Monday, April 25, 2011

India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba

Posting for a wider reading.

India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba
Sanal Edamaruku
Indian Rationalist Association & Rationalist International

When Sathya Sai Baba died this morning (24 April 2011) at the age of
85 years, he proved once again that miracles and predictions fail. He
had predicted at a public gathering at his head quarters in
Puttaparthy, in 2000, and repeatedly many times, that he would die at
the age of 96 only. And till the last moment, many of his devotees
clung to his word and waited for a miracle. May it be an eye opener
for the millions of gullible people whom he misguided and deluded.

De mortuis nihil nisi bene, they say, say nothing but good of the
dead. But I think Sathya Sai Baba’s case qualifies for an exception.
Too great is the damage that he did to India. His devastating
influence on reason and scientific temper caused huge setback to the
country. At a time, when scientific progress led to great social and
economic leaps and scientific awakening started spreading all over
India, Sathya Sai Baba launched a “counter revolution” of
superstition, supported by irresponsible politicians and other public
figures who should have known better. In my judgment, this is his
greatest crime. I have succeeded again and again to expose him
publicly as a fraud, so did some other rationalists. But due to his
political protectors he was never held responsible for his crimes
against public reason. Nor was he ever booked for any other crime he
was accused of. Numerous cases of alleged sexual abuse and murder are
yet to be investigated, not to mention the financial secrets of his

Sathya Sai Baba insisted in all seriousness that he was god, the
creator of the universe, and “proved” his divinity with a couple of
small “miracles”. As son of a village tantric he was familiar with the
hand sleights and tricks of the trade. However, he did not only
fascinate poor and uneducated villagers with his fraudulent
performances. Over the years, he managed to attract a galaxy of
India’s rich and powerful, among them ministers, prime ministers,
presidents, chief justices, top industrialists and superstars.

Sathya Sai Baba had a special modus operandi that was the key for his
astonishing success and the root of his enormous clout. Many of his
high society devotees came to serve their own vested interests. Some
came to rub shoulders with the prominent. Many joined the club because
it was working as a powerful syndicate spreading its tentacles all
over the political system. It was a way to the top jobs and a way to
get things done. Others were seeking financial support or wanted to
get rid of ill-gotten black money: The empire, it is alleged, was
based on money laundering, using foreign devotees and branches. In
fact, the huge foreign donations to Sai Baba stood in contrast to the
comparatively modest number of active foreign devotees and the
sometimes quite weak foreign branches, some of them residing in
private homes. That is no great surprise, when one considers that Sai
Baba did not speak any other language than Telugu and traveled only
once in his whole life abroad – to visit his friend Idi Amin in

On his 80th birthday, Sai Baba’s supporters announced that he would
turn from a miracle man to a philanthropist. That was, after I had
demonstrated his miracles so often in TV shows that many kids in the
streets could imitate them. That he since spent a part of the great
fortunes, swindled out of the gullible, for social development around
his ancestral village, is highlighted now to present him as a saint.
But as useful and welcome hospitals, schools and drinking water
projects for the poor always may be: this kind of alibi-philanthropy
is well known even from mafia-bosses. It cannot be weighed against his
crimes and the damage he has done to the Indian society.

In December 2005, I wrote a letter to then President Dr. Abdul Kalam,
one of Sai Baba’s ardent supporters, which was never answered. I
demanded criminal investigations against Sai Baba. If his social
development projects are meant to be indulgence to nullify his crimes,
this procedure is unprecedented and unacceptable, I wrote. It is a
shame for India that well-founded accusations and numerous reputed
witnesses against Sai Baba are ignored without any investigation. Do
saffron clothes make an offender untouchable for the law? Do we have
to tolerate that political protectionism raises its head so boldly,
mocking India's democracy?

Sathya Sai Baba caused great damage to India. His irresponsible
political patrons corrupted the political culture of India. Encouraged
by the clout of Sathya sai Baba, a new clan of miracle mongers
imitated him. India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai

(This or other articles from the  Rationalist International Bulletin
may be reproduced by journals, blogs or web sites without change or
alteration in its content, and with due acknowledgment.)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WikiLeaks and India

Now that Julian Assange's WikiLeaks is causing some people sleepless nights in the West, the effect is slowly being felt in India. With the expose, exposing the incumbent Congress and the opposition BJP every now and then. The counter accusations follow from the parties. Some things that I have noted when an expose happens is as follows:

  1.  Typically the party in the soup tries to downplay WikiLeaks itself, saying that this is what has been said by the US diplomats and is nothing more than office gossip.
  2. At the same time the other party mounts an attack on the party in soup, trying to tell us "Isn't it the same thing that we were saying from so many years?" And they will tell you how the other party is bad to its core. In this case they never question the authenticity of WikiLeaks. 
  3. The cycle repeats. Only the role of the parties are changed!

So WikiLeaks is like a hot potato, which none of our political parties have courage to handle. As soon as they land with one, they try to throw it away as soon as possible. When it is in someone else's hand they will try to make some brownie points out of it.

Indian media with some exceptions is trying to play down the damage done by WikiLeaks to the political and the civil system. They may be hand-in-glove with those accused, or may be afraid that their own names may appear in the future issues of WikiLeaks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sibal Vs Hazare

Apparently Kapil Sibbal the person who negotiated with the Anti-corruption rally activists cannot make simple deductions about the state in which the country is in. Being the HRD minister he should know better.

Sibal said this in a public meeting 

I ask this question, if a poor child does not have any means for education, then how will Lokpal Bill help? If a poor man needs help for medical services then he will call up a politician. How will Lokpal Bill help.

When Mr. Hazare responded by saying that Mr, Sibal should not be in the committee if he thinks Lokpal bill is useless, then Sibal clarified his position by saying:

the scope of the Bill is different. The problems of the common man are different. ...
I said that if you want to educate children, then this has no connection to Lokpal. If there is no convenience of water...Lokpal is only connected to corruption and we will bring a good bill that will stop corruption.

To get to what I am saying you do not even have to read between the lines. The very fact that there are problems in the Indian system, the likes of which Sibal mentions, viz. poor child not having means for education, poor man needing medical services and others at least in part are linked to India being a very corrupt  state. Since we are a corrupt state, that is the reason people cannot get access to basic needs of a good life, like education for their children and medical services, without clout of some politician, as Mr. Sibal puts it. And this is accepted, by saying that going through a politican will perhaps help a poor person, than cleaning the system itself.

How can a bad governing system which is corrupt as deep as it can be, and public inconvenience it causes and a strong anti-corruption bill be not related? The Lokpal Bill is in every related to problems of common man,  and that is the reason why it gathered such a wide support.