Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Posts Tagged ‘Anna Hazare’

Exposing Cultic, Political and Other Corruptions: India Stirs

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 6, 2012

It may well be that – as the older members of the Sathya Sai Baba cult get old and die – the Sathya Sai Baba cult will take new turnings. It hard to predict at the moment. In any case, especially younger generations will need to be alert. So to speak, creatures thought dead at last can arise, yet again – if not in quite the same form – from the old slime of their dark lagoons. As far as recent Indian polls go, Sathya Sai Baba is dead to India at large.  See:  The Greatest Indians since Gandhi nominated – & Sathya Sai Baba? But our vigilance should never die.  See also:  ‘Face the Nation’ Audience Poll, India – 87% Hostile to Gurus Like Sathya Sai Baba

Young people faced with gurus and other feet-of-clay mentors who seem so full of light will need to see via the light of their own rational questioning. All of us need to question our values such as any misplaced ‘political correctness’ and nebulous notions of ‘freedom of religion’. We need to challenge essentially corrupt, autocratic, backward-looking cults like international Sathya Sai Organization. These threaten genuine freedom and the health of society at large.  The foes of the ‘open society’ (in Sir Karl Popper’s term) are those who use its very openness to achieve their closed and devious ends. See Robert Priddy’s and my extensive four-part article:  The Sathya Sai Organization’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed

In India, challenge to corruption widely stirs. One of the great complicitors in protecting Sathya Sai Baba and his cult, the present Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, was further tarnished by the violent manner in which he responded to widely peaceful and articulate anti-corruption protests. See my articles: Anna Hazare’s Arrest. Dark Days For Indian Democracy, August 17, 2011, and: UK In Flames. But Not India. Anna Hazare Sets Example Of Peaceful ProtestAugust 17, 2011.

NEW DELHI: Civil society’s battle against corruption acquired its sharpest edge ever on Tuesday as veteran social activist Anna Hazare began a fast unto death at the capital’s landmark Jantar Mantar demanding greater public role in the Anti-Corruption Bill (Lokpal Bill), which has now been considered and put aside by successive regimes for the last 42 years.
Anna Hazare ignored several pleas of the government to defer his fast as he stood firm on his demand for a joint committee comprising government and civil society leaders to rework the current draft Lokpal Bill. He maintained that the current Bill covering only politicians was inadequate as politicians often colluded with officials to indulge in corruption. , 22 August, 2011.

India is still in many ways profoundly gerontocratic. In a deeply traditionalist country, (mainly) old (mainly) men, preponderantly, have consummate skills in retaining  power. This deadly hand of state is not first mediated via external exercise of political power, but unreflectively rooted in practically every home, and in every caste and class, and, in turn, in thousands of years of history.  The internet generation of India’s young is, of course, extraordinarily IT savvy. Superficially, it may all seem like a grand silicon break from the iron grip of hidebound past. But these young people (often bright, charming and delightful when I meet them to this day) are, effectively, the all-too-unwitting toys of rulers who are old, and who can use all the old tricks of control.  Or rather – one should say – of mind and soul binding. Especially is this so in the use of religion, the caste system, nepotism, arranged marriages, etc., to keep things much the way the corrupt and canny old players of statecraft want. If one wants to understand them better, read the  ‘Arthaśāstra’ of Chanakya, who pre-dated his kindred spirit in renaissance Italy Machiavelli by 1800 years.

