Opinion, Politics, Sports

Is it time to bid adieu to Mahi and Yuvi?

TH21DHONI
Dhoni & Yuvraj (Picture courtesy: The Hindu)

Is it time to bid adieu to Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni two legends of Indian cricket? These two are without doubt cricketing icons of India, Dhoni more so than Yuvraj who is in my opinion the most popular, scrutinized, and written-about Indian cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar. This question assumes importance particularly after the ICC Champions trophy where the performance of these two and specifically the slots they occupied – 4 and 5 were the subject of much discussion. It was also clearly obvious that India were playing an extra batsman to cover for the inconsistency in the performance of numbers 4 and 5, the slots occupied by Yuvraj and Dhoni respectively.

It’s true that these two cricketers have been great champions and servants of Indian cricket but as in every sportsperson’s life there comes a time when the mind is strong but the body is not, the will exists but the skill resists and the strokes are there but the bowlers have sorted you out and the writing on the wall starts to become clearer – many great sportsmen and women have reached this stage, when the writing is on the wall and the time to take a call on their careers stares them in the face – it is not an easy decision particularly when one has got accustomed to the rigor and discipline, the camaraderie, and the adulation of fans, colleagues and peers.

We have before us examples of Indian cricketers who took the call at the right time – when fans ask “why now?” rather than “When?” Sunil Gavaskar showed he was a master of timing not just at the crease but also when it came to taking a call on his cricketing career when he quit after playing what is considered one of the greatest innings of all time – against Pakistan at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru on a minefield of a pitch with Pakistani spinners Tauseef Ahmed and Iqbal Qasim spinning the ball like a top.(1)

We have also on the other hand had the experience of another legend Kapil Dev huffing and puffing his way to the then world record tally of 432 test wickets hanging on in hope and desperation even though he was well past his prime.(2) The great G.R. Viswanath is another example of someone who did not get his timing right when it came to taking a call on their careers.

Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble left when they knew that their time was up and when they realized that MS Dhoni was building “his” own team that had no place for them . Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman had to be nudged gently but they took the call when they still had something left in the tank. (3, 4)

Now, the clock has come full-circle and it is time to take a call on the careers of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.

Dhoni is just a few days shy of 36 years of age now and will be almost 38 by the time of the 2019 World Cup to be played in England and Wales (30 May 2019 – 15 Jul 2019). Yuvraj is just a few months younger to Dhoni and will be almost the same age come the next world cup – Questions must and should be asked about whether their they would be automatic choices for slots 4 and 5. In posing this question an assessment of the following should be made:

  1. Current form, fitness, and consistency
  2. Ability to perform consistently and deliver results on the international stage – now and two years from now
  3. Do we have replacements in India now who can fit into these roles and should we be making the necessary investments and providing them the opportunities so that they are ready for the World Cup?
  4. Are we playing an extra sixth batsman at slot 7 just to cover for the inconsistency in the performances of those occupying slots 4 and 5
  5. Given their current performance will they be automatic choices for slots two years from now or would be facing a situation where we would be scrambling for replacements with very little time left and no preparation whatsoever
  6. Can they deliver on all their skills? – Yuvraj should ideally be able to bat, bowl, and field and Dhoni should be able to bat and keep wickets

While arguments on the basis of class, seniority, and past performances can be made, what should matter is performance and results on the field of play and for this a look at the cold facts – numbers and statistics comparing past performances against recent record should be a good indicator.

MS Dhoni’s statistics:

Table 1 (5,6) below provides a snapshot of MS Dhoni’s career. Row-1 of the table provides overall career statistics starting with his debut in 2004 through to the present (2017). Row-2 covers the last two years and Row-3 summarizes information from 2004 through 2014 (in order to compare the past performance versus the performance in the last two years to see if there is any decline in key deliverables).

As is evident from the table, there has been a significant drop in Dhoni’s batting average from 52.85 (2004-2014) to 39.90 (2015-2017) a difference of (-12.95) which indicates a steep decline in run-scoring ability and consistency.

Interestingly his Strike Rate has only dropped marginally. During the period 2004 through 2014, Dhoni scored a fifty every 4.5 matches, that has halved now to a fifty every 8.3 matches (2015-2017). Clearly when it comes to batting performance there has been a significant and steep drop in delivery.

