Tuesday, 15 March 2016


By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 15th March 16

As anyone who has served in the Indian Army knows, it is refreshingly free from religious and political ideology. Unlike the Pakistan Army, which heavily spices up nationalism with religious fervour, our men and women in olive green are clear about whom they serve --- the Union of India. The India they defend is not a Hindu state and the “Bharat Maata ki Jai” that is often chorused at army functions is an invocation to nationalism rather than religiosity. While the army’s soldiers are overwhelmingly Hindu, it has never been --- ideologically speaking --- a Hindu army.

Post-independence politicians of various stripes have opportunistically polarised the public along communal lines, but have so far shrunk from meddling with the army’s apolitical, secular structure. The broad-based acceptability this has given the army amongst our diverse castes and creeds has made it India’s most trusted national institution, respected for impartiality in even bitterly polarised environments. Deployed in conflicts in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Kashmir, the army has been criticised for human rights abuses, but never for siding along religious or caste lines. This renown extends beyond India’s borders; in South Lebanon, Indian battalions have functioned impartially between Israeli and Hezbollah forces, trusted by both.

This is nothing short of astonishing, given that religion features prominently in army life. Most soldiers are deeply religious, drawn as they are from villages and small towns where religion and spirituality are essential notes in the rhythms of daily life. Most army combat units are organised along the lines of region (Dogra, Punjab, Garhwal, Kumaon regiments, etc); community (Jats, Ahirs, Mahars, etc); and even religion (Sikhs, Muslims). The army’s post-independence policy is to raise new units on a mixed basis, incorporating soldiers from all regions, communities and religions, but the old “class composition” units remain a majority. Depending upon the religious composition of a unit (battalion or regiment), they are posted with religious teachers (RTs) --- pandits, maulvis, granthis or padres --- who look after the unit temple, mosque, gurudwara or church, and organise daily prayer services and religious festivals. Given the hazardous conditions in which many army units function, these institutions provide soldiers the spiritual framework they need. Occasionally, especially in combat, they discharge the last rites of soldiers whose luck ran out.

This powerful religious framework is infused with a unique secularism. Much of this stems from the army’s officers, who have displayed a remarkable institutional ability to adapt to the religion of their troops. To cite my own case, I was a Hindu Brahmin (albeit non-practising) officer who was commissioned into a Sikh sub-unit. Over years of attending prayers with my Sikh troops, celebrating festivals with them and invoking the Waheguru before and after every important event, my Brahmin identity (such as it was!) was effectively immersed into a new Sikh one. To this day, fifteen years after leaving my sardars, I am as much Sikh as Hindu in religious observance and ceremony. This is true for tens of thousands of officers who have, over the decades, subordinated their original Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and animist identities to the religion of their troops. The spiritual outlook of the army’s rank and file could not but have been moulded by this conspicuous, on-going demonstration by their officers of a community identity that over-rides personal faith. This unique, amalgamated faith might well be called Armyism.

Worryingly, the foundations of this peculiar Indian Army secularism are being potentially destabilised --- by a series of events that I would dearly like to believe are accidental. Last fortnight, the army was asked to build bridges over the Yamuna River in Delhi for the so-called World Cultural Festival, organised by Art of Living guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shanker, who is known to be close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership. But well before that, the BJP-led government had begun involving the army in activities that were labelled “cultural”, but viewed by minority communities as symbolically Hindu.

On June 21, the Indian armed forces were shoehorned into celebrating International Yoga Day, with tens of thousands of soldiers filling up the numbers in an event that overtly aimed to establish a world record. True, the UN General Assembly had adopted this event through a resolution in December 2014, but that was at India’s behest. Furthermore, it was scheduled on the death anniversary of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) ideologue, RK Hedgewar. The military chiefs were aware, or should have been, that Muslim organisations, including the moderate Muslim Personal Law Board, had expressed alarm at what they considered right-wing Hindutva sponsorship of yoga, the singing of Vande Mataram in schools, and the performance of Surya Namaskar --- also a yoga asana.

There are powerful arguments on both sides about whether these activities are a part of Indian culture, or Hindu, or both, since these are not mutually exclusive. That is not the point. What is crucial is that the three service chiefs (who dutifully performed their asanas behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi) allowed their services to be sucked into controversy.

Having opened the gates, it becomes that much harder to guard them. And so, in January, 250 army troopers were despatched to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, to train as yoga teachers who would spread the culture across the barracks. This was harder to pass off as apolitical, since Ramdev --- an undisguised Modi acolyte --- had hosted a convention for the RSS in the same location in 2014.

It is nobody’s argument that the army should remain at a remove from anything even faintly religious, particularly if it is Hindu. Over the years, army engineers have built pontoon bridges over the Ganga and Yamuna rivers for the once-in-12-years Kumbh Mela in Allahabad; and the army provides security for the Amarnath Yatra in South Kashmir every year, despite its daunting counter-insurgency responsibilities. These are truly public, cultural events worthy of the army’s attention; not attention-grabbing jamborees like International Yoga Day or the World Cultural Festival.

Dismissing these concerns is easy, but that would be immensely damaging to the army and its reputation as an honest broker. Ali Ahmed, a staunchly secular former army officer, in an article for the Economic and Political Weekly, has invoked the troubling prospect of a country in which the military has been insidiously “reset” by infusing it with the ethos of majoritarian nationalism. With the right wing forces anticipating that their “makeover of India” would not be a peaceful exercise, they would like a placid military that watches from the side-lines as the storm troopers of Hindutva reshape the political and social landscape. These fears are growing.