Anti-corruption campaigners protest in India as Anna Hazare continues to attract crowds in New Delhi even though he announced on Thursday evening that he will end his ‘Fast Unto Death’ on Friday.
People gathered at the site of the Anna Hazare agitation in New Delhi despite the anti-graft campaigner’s announcement that he will end the stir on Friday. Hazare has been on a fast-unto-death till the government ratifies an anti-graft law that provides for prosecuting senior politicians, including the Prime Minister, and bureaucrats for corruption. http://www.demotix.com/news

Too often in India, both the heroes (slender in number, as always and everywhere) and the villains are old, and – at other times – a damn sight older.  An ageing anti-corruption crusader like Anna Hazare is like – in a certain sense – a re-visitation from Mahatma Gandhi. A much younger crusader, who uses analogous methods, is Swami Ramdev, who has had, to date, not nearly the same clout as Hazare. The operant factors are complex, although the remarks of Sushant Kumar, a young, perceptive Indian commentator, are worth reading, as are his other blogs.  He suggests that a major reason for the larger celebrity line-up behind Hazare may be that the latter, unlike Ramdev, poses no sexy superstardom sort of challenge to them.  See:  Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare & Social Media – Difference of opinion, by 

Difference in the sentiment of twitter users towards Anna Hazare & Baba Ramdev
January 20, 2011 – Program on Liberation Technology News.
***
It is also good to see contributions of educated, young Indians like Vivek Srinivasan (see below) expertly and pragmatically discussing the potentials of IT (and other systems) in combatting corruption.  It is for a long, sad while that I have sought any of my former students at the Sri Sathya Sai College of the Arts, Science and Commerce, via Bangalore, Karnataka who would fit among the research-based and courageous activists of whom Vivek Srinivasan speaks.
Some of the researchers into social inequality and corruption are no strangers to being beaten up. One of them is quoted as saying:  “I would rather give up my life than give up my papers”! By no means are technical means of corruption exposure at all expensive. Many methods are essentially simple and within the grasp of many or of most. They can be very imaginative and resourceful. (Some examples of the success of a handful of us in exposing worldwide, give evidence of this – especially, of course, the internet – in bringing down Sathya Sai Baba and his cult. The younger generation now have far more tools, great and small, than our activists have had available to us).
A lengthy, lively, at times interactive discussion excellently led by Vivek Srinivasan is here:  

In a few days, I’ll refer to Vivek Srinivasan’s article on the role of technology in combatting corruption:  

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Sai Global Harmony Radio International Broadcaster Uses Anna Hazare’s Name In Propaganda Efforts

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 25, 2011

I note that the international Sathya Sai satellite broadcaster, Sai Global Harmony, via the WorldSpace Radio Corporation, has just used a Sai cult member’s account of his ‘meeting’ with Anna Hazare, the courageous and greatly respected leader of the mass, pan-Indian campaign against endemic Indian government and corporate corruption. Allowing for social, political and cultural differences, there are strong comparisons to be drawn between the Indian struggle against corruption among the elite and struggles elsewhere in the world, such as the ‘Arab Spring’ and the ‘Occupy’ movement sweeping the USA and other countries. See my article: Occupy Movement Exemplifies Sathya Sai Baba’s Failure As Social Reformer

Sai Radio Propaganda Uses Respected Names To Cover Up For Sai Corruption

The Sai devotee claimed on-air that Hazare stated to him, in no uncertain terms, the primal divinity of Sathya Sai Baba. I reference:

http://media.radiosai.org/Journals/Vol_09/01OCT11/anant_pande.htm

http://aravindb1982.hubpages.com/hub/Anna-Hazare-and-Sathya-Sai.

Locked in a vast effort, following both earlier and more recent exposures, the international Sathya Sai Organization, having lost many members, struggles desperately to rebuild, and at least keep somehow afloat, the Sathya Sai empire.

The Indian media is well-placed to ask Baba Hazare and/or his official spokesperson to confirm or deny the report on Sai Global Harmony? But will they? Will they ever attempt to atone for their shame in allowing the foreign media to expose Sathya Sai Baba and his cult?

Alert sleuths may also like to see whether Sai Global Harmony almost talking to itself, and a smattering of NRI’s and others around the world – speaking essentially to the converted. If not, the Sathya Sai Organisation’s repeated statements (which we can document from official Sai literature) about having vast followings worldwide are yet again exposed as false.