Table 1: MS Dhoni Career Stats

Player Period Match Runs HS Avg SR 100s 50s Ct St
MS Dhoni 2004-2017 291 9342 183* 50.77 89.04 10 62 273 94
2015-2017 41 1150 134 39.90 87.38 1 6 46 9
2004-2014 250 8192 183* 52.85 89.28 9 56 227 85

What about the other parameters listed above? How does Dhoni fare? As regards fitness Dhoni is right up there with the fittest in the world and his glove-work behind the stumps continues to be exemplary. The question however is whether he will be able to retain this level of fitness when he is 38 years old by the time of the next world cup in 2019. Then again one must remember that the next World cup is going to be played in England and Wales and Dhoni’s record in that part of the World has not been something to write home about. See Table-2 (7) (MS Dhoni’s career stats in England)

Table 2 – MS Dhoni Performance in England (as a venue & against all opposition)

Player Period Match Runs HS Avg SR 100s 50s Ct St
MS Dhoni 2004-2017 26 586 78* 36.62 86.94 0 6 11 8

In the 26 matches he has played in England he averages 36.62, well below his career average and even lower than his overall average of 39.90 in the last two years. His strike rate is marginally lower, with a highest score of 78. The question of whether he would be able to deliver in England, 2019 is definitely valid and the selectors should be indeed concerned and discussing these aspects.

Besides the quantitative drop in Dhoni’s abilities with the bat, what is also clearly evident in the recent past and particularly in the last year is that two of Dhoni’s strengths – the acceleration at the death while batting and the ability to clear the boundary at will have both gone missing. Bowlers are also finding it easier to cramp Dhoni by bowling slightly short and into his body. The famous helicopter and ramp shots that deposited yorkers into the crowd have also disappeared. Therefore the sad truth is that Dhoni’s abilities with the bat are declining both quantitatively and qualitatively.

One can only conclude that Dhoni may still be fit and perhaps the best wicketkeeper in India but in an era where wicketkeepers in most teams are expected to perform a crucial role with the bat, Dhoni’s waning skills with the bat are clearly affecting Team India’s chances. Rishab Pant has had a wonderful year in both domestic and IPL cricket this year. His performances in International U-19 tournaments have also been noteworthy and now may well be the right time to blood him and groom him for the World Cup in England and Wales.

Yuvraj Singh’s statistics:

Yuvraj Singh has always been an “impact” player – that has always been his USP – his ability to turn a match on its head – a blinder with the bat, a spectacular catch, a stunning runout, or an important breakthrough with the ball – these define his value to the team. This is reflected in his stats (8,9) as well (see Table-3 below). Not a great average but there is evidence to show that every time he has scored a century or made a quick-fire fifty, or pulled off a magical catch, or broken through a troublesome batting partnership with his innocuous but effective bowling he has been instrumental in taking India to a win or putting them in a strong position.

Table 3 – Yuvraj Singh overall career stats

Player Period Match Runs HS Avg SR 100s 50s Wkt Ct
Yuvraj Singh 2000-2017 301 8644 150 36.78 87.76 14 52 111 94
2015-2017 8 315 150 52.50 104.30 1 1 0 0
2000-2014 293 8329 139 36.37 89.28 13 51 111 93

There is no doubt that he can still bat, still play that majestic innings that demoralizes the opposition. In fact his batting average and strike rate since his comeback are significantly higher than his overall average and strike rate but his fielding has deteriorated alarmingly and the captain needs to hide him in the field. Since his comeback he has not turned his arm over and doesn’t look like he wants to or would be able to bowl. Clearly, Yuvraj can’t deliver on two of his three skills and that is a huge drawback for Team India. His fielding and fitness are surely going to deteriorate further in the two years leading up to the World Cup in England-2019.

In the case of Yuvraj more than in the case of MS Dhoni India has several players who can more than fill the gap. Once can’t fathom how a player of the caliber of Suresh Raina who is a great one-day batsman, a superb fielder, and someone who can bowl competently is being kept out in order to accommodate Yuvraj. There are several other younger, fitter cricketers, who can make the cut – Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, and Krunal Pandya to name just a few.

Finally, Yuvraj’s performance while playing in England is nothing to write home about (10) (See Table-4). His average is lower than his overall career average and strike rate is marginally lower than his overall strike rate. If he can’t deliver on his other two skills namely bowling and fielding then there really is no point in sticking with Yuvraj till the world cup.