Anonymous said...

Stop being paranoid Mr shukla.. People of this country are good and don't need cong stooges like you to infuse paranoia further.. You don't understand Hinduism or hindutva.

Sumeet said...

So if i do Tai-Chi, i am Chinese?? Yoga exercise is not Hindu but for humanity. Ali, do not hear to this perpetual Modi hater. By doing Yoga or by deploying panton bridge for India's cultural event no body becomes Hindu, just like eating beef briyani i don't become Muslim. To me there are only 2 kinds of Indians - disable-rs and enablers. Author of the this post is the former and whole lot of today's media is part of this group. Enjoy Indianes Ali, we will enjoy gains of our national progress together, but first lets make that progress. Disable-rs like this author will not allow progress to happen in first place.

Dudenator said...

Your article is deeply flawed at many levels. Let me mention the flaws one by one:-

1) Using the Army to make a bridge for WCF - This isn't the first time that the army has been called out to help out for any cultural or religious event. Way back in 1997 when the Greek Composer Yanni had visited India, he had a concert scheduled at the banks of the Yamuna river behind the Taj Mahal in Agra. That event was much smaller and far more elitist than any other event where the army was called to help. The WCF was an open event organized at a scale far larger than the Yanni concert. The WCF attracted numerous foreign dignitaries, over 10,000 performers including musicians, dancers and singers and numerous visitors. The event was a celebration of India's rich cultural heritage and also an opportunity for other countries to display their rich culture. People across the board irrespective of religion had participated in this event. If the army is called out to help in such events, I do not think it is wrong in any way. Before you had passed a judgement on the army's role in the WCF, I think you should have enumerated the above facts. Associating such cultural events with religion is what is really wrong.

2) Surya Namaskar and Religion - The controversy over the 'Surya Namaskar' was just a manufactured controversy. If you are so concerned that the 'Surya Namaskar' will hamper your religious beliefs, simply stop calling it the 'Surya Namaskar'. Call it the 'push up swing' or any other such fancy name. After all its just another variation of the push up. Everyone who goes to the gym does variations of push ups where the basic stance of the exercise is similar. How is it that religion is not hampered then. I find it appalling that even educated people have fallen for this kind of nonsense that is being peddled in the name of religion in India.

3) International Yoga Day - You and I can both agree that yoga as a tool for good health has been acknowledged all over the world. Irrespective of religion, race and gender, world over people have adopted yoga as a way to good health. The day June 21st was declared as the International Yoga Day by the UN (proposed by India) to popularize yoga world over as a means to good health thus reducing needs for medication and thus bringing health costs down. You can ask anyone who has been practicing yoga regularly about the health benefits of yoga. With millions of people in the world practicing yoga, how can you associate yoga with any religion. In majority of the Muslim countries the clergy has agreed that yoga is not UnIslamic. All that the clergy have said is that some exercises where you need to say 'Om', just say any Quaranic chant.

4) Yoga Training at Baba Ramdev's Ashram - Now this is something where I may have agreed with you slightly. There can be a debate that why were Army personnel sent to his ashram for yoga training and not any other ashram. However, let us be honest here. They would have had to go to some ashram or institute to get trained after all. I can bet you that vested interests would have created a controversy irrespective of where the army personnel went for yoga training.

The ethos of the army was, is and will forever be secular and Indian. Being ashamed of our culture, heritage and traditions will in fact destroy what you are trying to preserve. It is our rich culture that gives us our secular ethos and not the other way round.

Vested interests in religion (across the board) that are manufacturing controversy where none exists is what is a threat to the secular ethos of the army. It is very concerning when highly educated people fall prey to such vested interests.



Puneetchandra Sharrma said...

A case of imagining shapes in the clouds.

Anonymous said...

Very good observation sir.. Going by you keen logic, the Indian Army should have become Christian long ago with prolonged indoctrination through PT of Physical Training which came to us from a Christian land.. And you also did with your "Sardars"..

Capt. S.R. Bhate said...

Mr. Shukla,
I have been following your writings regularly for years. For most of the time they are objective. In this case however, you seem to have lost it.
Yoga is practiced world over from Japan to South America including Indonesia and Malysia - where there are many Muslim practitioners. I had a Pilot friend in Libya - a devout Muslim who was a regular Yoga practitioner. Only some "Sub-Continent" Muslims and suedo-Secular seem to have problems with Yoga. I am a Martial art practitioner, trained in 4 countries out of India and yet to come across a better strength-stretch-aerobic combined exersize than Surya Namaskar. Of all the people You (with Indian Army background) should object, is sad.
Translate Vande Mataram and if you do understand, you will notice that there is no religion mentioned. It's invocation to Mother Earth and to our India. Many people have gone to gallows singing Vande Mataram for our independance. You perhaps, born in Independent India, will not understand or acknowledge it's significance.
In none of your writings, you have ever called former Prime Ministers singularly as Jawahar, Nehru, Indira, Manmohan etc. Why just "Modi" - why not "Mr. Modi"? Whether you like or not, He is the PM and you better be civil and respectful.
I have 50 years of continuous Sea Service. All religions, castsd and creed are same to me. Contribution of Indian Muslims to our nation is beyond question and a matter of pride. Let not opportunistic politicians and shallow jouroes try to distroy the fabic of our nation. Jai Hind.

Capt. S.R. Bhate

Alok Asthana said...