Clearly, the Organisation uses the Hazare name, among other public names (as it does with those such as Gavaskar and Tendulkar), to bolster up what’s left of the Sai Baba ‘name and fame’. This at a time when the discredited cult fights for its survival worldwide. I add that there has been intense pressure to obtain governmental sanctions for a powerful, far-reaching transmitter in the British Isles for Sai Global Harmony satellite radio broadcasts. But the Sathya Sai Central Trust lawyer SS Naganand has just made a watershed statement, which represents a departure from the profound secrecy of the Sathya Sai Organization down many decades. As reported by NDTV – see:

Sathya Sai Central Trust releases annual financial report

by Maya Sharma, Updated: November 23, 2011 17:49 IST

“We are being watched by many organisations, the government and many other institutions in India and abroad. That’s why we thought we will take measured steps”.

Indeed, this international attention of which Naganand speaks has been very much part of our job to ensure. It is our point about the utter failure of the Sathya Sai Organization to show accountability that the cult from top to bottom has reviled and libeled those who have – with rational voice – spoken out. But from the cult, there is not a word of apology for all the hatred vented against former devotees and other critics.

See also:

Ashok Bhagani – Footsying With Top Blair Minister?

Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard On Dr G. Venkataraman – Sathya Sai Baba Global Propagandist

Sathya Sai Baba’s Chief Broadcaster Dr G. Venkataraman: Select Critical Articles by Barry Pittard

Ashok Bhagani denies fully documented facts

Ashok Bhagani, Sathya Sai Baba cult promoter in UK

General

Excerpt From Public Petition

(Note: You may prefer to go straight to the Petition):

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

There is a Spanish version available: PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL)

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Occupy Movement Exemplifies Sathya Sai Baba’s Failure As Social Reformer

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 10, 2011

In the next days, I shall look at aspects of the Occupy movements, many of whose manifestations show how profoundly Sathya Sai Baba and his international organization have failed.

Sathya Sai Baba and his cult always failed to face political and corporate power. They themselves are part of the corrupt system. His successors now fight out power struggles among themselves.

The international Sathya Sai Organization “good works” philosophy plays perfectly into the hands of the power elites, who have nothing against charity. We all like to feel good. Big-name donors to the Sathya Sai cult are legion, especially in India, and from among the Indian diaspora worldwide.

Amid untold golden glitter, the late Sathya Sai Baba said that, in his own lifetime, he would save and rule India and then the world

But those many ‘ordinary’ citizens from many cultural backgrounds who people the Occupy movements are better educated than ever before, and thus able to use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc., to great advantage. Sathya Sai Baba and his organization could never, and would never, have initiated or supported a mass movement like the Occupy movement.

Occupy Wall Street protestors in Oakland, California, USA, holding “We are the 99%”

This populist manifestation is profoundly opposed to the corrupt machinations of government and corporations – whereas, Sai Baba and the top-level figures of his organization have long been utterly enmeshed with government, police and armed services at every level. Many of his richest devotees long were, and are to this day, corporate moguls. He, his intelligence and security wing, and his formal and informal political operators have for decades utterly influenced local, state and central government police, who are notorious for violent suppression of protest at the behest of Indian governments of any persuasion.

The greed-maddened heads of corporations whom the Occupy movements oppose are, in essence, no different to those far more visible celebrities from the entertainment world who live in the utmost opulence but simultaneously adorn their inflated egos with ostentatious finery when they appear at charity fund-raisers.

From Wikipedia: A chart showing the disparity in income distribution in the United States.[25][26] Wealth inequality and income inequality have been central concerns among Occupy Wall Street protesters.[27][28][29] CBO data shows that in 1980, the top 1% earned 9.1% of all income, while in 2006 they earned 18.8% of all income.[30]

A Protester with a sign at Occupy San Francisco

But far beyond the ‘feel good’ point, the governments and corporations keep up the profiteering, and aid the spawning of the soul-destroying, planet-killing life-styles. From their almost impenetrable fortresses, they aid and abet poverty and social dislocation in the first place.