Table 4 – Yuvraj Singh Performance in England (as a venue & against all opposition)

Player Period Match Runs HS Avg SR 100s 50s Wkt Ct
Yuvraj Singh 2000-2017 24 688 72 34.40 87.30 0 5 8

Rahul Dravid in his inimitable style minced no words when he urged the selectors to take a decisive call on both players and decide on the future roadmap of Indian Cricket. The ball as they say is in the selectors’ court and they would do well to think wisely and decide on the basis of what is in the long-term interest of Indian cricket.

Perhaps a quiet word with the two cricketers should move things alone in the right direction and without ruffling too many feathers. After all, this has been the preferred method followed by the Indian cricket establishment for a long time now.


References:

  1. Available at: (http://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/sunil-gavaskars-epic-last-test-innings-exactly-25-years-ago-12451). Last accessed: July 21, 2017.
  2. Available at: http://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/kapil-dev-conquers-final-frontier-to-get-past-richard-hadlees-world-record-for-test-wickets-22864. Last accessed: July 21, 2017.
  3. Available at: http://www.firstpost.com/sports/ask-laxman-why-he-retired-dhoni-426488.html. Last accessed: July 21, 2017.
  4. Available at: http://www.espncricinfo.com/india-v-new-zealand-2012/content/story/578096.html. Last accessed: July 21, 2017.
  5. Available at: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/zones/insights?insights=player&player_id=7593. Last accessed: July 21, 2017
  6. Available at: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/28081.html?class=2;home_or_away=1;home_or_away=2;home_or_away=3;spanmax2=31+dec+2014;spanmin2=01+jan+2004;spanval2=span;template=results;type=allround. Last accessed: July 22, 2017.
  7. Available at: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/zones/insights?insights=player&player_id=7593. Last accessed: July 21, 2017
  8. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/zones/insights?insights=player&player_id=7716
  9. http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/36084.html?class=2;spanmax1=31+dec+2014;spanval1=span;template=results;type=allround

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/zones/insights?insights=player&player_id=7716

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Politics, Terror

10 minutes of mayhem on London Bridge

Below is a partial reconstruction of the nightmare that visited London Bridge and Burroughs market on Saturday night (June 7, 2017). It is a 10-minute snapshot of how “evil” in the form of a vehicle and 3-men spouting an ideology while brandishing 12-inch blades went about knocking down, running over, chopping, slashing, and stabbing innocent people and in the process ushering in a new “normal” where no place is safe and every person shall be looked at with suspicion.

10 minutes of mayhem, terror, and death on London Bridge:

9:58 PM: A quiet Saturday night, Real Madrid had just beaten Juventus thanks to Ronaldo’s magic and the Thames flowed serenely below London Bridge. On London Bridge itself, people strolled about and revelers in the pubs nearby, downed their last mugs of beer… A white B&Q Van with yellow stripes driven at an estimated speed of 50 mph (approximately 80.5 kms) veered on to the bridge and mounted the pavement knocking some of the walkers/strollers into the water below and running over a few.

Initial reactions were that it was a case of “driving under the influence” and a few bystanders apparently even started walking up to the vehicle which had come to a halt on the South side of the bridge after having left a trail of victims in its wake and crashing into the guardrail outside Barrowboy and Banker pub on Borough street.

09:59 – 10:08 PM: Three men stepped out of the van armed with what looked like kitchen knives and went on a kicking, stabbing, and slashing spree, attacking innocent bystanders, those they had knocked down a few moments ago, and walkers – at random, cold bloodedly, and with zero compunction.

The attackers walked into the pubs and restaurants slashing and stabbing shouting “This is for Allah” Some people in the restaurants fought back gallantly hurling whatever they could lay their hands on – tables, chairs, beer glasses, and bottles in an attempt to divert the attackers attention and save lives.

It must have been a surreal, dazzlingly frightening scene with the demented attackers slashing without thought for their own lives or the lives of those they were taking – As one eyewitness recounted: “The knife was down by his side, sort of swinging it like a branch, like a 10-year-old in the woods…”

10:08 – 10:16 PM: The first call to the police was made at 10:08 PM and soon police sirens blared with officers combing bars and hotels searching for the killers and asking people to make a dash to safety. The end was brutal and quick with the police gunning down the killers at 10:16 PM, eight minutes after they received the first call, firing an unprecedented 50 rounds of bullets.