Ajai - you are understating the danger, which is clear and present. Since the day of Nov 14 when the army issued an apology in the Chattergam/Budgam shootout case barely 5 days after incident (much before the Court of Enquiry was completed, or maybe even assembled), it has been downhill all along. Outsiders will not realize the damage because they are used to highly politicised and thoroughly inept institutions around them at all levels. So this is nothing new for them. But the top brass in army (the serving ones, please) must introspect - Where are they leading their darling army into? Is this the meaning of - Service before Self?

Anonymous said...

I am a Hindu and I fully agree with Ajai. India as we know it, does *not* singularly belong to ANYONE! Having said that, I also want to see Indians have their own identity, which *must* be culturally Indic (specifically, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu). I also would like to see all Indians pursue "Modern" scientific thoughts and not some "ancient" scriptures. And above all hard-working. Given our geographic location, we need to foster an island mindset. Be plural yet conservative. Unfortunately, the creation of Pakistan for Muslims only, by partition of India, has given the non-Muslims a convenient narrative to shape India as being for the non-Muslims. After-all Muslims of India did get a nation of their own, why can't the rest of non-Muslims have a nation for themselves! Sadly for the remaining Muslims in India, this does not sound too good to hear. Well they should have killed Jinnah when he was running around calling for "civil-war". They had their turn, now its ours. The Gandians had their turn, now its the turn of the others! The best way for Muslims to join Indian culture as trusted friends would be to unite Pakistan and Bangladesh back with India, on same lines as EU! Sever all ties with Islamic states and accept Secular values for a Modern Union of South-Asia. (U-S-A)

Bedi said...

People who are not able to see the bigger design in this so called nationalism or cultural onslaught need to think that if the motive of our Government was so very positive, why is it that every such event is executed in Attack Mode rather than move by taking all stake holders together. Maybe 'cause they know, rationally, they will not be able to justify their point of view and that technically, it may fall short of the Constitutional rights. Hence, they want to force it down people's throat and create a 'With Me or Against Me' scenario. This is no different to the 'Divide and Rule' policy of the erstwhile British Raj, whose stooges, unfortunately, now indirectly, are in power.

Gowrishankar Palanisamy said...

I am very much saddened by Ajai ji's branding of Yoga and Vande Mataram as Hindu.
I guess Ajai has taken the leadership of current media's philosophy of bleeding Modi and BJP by thousand cuts.
Good going Sukla ji. Make many article like this and make people loose faith in you and your articles.

Anonymous said...

you shouldn't have associated Yoga with a religion, if generals are sending Army men to train in Yoga there is no harm. Infact many western army units have started embracing yoga. So just because you are against Modi or BJP, you shouldn't make Yoga the scape goat. Infant, I would love if every member of our armed forces keep themselves fit by embracing INDIAN scientific exercises and martial arts like Yoga / kalaripayattu etc. We should be proud of our heritage, not run away from it.

Ranjeet said...

I am completely agree with you. Its a concern ARMY senior shouldn't ignore

Anonymous said...

Agree with Dudenator (Dev) @ 15 Mar - 10:35.

Ajai sir - I have been closely following your blog since 2007. I understand that this is YOUR BLOG and you may write (practically) ANYTHING that you like.

I have a two strong observations that I wish to put forward (only) for your use:

1. While the 'data-part' of your writing is as sharp as ever, the 'descriptive-part' is increasingly getting adjectival and prescriptive. I hope you understand what I mean.

2. Anybody who follows you on Facebook and/or Twitter knows that you aggressively discredit and despise any matter which may be (remotely) linked to Hindus or Hindusim. In fact, many a times, I find you enjoying your 'combat' with fellow Facebookers/Tweeples. While those who involve you in such a 'social-media-combat' may be profane, aggressive and illogical; others, who are (relatively) rational, civil and quiet AND by chance practice the same religion, find your combative comments biased and, sometimes, plainly hurtful.

A writer's life, as such, is deeply reflective. I hope my observations contribute to your critical thinking about self.

Tanuj, Noida

Anonymous said...

We know what you are getting at. Infuse ideas (very, very flawed ideas) into people's heads, light a fire and keep pouring petrol for good measure. A section of the India media has been doing this with vigor for over a year now.

If congress comes to power again (god forbid) your articles will drastically change.

Take a chill-pill dude.

Anonymous said...

PLA special forces troops take Kung fu lessons and are special invitees to perform at events.

San Shou itself is a wushu the PLA devised on advise of traditional martial artists and the PLA adopts it as standard training for its rank and file.

Shukla ji, these communists are big on secularism too. Still they do it.

Yet you have reservations on Yoga.

How would you rather have it - how about more of Canteen/Mess Ki Daru. The kind that gave us a certain kind of officer class. The officer class that took the benefit of the several different types of organization of the armed forces (martial races, regionwise, mixed class etc.) without an iota of change to themselves. The rank and file has served the country in every possible organization method and yet they keep getting experimented with as if something is wrong with them. Should we show you how Major General Mrinal Suman deals with the kind of congressi propaganda going on inside.

Anonymous said...

"Most worrisomely, Pakistan has been able to cultivate many influential Indians through what is commonly referred to as ‘biryani diplomacy’. They are frequently taken on fully-paid trips to exotic locales the world over, ostensibly for seminars and group discussions. Lavish hospitality generates bonhomie, providing ideal setting for Pak operatives to establish personal rapport with the Indian guests. Soon, such Indian friends of Pakistan start singing Pak tune and have no qualms in echoing Pak stance by misleading the Indian public."

heh heh. I will leave the commentor out of this for the time being. Anybody interested can off course easily get it on google.

