Sunday, March 1, 2009

Should they not live on to have their “Sonams”?

Khushwant Singh – Ji, plese reflect upon:
We are bringing to your kind notice a case of heart -rending murder of a very newly - married young couple of Punjab. The couple dared to have their love marriage according to the law of the land, viz.according to the Special Marriage Act of 1954. This legitimate act of theirs was looked down upon as an inexcusable crime. They were mercilessly killed in the name of “honour-killing”. Ms Ravinder Pal Kaur and her lover Mr Balkar Singh of Punjab got determined to have their marriage. Ms Kaur married her lover on January 01, 2009. She did it against the will of her highly arrogant parents. For obvious reasons the couple approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to direct the police to provide them necessary protection. The High Court did direct the police of both the districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran to provide security to the couple as they were constantly receiving threats from the girl’s parents. The police for reasons best known to them practically ignored the High Court direction. Mr Kabul Singh, father of the girl, along with his son, Rajbir Singh and two cousins, Jatinder Singh and Sarmail Singh, shot the couple dead on 25. 01. 2009 in full public view. This has to be described as the cruelest face of Sikhism. The God - fearing assailants chased the Hero and killed him while he was buying some edibles. The unwritten law in states like Punjab and Haryana is that the police people are to stand motionless in case of honour-killing.

What would the parents do with a “widow” daughter who has already brought bad name to the family? Hence she should be murdered. So the killers ran to the house of the slain Balkar Singh. Seeing them from a distance poor Ravinder ran for her life. The assailants chased her and fired at her indiscriminately, killing her on the spot. No hue and cry on such inhuman honour-killing. No NDTV discussion. No political reaction. Sir on the other day you as one of the most eminent columnists of our country wrote about the sad demise of one of your relations. Your 60 plus relative, Happy, mother of a grown-up daughter, Sonam, working in distant Dubai, died of massive heart attack. This news led you to be stunned with disbelief. In your well - considered opinion, Happy was full of vitality and happy laughter and she should have not died at 61 without enjoying her life to the full. Nothing wrong here Sir. We have to forget about any Happy dying naturally at 61. Sir you are 94. You have clearly enjoyed your life to the full. Kindly look beyond and think of poor Ravinder Pal Kaurs and Balkar Singhs. Should not they live, say, up to 61, to have their own grown - up Sonams, taking jobs in distant Dubai? Should not the people of Punjab feel ashamed of the twin murders that so ghastly took place on 25 January, 2009?

Singh Ji, you are requested to refer to the news item relating to the twin murders that had come out in the Deccan Chronicle of 27 Jan, 2009. Kindly compare the same with your emotion loaded write –up on the sad demise of your relation, Happy as that have come in print in the Deccan Chronicle of 1st Feb, 2009, Chennai.
The Indian nation-state has remained mute and inactive in the area of marriage, love affairs and love marriage. It has virtualy tolerated honour - killings and the forced suicides of the lovers. Even, the National Commission for Women, the State Commissions for Women at different state capitals, Human Rights Commissions- both at the National and State levels - have chosen to sleep over this broad daylight butchery of Human Rights. Commissions whose basic job is to uphold Human Rights do not bother to do anything to save the lives of young men and women who are in deep love and who are being harassed and tortured and, often, killed by their heartless conservative parents. The members of the National Commission for Human Rights and those of the State Commissions are really afraid of hitting at the conservative and reactionary elements of the Indian society. Each individual should enjoy his or her life to the full. Should not this sound norm apply to the lovers? All columnists including you, Sir, should reflect upon this Social Cruelty and draw the attention of our shameless political and police masters who are in the habit of ignoring even High Court orders. Has the AKALI DAL – BJP Government headed by Mr. Prakash Singh Badal taken any action against the police for dishonoring the High Court orders issued for the safety and security of the couple Ravinder Pal Kaur and Balkar Singh?
Yours humanly,
B. Ramchandra CST Voltaire
Secretary, AMOFOI
121, Dharmavihar
Ph-09238878280, worldamofoi@


  1. Dear Mr Voltaire,

    You will certainly read this mail and reply if you have any trace of decency and courage left in you. I read your recent book that is supposed to eradicate the evils in Indian caste system and all that. The book was pure trash. You may remain assured that I am educated and have traveled a lot in India and abroad. But I found seldom a charlatan and opportunistic organism like you. I know that my protest will not have any effect on you but I will do so nevertheless.

    1. You have criticised Swami Laxmanananda for changing his name. But you simply ignore the fact that you have yourself done the same thing and adopted a miserable and hideous name. It simply shows the megalomaniac turn of your mind. By the way, have you ever gone to Kandhamal and observed the charitable deeds of Swamiji? I guess not. You enjoy your comforts in Bhubaneswar and conjure theories.