Predictably the ISIS through their affiliated news agency “Amaq” in an Arabic tweet claimed responsibility for this act of terror as well and they were not wrong. It is indeed their ideology that is at the heart of this act of terror and several others before this and the many more that are sure to come in the future.

The perpetrators of London Bridge Terror Attack– same old story:

The police named two of the perpetrators – Khuram Butt, a resident of Barking; East London believed to be the leader of the trio was 27 and a son of migrant asylum seekers from Pakistan. Butt was apparently known to the police as someone who had been radicalized. He had been named and shamed in a Channel-4 documentary “The Jihadis next door”.

He had also been reported by neighbors who complained that Butt was attempting to “brainwash”, convert and radicalize their children. He was also reported to the police by a friend and fellow-muslim alarmed at the justification and radical views Butt had started to spout.

Butt had apparently become radicalized by listening to YouTube videos of American hate preacher Musa Jibril. Despite the mounting evidence and knowing all along that Butt was a ticking time bomb the British authorities, police, Scotland Yard did nothing.

The second terrorist named by the police Rachid Redouane, 30 also from Barking, East London was not known to the police. The third terrorist (not named as yet) is believed to be a foreigner and not a citizen of UK.

London Bridge Terror Attack: No end in sight

Why did the police do nothing despite having at their disposal enough evidence that Khuram Butt was a dangerous man? Apparently, he was not considered a very serious threat as yet. To think that someone considered “not a serious threat” led a team of three in a killing spree speaks for how the liberal left has lost the plot when confronting and tackling jihadi terror.

The ISIS propaganda machine working overtime continues to spawn more and more “warriors of jihad” who are willing to lay down their lives in the hope of Jannat (paradise). The truth however bitter is that the ISIS is winning the propaganda war.

Further, it must be made clear that condemning “Islamism”; the theocratic ideology of supremacism that is at the root of these acts of terror is not the same as condemning Islam and/or Muslims.

It must also be said that it is no longer enough for Muslims to just say that they “condemn” the violence/terror; they have to go beyond that. The time for platitudes is over. When a “moderate” Muslim says that there is no place for violence in Islam then he/she is completely wrong because it is the twisted vision in Islam that is used by the ISIS to radicalize young Muslims.

The Muslims across the world who believe in freedom, pluralism, and true secularism must go beyond condemnation and call out the theocratic vision/ideology that drives these terrorists.

And for the liberals, as long as they continue to obfuscate and drag their feet without openly condemning the foundational ideology that spawns these acts of terror there seems to be no end in sight. The cycle of terror, deaths, candle-light vigils, condemnation, and terror shall continue.


A version of this article appeared in Rightlog.in on June 7, 2017. You can read it here

Culture, Religon

The four Vedas – Saama Veda

The word “Saama” is derived from the Sanskrit root “साम” which means to “appease”, “soothe”, “calm”, comfort”, “conciliate”. The word

Saama-veda-murthy
Saama Veda Murthy

Saama” therefore means “that which soothes and relaxes the mind and promises peace.

The Saama Veda contains “Riks” i.e. verses/shlokas from the Rig Veda set to music. In chanting the Rig Veda one would chant the mantras with the udaatta (upward swara) and the anudhaatta (downward swara). In chanting the Saama Veda the same “Rik” would be “sung” with an elongated swara.

The Saama Veda / Saama Gaana is considered to be the source of the Sapta (seven) Swaras (notes) of Indian Classical Music. In Yajnas, one designated priest called the “Udgaata” who chants the Saama Veda to propitiate the Gods and ensure their grace.

The musical rendition and the elongated notes when chanted in sequence and with the proper diction has a calming influence on the mind and is extremely conducive to the spiritual evolution of the self – It is because of this virtue of the Saama Veda, that Shri Krishna declared in the Bhagavad Gita “Amongst the Vedas, I am Saama Veda“.

In the Lalitha Sahasranaama Stotra, which literally means the “1,000 names of the divine mother” one of the names given to her is “Saama-Gaana-Priya” – “She who is pleased/propitiated by the recitation of Saama Veda

Watch the YouTube video below showing the brain activity of a 26 year old man, while listening to Saama Veda chanting with his eyes closed [Red indicates brain activation and Blue indicates deactivation] – it is interesting to note how, even with eyes closed, the Visual Cortex lights up


References:

  1. Brain activity video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbDdmTlTwoCUx2p7nScbUCw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX11bBpuKlU)
  2. Deivathin Kural Volume-2; Vanathi Publications; 2016 edition/Reprint
  3. The Vedas – Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; 2014.
  4. Sama Veda Murthy: http://www.reocities.com/venkatharihara/Vedas.html

Disclaimer: Copyright with regard to images / videos rests with the owner/creator and are not being used for any commercial purpose.

