The Summer 2020 issue of #TheThinkClub is ready for your reading pleasure.
Click on http://www.TheThinkClub.com
The Summer 2020 issue of #TheThinkClub is ready for your reading pleasure.
Click on http://www.TheThinkClub.com
Despite all the controversies and mysteries surrounding Indian history, its chronology begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are usually described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic ages. Hinduism arose in the Vedic period. The earliest literary source that sheds light on India’s past is the Rig Veda. It is difficult to date this work with any accuracy on the basis of tradition and ambiguous astronomical information contained in the hymns. Indus valley civilization, which flourished between 2800 BC and 1800 BC, had an advanced and flourishing economic system. The Indus valley people practiced agriculture, domesticated animals, made tools and weapons from copper, bronze, and tin and even traded with some Middle East countries. What happened before that is anyone’s guess and a topic full of myths.
The dates of Indus Valley Civilization, the advent of the Aryans and their entity and the Vedic period are based on estimates and conjectures derived from the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (now in Pakistan) in the 1920s.
The recorded history of India started around 320 B.C with Alexander’s conquest of Punjab. Around the same time the Mauryan Empire (322 BCE – 185 BC) assumed power in eastern and northern India. At its height, the empire stretched over parts of modern Iran and almost the entire Indian subcontinent, except the southern tip. Kautilya, also known as Chanakya aka Machiavelli of India and the author of “Arthshastra” helped Chandragupta to form the Mauryan Empire. Pataliputra (now called Patna in Bihar), the capital of the Magadh Empire became the largest city in the world at that time.
Ashoka the Great, grandson of Chandragupta expanded the Maurya Empire even further capturing Kalinga. The death of 100,000 people in the war changed Ashoka’s heart who accepted the teaching of Buddha and spread his message to China and the Far East. The successors of Ashoka were not strong enough to hold the empire together. It started disintegrating in 185 BC, almost 150 years after Chandragupta had overthrown the Nanda dynasty.
The next significant kingdom was the Guptas (4-6 AD), also referred to as the Golden Age of Indian history. Chandragupta I received Pataliputra in dowry when he married the daughter of the chief of the ‘Licchavis’. His empire extended from the river Ganges or the Ganga to the city of Allahabad. His son, Samudra Gupta and his grandson, Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) were equally skilled and powerful. They extended the empire in the south up to Narmada River.
The last of the ancient kingdoms in India was ruled by King Harshavardhana, who ascended the throne at Thanneshwar and Kannauj after his brother died. He eventually got defeated by the Chalukya Kingdom of Deccan India. Harshavardhana was well-known for establishing relations with the Chinese, and also for having high religious tolerance and strong administrative capabilities.
While the historians have concentrated their attention mainly to Northern India, the Southern India saw the rise of multiple imperial powers from the middle of the fifth century, most notably the Chalukya, Chola, Pallava, Chera, Pandyan, and Western Chalukya Empires. The Chola dynasty conquered southern India They also invaded parts of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Bengal.
Another aspect of Indian history that is not well covered by historians is the foreign invasions prior to the advent of Islam. Kalidas and Patanjali (two of the greatest scholars) have made mention of the Yavanas (185 BC) who came from the West (Greece) and established their kingdom along with Sindhu, Madra, Kekeya, Gandhara and Kamboja as per the descriptions in the epic Mahabharata. This brings up another question, did Mahabharata take place after 185 BC?
The Parthians from Iran known as the Pallavs ruled from A.D. 19 to AD 45. They were followed by the Kushanas (also from Iran) for a short period. Following that the Sakas from Central Asia entered India and ruled sporadically around 4th century AD. Then came the Kushanas from South of China. Their most famous king, Kanishka ruled the present day Afghanistan, Punjab, Kashmir and Ganga-Jamuna Doaab (two rivers) from 78- 101 AD.
The Muslims started invading and plundering India around 11th century. Northern India at that time was ruled by the Rajputs. Their kingdoms were fragmented and they lacked unity. Mahmud Ghazni, the Muslim plunderer invaded India seventeen times around 1001 AD. He looted all the gold from temples, massacred people mercilessly and took tens of thousands of Indians with him as slaves.