Rutvij Shah said...

I completely agree with what Dev has said before including his views on sending personnel to Baba Ramdev's Ashram. We should be proud of our cultural heritage particularly when people at large (in the case of WCF) or Army (in the case of learning Yoga) is benefiting.

paramjit singh said...

Very rightly brought out Col Shukla.Army has remained and will remain apolitical and multi religious institution. Insh allah!!

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous arguments which only give the fundamentalists a big stick to indulge in Modi bashing.

Anonymous said...

We have a government with non-congress background in every sense.Changes are inevitable, not all will be bad.
India is too comped to become small minded.
Yoga is 100% indian! Baba ramdev is a well known exponent of yoga having lakhs of followers in his own right.

Cool off , Ajai

Anonymous said...

I fully agree that these columns and some of your previous one's are totally sensational in nature rather than substantial. Just yesterday there was an important development on OROP and as an ex-serviceman I expected that such positive development would feature in your blog but alas there was no spice or angle in such news and obviously you seem to have been taken away by news channels who just care for TRP's and eyeballs rather than actual facts. this same government delivered on OROP like it or not but the money is now flowing into peoples account who most needed it. Even in the rafale deal you took a sensational stand that it is disastrous but when the same government plans to induct 100+ homegrown tejas fighter you have sober comments to offer. What's the big deal if Army is building bridges, they are being paid for it and why nobody in the army higher ranks has the balls to come out and openly say that they do not approve of it? it clearly means that the army is obeying and complying with the orders. and so much for the sources which are seething in private, all nonsense. tell them if they have the guts like an army officer of FM Manekshaw stature then they should not care for money and pension and put down their papers. but both you and I know that nobody will do that. you can't have everything and complaint. If you choose not to be happy you never will or for the matter no one will. same thing for the yoga, you are happy, I presume, that officers have jolly good time playing golf and partying but spending time in yoga and spreading the good word, what's the problem. and that too it is something to be proud of, if any other country makes such moves we praise and ask what we are doing but when we do something then we want to be different and criticize. this is ridiculous. The import orders are going down and that again you have missed. we finally have an astute RM and PM and both of them are on same page (imagine the most inept combo of antony and manmohan singh? perhaps the worst after nehru and krishna menon). the present team of RM and PM are not the kind of people to be taken for a ride or fooled. DPP which will be out in the next few days is another change. having annual conferences outside delhi is also a change. at the end, we need to judge this govt by the work that they are doing on the ground. these are not the people who believe in maintaining status quo and definitely not the people who will consult everyone under the sky and bide their time.

Shyam said...

Dear Col Shukla, as a CO, what would you have wanted for your men when under injury or stress? The best care/treatment possible, or only what's possible under some political ideology? Yoga goes beyond politics, and is well known across the world for its therapeutic capabilities. And it originated from India. What's wrong in practicing it?

As for the WCF, your article implies that the BJP led govt directed the Army to provide its services. I hope you were not aware of this, since it makes your article factually incorrect: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/delhi-govt-sought-army-help-on-bridge-construction-for-aol-event/1/616374.html.

Can we expect to see a correction?

Anonymous said...

Yoga cannot be seen through eyes of HINDU religious practises. Then, most Indians may as well see Muslim culture as invading. It is a lop-sided and dangerous logic!! There has to be mutual admiration, good debates, exchange of learning good-practises from each other - whether in civilian life or in army. Its not a competition among cultures but symbiosis to adopt all good practises, and slowly evolve as a modern scientific society.

This article would have been appropriate, if say instead of Yoga - "Caste distinction" was imposed in the Army !!

The truth is Yoga & Meditation is a civilizational heritage of India for developing spiritual orientation of mind, stress relief, inner peace, mental focus...

Yoga is benefiting human kind as a whole cutting across faiths, scientifically researched for its immense benefits, and hence numerous countries have adopted and acknowledged the practise Yoga for overall good. It should be a matter of great pride for all of us!!

Civilizational heritage of India being dubbed as communal, majoritarianism is unfortunate analysis. It is the language of internal politics of India, and not expected from an ex army-man.

I wont become a Muslim when I praise Allah or follow Islamic principles of brotherhood (which I always do and find it so good!!). Niether, a Muslim (like Dr. APJ Kalam) didn't become a Hindu when he enjoyed Gita !! Secularism lies in syncretic learning adapted to modern times and to boot out bad social practises.

Instead of advocating this above message - to support a notion of "Yoga" being Hindu and hence untouchable and offendable for Indian Muslims, doesn't suit any justified logic. This to my mind is wrong and weak messaging to pander to narrow and bigoted "untouchable" feelings of each others good civilizational heritage.
This goes against the very syncretic ethos, and hence to oppose Yoga is to oppose the essence of the Indian Constitution - which asks us to strive towards a syncretic nation imbibed with rationality and logic!!

Jai Hind

Anonymous said...

