Religious Tolerance

When I see people in India screaming and shouting to support their religion I feel that they are missing the point. In India we are too concerned with what is happening with other people and we take the freedom we have for granted. That is especially the case when it comes to Religion. Religious co-existence has been a topic high on everyones discussion list. Especially every time a terrorist attack takes place.

I have seen a very different kind of religious tolerance and co-existence here in UK. Few examples I shall present through photographs taken in and around Southall, an area known for its ‘Indian’ feel. There are lot of Sikhs living in and around Southall. It is home to one of the largest gurudwaras outside India (photographs can be seen on my website).

Above: Church advertising in Punjabi.

Above: The gurudwara (Shri Guru Singh Sabha) faces a Christian cemetary. This picture was taken from the Gurudwara entrance.

Above: Shree Ram Mandir next to a Christian cemetary in Southall.

Above: A march for religious unity on the occassion of Christmas.

I think my friend put it really nicely that day… that when you are in your own country you can scream and shout about religion all you want but when you are outside your brain works in a straight line because you don’t have any options.

Could we have a Ram Temple next to a Christian cemetary in India? Would we think of making one?

Maybe religious tolerance is just a question having no options or having too many options?

Property Cases in New Delhi…

Money is the root of all evil and money is at the root of property. Whether it is a house or a flat. Skyrocketing prices of real estate in Delhi has ensured that the worst side of human nature is exposed in family relationships.

How does a typical property case start?

It starts with a family with multiple real brothers/sisters, a property, a doubt in the ownership and usually a builder interested in the property (if it is a house and not a flat).

The various children have ego issues with each other and within themselves. This includes jealousy for the other persons success and simple greed. If that is not the case then a builder comes along who wants that property and doesn’t want to pay full price. He plants the seed of greed in one of the siblings head.

Then one of the brothers/sisters files a suit of partition against his/her siblings. Usually only those people are made party to the suit who have a right in the property and have not explicitly signed away that right.

The person filing the case becomes the plaintiff and the person(s) against whom it is filed are defendants.

Obviously to file a case one has to go to a lawyer.  Not many lawyers are going to tell you not to file a case and settle it outside the court. Most lawyers are going to tell you that your case is winnable. The person filing the case is already pumped up and aching to go. Ego rules the brain.

Property cases are good because they take a long time and provide a lawyer with regular income.

The real fun and games begin once the notice is served to the defendants. Especially if they happen to be neighbours. This activates the ego of the defendants. All ties are broken. No one goes to the other persons house and obviously every move is treated with utmost suspicion. From that day all communication takes place through the lawyers.

Initially the plaintiff is really pumped up. Comes to each hearing. Then as the case gets more complicated with the defendant’s lawyer throwing punches and mixing up things a single case gives birth to multiple cases in different courts.

This obviously reduces the enthusiasm of the plaintiff but stil the ego is there. So he starts coming only for the crucial hearings (which happen once in 3-4 months). All this while both the lawyers are pretending to be gearing up for the fight of their life. This also ensures their clients that yes things are progressing.

As months turn into years and a grand tour of the courts of Delhi begins for both the sides, enthusiasm starts waning and the egos start getting crushed. Then only the most important hearings are attended.

After 4-5 years the ego of both the sides is completely crushed. That is when the lawyers start whispering about a compromise. A property case, while giving decent money over a few years, is a bit like a milk giving animal. There comes a time when you can make more money by slaughtering the animal and selling the meat than by milking it. Lawyers are usually expert at recognising this. They know if a compromise takes place they will get a lump sum of cash which would be at percentage of the property value.

It takes about a year for both the lawyers to bring the parties on to the table for a compromise. The most common compromise is everyone gets equal share. Once a compromise has taken place the plaintiffs move the court to pass a compromise decree under Order 23 Rule 3 of the Civil Procedure Code of India.

This puts the courts seal on the compromise. It is not a ‘decision’ by the court so it does not preclude further litigation thru ‘res judicata’.

Once the compromise is achieved and all the paperwork is done and over with the lawyer will do a bit of show off in front of the other side to convince their client that they managed to do a brilliant job and that they were in complete control all the time. Furthermore they will show that it was their side who were sensible and generous therefore decided to give a share to the other side.

All in all in any kind of a case one must always remember:

The judge, the lawyers and the legal staff are all actors.

The courtroom is the stage.

The case is a drama.

The poor people caught up in litigation are the hapless victims/spectators who see their fortunes rising and falling without having any control on the acting or the script.

So remember… before you file a case make sure you have tried talking to the other person.

The Constant Dreamer…

The ‘terrorist’ attacks have become painfully regular. Another thing that has become painfully regular is the Government of India (and the various State Governments) being caught with their pants down.

There is now talk of establishing four more NSG hubs across India to deal with such terror attacks (especially because the NSG took 9.5hrs to arrive on the scene in Mumbai) in the future. I mean you could have sent commandos from UK in that much time! That is like increasing the dose of the medicine just because you cannot find any other way of attacking the disease.

What about improving the quality of the State police?

What about providing them with automatic weapons and bulletproof jackets instead of new cars.

What about improving the physical fitness of the police so that they are capable of doing something more than just relax at the Police checkpost?

What about improving coordination between the different agencies both at the State and Central level?

What about spending money to buy things like unmanned aerial surveillance platforms to patrol deserted stretches of the coastline?

On the political front the so-called ‘unified face of politics’, which Mr. L. K. Advani talked about before highlighting the fact that the attacks pointed towards the total failure of ‘State and Central administrations’, did not last long. In fact it did not even last 2 full days. How could it when some of the largest states in India (such as Rajasthan. Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh) are going in for State elections? In fact these attacks couldn’t have come at a better time for the parties currently sitting in the opposition. Delhi (where voting took place on the 29th of November) got hit by a series of bomb blasts recently. Looking at what happened in Mumbai I am sure the people of Delhi are not going to be very happy with the current State government.

RSS has also grown silent after the attacks in Mumbai. I think they have conveniently forgotten how they were targetting non-Marathi Indians working in Maharashtra till about two weeks ago. It is parties like these which must be inspiring the terrorists. I mean if we start attacking our own people surely troublemakers from abroad are going to be able to find at least a few friends there! We should remember that the Central Government controls approximately 5,00,000 crore Rupees through the budget. I am sure everyone wants a crack at that.

The people of India can only respond in one way. The only way which will ensure that the political parties learn a good lesson. Demand the immediate resignation of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra along with all the Ministers responsible for security and saftey of the population. Shivraj Patil the Union Home Minister resigned. That is not enough. There should be legal proceedings against him and it should be ensured that he does not hold any position in any elected body in India ever again.

Similarly there should be negligence proceedings against all the associated Ministers and administrators. That is the only way they are going to learn.

But none of this will happen. I dream of this.. that is why I am the constant dreamer… waiting for the day these dreams turn to reality.