Politics

Regulation of Livestock Markets or Beef Ban? Sifting the facts from fiction

cow
Image for representative purpose only

The macabre blood dance played out in Kerala and shared across social media sites of a bunch of barbaric Youth Congress goons holding down an innocent calf, one of them slitting its throat and then all of them enacting a war dance even as the Calf’s life ebbs out minute by agonizing minute is a reflection of the of the utter depravity of the times we live in. This was not the end of it. The CPI-M not to be left out joined in and more Cows, Bulls, Buffalos, and calves were put to the sword.

If the reaction by political parties was shocking, the reportage by Mainstream Media (MSM) and trigger happy authors was pathetic to say the least. The blame for what transpired in Kerala and what is being planned in parts of TN and Karnataka must be squarely laid at the feet of the unscrupulous elements within the media establishment who went to town proclaiming that the government had issued a decree that amounted to a “Blanket Beef Ban”.

This was followed by a predictable but utterly one-sided, ill-informed, and cacophonic barrage on the virtual highways of Social Media that firmly established this lie as the truth and led to the spiraling of what was a minor notification to the Gazette of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, into a debate on freedom, choice, and infringement of individual rights and liberty.

In a world that communicates more than ever before, the greatest casualty has been communication itself. This strange oxymoron is the only truth of a virtual world where anyone with a smart phone is an expert on subjects spanning the entire gamut of human knowledge.

I have gone over the entire Gazette notification running into 12 pages with a fine-toothed comb and have not been able to locate even one reference to Beef, Blanket, or Ban – the three Bs that have been bandied about by all and sundry. It must be said though that the NDA government erred in not issuing a clarification or calling out those who were guilty of spreading false information – by that logic this government is also guilty by association.

In this article, we take a look at what this new notifications actually outlines and show how this is actually a noteworthy attempt at regulating the sale of cattle (not just cows and bulls) and that there is no mention of any ban on beef or for that matter any mention of the word ban itself.

The first point that jumps out of the Gazette Notification (see image below and relevant portion underlined) is the fact that a draft notification was made available for public scrutiny inviting comments, suggestions and feedback as early as January 16, 2017 and those that were received were considered before the final Notification was issued. The question therefore is where were all these people who are raising objections now when they could have used the opportunity to share their views, suggestions, and even make public their concerns?

Gazette-notificationThe notification further clarifies that “these rules may be called the Prevention of Cruelty to animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets, 2017)” – no mention of cow, beef, or ban clearly.

The two key points to be noted, in the gazette feature under the “Definitions” section of the notification and include an expanded and clearer definition of what constitutes an “Animal Market” and the creation of an “Animal Market Committee”.  “The “animal market” means a market place or sale-yard or any other premises or places to which animals are brought from other places and exposed for sale or auction and includes any lairage adjoining a market or slaughterhouse…”

The “Animal Market Committee” shall include members drawn from the Chief Municipal Office, Jurisdictional Tahasildar, Jurisdictional Veterinary Officer, Jurisdictional Police Inspector, a representative from the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and two representatives from the Animal Welfare Organization making this body truly representative and inclusive.

Importantly, all animal markets functional prior to the commencement of these rules should register with the committee within a 90-day window (from the commencement of these rules). New applications for the establishment of any new animal market shall be whetted by the committee before being given permission.

Of the several responsibilities of this committee, a key responsibility would be the strict implementation of steps to ensure that no animal market is located in a place situated within twenty five (25) kilometers from any State border and/or within fifty (50) from any international border. This is one of the most important regulations in the Notification that should go a long way in preventing inter-state and cross-border smuggling and illegal trade of cattle particularly cows, bulls, buffaloes, and camels.

The Animal Market Committee is also authorized to inspect, seize, and suo moto cancel registration of animal markets that contravene the new laws after giving reasonable opportunity to the party of being heard. Veterinary inspectors of the Animal Market Committee shall screen animals entering the market for the presence of infectious diseases and injuries and decide on treatment, quarantine, or emergency euthanasia as the case may be.

