs and local leaders of the region. Tirot Sing was the Syiem (Chief) of a Khasi kingdom called Nongkhlaw situated in the mid-western Khasi hills of Meghalaya.He was born in 1802 and traced his lineage from the Syiemlieh clan. He was therefore addressed as the Syiem by the common people of the hills who respected him for his fine leadership qualities.

After the first Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26) and the signing of the Treaty of Yandaboo (1826), the British Government decided to occupy the Brahmaputra to connect the two valleys of the Brahmaputra and the Surma by an all-weather road. Such a road could be constructed only through the Hima Nongkhlaw territory of the Khasis. It happened to be the fastest route to connect Assam and Sylhet with the rest of Bengal. The objective was to link the two important British headquarters – Kamrup (currently Guwahati) with Sylhet (in present-day Bangladesh). Connecting both these Valleys was of strategic importance for the British, to ensure speedy and safe movement of their troops by improving the road communication.

The political agent of the British at the North-Eastern Frontier, David Scott, requested Tirot Sing to grant them permission for the construction of this road. Scott proposed that in lieu of the permission, Tirot Sing would be given control of the duars and the check-posts which passed through Assam. They also assured him of free trade along the proposed road. Tirot Sing consented to this proposal after a two-day long consultation with his durbar, believing that it will improve connectivity in the area. After the construction of this road began, Raja Balaram Singh of Rani in present-day Assam disputed Tirot Sing’s claim over the duars. When Tirot Sing went to confront him with his troops, the British gave a cold shoulder and betrayed him at the last moment.

They were forcefully penetrating into the hills, occupying lands and imposing their own belief systems on the locals. Being the Raja, Tirot Sing strongly resented against such arbitrary actions of the foreigners. The Khasis thus decided to drive away the foreigners from the hills, which ultimately led to the Anglo-Khasi war of 1829-1833. Tirot Singh played an exemplary role in this battle. Soon, he received the news that the British were bringing in further reinforcements from Guwahati and Sylhet. He understood that they wanted to grab the entire territory lying between the Brahmaputra and the Surma Valleys.

Alarmed at the threat to his kingdom, he served a notice to the British asking them to leave Nongkhlaw immediately. But, they paid no attention to his orders. He thus declared a war against the British for their attempt to colonise the Khasi hills. It was on the night of April 4, 1829 that Tirot Sing’s forces attacked the British garrison at Nongkhlaw in which two officers were killed and a few others suffered major casualties. Tirot Sing and his army fought for four years continuously without surrendering.

He selected special bands of warriors and deployed them in secret caves in the hills to produce ammunition. They terrorized the British officers posted in the Khasi hills by conducting lethal night raids on their outposts. They also employed various locally-developed techniques of guerilla warfare. They used the knowledge of their hilly terrain to their utmost advantage. Tirot Sing’s patriotic valour could not be dampened even after he sustained a severe bullet injury. He was known for his deft organizational skills, supported by efficient spies. His immortal words – “Better to die an independent king than reign as the vassal” – infused strength and courage among his people.

In January 1833, he was captured by the British forces from his hiding spot in the hills. After a brief trial, he was deported to Dhaka. He died on July 17, 1835 at the Dhaka Central Jail. His name is immortalised at the Martyr’s Column in Shillong, along with the names of the Garo leader Pa Togan Nengminja Sangma and the Jaintia warrior U Kiang Nangbah. A life-size statue of Tirot Sing was unveiled last year on his 186th death anniversary at Madan Mot Tirot, Mairang. Tirot Sing’s death anniversary is commemorated in Meghalaya every year on July 17 (declared as a state holiday). Government of India released a postage stamp in his honour in the year 1988.

Today, the country pays a glowing tribute to this dynamic freedom fighter from the Northeast on his 187th Death Anniversary.

(The writer holds a PhD in Political Science and regularly writes on topics related to Assam and the Northeast).