Another aspiring left-wing blogger seeking attention by posting immature/irresponsible stuffs just be relevant out here . You are trying to sell paranoia but frankly you are pretty bad at it ,try to notch it up a bit since your half-baked theory sounds hallow and arguments appear stale. You are a political activist with a constricted psyche constantly trying to push a political agenda. The fundamental problem with you and your clan is that you people had been the beneficiary of the system for more than half a century and now find themselves out of favour in the current setup and hence resort to such skewed articles under rubric of so-called “liberal journalism/blogger”. However, it is not surprising it comes from you because of your association with a left-wing media outlet who just like you tend to go on their knees in serving their communist/congi master. Anyways your own colleagues consider you a disgrace to the army so that just concludes my opinion about you.

coolgeek said...

vowww... my respect for you is really going down the hill...
dont worry my shukla... as long as India is a Hindu majority country by demographics it will continue to be a secular (although I hate to use the word) country....
Only other religions mixed state and religion, starting with Ashoka... Hindus will never do...

so dont worry... sleep peacefully and attend NDTV panel discussion with ur friend burkha dutt...

Somashekara S said...

From OLQs to PLQs (Politician Like Qualities)

Anonymous said...

This article is a perfect example of what modern day journalism is "creating controversy out of nothing for the sake of creating a reader bases regardless of off who we hurt or the issues it creates"...Indian defense forces does not exist so that Ajai Shukla can use it as his personal punching bag...they exist to uphold the nation....and they are have done, are doing, will continue to do that even if ungrateful people like you Ajai can prance around and call them selves "intellectuals"

kk raja said...

Being on payrolls of the discredited NDTV, he has to sing the tunes to earn his paychecks. The cavalry ex colonel is using his ex military crutches to seek a vicarious validation, but forgets naively all those small compromises he himself made to please his boses to reach whereever he could. Had he been the CO of the engineer regt, he would have been standing on that pontoon bridge to click his selfie. A bloody hyplocrite.

Anonymous said...

Part - I

Not only have the Adarsh Liberals deeply entrenched themselves in the government, bureaucracy, press, educational and cultural institutions and NGOs but have infiltrated the Army as well! How many persons are coming out and showing their true colours after 16 May 2014!

Shame on you to describe International Yoga Day or the World Cultural Festival as attention-grabbing jamborees, that too being an ex-serviceman!

If you dont want to participate, please remain neutral. Nobody has forced you to do Yoga or dance in a cultural event. These are the kind of things which everyone who cares for Bharat including our Prime Minister are doing for its resurrection after 1000 years of slavery. Its called Swabhimaan or honour and pride in your military parlence.

How on Earth can Army laying a bridge for an International Cultural event which enhances the standing of our nation and acts as a bridge for friendship between nations potentially destabilise Army’ secularism? How on earth can learning and teaching Yoga to Army Jawans, a known set of exercises which strengthen the body, sharpen the mind, increase focus and attention, induce calmness, increase flexibility and reduce diseases, be a threat to secular fabric of Army?? Do you think the three Service Chiefs don't have the discretion to decide what is best for their service, or are they communal sanghis? Or are you implying that these ‘other cultures’ are hollow and have nothing worthwhile to put up in front of ‘our’ culture? Or are ‘they’ feeling insecure because of ‘non-availability’ of a scientifically proven technique of body-mind development for mankind in ‘their culture’ as compared to ‘our culture’?

At the end of it, Army got a training opportunity in real world and got to sharpen their skills, in addition to checking their equipment, and also contributed towards an event of significance to bring back national pride, did’nt it? Why can’t you look at the positive side of it? But how can you, when you have already blinded yourself and refuse to see the mirror?

For the record, Bharat had reached its glory in the fields of education, finance, trade, medicine, culture, technology, astronomy and spirituality and became a crown amongst nations due to these very possessions and not due to ‘secularism’, most definitely!

You Sir are the end product of Macaulay brand of education and Nehruvian brand of sickularism where it is necessary to disown and speak against ones own culture to prove ones secular credentials. As per you, proudly following ones native culture automatically means disrespect and hatred for anothers culture and makes that person non-secular, majoritarian and a storm trooper of Hindutva!

Anonymous said...

As per you ideology, to be 100% secular, you cannot be a 100% Hindu. You have to also in the same breath necessarily simultaneously and distinctly remember other religions also, failing which you are not 100% secular. Or at least tone down the scale and nature of events which one holds dear and believes in, so as to not ‘offend’ others and makes ‘others’ feel ‘insecure’, or better still not celebrate them itself. Otherwise, you are a certified communal sanghi. How dare somebody proudly practise tenants of a 5000 year old civilisation and not say anything praiseworthy about others at the same time, who have oppressed and ruled over them for 1000 years? As per your definition, that act in itself is an act of non-accomodation and intolerance of others! Does it not show your slave mentality and Stockholm syndrome?

You Sir are a known Modi hater and your hatred against him is so very evident in this article. To you taking on ‘Bhakts’ and bringing down Modi is more important than the nation. You have now stooped to the level of spreading fear among minorities within Army to run him down and creating controversies where none exist. Had you not raised this bogus non-relevant issue, people would have left it as it is. By speaking about it, you are now creating divisions in the minds of people. Shame on you to use Army as a platform for furthering your agenda!

You say It is nobody’s argument that the army should remain at a remove from anything even faintly religious and rightly so. But you have yourself classified and self certified a ‘non religious’ activity – a pure cultural and a scientific mind-body development tool - as ‘religious’ and are yourself crying hoarse over it! Not just that, you are trying to milk it to your advantage and use it as a tool for fear mongering within Army and building negative opinion against Modi. Oh the sheer hypocrisy of it!