In the 14th century, the Khalji dynasty, under Alauddin Khalji, extended Muslim rule to Gujarat, Rajasthan and the Deccan, while the Tughlaq dynasty temporarily expanded its territorial reach till Tamil Nadu.In 1398, Timur invaded northern India, attacking the Delhi Sultanate ruled by Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq of the Tughlaq dynasty. After crossing the Indus River in 1398, he sacked Tulamba and massacred its inhabitants. Then he advanced and captured Multan. His invasion was unopposed as most of the Indian nobility surrendered without a fight.
The Moghuls finally consolidated their rule to entire India starting with Babar in 1526 and ending with Aurangazeb in 1720. The kings after Aurangazeb were too weak to mention. The Moghuls were not plunderers as they considered themselves as Indians. Akbar the Great was the most famous Moghul who tried to integrate both Hindus and Muslims in his administration. The Moghuls constructed hundreds of famous architectural marvels. The Taj Mahal constructed by Shahjahan is the most famous of them all.
The Moghul rule ended in India with the British rule between 1858 to 1947. The British plundered and enslaved India, the crown jewel of the British Empire. The British were ruthless. They disrespected Indians and killed hundreds of thousands of them. The most infamous of those killings was at the Jalianawala Bag. At Jallianawala Bagh, General Dyer fired 1,650 rounds on innocent men, women and children killing 670 people and injuring another 1,200.
India finally became independent in 1947 at the cost of losing two major Muslim majority areas, Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) where the Muslims established their own nations. Finally, India became a sovereign democratic republic (officially known as Bharat) in 1950.
In short, India: A History is a very informative book that reveals many key facts about India I chose this book after months of research and I recommend this to anyone interested in Indian history.
-Reviewed by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’
Stay-at-home order has been lifted in Michigan. I am certainly going to miss the experience of confinement to some extent. I avoided the tension of attending lavish marriages, buying new clothes, attending parties with condescending folks and going on inconvenient vacations. We were planning to buy another car but now we have learned to live with one. One thing for sure, I saved at least tens of thousands of dollars badly needed to stay afloat in retirement. Thanks Governor!
Yes, spending the initial days of the lockdown was difficult for most of us as our movements were restricted. However, the days passed by spending time with family, watching movies on TV, reading books, writing poems, taking long walks, appreciating nature and learning to play piano. I didn’t have to hustle to enjoy the next day and the next and the next. I was free from the perpetual cycle of stress and strain to some extent.
I reconnected with long lost friends and relatives through phone conversations and video chats. We exchanged photos of gone by days and remembered our roots and the way we were. We indulged in heart-to-heart talks with loved ones. We wholly soaked ourselves in the warmth of love and affection we had never experienced before. I didn’t know that one of my cousins was really older than me. Now, I had to give her the proper respect. We laughed our hearts out at this switch of propriety. We have also learned how to use apps to connect with anybody anytime without being there.
The habit of ‘wanting’ everything is set to undergo a sea change in the coming days as we have caught up with the thought of distinguishing our ‘wants’ from ‘needs’. The orientation towards needs rather than wants, is now uppermost in our minds. This lockdown has established one major truth that life and its conveniences cannot be taken for granted and it is time the human race accepted this truth. It’s not worth getting caught up with the triviality of this material world anymore.
It was heartening to know that pollution level and production of CO2 diminished significantly during the shutdown. The buildings were visible from a distance in Delhi and Mt. Everest was visible once again from the villages of Bihar and West Bengal in India. Water was flowing again in many dried up rivers across the globe.
I also realized that despite the achievements in many fields, be it science, technology, medicine or engineering, the fact remains that differences between nations and races persist in our midst. This lockdown has made us realize that countries and races across the world have to work together forgetting the differences and setting aside prejudices so as to achieve peace and live together as one human race.
The thought of being together has blossomed in our minds and it is up to us to adapt to positive and lateral thinking.
“The one who loves all intensely
begins perceiving in all living beings
a part of himself.