Sections 14 and 15 of the notification list all practices considered cruel and harmful and the protection of animals from injury or unnecessary pain or suffering – this has been sufficiently expanded to include all modes of cruelty being practiced currently. (At the end of this article, a link to the PDF of the Gazette notification is provided for those who would be interested in reading the notification in its entirety.)

Section 22 of the Gazette notification which deals with the sale of cattle titled “Restrictions on the sale of cattle” is probably the only section that could be considered contentious given how loosely regulated the sale of cattle has been thus far in our country. This is probably the only section that could have been objected to, if at all, and even then a civilized and rational discussion could have sorted out differences if any and provided clarity. Also, the “30-day review-window” provided by the government could also have been used to make changes (if any) to this section.

Section 22 prevents the sale of young animals. Further, an animal cannot be traded without a written declaration signed by the owner of the cattle or his/her duly authorized agent. All animals sold at the animal market would be only for the purpose of agriculture and not for the purpose of slaughter or sacrifice.

It is probably this restriction that is at the heart of the entire hullabaloo. In all probability slaughter houses were indulging in illegal buying of perfectly healthy cattle from animal markets when in reality the animal markets are primarily for the purpose of trading in cattle for use in agricultural lands and for agricultural purposes. Nowhere in the notification does it say that slaughter houses are banned from buying cattle directly from farmers for the purpose of slaughter but clearly the illegal practice of slaughter houses buying from animal markets and also the practice of locating slaughter houses adjacent to or very near animal markets is being sought to be prevented or at least restricted and this is as it should be.

In the short term though it is clear that slaughter houses that had it easy and could procure cattle without any restrictions would be put to some difficulty but as mentioned earlier there are no restrictions on buying of cattle directly from farmers. The Government could perhaps look into this aspect and come out with guidelines on how slaughter houses would receive cattle going forward for their businesses to continue to thrive.

It is this aspect that media houses, politicians, and expert commentators should have debated instead of indulging in meaningless polemics and mass slaughter of innocent calves in broad daylight.

In conclusion, it is clear that the prime focus of this notification/regulation is the prevention of cruelty to animals and ensuring protection of animals from needless suffering and pain during the process of handling, transportation, and caging/penning. The clause that restricts the setting up of a slaughter house within 25 kilometers of a State border and 50 kilometers within an International border is another laudable step to prevent the smuggling and illegal inter-state and trans-border trade of cattle. The restriction on sale is only restricted to the animal market and does not prevent direct sale from farmer to slaughter houses.

Mainstream media would do well to report and inform the truth to people rather than focus on building narratives that suit their paymasters in the political arena. Politicians would be advised to focus on their primary job which is to work for the welfare of the state and subjects rather than working to expand fault lines and stoke divisive tendencies within the country.


This article was first published in Rightlog.in on May 30, 2017 under the title: “You are being taken in by the media reports about beef ban, The government report presents an entirely different story” Link to the article on the site is here (Click to read)

Link to the Notification:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxUOtzSmvRPYQU1WclFLdHc3Y2M/view

Image of Cow: http://blog.daum.net/pzkpfw3485/2247962

 

Opinion, Politics, Terror

The Manchester terror attack and the ideological conundrum

ISIS.jpg

Manchester arena was rocked by a bomb blast at 10:33 PM (DST; UK), May 23, 2017 killing 22 and seriously wounding 59. Many of those killed or injured in the Manchester Attack were teenagers, children, or their mothers who were exiting the arena after enjoying the Ariana Grande concert and least expected to be the target of a suicide bomber. What followed however was on expected lines. Political leaders expressed their condemnation and promised solidarity and support. Left-leaning commentators talked about the need for solidarity and how this had nothing to do with religion or ideology and security pundits speculated about whether this was one of those lone-wolf attacks. We examine each of these assumptions and attempt to debunk them all.

The most common theory/method employed to make terror attacks look like regular criminal activities is the myth of the Lone Wolf.

Manchester Attack – The myth of the lone wolf:

Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the Manchester attack was no “lone wolf”, (a reference to a single misguided individual, not affiliated to an ideology or organization, who mounts an attack on innocents).