The US, history’s most formidable superpower is in vast economic decline. But this should really serve to remind many other countries that, in many ways, the US is only themselves writ large – both actually and in unachieved aspiration. Materialism is always itself, and always expands when it can.

The General Assembly meets in Washington Square on 8 October 2011

Millions of ordinary US citizens – and in increasingly many other first world and developing countries – now rebel against the governments and corporations. They need no Marx and Engels to read nor a Lenin to rally them.

They come from many religious and non-religious backgrounds. They come from the smallest towns and the largest cities.

They are the young, who face decades of paying back their student loans, whom the flawed system catapults into jobs after years of study – young lives now not able, even for a moment, to breathe, travel, explore, discover, reflect and mature. At the most idealistic time of their lives, they are seized of the chance to find a sense of meaning that will propel them in the rest of their lives.

They are the middle-aged, who, after great sacrifice have schooled their children, served their communities, and are now being slammed with bank foreclosures.

They are the elderly, for whom superannuation now means little or nothing.

They are often leaderless, but consensual and practical. They, rather than hidden controllers, write the placards for themselves; which they raise above their heads to proclaim their hurt and anger to their representatives who do not represent. And to their country. And to a world which, on the instant, sees, for example, police forces at the behest of their political masters being mobilized to suppress this grassroots uprising. They see sections of the media who, no less than the police, serve the moguls and political managers by sensationalizing and misreporting.

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The Occupy movement: They are fed up in India, too

The United States and India are going through similar upheavals, writes Thomas L. Friedman. Democratically elected governments in both countries are so beholden to special interests they can no longer deliver reform. Therefore, they both need shock therapy from outside.

By Thomas L. Friedman

Syndicated columnist, New York Times

GOA, India — The world’s two biggest democracies, India and the United States, are going through remarkably similar bouts of introspection. Both countries are witnessing grass-roots movements against corruption and excess. The difference is that Indians are protesting what is illegal — a system requiring bribes at every level of governance to get anything done. And Americans are protesting what is legal — a system of Supreme Court-sanctioned bribery in the form of campaign donations that have enabled the financial-services industry to effectively buy the U.S. Congress, and both political parties, and thereby resist curbs on risk-taking.

But the similarities do not stop there. What has brought millions of Indians into the streets to support the India Against Corruption movement and what seems to have triggered not only the Occupy Wall Street movement but also initiatives like Americanselect.org — a centrist group planning to use the Internet to nominate an independent presidential candidate — is a sense that both countries have democratically elected governments that are so beholden to special interests that they can no longer deliver reform. Therefore, they both need shock therapy from outside.

The big difference is that, in America, the Occupy Wall Street movement has no leader and no consensus demand. And while it enjoys a lot of passive support, its activist base is small.

India Against Corruption has millions of followers and a charismatic leader, the social activist Anna Hazare, who went on a hunger strike until the Indian Parliament agreed to create an independent ombudsman with the staff and powers to investigate and prosecute corruption at every level of Indian governance and to do so in this next session of Parliament. A furious debate is now raging here over how to ensure that such an ombudsman doesn’t turn into an Indian “Big Brother,” but some new ombudsman position appears likely to be created.

Arvind Kejriwal, Hazare’s top deputy, told me, “Gandhi said that whenever you do any protests, your demands should be very clear, and it should be very clear who is the authority who can fulfill that demand, so your protests should be directed at that authority.” If your movement lacks leadership at first, that is not necessarily a problem, he added, “because often leaders evolve. But the demands have to be very clear.”

A sense of injustice and widening income gaps brought Occupy Wall Street into the street, “but exactly what needs to be done, which law needs to be changed and who are they demanding that from?” asked Kejriwal. “These things have to be answered quickly.”