Arrest of Ranjan Chutia and Christianity in Assam: An Existential Danger

By: Dr. Ankita Dutta

The World Healing Prayer Center at Doomordolong, Moran, in Dibrugarh district has become a hotbed of Christian conversion activities in Assam. Recently, a video went viral in social media which showed that Hari Naam-Kirtan of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva and the Assamese Bihu dance was distorted by Ranjan Chutia and his group to convert emotionally naïve Hindus into Christianity. Ranjan Chutia has been instrumental in spearheading the conversion of Hindus from both Upper Assam and Lower Assam into Christianity by faking his Church as a Namghar (religious prayer hall-cum-cultural centre of the Assamese Hindus). The FIR against Ranjan Chutia was initially lodged by Hindu Yuva Chatra Parishad on July 25 at the Moran Police Station in Dibrugarh.

On receipt of further inputs, a high-level team of Police was deployed from Guwahati to Dibrugarh around 3 A.M. on Tuesday night. He was arrested in the wee hours of Wednesday, i.e. July 28. Ranjan Chutia is also a prominent YouTuber who has been using his channel for a long time to propagate the teachings of Jesus and claiming to cure life-threatening diseases through miraculous prayers. It was on July 19 that Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha, the largest Vaishnavite religious organisation of Assam, had requested the Government of Assam to initiate an enquiry into the issue, saying that the use of songs and musical instruments associated with the Mahapurusiya Naam-Dharma tradition of Srimanta Sankardeva to spread a foreign faith is unpardonable.

It needs to be mentioned here that the World Healing Prayer Centre at Moran has been functioning since the last 17 years. Ranjan Chutia claims himself to be a messenger of Jesus and seeks to cure people of all illnesses and worldly troubles. Numerous videos that had been circulating in social media since the last few days brought to light certain shocking incidences of religious proselytisation. Distorted copies of the Bhagavad-Gita, Naam-Ghosha and Kirtan-Ghosha replaced with the name of Jesus in place of Bhagwan Krishna, could be seen lying inside the Prayer Center. The Dibrugarh Police has booked the accused under Sections 153 (A) and 195 (A) of the IPC. It was after his arrest during the mandatory health check-up that Ranjan Chutia tested positive for COVID-19. The Police later admitted him at a local COVID hospital.

It was earlier in November 2019 that the Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) had requested the Assam Government to take swift action against Ranjan Chutia for illegally occupying Government grazing land near the village Doomordolong at Moranhat to construct a Church. Entire Upper Assam is today in the dangerous grip of Christian missionary mafias like Ranjan Chutia. Since the Namghar is the pivotal centre of worship and identity for every Assamese Hindu, the Christian missionaries have very cleverly made use of this institution and the different aspects associated with it from songs to lyrics to dance and festivals to convert the people. The place where Jesus is worshipped, a Chandrataap (a red and white coloured cloth hanging above the sanctum-sanctorum of the Namghar) is used so as to give it the appearance of a typical Namghar.

To understand the root of this problem, we briefly need to revisit history. Although the British Government in had adopted a policy of non-interference in the social and religious affairs of the Hindu society after the Revolt of 1857, but, in the context of Uttar Purba Bharat, this never actually happened. The Church continued to flourish with the aim of helping the British secure their rule in this extremely resource-rich part of the country. The post-Independent Indian state too, under the garb of “charity”, actively facilitated these sinister activities of the Christian missionaries that have only expanded with time. It has been a strategically engineered agenda such that entire Uttar Purba Bharat was eventually made to appear among the people in the rest of Bharat as a region that had always been Christian-dominated.

Of the 2.78 crore Christian population counted in the Census of 2011, 78 lakh are settled in Uttar Purba Bharat alone. According to a report published by the Centre for Policy Studies titled, The Christianisation of the Northeast: It All Began on the Eve of Independence, this is the largest concentration of Christians in India after the coastal region beginning from the southernmost part of Tamil Nadu to Kerala, and stretching through coastal Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra. Christianisation of Uttar Purba Bharat has largely been a result of political and strategic considerations, and thus cannot be said to be an entirely religious phenomenon. E.g. in an agreement that was reached in the 1960s between Jawaharlal Nehru and “noted” anthropologist, the late Dr. Verrier Elwin, the entry of sadhus was formally banned into the state of Nagaland.