This theory of the “lone wolf” is being given a quiet and quick burial and that is how it should be. It is time to make it fashionable once again to call a spade, a spade. Mouthing platitudes and condemning terror while sidestepping the key issues of indoctrination, ideology, and the doctrines of Jannat (Paradise) and Jihad will simply not do.

There is an ideology of terror and superiority of one religion/race that is being preached and youngsters indoctrinated and turned into killing machines that needs to be called out if this menace has to be contained if not wiped out. Maajid Nawaaz the founding chairman of the Quilliam foundation, a counter-extremism think tank and himself a reformed Islamist, author of the autobiographical bestseller “Radical” while speaking to Christian Amanpour of CNN highlighted how this myth of “lone-wolf” attacks has to be debunked. He pointed out how research has shown that terrorist attacks are rarely “lone-wolf” if at all.

Studies have shown that up to 80% of all terrorist attacks have Jihadi connections and/or affiliations that have led to the radicalization and indoctrination of the individual or individuals before these people get to the “point of operational capability”. He went on to add that these people “maybe self-starters” but they have come to this point after being under the sway of the insidious ideology of Islamism and Jihadism and therefore are never really “alone”.

He specifically identified three reasons for the perpetuation of the “lone wolf” theory:

  1. Suits the security services who use the lone-wolf theory to cover their own failing and mistakes
  2. Suits politicians for whom this is a convenient excuse to do nothing other than spout platitudes while claiming that they can do little about such “lone-wolf” attacks
  3. Suits certain people in the community who willingly turn a blind eye to the real danger of Islamist ideology and its manifestations in the form of Jihadism that has been spreading unchecked for way too long.

Therefore the term “lone-wolf” is a misnomer and is used only as a convenient way to cover up intelligence lapses and political expediency. It is also an easy way to look the other way and not confront the uncomfortable truth of what is a very real, clear, and present danger – the rapid pace at which sections of the global Muslim community are being radicalized and indoctrinated. The fight is not against Muslims but against an ideology that if unchecked will spell doom for the world at large.

Manchester Attack – The ideological conundrum:

Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that there is a problem? Why is it acceptable to criticize Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism but not OK to criticize Islam? Why is it so difficult to understand that criticizing Islam is NOT the same as victimizing Muslims? Let us examine this present case – As per the Telegraph, Salman Abedi was born in Manchester and not in an ISIS stronghold. He was a British citizen who did not think twice before taking the lives of his own countrymen. His parents fled to the UK to escape persecution under Gaddafi.

It is believed that Salman Abedi was radicalized recently and had returned from Libya only a few days ago – the irony of this shouldn’t be lost on anyone.

He worshipped in a mosque that had in the past been accused of raising funds for Jihadist causes. His parents had moved back to Libya in 2011 after Gaddafi’s death and Salman Abedi’s visits to Libya increased in frequency. The imam of the mosque called Abedi a “dangerous” man who showed him the “face of hate” and that he was not surprised that it had come to this pass. The question however is why did the imam who was so sure that Abedi was a “dangerous” man, not report him to the police and/or the authorities? Shouldn’t red flags have gone up within MI6 and the police department when they (by their own admission) knew about Abedi’s frequent visits to Libya? Shouldn’t he have been under closer scrutiny or better still placed under preventive arrest after he had returned from his latest trip to Libya?

The Telegraph in the same report quotes one Lina Ahmed, 21, as saying: “They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely. A couple of months ago he [Salman Abedi] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic”. The signs were there for all to see but none acted.

Clearly, there is an ideology that is turning young Muslims into violent Jihadists who are willing to die and slaughter in the name of this ideology – this ideology is the ideology of Islamism (Islamic militancy and fundamentalism) and needs to be called out for what it is and tackled on a war footing. Calling it out is not bigotry and does not in any way victimize Muslims and is certainly not an attack on Islam and if pointing to fundamentalism and bigotry in other religions is acceptable then so should this be as well.

Manchester Attack – Platitudes will no longer suffice

Meaningless platitudes and calls for solidarity and support simply will not do. It is not all right to go back to our lives after a few candle light marches and all-night vigils at the site of the bombing(s). We can no longer pretend that this is normal and the odd terror attack in big cities is par for the course.

An examination of the timeline of terrorist attacks starting with the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015 through to yesterday’s Manchester bombings shows that an estimated 300 lives have been lost, and scores injured, disfigured or crippled for life across the EU. In each and every case the perpetrator was an Islamic Jihadi. Do we still want to say that these people were not driven by an ideology, that they were “self-starters”, “lone wolves”?