Is it not your and Ali Ahmed duty, the true staunchly secular former army officer as per your definition, to also actively participate in events which enhance the image of the nation in front of the world for the nations’ sake and where some other culture other than his own is being showcased, if he is so secular? Is it not his legacy too? Or at the least not feel offended by it and see it as a ‘threat to secularism’ and attack on ‘minority identity and freedom’ by the ‘majority’? Or stop seeing it with the distorted perspective of ‘resetting the ethos of Army with majoritarian nationalism’? Or are you and he intolerant and allergic to Yoga, Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam? What exactly are you and Ali Akbar afraid of? Did any of these events demean or show someone else’s culture in poor light? Was it not a celebration where there was tremendous synergy and everybody left with positive vibes?

You say these fears are growing. Let me assure you Sir, as also rightly pointed out by Anupam Kher, no fear is growing anywhere except in the minds of people who hate Modi. The fact is that you are actually afraid that he will expose your hypocrisy and awaken a sleeping nation and a brainwashed, misguided generation against the shallowness of sickulars and liberals of your kind, who will reject your ideology.

And stop writing such rubbish and nonsense articles. People would lose faith in the Army which they look up to.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment whole heartedly. Hinduvta is being forced down the throats of a lot of people in this country.
We want to develop a homogenous army of people who think alike, just like the chinese.

Atleast they (the chinese) had the wisdom to wipe off religion. We are using religion to equalise everyone.
We are so eff uuucked

There are very few people left in this country who leave their religion at home when they go to work.
These days they bring it everywhere and everytime.

It requires a higher level of thinking to transcend the religion and think of country, brotherhood and community as above and before personal religion.

Thus you will find lots of people defending Yoga and Surya Whatever as a gifts of Hinduvta to the United Nations and World Community. They are not ... they are as delusional as when I see Surveys suggesting Bangalore has been named as the most beautiful city in the world by a group running the competition out of Bangalore with only Bangalore allowed to participate.

The Yoga classes, the Surya Namaskars are not my culture and heritage.
Building India, Manufacturing, Educating the masses, eradicating disease is my culture and heritage.

Get real , get out of Frackin Zee Tv and BabaJee Ramu Dev crap and get working morons.

Colonel Well Done on a well written Article ... keep it up and keep our compass aligned at all times.

kk raja said...

Shame you invoke censorship even for comments your your bloody blog. Get out of the shroud of cyber wirefall manhood and face the fire if you are worth the soldier you count your self to be, to stand up to counter challenges of arguments.

Anonymous said...

Hello Sir,

I have been and will always appreciate your articles and for the same reason would be worried when something is painted where none exist, the controversy on WCF was a media creation, in this case what @Dudenator has said point wise is nicely put across and with respect and should make sound sense and should be propagated, without getting carried away, there are readers of your post I have noticed simply stand by your words and start seeing it that way, you are that powerful and therefore should avoid this polarization.

The very factor to say someone close to the current government, should that say if this was a person from the minority community ( where all need to be treated as Indians) was to host a event of the scale and attended and appreciated by people from all Religions ( This is where the concern lies in painting the WCF as a religious event) would have drawn the same flak??!

That's my concern. Why paint a religion as having all the evil and paint it, just like terrorists can't be painted with a religion, even though the concern today is to have Islam as a religion come strongly against fanatics who pose as defenders of Islam, basically following barbarism and exploitation or the people of the same community and instigating other religions. It's surely not Islam. When regions events are biased by religion, why paint it as Hindu while what is propagated is culture. Can you give a count of the number of people of various faith who proudly attended the WCF.

I believe that's where the answer lies, please bring in a different argument for not employing army and the need to have other players who can be deployed to safely make brings to the welfare of the people of a international event representing India and builds bridges to hearts.

I understand all others points were just made to prove the above point and get the heat across, I'm sure the above clarity from the reader should give the right perspective like a Army man.

Best Regards

Anonymous said...

anonymous, you write:
>>The Yoga classes, the Surya Namaskars are not my culture and heritage.
Building India, Manufacturing, Educating the masses, eradicating disease is my culture and heritage.

If Yoga and Surya namaskars are not yours heritage, then you are welcome to leave India and attain some stupid enlightenment in a place wherein yoga does not reduce the incidence of disease by inculcating healthy living practises. you might want to educate yourself but knowing how asinine your bigoted kind is vis a vis the notional majority faith in this country, that wont happen either. your lot will continue to create contempt for your views and Ajai is doing a good job of flushing whatever remained of his journalism claims.

anyways, everyone knows with the national herald case, what the true bee in ajai shukla's bonnet is. the congress is gone and shall never return.

Anonymous said...

are bhai shukla ji, its hilarious how wannabe hindus like you who dislike your own heritage but bring up your wannabe brahmin credentials at the drop of a hat to somehow impress other hindus who don't appear to give a shit for you guys. must burn your rectum something special that an OBC Modi is ruling over your lot. and that your fellow brahmins gladly vote for him and like him, more than you caste obsessed morons who will claim to be half sikh but will run away from being hindu. :-)
bhaiyyaji, go to some farm and ask for vintage gau muthra to have with your evening whiskey shiskey, then you can claim that you are more desi than the ghee eating RSS types next. :-)
magar tab tak, national herald case is having your BIL suman dubey very much having fun shun. after all, you congress wallahs seem to be on the backfoot thanks to that bleddy brahmin swamy39.
another reason to hate them bloody hindus they don't even know their place and are busy having so much fun with you whiskey drinking burra sahabs. bloody wogs all of them.

Anonymous said...

