Friday December 15, 2017
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With Gandhi & Churchill sharing the same ground, can they finally become friends?

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Gandhi statue

By Harshmeet Singh

One of the biggest news of this week was the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Britain’s famous Parliament square. The 9 foot tall bronze statue is ironically dedicated to the group of people he stood against – the loyal servants of the British Empire. Funded by the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust which was founded by Meghnad Desai, the statue was given shape by the famous British sculptor Philip Jacksonn.

When the British PM David Cameroon was unveiling his statue in the presence of Arun Jaitley, Amitabh Bachchan and Gopalkrishna Gandhi (Gandhi’s grandson), Bapu was being gazed at by his old nemesis, Winston Churchill.

Unveiled on the occasion of completion of 100 years of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, the magnificent statue would be in an esteemed company of Sir Robert Peel, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and a number of other former British PMs.

Gandhi & Churchill

It is hard to imagine the installation of Gandhi’s statue going too well with Churchill, considering that the latter was a staunch opponent of everything Gandhi stood for.  In 1931, Britain invited Gandhi to hold peace talks. Gandhi saw no reason to change his attire before attending the important meeting with the Viceroy.  Not impressed with Lord Irwin’s decisions to carry on negotiations with Gandhi to ensure a political truce in India in 1931, Churchill remarked “It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, an Inner Temple lawyer, now become a seditious fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor. I am against these conver­sations and agreements between Lord Irwin and Mr. Gandhi. . . The truth is that Gandhi-ism and all it stands for will have to be grappled with and finally crushed.”

True to his image of remaining calm, Gandhi sent a letter to Churchill with the following words –

“Dear Prime Minister,

You are reported to have a desire to crush the simple ‘Naked Fakir’ as you are said to have described me. I have been long trying to be a ‘Fakir’ and that naked — a more difficult task. I, therefore, regard the expression as a compliment though unintended. I approach you then as such and ask you to trust and use me for the sake of your people and mine and through them those of the world.

Your sincere friend,

K. Gandhi”

Despite Churchill’s evident animosity towards him, Gandhi wanted to meet him when he was in London for the second round table conference, a request which Churchill refused. Churchill’s imperialistic approach was never in line with Gandhi’s democratic values. Churchill was ever so against the labour party’s decision to grant independence to India. The massive bloodshed during the partition gave him a reason to remind everyone of his views, saying “The fearful massacres which are occurring in India are no surprise to me.”

Never the one to hide his likes and dislikes, Churchill was all praise for Jawaharlal Nehru and called him “Here is a man who has conquered both hate and fear. A smartly dressed diplomatic Nehru was always going to be more pleasing to the eyes of Churchill. After the death of Mahatma Gandhi, condolences poured in from all across the world, excluding Churchill. Although he had gone a bit softer on Gandhi after he was ousted from the post of British Prime Minister, he could never like Gandhi enough.

Gandhi’s statue at the Parliament Square has intentionally been made slightly smaller in height than most of the statues already present in the area, indicating his will to be considered a common man. With Gandhi and Churchill sharing the same home now, let’s hope they finally become friends!

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

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Gandhi
Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean

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Paradise Papers: The “loot” of Nation’s Wealth by the “ultra-rich” of the Country

India ranks 19th out of 180 countries in Paradise Papers.

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One of the largest belongs to Mukesh Ambani.
One of the largest belongs to Mukesh Ambani. Wikimedia Commons

By Salil Gewali

India boasts of having one of the largest and expensive modern mansions in the world – second only to the palace built by Sultan of Brunei. That belongs none other than a filthy rich Mukesh Ambani. But very contrastingly, India has also often been disgraced for its maximum number of citizens who spend their nights, their weeks, their months and years in the open pavement even in the cutting cold of the winter. Yes, the country bears the burden of the largest number of poor people in the world – approximately 276 million people live below poverty line. What a vast difference between the haves – the super-rich, and the have-nots.