The Christian population in Nagaland increased from a mere 20% in 1947 to a whopping 88% as per Census data of 2011. Nehru had also appointed Elwin as the Anthropological Adviser to the Government of NEFA (today’s Arunachal Pradesh). Elwin was of the belief that Bharat was never a nation of one people with a shared heritage and culture, and that the different janajati communities were the “original aborigine inhabitants”. It was this exclusivist preservation policy of Elwin that gave a free hand to Christian proselytizers in Uttar Purba Bharat, leading to inter and intra community hostilities with the subsequent decline of Hindu Dharma and the rise of separatist movements.

Assam had acquired a significant Christian presence already in 1901. These early Christians mostly belonged to the migrant communities who had come from the present-day states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and settled in the tea plantations of Upper Assam. It was especially during the 2nd half of the 20th century that Christianity widened its reach and spread among several janajati communities of the region. Today, the share of Christians in the districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, and in some of the Bodo-dominated districts too, such as Kokrajhar and Udalguri, is much higher. In the present times, Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in Assam after Islam, with Christians constituting around 3.74% of the total population of the state as per the Census of 2011. Dima Hasao district accounts for the largest population of Christians (30%) followed by Karbi Anglong (16.5%).

The entire region of Upper Assam covering the districts of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, and Tinsukia share a border contiguous with the Catholic Christian-dominated states of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Christian educational institutions have become one of the most favourite destinations for educating the young kids. The chief factor behind such a preference has been the usage of English as the primary language of instruction in these schools. The importance given to the English language grew continuously during the period of British colonisation of Bharat. But, it became an obsession after 1947 when the colonial masters left the country. It suited the colonised minds of the Indian elite to continue with this colonial hangover, owing to the obvious advantages of social and political capital that accrued from such an arrangement.

Christian missionaries have been quite successful in being able to project their religion as the only saviour of the poor and the sick. “Charity” in the garb of social service is used by them as a cover for their immoral and deceitful practices, luring the poor with financial and other material aid. They have utilised the economic backwardness of the poor to their maximum advantage through numerous allurements and inducements, with the promise to release them from the clutches of poverty. In various YouTube videos from the World Healing Prayer Center at Moran, it can be observed that Ranjan Chutia has explained the reason behind all epidemics, diseases and natural disasters inflicting the world as God’s curse on the poor, and which can only be cured through prayer and the worship of Jesus.

Christian missionaries zealously believe that they have been decreed by Jesus himself to spread Christianity all over the world; hence, unless every group and community of people in the world becomes Christian, Judgement Day will not arrive. The strategic tactic of religious proselytizers like Ranjan Chutia has been to enmesh morality and charity together with faith. In this way, their message has been marketed widely without raising an iota of doubt both among the newly converted ones and as well as the common populace of the region. As argued by Rajiv Malhotra in his famous work Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines, Christianity is popularly marketed in America today as an act of saving the heathens from a lifetime of fear and demonic oppression. The target includes Hindu deities, gurus, society, rituals and any spokespersons who speak up on behalf of Dharma.

This same tactic has been employed in Bharat too. An interesting aspect of the religious conversion activities undertaken by the missionaries is that the converts, most of whom are largely poor and unsuspecting Hindus, are allowed to carry on with their cultural-identity markers which differentiate one religious community from the other. In the context of Assam, this includes the wearing of sindoor and bindi on the foreheads of converted Christian women and dhoti-seleng saador among the converted Christian men when they visit the Church for prayers. Cultural appropriation of religious names and symbols can at best be seen in the nomenclature of the Church which is referred to as ‘Jixu Krisno’r Namghar’ by the people who regularly visit the World Healing Prayer Center at Moran.