Comment Part One:

(I think I might have submitted this comment before but I am unsure - I was typing on my phone. Please delete duplicates as necessary.)

I deeply respect your opinion and I have followed your blog for a long time, although I have never commented. Your emphasis on indigenisation and accountability from all groups, along with your long service serving our country, is the reason I hold you and your opinions in such high esteem.

But India is a Hindu country. Indeed it is also the only major Hindu country. Without India and it's Hindus, everything that our millennia of ancestors fought for, died for, is moot. Perhaps they didn't do the best job. Perhaps we lost many times. But the reason that we lost was never that we weren't welcoming enough, or tolerant enough. Most would argue that the reason we lost was precisely our tolerance.

Ancient India was not like this. In the Vedas it is said that, after winning a war, the most humane thing the victor can do is totally eradicate the enemy. The alternative is to leave a festering wound that will only come back to bite us.

After Asoka's victories, the economic growth and prosperity that unity brought spawned the growth of Buddhism, a sick ideology of self destructive pacifism and weakness. This ideology's key tenets - including vegetarianism - have become deeply ingrained in Indian society. These tenets are a curse. Vegetarianism is responsible for plummeting testosterone, muscle weakness, an inability to reason and a preponderance to pacifism. Such ideologies weaken a population. A weak people may survive without adversaries, but when aggressive outsiders appear, they inevitably fall.

After the Islamic conquests, most Buddhists saw the error of their ways and reconverted back to Hinduism. Some converted to Islam for political favour. Most parts of the subcontinent that are Muslim today - UP, Bihar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Kashmir, were hotbeds of Buddhism. Punjab was converted through force over many generations, and even upon independence was about 40% Hindu.

Buddhists were able to rise and weaken our country not because of the strength of their messages - if their message was true, they would not have succumbed to invaders so easily, nor would they have converted back to their ancestor faith.

Buddhists grew into the predominant group in India, because the conservatives of the time, the Brahmins and Kshatriyas, tolerated their rise. India was wealthy, the Gupta and then Maurya empires were in their ascendancy and India's future was bright. What did it matter if the liberals of the time - the Buddhists - were tolerated? What was the worst that could happen?

This cycle of success and self destruction has repeated many times in history. A strong, disciplined people who tolerate no stupidity amongst their own create glorious success. Their success leads to the raising of a feckless and lazy generation of parasites who, having never faced hardship, go on a party and fix imagined problems to validate themselves.

This cycle is not unstoppable. But it requires great discipline amongst rich parents not to spoil their children. The key to their success is intolerance of subversive behaviour.

Anonymous said...

Comment Part Two:

As I said, I deeply respect your opinion. But India is now, finally, slowly, but inexorably rising out of the ashes. Perhaps we will repeat the mistakes of our forefathers of two hundred generations ago. In fact I am almost certain that we will see it begin to happen. The roots have already sprouted - the breakdown of traditional marriage and traditional gender roles in the cities and the separation of the Hindu from his ancestral home, the Village, may push India, over time, to become the atheist freakshow that Europe is, where children from where 7 are given gender altering drugs without parental consent and primary schools teach children how to have sex, where the average woman sleeps with twenty men before getting married, and produces a sick child after taking the birth control pill for twenty years. Soon the Western civilisation will have, following the 'virtues' of tolerance and apathy, have so effectively extinguished itself that the average child will be Muslim. Already in the UK a majority of children born are not white. This is the society tolerance has created. This is the liberal society, as Buddhist India was, before it was destroyed by outsiders. Thank God that Village Hinduism was there to pick up the pieces, and guarantee for me and my brothers the heritage that my ancestors created. I can only be grateful. I can only beg God that I will be able to do the same for my children.

So it comes down to that - tolerance. The Army is the Soul of a nation's men. All else may degrade, but as long as the Army carries a remnant of the nation's Soul, a revival is possible. This is a large part of the reason that India was able to achieve independence, through the implicit threat of an army revolt and takeover.

We will face a grave internal problem that will result from the demographically charged forces of religious separatism and, and at the same time feminism will infect Hindu women - or rather, Hindu men. The Army must not and cannot be a neutral party in the conflict that will arise. India, even if it takes the last breath of every Patriot, must not and cannot be allowed to turn into another Lebanon. The Army represents the purest part of our country's national tradition. The fact that it is so deeply religious is not a coping mechanism, nor an act of spiritual consumption, like one takes a painkiller or amphetamines to go back to the fight. Their religiousness is something greater, something not explainable by language. Something only someone who is a Patriot can feel, burning in his chest. The feeling that never again, NEVER AGAIN, will we be humiliated. I am sure you feel it. You must.

This is part of what God has taught us. Lack of tolerance is not the reason that we fell. Indeed, it is the opposite. If there is one thing that history can show us, it is that.

Our borders have shrunk from the Kush to not even include the entirety of the Ganga or the Indu.

We may never get those back.

But we will not give up another inch of our sovereign, HINDU country.

Our country is rising, for the first time in a long time. Most Hindus are becoming proud to be Hindu. The Army should embrace it's natural heritage as defender of Vedic faiths, whether that costs India some of it's best soldiers or not; whether it costs us some internal division or not - internal division that is inevitable.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Dear Shukla Ji,

Where will you stop ?

Earlier you mounted a campaign to divide the fine officer corps of Indian Army between the haves and have-nots by portraying and arguing that Infantry and Artillary has done mandalisation and others were left out. And now you have stooped too low to suggest that Modi government is indulging in Kammandalisation of Army. You never covered up the Supreme Court judgement on that issue.