He becomes a lover of all,
a part and parcel of the Universal Joy.
He flows with the stream of happiness,
and is enriched by each soul.”
When I first watched police officer, Derek Chauvin pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck on national TV, I thought the officer was mentally deranged. It happened in Minneapolis, MN on May 25, 2020 in front of onlookers in broad daylight. When this went on for 8 minutes and 46 seconds despite Mr. Floyd’s repeated appeal that he wasn’t able to breathe, I knew that it was a case of gruesome murder. I am not familiar with the police protocol, so I can’t say what the other three police officers standing there could have done, but they could have certainly asked Derek Chauvin to release his knee from Mr. Floyd’s neck. That certainly makes then accomplices in Mr. Floyd’s homicide. The incident has etched a disturbing and horrifying image in my mind which, probably, will stay there for as long as I live. As much as I tried to separate myself from outrightly branding this as a race issue, I couldn’t deny the fact that it was a white police officer who mercilessly killed an unarmed black man. This didn’t have to happen again but it did.
Such incidents have been happening for a long time in our nation. In recent years, the blacks have been protesting police brutality against them that includes ‘Black Life Matters’ movement, dismounting of statues of confederate heroes and kneeling by black football players during the National Anthem at NFL games.
I decided to talk to a few people of color to obtain a first-hand knowledge about this systematic malaise in our society that has become a routine now. The folks I talked to are well-to-do men of color living in rich suburbs. To my surprise, all of them were stopped and frisked by police several times for no obvious reasons. One of them drives an expensive car. He was stopped on the suspicion of stealing that car. One was taken into custody for going 10 miles over. Another guy told me that he was stopped and questioned by police at least on three different occasions while walking in his own neighborhood and on nearby streets. The police officer demanded that he show his driver’s license and used ‘f’ word for not carrying his ID with him at all times. These gentlemen also told me that their friends and relatives also had gone through similar experiences many times in the past. Had they violated the law, at least one of them might have met the same fate as Mr. Floyd did in Minneapolis.
Forms of police brutality towards men of color range from assault and battery to mayhem, torture, and murder. Some broader definitions of police brutality also encompass harassment, including false arrest, intimidation, and verbal abuse, among other forms of mistreatment. We cannot overlook the fact that sometimes stop and frisk and even the use of deadly force is required by police. Sometimes they have to make split second decisions. But those actions were not required in the cases mentioned above including the murder of George Floyd.
Police brutality against blacks is deep-rooted in the psyche of many police officers (not all). We need to look back and understand the reasons. During the days of slavery (1700s), the southern states used to have ‘Slave Patrols’ to prevent escapes and uprising by enslaved people on plantations. Slave Patrols was formally dissolved after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
Unfortunately, the end of Slave Patrols was replaced by ‘Black Codes’ for the purpose of determining the place of work and wages earned by black Americans. Black Codes also restricted black voting rights and controlled travel and residential choices of black Americans. Again, the police were responsible for upholding those codes. ‘Black Codes’ was made illegal with the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868.
But within two decades, Jim Crow laws aimed at subjugating African Americans and denying their civil rights were enacted across Southern and some Northern states replacing the Black Codes. This mandated separate public spaces for blacks and whites, such as schools, libraries, water fountains and restaurants. Again police were responsible for enforcing the laws. Blacks who broke laws or violated social norms were subject to police brutality. In addition to that, lynching of African Americans by white mobs were totally ignored by police at that time.
Six decades after, the brutality is still going on. Seems like it got embedded in police DNA or is it the old habit that’s hard to die?
I believe that things can change and will change, if we take action. This needs a better screening and training of our future police forces. I like the following steps suggested by Oakland County (Michigan) Sheriff Michael Bouchard. Sheriff Bouchard suggests the following:
“Look deeply into their social media. If they’re spouting racist things, that’s a ticking time bomb.
Go into the applicant’s neighborhood and ask around to find out what kind of person they are.
During a polygraph test, asked the applicants their intentions for becoming a police officer.
Make accountability and discipline primary focus during training.”