It is because the symbolism associated with a particular culture and its rituals (not necessarily religious) is so powerful that it is able to leave behind a significant amount of cultural memory among its followers, for whom it is not completely easy to forego the distinctive traits of that culture, passed on to them over several generations. The Christian missionaries have well understood this fact. Accordingly, Christianity has indigenised itself in the region by first borrowing and then appropriating important cultural aspects from the local Hindu traditions. Eventually, this appropriation becomes normalised in the regular day-to-day lives of the people. It poses a serious danger to the unique and diverse cultural and religious practices and belief systems of the Hindus, which have been diluted of their original Vedic essence through co-option into Christianity.

In order to eventually Christianise the Hindus, the initial attempt of the Church is to establish separate identities among them, by showing their linguistic separation from devbhasha Sanskrit. The next important step is to reinterpret their oral narratives, stories, and diverse forms of nature worship in a manner that maximises the difference from or opposition to Sanatan culture and civilisation. Eventually, those aspects of Hindu Sanatan Dharma that can be accommodated within Christianity are credited to Christian influences, whereas those that contradict it are denigrated as the distortions by greedy Brahmanas. A separate history is then developed to show that the ancestors of these communities (especially janajatis) were the inhabitants of the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation, prior to the hypothetical colonisation perpetrated on them by the ‘foreign Aryans’.

This represents the beginning of the formation of a politicised sub-national identity among these communities, who then position themselves as historical victims in their relationships to the rest of the Indian population. It becomes a trigger to the eventual rise of secessionist movements, as we have seen in the states of Nagaland and Mizoram in particular, in Uttar Purba Bharat. The Constitution of India declares that the ‘Right to Propagate’ one’s religion does not include the right to convert another person through means, fair or foul. It is because religious conversions impinge upon the ‘freedom of conscience’ guaranteed to all persons alike, i.e. the inner freedom of an individual to mould his/her relationship with Ishwar or other living/non-living creatures in whatever way he/she desires.

We need to understand that a very well-organised and powerful global machinery is in operation behind people like Ranjan Chutiya and many others. Both Islam and Christianity are non-Indic faiths that have imposed themselves on Bharat through military conquest and political domination. The grand narrative of our country is rooted in Hindu/Indic values based on acceptance (not tolerance), rather than a copy-cat version of Western (European) secularism. In the matter of religious conversions, what is ‘forcible’ and what constitutes ‘voluntary’ is a rather shady area that is very much dependent upon people’s subjective feelings and emotions at a particular point of time with regard to a matter as sensitive as religion. ‘Forcible’ relates to against one’s own will, while ‘voluntary’ comes closer to individual choice.

Although some sections of the Christian converts in Assam and elsewhere claim that they voluntarily chose to convert into Christianity, but the irony remains as to whether such a choice has really been an informed one. The issue is whether the religious belief systems of one community have been critiqued in an honest and comprehensive light or always portrayed in a disparaging manner by the other. If the idea is to prove the superiority of one faith by projecting it as more simplistic, less complicated and less time-consuming than the other, the targeted person lacking a proper understanding of his own faith is ultimately made to feel apologetic about it in his subconscious mind. Understanding religious conversions in the light of freedom of choice, but re-conversion back to one’s original faith as communalism and a divisive policy has, for long, been a tactic of the Church to tap into the fault-lines of caste and community divide of the Hindu society.

References:

  1. Census of India, 2011. Ministry of Home Affairs. Government of India.
  2. Malhotra, Rajiv & Neelakandan, Aravindan. (2011). Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines. New Delhi: Manjul Publishing House.
  3. Sahat, K.N. (1990). A Theoretical Model for the Study of the Christianization Process among the Tribals of Chotanagpur, in Buddhadeb Chaudhuri (ed). Tribal Transformation in India (Five Volumes). New Delhi: Inter-India Publishers.
  4. https://www.google.com/amp/s/swarajyamag.com/amp/story/culture%252Fhow-northeast-india-was-christianised-in-the-last-100-years/
  5. https://www.dharmadispatch.in/amp/story/history/how-nehrus-fascination-for-verrier-elwin-helped-christianise-indias-north-east?

(The writer holds a PhD in Political Science and regularly writes on issues related to Assam and Uttar Purba Bharat).