For the sake of remaining alive, you do not seem to desist from striking at the core of Army "Ethos" .....

The doors of Badrinath temple are opened every year by Garhwal Rifles pipe band playing music to honor their deity ... there are Regiments who cry Raja Ram Chandra Ki Jai in wars even today... There is a battalion with outstanding achievements which used to belong to the Raghunath temple of Jammu and their salutation even today is "Jai Raghunath". Izate Mardan Madade Khudda has never been termed religious by the men who go by that moto.

Today Yoga is bugging you all - the old, hate Modi gang.

I have never ever felt doing something wrong when during two critical years my battalion organized Amarnath Yatra from Baltal...there was nothing religious about our soldiers who were just doing their duty.

You might have remained in the Army, all right but do not use this fine institution to bash Modi or for that matter any other leader.

Anonymous said...

I guess Ajai is not getting "research grants" from the Modi Sarkar!!

TRIUND said...

By that, sir, I understand that only the RSS and the BJP understands Hinduism & Hindutva. Is that you are trying to convey to Mr. Shukla?

TRIUND said...

The question here (this is for all the people above who have commented on Mr. Shukla's article) is not ONLY about the army being called to participate on yoga day, nor being called in for the World Cultural Festival organized by Art of Living. I would ask all Indians (I am a nationalist and patriotic Indian and a proud follower of the Sanatan Dharma, who doesn't have a certificate from RSS though) to think where this will all lead to. Next time the Sikhs organise a kar seva on a gigantic scale at Hem Kunt Sahib, they will ask for the Army's help (they are after all partners of BJP). Later it could be some Islamic function of a greater magnitude and the government will be forced to yield, if it has to appear to be non-partisan.
Gentlemen, it won't end there. Such actions have a habit of snowballing and lead to unrest, riots and arson of the scale that we are all conversant with in our Indian. We have let things snowball into a situation where the government cannot enforce the rule of law. We live in a situation where driving on the wrong side is more of a norm than an exception.
Administrations all over the country cannot even pass a rule that the rickshawalas do not like because the next day they all will be on the roads blocking traffic. Imagine that happening in a city like Delhi.
We have the JAt agitation. Need I tell more about it? We have let things go to this extent that the day is not far when each and everyone of us will belong to one or the other "RESERVED" category in one or the other part of the country.
For heaven's sake, please stop meddling with the Army.

Anonymous said...

Trund any large group or civil society conducting an event, wherein civil administration requires help, per the constitution, the Armed Forces are duty bound to help. Hope that clears your confusion. Shukla suffers from minorityism, not Armyism. He'd be perfectly happy with a Sikh group getting helped but not a Hindu group, especially one which he thinks is allied to a Govt he loathes since he and his ilk think pracitising conservative Hindus are to be mocked at, and any Govt elected by that group is equally bad.

Anonymous said...

Col Ajai Shukla is bang on spot. PROJECT 'Subversion of Indian Army' is well on its way. It is being done so silently and so innocuously that any bystander will keep saying ' Its your imagination'.. 'Its not real'.

Well Its not my imagination at least. For 25 years I was an ARMY OFFICER. Since the past two years my designation changed to MUSLIM OFFICER. That was the beginning. Then an fellow officer categorised me as TERRORIST. My surname KHAN now has become my identity. This is not to say that its happening at a big level. Maybe 5-10% officers are effected by this communal cancer. But for an Army which maintained 200% religious solidarity and harmony, this shift is cataclysmic.

Today officers openly profess their love for religious / political parties and organisations. They openly castigate/ostracise anyone who doesn't toe their line. Officers routinely post Xenophobic posts on FB and Whatsapp.

The Author has already listed his objections to troops being sent to a Baba's ashram for some Yoga Training. That Baba who ran away wearing a Ladies suit is now going to train our soldiers??!! Do our Soldiers need Yoga? Oh its nonsense. Our soldiers have to be trained to Kill enemies... and not to sit down and do the Shanti stuff. If at all training was required why can't the Yoga Trainers come to the cantonments and do the training? The reason is very obvious. The purpose is not Yoga. It is religious brainwashing.

Ex soldiers and officers are being recruited to shout down the 'Anti Nationals'
These campaigns are designed to create a divide amongst the forces. False Memorial ceremonies are enacted to show their false love for soldiers. While on the other hand an officer of the OROP was thrown in Jail. (Wg Cdr CK Sharma)

The vitiated toxic fumes of the civil world has seeped into the Defence.. completely as per plan. A polarised Army is a ticking time bomb. So far everything worked on faith and trust. Religion was never used as a Political tool. Men trusted officers and officers trusted men irrespective of religion. No political affiliations were ever displayed and anyone doing so was immediately told to
shut up.

What's going to happen when Troops patrol streets during riots. Will they open machine gun fire on 'Anti-nationals'? "Those buggers deserve it". What's going to happen in J&K? I dread to imagine the scenarios.

Some people say our Army is impregnable. I also used to think so. The wall of this fort is now broken.I don't know where is going to end. I would like to believe that its a bad dream but I pinched myself several times in disbelief. It is a clear and present danger. Only the people in the Army and who are facing the brunt would know of what happening.

Yours Truly
A Soldier of Indian Army

Carlos said...

Absolutely, Bedi, well said. Ajai knows what he is talking about. The criticism is coming from morons and opportunists.