Let me admit that although I have great respect for almost every black American I have come in touch with, I have not cared much to know about their history, plight and circumstances. I am not proud of it, but I never pretended that I did.
Finally, I disdain liberal elites who post condescending stories about blacks on social media. Most of them do this because it makes them look good in their followers’ eyes. I am also wary of politicians who take them for granted and exploit them. My suggestion to everyone including myself is to get real; make friends with African Americans and love everybody equally.
“May All be Happy,
May All be Free from Illness.
May All See what is Auspicious,
May no one Suffer.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.”
This morning I woke up again. I pinched myself. Yes, it was for real. I checked up WhatsApp. My cousin had posted a new cure for Covid-19; something like grinding ten pieces of resins with turmeric and cumin seeds then mixing those in five ounces of rum. I deleted her message without reading any further.
Next I checked my Instagram account. I am one of those people who has an account but posts nothing. An acquaintance of mine had posted her picture vacationing in front of the Eiffel Tower. She has never been outside India, so it was, probably, most definitely fake.
I had a new follower on Twitter. I was excited because I don’t have many followers there. She was @Shabana. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a cyber hooker. I blocked her.
I don’t watch cable TV (neither Fox nor CNN), so I turned to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. They had the same headlines. The Times reported that the economy was sinking as 1.2 million folks had claimed for new unemployment benefits in the last week. The Journal reported that the economy was improving because only 1.2 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week compared to the week before.
In the midst of all this, I wondered what happened to the Covid-19 vaccine? Remember Remdesivir, Moderna and Sinovac 99? Even President Trump and Dr. Fauci got us excited about those. Every time they came up with a cure, the stock jumped hundreds of points. So, I decided to read about them on the Internet. Moderna is under investigation. The investigation concerns whether Moderna and certain of its officers have engaged in fraud, negligence or other unlawful business practices such as buying a big chunk of their own stocks prior to the announcement. I won’t blame them. If not in America, the land of opportunity then where else? Do we expect them to go to Gambia?
Wait a minute, something just flashed on my screen. Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. A white police officer pressed his knee against victim’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Mr. Floyd died of asphyxia (lack of oxygen). Three more officers watched the incident as bystanders. A liberal friend of mine who watches CNN 12 hours a day called me and said that Trump had caused his death. These kinds of incidents never happened before 2017. Later a conservative friend, who watches Fox, told me that it was plotted by the Democrats to dim the prospects of the Republicans in the November election.
Several people called me to find out what I would write about these events in TheThinkClub. For a change, it’s your turn. I am all ears. What do I know? “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. (Socrates).”
quarantined in the comfort of our homes, a great many poor laborers in India were starving, being harassed and walking back 600 to 800 miles to their mud houses in the state of Bihar from Delhi and Mumbai, the political and financial capitals of India respectively. This is a human tragedy still happening in India.
While growing up in the state of Bihar in India, I witnessed those folks called ‘mazdoors,’ meaning laborers, living under dire poverty and slavery. They worked for ‘zamindars,’ (landlords) who made them sweat in their paddy-fields along with mazdoors’ wives and children for 12 to 13 hours a day in return for two meals a day consisting of low-quality rice (inconsumable for us), lentil, onion and salt. Many a time I witnessed them getting corporal punishment by the entire zamindar clan for suspected stealing of rice crops.
The government of Bihar mired in corruption and casteism, never created industries to employ them. Millions of those laborers left Bihar to work on per-diem wages in mega cities of India. Ironically, they are still called migrants in their own country. I’ll label them even worse. They are ‘disposables’ the way they are treated. Millions of them lost jobs, ‘jhuggi-jhopris’ (slum houses) and means to feed their families due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Modi administration totally neglected them. As a result, those poor masses started marching back to Bihar in despair.
They’ll still be starving there as there are no jobs back home. The government of Bihar has offered to give Rs.500 (7 US Dollars) to each returning so-called migrant in the name of relief. The plight of thousands of migrant workers walking back to their native places from major cities can be felt and seen on television channels by everyone. Earlier, they walked on highways but when police at some places started harassing them, they took to walking along railway tracks. Some were run over by running trains. The government failed to provide transportation for them. As I am writing this article, the Railways of India have started special trains to take them back home.