The “loot” of nation’s wealth by the “ultra-rich” of the country had been going on quietly until the German newspaper brought out to the open the details of Paradise Papers from Appleby, the Bermuda-based legal service provider. Needless to say, for the ultra-rich, the name of the game is “tax planning”, offshore finance, the creation of off-shore entities, et al. In the eyes of our authorities, it is about “deemed lapses in corporate governance, alleged fund diversion, irregularities in disclosure norms,” and so on. One wonders, in this scenario, what is at stake for the common man?

  As for the common man, his humble “paradise” is being looted; his God-given right to share his due is throttled. His children’s chances to come up in life, if at all there are any, are choked. His right to a “fair living” is gradually drifting apart. Because the very means of his life is plundered by a few ultra-rich. On a wider outlook, at the national level, the country’s wealth is burgled and robbed. Then who are these plunderers?

There are more than 700 of them from our country in the disclosed list of having Paradise Papers– the disclosure is still incomplete – of Paradise Papers. Very funnily, these names include persons, who the common man relies on, worship, holds in high esteem and vows to give his life for. Film star Amitabh Bachchan, who is often worshipped, Union Minister of State  Jayant Sinha, BJP Rajya Sabha M.P., R.K. Sinha, Corporate tycoon Vijay Mallya, Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Harsha Moily, son of former UPA Minister Veerappa Moily, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnashin, son of former UPA powerhouse and Central Minister P. Chidambaram, former Union Minister Sachin Pilot, and several others who is who of India’s Corporate world, politics, and other fields. Interestingly, What more? Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, Lord Ashcroft, the most prominent British politician, U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, Shakira, Madonna and notoriously disgraced Harvey Weinstein, for his sexual wrongdoings and so on and so forth.

In spite of strict regulations in every country, it would be interesting to know, how these celebrities, politicians, multinationals, and the ultra-rich individuals are hiding Paradise Papers. I’m not wrong that rules in every country have built-in loopholes. In other words, rules of every country have provided loopholes to the cunning and crafty to circumvent them. And we have got them in abundance. The very fact that our country ranks 19th out of 180 countries in Paradise Papers is certainly not something that we can cheer about.

 The wealthy form shell companies, “foundations”, and “trusts” as a cover to hide their money from tax authorities. They form “offshore” accounts that are handled by law firms specializing in these “offshore’ expertise. To the world, their forceful argument is “offshore” banking which is legal. But, this is practiced by only the ultra-rich to evade tax. They take advantage of the legal loop-hole by taking shelter under the tax treaties by our Government.

  But frankly speaking, will they ever be able to “use” that wealth? I don’t think it’s possible in the practical world. They can’t even see, touch and feel their wealth they have once dispatched. Not even after 500 years, they can use it if they ever could live.  Because these super-rich people already have countless wealth which is in their various kind of treasury vaults.  Is it not the paradise of illusion then?

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata Dutt Denies WrongDoing

Manyata Dutt denies having Paradise Papers.

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Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata Dutt accused having Paradise Papers
Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata Dutt accused having Paradise Papers. ians

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife, named among those in the ‘Paradise Papers’ accused of parking their wealth in tax havens abroad, says all her financial dealings are above board.

Dilnashin figures among the 714 Indian links named in the ‘Paradise Papers’, said the Indian Express in a banner story done as part of a global probe carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Her spokesperson said in a statement: “As per the requirements of provisions of Income Tax Act, 1961, all the properties, company or body corporate or shares in any company are declared in the balance sheet.”

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has been named as part of the leaks, regarding shareholding in a Bermuda company acquired before the 2004 Liberalised Remittance Scheme kicked in.

A day before the big story broke, Amitabh had penned his thoughts on being named in the Bofors scandal and the earlier Panama Papers leaks.

“Tomorrow there could be more… And the process of our cooperation shall continue,” he wrote in a blog post on Sunday.

On the Panama Papers of last year, he wrote: “We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of the name. They were printed… but the questions continued.

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply.”( IANS)