That said, there are still many parallels between the Indian and U.S. movements. Both seem to have been spurred to action by a sense that corruption or financial excess had crossed some red lines. In the United States, despite the fact that elements of the financial-services industry nearly sank the economy in 2008, that same industry is still managing to blunt sensible reform efforts because it has so much money to sway Congress. It seems to have learned nothing. People are angry.

Meanwhile, in India, the commodities and telecommunications booms, coupled with urbanization that is driving up land prices, have set loose billions of rupees, and officials who control zoning and mining permits have just been pigging out. Some 50 top officials have been jailed lately for everything from the crony allocation of wireless spectrum, leading to potential losses to the state of up to $38 billion, to illicitly selling Indian iron ore — needed for development here — to China for a higher price. People are fed up.

Yet, commented the Indian writer Chetan Bhagat in The Times of India on Monday, “our government attacks almost every anti-corruption crusader” and “sadly, even our opposition parties have lots of corrupt people.” Sound familiar? Democracy not only needs a decent ruling party, but an intelligent opposition, and neither India nor America has both today.

Yes, Indians are mad at a system that makes them pay a bribe to get their birth certificate. Americans are mad at a system that has made it legal for unions to bribe the officials who will decide their pay and for bankers to bribe the lawmakers who will decide how much risk they can take. But both are essentially threatened by the same disease, best captured in the title of Robert Kaiser’s book about lobbying — “So Damn Much Money” — and it’s being thrown around now by so many special interests that these democracies are not only being warped by it but can’t fix themselves either.

Hazare has called this moment India’s “second struggle for independence.” I think he is on to something for both India and America. I think that repairing our respective dysfunctional democracies — so they are truly enablers for the 21st century and not inhibitors in India’s case or “the sum of all lobbies” in America’s case — is for our generation what the independence movement in India and the civil-rights movement in America were for our parents’ generation. Here’s hoping we’re as successful.

Thomas L. Friedman is a regular columnist for The New York Times

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UK In Flames. But Not India. Anna Hazare Sets Example Of Peaceful Protest

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 17, 2011

It is known that many parts India can be a political tinderbox waiting for a spark. And yet vast numbers of Indian people, irrespective of caste, education, age, political or religious affiliation are pouring onto the streets in peaceful protest against the jailing of Anna Hazare, the 74-year old anti-corruption crusader. Students and teachers are vacating their classrooms, lawyers, their courts, shopkeepers, their shops, and so on. The phenomenon is monumental.

A curious reader can search beyond the main Indian city dailies, and will find that the mass protests are spreading far, wide and deep in India.

In Europe, the surging triumphs of the 1848 ‘revolutions’ were effectively suppressed within a year. If Indians persist, if they can manage to calm down the hotheads, perhaps great change can be effected in that tragic country, where incredibly greedy elites have for so long entrenched themselves in power. Behind all the smiles and ostensible courtesy, there are the demagoguery, violence, religion, secret government, nepotism, bribery and blackmail, etc., which are just some of the tools by which they maintain control.

The present anti-corruption protests may, however, may be India’s last chance for peaceful change. Nothing succeeds like failure.

Anna Hazare. Man of peace in Gandhian tradition

The Manmohan Singh government, amidst many corruption scandals (to be measured in almost unimaginable billions of dollars), has been bent on watering down an anti-corruption Bill proposed by Anna Hazare and his team. It is as though Singh and his advisors fail to see that the writing is on the wall for them. He and they are now clearly running scared, willfully oblivious to the vastness of pan Indian frustration and anger at the decades of endemic corruption. Yesterday,V. Kalyanam, personal secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, addressing a group of young people, said:

“India will get a sure gold medal if corruption is entered as an item in the Olympic Games,” Kalyanam told the audience. “We may not be a force in football or athletics or hockey. But India is the undisputed global leader in corruption …. These ministers and politicians forget the fact that it is we who elect them and they are our servants”.