Many of the migrants walking hundreds of miles died of heat, exhaustion, and starvation. Many were road-kills. One of the leading newspapers in Kolkata wrote, “The story of a New India would be written in the blood of those starving.” Thousands of them are still on roads, walking hundreds of miles with children and their meager belongings.
The stories of the disenfranchised working people lost in the grip of the administration’s indifference and lockdown is nothing new today. Shocking visuals remind me of Hindi-language film “Do Bigha Zamin”1953 directed by Bimal Roy, based on Rabindranath Tagore‘s famous Bengali poem “Dui Bigha Jomi“. That was in 1953. Nothing has changed for those poor masses in India which claims to be an advanced nation and a leading world-economy now.
The post COVID-19 situation does not look all that promising for them. I have witnessed the world sympathize with the plights of Central American migrants (who are fed and sheltered decently), the Syrian refugees and the Rohingyas, but no one seems to care for these Bihari migrants.
Please write to your Senators and Congressmen/women to pay attention to their plight as they did for others. Kindly send a donation to ‘COvID-19 Migrant workers Relief Fund’ by clicking here: https://www.responsenet.org/donations-for-covid-19-migrant-workers-relief-fund/. Please don’t tell me that this happens in other countries also. For now, let us do something for them.
Do you know anyone who may have contracted Coronavirus? Do you worry that Coronavirus may ruin the economy and cripple the entire human civilization? Relax! The doctors and big pharma companies won’t tell you how people in other parts of the world are ridding themselves of the virus without going to the hospital or any spiritual healer. If you care about our global family, your own family or for yourself, try these reliable and proven remedies at the comfort of your own home.
The Indians have defeated the Coronavirus just by blowing conch shells on their front porches. Our government will not tell you that since they don’t want to destruct our expensive medical system. In case you don’t know what a conch shell is, don’t bother. You may just clap instead. Of course, that won’t be as effective as a conch shell. Want the proof? India, a country of 1.3 billion people has recorded only 59,662 cases of Corona with fewer than 2,000 deaths as of May 8, 2019.
Many folks in the Far East countries are trying to fool Coronavirus by pretending to be dead. The brilliant epidemiologists of East Timor mutilated Corona cells and determined that their (Coronavirus’) IQ was as low as 5 or 6, therefore, it was quite easy to fool them. Once Corona senses them dead they depart from East Timor to other countries, preferably the United States. Only 25 people are infected with Corona in East Timor and no one has died with the infection yet.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ (Director-General, World Health Organization -WHO), own country, Ethiopia has recorded only 195 cases of Coronavirus and 5 deaths, so far. Their secret is the use of an herbal syrup. The herbal syrup is simple to make. Squeeze honeysuckle with opium flower. Mix them together in a blender. Pour the mixture in 5 ounces of golden rum from Chad (Chad is a country). That’s what, probably, Dry Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus uses himself. You have to believe him since he was the Health Minister of the great Abyssinian nation before joining WHO.
If you believe in flying pigs and unicorns, you may try this. Breathing hot air kills Coronavirus. The nation of Kiribati, where air is always hot, has not registered any virus cases, so far. Their Minister of Health, Dr. Kautu Tenaua has suggested breathing hot air from a hair dryer. Hey! I do it every day. Am I not free of Covid-19?
The best advice, so far, comes from Swami Chakrapani Maharaj. The Swami said cow urine and cow dung can be used for treating Coronavirus disease. The way to do it is shave all parts of your body and rub a generous amount of cow dung allover. Drink a cup of cow urine following that. You will be virus free within six hours. Swami Chakrapani Maharaj uses this on himself. If you still feel skeptical, You may like to look at his sunny face in the photo below.
Just the other day, a reliable source on Facebook (there is nothing more reliable than Facebook) suggested the following recipe to avoid and cure the Coronavirus. Boil 10 gm of water and mix it with musta, parpat, usher, udeechya and nagar. Drink it every day.