The SITE Intel Group which puts out security news with regard to Jihadist/Far-right and Far-left ideologies put out the following English language version of the ISIS which claimed responsibility for the Manchester bombing. The moot point here is not whether this was an ISIS sponsored bombing, rather what is important is to read the language used – specifically the reference to “Khilafah” (Caliphate), “Crusaders” meaning Christians, Mushrikins meaning “Idolators” calling the concert “shameless” and praying that Allah would visit more severe punishment on the “worshippers of the cross and their allies”

You can seal your borders, ban migration, pass all the laws you want but unless you take steps to prevent the spread of this pernicious ideology you will not be able to prevent another Manchester. All it requires is a fundamentalist Imam with a mic, or a crazed jihadi preacher with a broadband connection – This is the problem global leaders, security agencies, and law enforcement agencies have to address now.


This article featured in Rightlog.in on May 24, 2017 under the title: “One method employed to make terror attacks look like regular criminal activities”. Link to that article is here: (Click here)

Culture, Religion

The four Vedas – Yajurveda

yajurveda

The word “Yajus” is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yaj” which means “prayer” or “worship”. The word “Yajna” is also derived from this very root. We saw in the earlier post (click here) on the Rig Veda that the word “Rig” is derived from “Rik” which means a hymn or shloka.

The Yajur Veda systematizes the hymns of the Rig Veda (Riks) into a practical and practicable form – yajnas and procedures of worship and prayer. In summary, that which is chanted in Rig Veda is performed via Yajur Veda.

The two main branches of the Yajur Veda (there are many, as we have seen in an earlier post Click to read) are Shukla Yajur Veda and Krishna Yajur Veda (Shukla = White and Krishna = Black). The Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita is also known as the Vajasaneyi Samhita.

“Vaajasani” is one of the names of the “Sun-god”. There is an interesting story connected to this name and how it came about. When Veda Vyasa finished compiling and collating the Vedas into four, Yajur Veda had only one branch/version – he taught this Yajur Veda to Sage Vaisampayana who in turn taught it to Sage Yajnavalkya. There was a falling out between Teacher and pupil and Sage Vaisampayana ordered that Yajnavalkya must return all the knowledge (of the Yajurveda) back to him, essentially robbing Yajnavalkya of the right to propagate the knowledge of the Yajur Veda to others.

Sage Yajnavalkya not one to take things lying down meditated on the Supreme deity embodied as the Sun (Surya) god and came up with his own version of the Yajur Veda which came to be know as the Shukla Yajur Veda or the Vajasaneyi Samhita. Since Yajnavalkya’s Yajur Veda came to be known as Shukla Yajur Veda, Vaisampayana’s came to be known as Krishna Yajur Veda.

The Yajur Veda provides procedural and explanatory details of the Vedic Karmas and rituals including Somayaga, Darsha Poornamasas, Vaajapeya, Rajasuya, and Ashwamedha.

Most importantly the Sri Rudram in vogue today is the one present in the Yajur Veda. Although a few suktas from the Rudram are present in the Rig and Saama Veda as well, the Sri Rudram in vogue today and that which is chanted, only refers to the one in the Yajur Veda.

It is because of this that the great Saivite saint Appayya Dikshitar lamented that he should have been born in the Yajur Veda instead of the Saama Veda.

Similarly the Purusha Sukta present in the Rig Veda is also present in the Yajur Veda with minor differences between the two versions. However, when the Purusha Sukta is mentioned, it refers only to the version in the Yajur Veda.

Yajur Veda also holds a special significance for the followers of the Advaita philosophy (non-dualism). As per Sanatana Dharma, any Siddhanta (philosophy), should contain:

  1. A Sutra (Aphorism, definition)
  2. A Bhaashya (Commentary)
  3. A Vaartika (Explanatory notes, clearer and expanded elucidation of the sutra and the Bhaashya)

Sureshwaraacharya, a direct disciple of Adi Sankaracharya wrote the Vaartika  i.e. explanatory notes on the Bhaashya i.e. commentary written by Sankara on two of the Upanishads pertaining to the Krishna Yajurveda – The Taitrriya Upanishad and the Brihadaranyaaka Upanishad.

This is the reason the Yajur Veda holds a special place in the minds of Advaitins