V. Kalyanam. Mahatma Gandhi's Secretary Speaks Out, 16 Aug. 2011, Against India's Endemic Corruption

The DNA report states:

“Referring to Anna Hazare’s arrest in New Delhi, Kalyanam said it was easier to fight foreign tyranny than the tyranny of our own people. He ridiculed the contention of Union ministers like Kapil Sibal and Chidambaram that Parliament was supreme and civil society has no voice”.

Our own Expose Team knows to its cost how soundly and with what contempt Manmohan Singh and his aides have thwarted both Indian and foreign requests for investigation into Sathya Sai Baba and his cult. Among other examples of riding roughshod over many petitioners’ responsible representations, the British High Commissioner was rebuffed.

More recently, we learn for example that Manmohan Singh’s Home Minister P.Chidambaram and his son have been involved in behind-the-scenes machinations in regard to the leadership succession – on the side of the exposed Sathya Sai Central Trust head R.J.Ratnakar – about whom there is great concern among many Sathya Sai Baba devotees at large. See:  Sathya Sai Trust’s R.J.Ratnakar – Long Police Interrogation. Intensive Investigations Continue. Posted by Barry Pittard on June 26, 2011. It was the same Chidambaram who made the incredibly crass statement, condemned around the world, that the terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 was “not an intelligence failure”.

P.Chidambaram, with Manmohan Singh - Sathya Sai Baba Men

My reader may also recall that Chidambaram followed yet another power backer of Sathya Sai Baba, Shivraj Patil. The latter presided over an extreme failure in his intelligence agencies to be alert to the terrorist threat. Patil’s disastrous mishandling of the whole affair forced Manmohan Singh, out of sheer political embarrasment, to sack him. But it was one Sathya Sai Baba man out and another Sathya Sai Baba man in.

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See yesterday’s blog:  Anna Hazare’s Arrest. Dark Days For Indian Democracy

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Back Story –to Shivraj Patil who, along with Chidambaram, has long been a powerful force for suppression of many ugly facts about Sathya Sai Baba and some of his key servitors.

Shivraj Patil. Fallen Indian Home Minister, Sathya Sai Baba Man

Shivraj Patil Falls From Home Ministry

Shivraj Patil – Sai Baba worshipper – resigns

“No fear of bombs” in India, Said Sai Baba a Week Before Mumbai Terrorist Attack

Terrorist Smoke Casts Pall Over India and the WorldTerrorist smoke casts Pall Over India and the World, despite Sathya Sai Baba’s assurances that all is well with India in regard to terrorist attacks.

Shivraj V. Patil  was a signatory to a letter condemning those who have stood forth (at great personal sacrifice in many cases, be it said!).  In a joint public letter (December 2001), Bhagwati along with the former Prime Minister of India of the right-wing BJP, A.B. Vajpayee, and another former Chief Justice of India, Ranganath Mishra, and three others including Patil wrote a public letter stating that contentions of Sai Baba’s dissenters represent a:

“wild, reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba”.                                                      Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

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Anna Hazare’s Arrest. Dark Days For Indian Democracy

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 16, 2011

Indian democracy? It would be a good idea!

A longtime Indian acquaintance has just emailed, recording his deep concern at the arrest by the Manmohan Singh government of Anna Hazare, an immensely courageous and peaceful activist calling for an end to rampant government corruption.

India’s gerontocratic leaders have learnt little about genuine processes of democracy. They learn nothing from the ‘Arab spring’. Nor even for her own reasons, last century, for risking all in opposing British Rule. Nor do they learn from the 1848 revolutions in Europe, and what, for the lack of learning lessons, was to culminate in two mammoth conflagrations in the twentieth century. Their dangerous power game is like dice thrown in hell, where everyone loses.

Like Sathya Sai Baba, his follower Manmohan Singh, and many other Indian leaders across the political spectrum, are yesteryear’s men – autocratic, and pretendedly democratic. Indian parliaments are, now and then, in terrible uproar that shocks a more urbane world. Some Indian government security forces make large departures from the conduct of an army which was, in many ways, loved and trusted by the Indian people – unlike many of her cruel police, who have for so long been despised. Manmohan Singh will need to go. But to what purpose if those who replace him are, also, yesteryear’s men (and occasional women)?