    2. You have rejected the teachings of Hindu scriptures with much contempt yet quoted John Lennon. Do you know that he was a drug addict and died due to over-dosage of narcotics? Do you know that he was melancholic and very skeptic about his own life ? I guess not. You simply lack the mindset to delve into details. You have simply copied the paragraph which justifies your theory.

    3. You very well realise the bitterness of people over the caste system. It was clever of you to cash on it. Instead of trying to solve the complications you simply offer a bypass to love lorn youngsters and earn your bucks.

    4.Do you realise that you look pathetic in your hat? May be you suffer from inferiority complex and try to augment your personality with that embellishment. People from abroad must find you amusing and comical. Well, we Indians often respect that caricature.

    5. If you want to gain some material benefit from a political godhead, please join the party. It is a very profitable business. Do not desecrate your filthy blogs by worshiping a particular political party.

    6. You are keen to criticise Hindu ways of life, yet do not comment on other beliefs. Scared to do so. Aren't you? People like you lack the courage to be impartial, let alone speak out the truth.

    Your writings are more repulsive than pornography.But our nation never lacked the admirers. So, carry on.

    I would like to carry the debate, yet I know that yo will not reply. May be you will send a few hooligans (goondas) to size me up.But that will be natural of you. Mr Voltaire , you may be famous, but so was Hitler. You know, how much you try, at last you will be branded as a miserable liar and books as trash. Because you can not fool all the people all the time.

    Waiting for your reply
    Jitendra Ray

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  4. Hello Dear Jitendrajee,

    I am Mr BRamC's son. I had in fact created this blog for my father and posted some of his articles so that his views reach larger audience.

    Since one year or so, I had lost track of the password of this blog, so could never log in. Today I fortunately recovered the password, and saw your comment.

    You have responded to one book written by dad; not directly on the blog article. But I think you have raised many pertinent issues - which deserves a reply.

    1. I agree with you, this name changing things I don’t like, in fact many a times I have argued with my dad discouraging about more than one change for a person. Name needs to be simple as far as possible. However, one thing I do appreciate about his ideas of naming i.e. he is opposed to surnames. I am with my father on this aspect, as I am conscious of the fact how Surnames act as caste-tag and some so called high caste people use their surnames as weapon of identification. Low caste people do have inferiority complex with the names. This is not just my opinion. World Development Report (WDR) for the year 2006 titled “Equity and Development” draws the same conclusion in Page 24 when it says -
    ''Striking evidence of the impact of stereotyping on performance comes from a recent experiment in India. Children from different castes were asked to complete simple exercises, such as solving a maze, with real monetary incentives contingent on performance. The key result of the experiment is that low-caste children perform on par with high-caste children when their caste is not publicly announced by the experimenter but significantly worse when it is made public (figure 5).

    I find to have Surname-less names is a progressive thing. On the face of it, this brings a sense of equality among people. Also, my father views that names need not be drawn from mythology – rather can be based on people who have contributed to this society to survive and grow. Also he prefers a synthetic name rather than names drawn from one religion or so. I believe you might have seen the movie – Bombay by Maniratam. The twin brothers’ names in the movie are Kabir Narayan and Kamal Basheer (Hindu-Muslim mix name). Inspired from my dad’s idea I have kept my Son’s name as Vidwat Amal. Vidwat has a Sanskit origin meaning ‘knowledge’, Amal has Arabic origin meaning ‘practice’.

    I know my father has overdone his own name, which in the process has developed contradictions and appeared “miserable and hideous” in your language. But he is behind names of many of my relatives’ children- whose parents have accepted my father’s suggested names. These names are – Lily Abduli, Roji Anupama. Sanjay Biswaranjan, Pravash Biswaprakash etc.

    Now moving to the other point you have mentioned about him that he has conjured theories sitting in Bhubaneswar. This is not true. My father was a college teacher, who taught political science. Now he is retired. He has served almost all places of Orissa – Sambalpur, Rourkella, Jajpur, Puri, Dhenkanal, Kalahandi and other places including ur Phulbani. He never asked for any privileged position or location throughout his teaching career.

    2. Lenon being drug addict is of course a negative point about him. I agree. That does not mean it is wrong to quote him to refute some aspect in Hindu religion. Sorry to say, but I think, you are wrong here in your argument. Also, your guess is not right when you say my father “lack the mindset to delve into details”. My father may appear stubborn at times, but most of time if one is determined, passionate, and fighting against conventional system ‘stubbornness’ creep in. For instance, take the case of Anna Hazare, who is not ready to break hi fast until his team’s Lokpal version given due space. He may look stubborn, but we cannot accuse saying he ‘lacks the mindset to delve into details’.