If everything else fails, do it the hard way. Isolate yourself from the world, wear facemask, wash your hands every 20 seconds for 20 seconds, look ugly, bicker with your spouse and watch the reruns of “Want to Marry Harry?” all day. Good luck!
Years from now the story will be told how a Chinese eating his bat soup destroyed the economy of the Western civilization without firing a shot. The Chinese have made everyone a prisoner as all of us are under house arrest. Now, everyone is Europe and America is just washing hands and looking out the window to watch the grass grow. Nail salons, hair salons and barber shops are closed turning men and women into Gorillas. It’s getting ugly out here.
They just didn’t stop there. The Chinese closed our schools and institutions of higher learning making us morons. They closed our businesses, supply chains and factories making us unemployed. The farmers and slaughter houses are closing shops which will create food shortages and starvation very soon.
If this is not a new world order engineered by China then what is it? It was done very smartly. Did you ever think that how come the Coronavirus did not spread to other parts of China, especially in their big cities like Shanghai and Beijing while It spread in all parts in every other country?
China is already planning to use the downturn in Western economies to its benefit. They intend to seek out more foreign direct investment, seize market share in critical industries and influence Europe to be in their orbit abandoning the United States. I don’t think that the obsequious Europeans will resist that temptation.
China knows that the Western companies will come back to China, the biggest consumer market in the world. The big corporations do not believe in nationalism. “There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.” (Arthur Jensen in the 1976 film Network).
While America is standing still and China is normalized according to their well-executed plan, Chinese companies are expanding in the areas of 5G and Artificial Intelligence as well. Huawei, a Chinese company has already established its footprint in Europe despite America’s objections. Soon the Chinese will know what the other world leaders are planning and will have the capability to abort any American move against them.
Chinese workers are returning to factories while the USA and Europe are shutting down. The Chinese has a plan for tomorrow while we are running amok like a chicken with head cut off. The situation can get worse as many lawmakers are talking about removing tariffs on Chinese imports. The president of the Steel Union is echoing their voices. The UAW is resisting General Motor’s move to open factories in mid-May because they are getting paid while sitting home.
The purpose of this article is not to spread pessimism. We must be aware of the problem so that we can tackle them intelligently. We must open up our economy by maintaining proper safety protocol as soon as possible.
It happened in my own lifetime. Growing up in a village in India, we didn’t have electricity, phone, TV, cars, commercial flights, air-conditioning or central heating. Personal visit and snail mail were the only form of communication. It used to take at least a week to hear from someone replying to a letter. In an emergency, we used telegrams. We were happy most of the time and sad sometimes just like today. We didn’t miss any amenities mentioned above because they either didn’t exist at the time or were not available to us.
Most of us, at the present, are confined in our homes due to COVID-19 pandemic but we are still connected to the world through the Internet, TV, and phone. We live in houses equipped with hot water, central heating, air-conditioning, dish washer, washer and drier. Most of us are still earning a living working from home. The retirees get social security payments and health insurance through Medicare. Those who have become unemployed are getting stimulus money. Small businesses are kept afloat through generous federal loans. Life is good in general.
Still unhappy? Let’s compare our condition with the condition during the 1918 influenza pandemic also known as 1918 H1N1 pandemic, aka Spanish Flu. The number of deaths due to the 1918 pandemic was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States alone. During the 1918 flu there wasn’t a centralized federal response to the pandemic in the United States. The government was preoccupied with World War I so they didn’t put the same weight on stopping the pandemic as they do now. President Woodrow Wilson never publicly mentioned the epidemic contrary to the daily briefing given by President Trump and his Coronavirus task force. Chicago’s public health commission and many other cities flatly rejected closing businesses. (Excerpts taken from historian John Berry’s article in The Atlantic.)
At that time most of the folks didn’t have phone. They didn’t have TV, commercial flights, air-conditioning, central heating, automatic dish washer and washing machine either. They were happy most of the time and sad sometimes just like today. They didn’t miss any amenities mentioned above because they either didn’t exist at the time or were not available to them.
Thanks God, we are not living in those good old happy days anymore. Does that cheer you up? Be happy and be assured “This too shall pass.”