This  correspondent writes:

“Blackest day in India for democracy and civil rights. Gandhian
activist Anna Hazare leading a peaceful “India against corruption”
movement, has been arrested along with hundreds of anti corruption
activists. On its 64th anniversary of Independence. With millions of
Indians expressing support for Anna Hazare’s proposed fast unto death
movement against corruption, a panicked Manmohan Singh/Sonia Gandhi
govt, enforced prohibitory orders against all Indian laws and
constitution, and arrested Hazare at 7AM this morning.

This is a shameful and disgraceful day for democracy and honesty, in
India. Most Indians cringed in shame and shock when Sai Baba was given
a state funeral , complete with a gun salute by buglers, and the
NATIONAL flag draped around his body….can there be a greater shame,
disgrace and insult to freedom fighters, soldiers who had sacrificed
their lives and to the Indian flag ??? NO. But India watched
helplessly as a corrupt PM Manmohan Singh ordered it…..and today the
same corrupt govt that was supporting Sai baba, and was supported by
him for years…..and having looted , raped, and plundered the nation
to the tune of more than $ 60 billions in just 4 years, has brutally
clamped down on a peaceful anti corruption movement.

India is taking to the streets….as I type this….tens of thousands
of common folks across 25 cities are out on the streets , marching and
courting arrest, in support of Anna Hazare….the whole nation is
galvanized …..and the Govt under seize….lets hope Indian people
take back their country from this corrupt dacoit group who is running
the country now…”

Although criticized for thinking it possible that the protests led by a number of Indian leaders – somewhat cast in the Gandhian mode – opened the possibility, sooner or later, for Watergate-style revelations of high level government corruption – in the article, Could Sathya Sai Treasury Scandals Lead to India’s Watergate? Posted by Barry Pittard on June 23, 2011, I earlier wrote:

“Frighteningly, what Manmohan Singh so gravely risks is that, because he has shown his teeth to peaceful anti-corruption protesters – or to be more accurate – got his security forces and police to do the tooth-showing and bovvyer boy musclework, his piddling weakness in the face of immense corruption could plunge the Indian nation into the most terrible bloodshed. By which I mean – he should fix cankerous corruption in his own house, and not ‘fix’ honest and decent protesters.

However, I am encouraged by a number of tidal changes that I now see.

Quite apart from his deep prostrating, longtime association with Sathya Sai Baba, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh now looks to be a spent force. His government is mired in many scandals. Given the evidence so long in front of international former devotee coordinators like Robert Priddy and myself, one can really raise a question:  Will the revelations now exploding in the Indian media about Sai Baba and key players on his Sai Central Trust broaden out to include some of the figures in local, state and central government spheres?

India’s PM Manmohan Singh. At the Feet of the Late Sathya Sai Baba

Might Manmohan Singh and others be about to face their Watergate? 

It will be a test of what the producer of the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami”, Eamon Hardy, threw into question, to use his words, of “India’s maturity as a democracy”.

Manmohan Singh and other members of his government, and a succession of past Prime Ministers and Presidents, and countless other high-ranking individuals in Indian politics, the armed services, police, government, and so on, have protected Sathya Sai Baba. Will, now, the wealth, the family connections, the underhand political wheeler-dealing and other antidemocratic tendencies in India thwart attempts at genuine reform? Will the big Sai Baba-prostrating money-bags like the Tatas, the Rais (the scion of the latter family threatened to sue us and got told firmly where to go!) at last, after too many decades, find that there is something in India that money won’t buy?

Or will the legions of corrupt misleaders continue to overpower democracy? Here is our chance to see.

Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi by Sathya Sai Baba’s golden casket

Large numbers of Indian citizens are rising up. Are they rent-a-crowds fomented by his immediate political rivals to power? Or by the Pakistan government’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)? It would not surprise if any or all of these should want to have a hand. But good Indian citizens inform me that many of these marches against government corruption are deeply genuine, no matter under whose banner the crowds protest.

Some masses rally to the call of solid, old-fashioned anti-corruption crusaders such as Anna Hazare. Others to Swami Ram Dev, whom a range of serious commentators depict as somewhat a religious fundamentalist, politically naive, and a bit of a hot-head, but well-meaning and brave nonetheless. Certainly, both have daily put their lives on the line. Both have also embarked on fasts-unto-death, in the way the better-informed still remember of Mahatma Gandhi”.

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New Delhi, August 16, 2011

Anna Hazare’s arrest sparks off angry protests, both Houses adjourned

Gargi Parsai

Anna Hazare's supporters block traffic after the social activist was detained in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

The Hindu Anna Hazare’s supporters block traffic after the social activist was detained in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

In an early morning swoop, the Delhi Police picked up social activist Anna Hazare from his residence here just as he was preparing to leave for Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat ahead of his fast at JP park to press for a strong anti-corruption Lokpal Bill.

“Second freedom struggle”

“This is the second fight for freedom and this movement will not halt now,’’ said Mr. Hazare as he was whisked away with several supporters trying to stop the vehicle that carried him to the officers’ mess at civil lines. He was later sent to Tihar jail after he reportedly refused to offer surety for his bail before a magistrate.

“We have orders from higher up,” said the detaining officer when Mr. Hazare asked him what his crime was. Team Hazare was denied permission to stage his indefinite fast and prohibitory orders were imposed at the venue after they refused to comply with all the riders imposed by the police.

The arrest sparked off angry, widespread protests with reports of people courting arrests from different parts of the country and opposition parties slamming the move as an attack on democratic and civil rights of citizens.

Both the houses of Parliament were adjourned over the issue.

Along with Mr. Hazare, other key members of the India Against Corruption movement including Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia were also detained from different venues. About 1,300 supporters were detained in Delhi alone.

In a terse statement made to the press, Home Secretary R.K. Singh said Mr. Hazare was detained because he said he was going to defy prohibitory orders.

With opposition parties and activists likening the government action to the emergency imposed in the country in 1975, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee came before the media to say that while everyone had the right to protest, were the police to perceive a law and order situation, it could impose conditions. Union Ministers P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni also addressed the media to express similar views.

Attack on democratic rights: Brinda

Blasting the government, CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat said the detentions were an attack on democratic rights of the people which the government should re-consider. “We totally reject the argument that because the Lokpal Bill was in Parliament, there can be no protests on it. If it is so, then even the Women’s Reservation Bill is before Parliament and there are so many protests over it. Did the government accuse them even once as it has Anna Hazare?”

Terming it as a “sad day” for Indian democracy, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the move shows that the UPA is a government in panic and has over-reacted. “Do a group of citizens who disagree with the government have the right to protest and dissent or not or have we abandoned civil rights and the right to protest in this country?’’

“Rehearsal of emergency”

In Patna, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described Mr. Hazare’s detention as “murder of democracy’’ and said it was a “rehearsal of emergency” which the people will never tolerate.

Addressing a joint press conference, lawyer Prashant Bhushan said he was going to move the Supreme Court against the action, while Swami Agnivesh called upon the government to withdraw the “repressive measures’’ and hold a dialogue with the civil society group.

Activist Medha Patkar said while there were several movements as theirs under the banner of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, but Anna Hazare had come to be a representative of all anti-corruption struggles. She said to say that the Bill was before Parliament and therefore there should be no protests on this was wrong. “After all, it was Parliament that passed the Bill on setting up Special Economic Zones.’’

Baba Ramdev, whose demonstration against corruption was lathi-charged by the Delhi Police in June, said this government was “dictatorial, cruel and manipulative’’.

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