  5. 3. Here you have accused my father that he “is clever to cash on bitterness of caste and offer a bypass to love lorn youngsters to earn bucks”. This is wrong both logically and factually. My father started AMOFOI in 1980 (more than 30 years back) and have been quite vocal about his opposition to caste, dowry and blind beliefs. Looking at the conservative mindset of Orissa, do you think people were bitter about Caste in 1980. Most of them are not so even today. One or two out of thousand used to support my dad’s radical views. You have mentioned he has got monetary benefits. If ‘cleverness to cash on issues for bucks’ is the case – many would have been done like my dad. But the fact is on the other side. My dad worked all alone. Got many more enemies; a very few friends for his work. He has also been physically attacked. We, as a family have received many time threat calls. This is quite understandable – as the anger of the parents and relatives are very high when their child marries against their will – that too in a different caste/community – and they vent out their anger on us. Also, let me tell you also we are a modest middleclass family. Whatever my father earned as a college teacher, he spent on the organization, and discharging his responsibility as a family man. Most part of his life, he drove a cycle and from 1990 onwards he used to drive a luna till his retirement. With the retirement time money, he bought an ambassador car. He has hardly any bank balance. His place in Bhubaneswar is where we stay and AMOFOI office runs. His house in village is converted into a school for the village children. And needless to say, most of his pension money goes in paying to school teachers and in some of AMOFOI expenditures.

    I was hurt to hear such accusations. But I think, every social reformer, who thinks and acts on issues ahead of the time are subjected to such accusations occasionally. When Raja Ram Mohan Ray and his colleagues worked against various social malpractices in eighteenth century – some fringe elements might have criticized them of having some vested interests.

    4. This comment of yours is very derogatory. My dad wears a hat of green color as a symbol for environment. You may not like his views, and hence may not like his looks. But I believe there is a more civilized way for discussion and criticism.

    5. Again your comments here lack substance. What is that which make u assume “my dad wants to have some material benefit” just because he is opposed to the statement of Sushama Swaraj or BJP? Before holding my dad’s views on this blog as ‘filthy’ – is it not decent on your part to give your views on ‘honour killing’, ‘FPTP system of election’ or ‘corporate frauds’ and some of the other issues raised in these articles?

  6. 6. My dad is severely critical about all the religion, including Muslim and Christian. Since he was brought up in a Hindu Brahmin family and community – he had experienced since his childhood on facets of Hindu life and culture directly through day to day life; whereas on Islam and Christianity - he had an indirect learning. Therefore, naturally, he is disproportionately critical about Hinduism. This disproportion happens. For instance Bertrand Russell, British Philosopher (1950 Nobel laureate in Literature) was critical about Christian religion (he has a booklet named Why I am Not a Christian). That does not mean he was not critical about other religions. And please don’t attach fear to my dad. He is the fearless person so far I have seen. He was suspended for one year (1970-71) from his job for opposing Ganesh/Sarswati Puja in educational institutes. Also, he openly criticized the recruitment process of teachers for which his increments were stopped by the Orissa Govt. He fought his case against Orissa government in the High Court and the honorable court has upheld his rights and quashed the govt. order against him (Ref: B. Ramchandra Vs State of Orissa, Indian Law Reports - Cuttack, Part X, 1971, PP 1146-1162).[In fact Government of Orissa, went to the Supreme Court challenging the Judgment. However in 1984, the Supreme Court upheld the Judgment of the Orissa High Court in toto.] Most important testimony of my dad’s fearlessness is he has organized approx 4000 marriages which includes hundreds of Hindu-Muslim ones. He has the mental courage to face the consequences – rage of parents, relatives and at times apathy of police and legal systems. This is no ordinary thing. Forget about hundreds/thousands, you conduct one such inter-caste/inter-community marriage where there is parental opposition and face the aftermath. You will realize.

    Lastly, your imagination that “my dad would send a few hooligans (goondas) to size you up” has no relevance. My dad never used violent means; He was attacked violently, but never reciprocated so. So like many of the assumptions/guesses u made in ur comments – this is not correct.
    Who will be branded as a liar, let us leave it the time.

    Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan

  7. Dear Jeetendra,

    My simple understanding is that world exists in two forms; Reality and abstraction. An existence of man without action on the earth is impossible. It could be for your own selfishly designed goal, or a restlessness to work for others. I read this thread; the main article, your comment and the responses too.An attempt may seem too meager to many, that is individual's obseravtion but I do not see any reason of our disatisifcation of somebody's attempt to a translate the abstraction into reality. We react, because we are too much into others' action. Reason could be our complex, inaction, arrogance, blocked headed approach not to accept others.I personally liked his effort to mitigate the dowry and caste system.It helps. Others what intrested you so much of his hideous intrests, megalomanic dream etc do not really intrest me. You made a mistake of proving your education, and an achievement of travelling india or abroad. That was uncalled for.Could that qualify people to be really educated, the nation would not have in such a mess as in now. Yaar, you did loads of personal attack. We should value our values, and education if we think we really have that.

    Let be more patient, understanding and supportive.

    I loved your English.

    Thank you.