Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Corruption In India’

India, Land of Vast Tolerated Rape and Other Sex Abuses: a Letter From A Western Lover of India

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 30, 2013

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The writer of the email below is a woman in her fifties, a westerner and for some years a tour guide in India, who is highly regarded for her rare integrity and decency. She used to aid me in sourcing CD’s when I was a community broadcaster dealing with world music and social justice issues.

Her email is worth reading with the heart, more than with the eyes and mind. Increasingly India – having profoundly alienated herself from her good self – is fast alienating herself from the rest of the world.

I never knew of a country more prone to sermons than India. Daily, in endless venues, from small temples to vast arenas, and on radio and television and in the newspapers, pundits rattle on about ‘the dharma’. About being truthful and righteous and compassionate and peaceful and non-violent. But one example of duplicity on a giant scale has been the Sathya Sai cult core leaders’ decades of cover up of murders and sexual and other abuses. Again – vast amounts of preaching, and of a robed but tumid underbelly of vile and hypocritical evil.

A constant Hindu Indian theme is fearlessness. Excellent! – when practised. But – in the so-called ‘eternal Bharat’ – the only thing that is eternal about all this  is the hypocrisy. Those without brain or conscience denounce as “India bashers” writers about India who mention the endless institutional corruption and vast organs of State suppression and crass inaction, and so on .

In fact, many times, this blogsite pays great tribute to those few Indian people and groups who, most courageously and at great cost of danger and suffering to themselves, speak out and do their best to stop the incredible social inequalities in that land.

It is significant that the recent Delhi rape case prompted public protests – an increasing phenomena in an India where the people at large, like those in the Occupy movement in the West, become ever more informed and ever more angry at government and corporate corruption – angry enough to begin to do something about it.

Here is the email:

Dear Barry,

I am in India until tomorrow, and over the last 8 weeks of my trip I have felt sickened by all the hideous reports of the Delhi rape case. There is now – what has been so often suppressed in India – an incredible daily tally of reports of rape, murder, incest with girls as young as 3 years old.  A large majority of the reports cite victims’ ages between 7 – 11 in age – like what we hear reported in the West.- similar to reports in the West. I myself was molested from 7 to 12 years old by a family friend.
 
I am sure this has been going on forever here, but the Delhi case has somehow got out to the world and brought a damning spotlight on India. The Indian media is now reporting countless incidents.

You know how much I love my beloved India and have spent 2-5 months every year there for 10 years. But this year I have become quite frightened of this potential for rape and violence and have changed a lot of my habits of movement around India. I am inside by dark, never alone, dress VERY modestly, not trusting anyone new. I am so unlike my usual courageous, fearless self!

I had already decided to make this my last year for taking a tour and retiring as a tour guide. I am so sickened by these horrible events that it has tainted my feelings about India, and now I feel that I will not return for several years until I can travel in trusted company.

The corruption at all levels of Indian society is the other thing I hate, and I agree with your excellent blog that the buck stops with politicians and powerful institutions. You also mention India’s often incredibly inept and chauvinistic police force.

I am feeling so sad to be feeling like this, and I understand how sickened you would have been to find out the awful truth of Sathya Sai Baba’s perverse inclinations. But Barry, we are light bearers of the truth, and with God’s grace we can use our abilities to work against such evils and to make accountable the perpetrators and those who hide them or stand by and do nothing.

Keep up the good work, Barry.

Lots of love

……….

Further Reading

Sexual Abuse Rampant In Extreme Male Chauvinist India

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 7, 2013

Tehelka.com and the Delhi rapes – new India’s media conscience. 

Posted by robertpriddy on January 5, 2013

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Sexual Abuse Rampant In Extreme Male Chauvinist India

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 7, 2013

In addressing sexual abuse, no society, and no community, has a good record. In India, great evils such as patriarchy, the caste system, endemic corruption at all levels but especially among the ruling elites, gerontocracy, nepotism, dowry, infanticide, obscene contrasts between opulence and poverty and squalor, and so forth, make issues particularly acute.

The question arises:  How can India – which hotly competes with China for superpower status – expect, with any self-respect, to join other countries which make signal efforts in providing strong legislation and provision of effective and humane services to deal with sexual abuse? Of the Indian media, hardly any were of use to us in our exhaustive effort to expose Sathya Sai Baba and his worldwide cult. This failure – not of our own making – was in marked contradistinction to our dealings with world media. As the editor of one of India’s top newspapers admitted in private:  Sai Baba and his people are too powerful. The rare exceptions whom we could respect were India Today, whose proprietor knew, all too directly and painfully, from his own family of Sathya Sai Baba’s pedophilia, and Tehelka, which has put up a huge struggle over decades to prevent itself from being wiped out. In Indian Media and Governments Heedless of Decade of Foreign Media and Sai Baba Critics’ Revelations, I wrote: 

To the profound shame of the Indian media, leading newspaper and television organizations heeded our representations:

For example, BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), Salon.com (USA), SBS (all television), ABC (Radio Australia). In newspaper media – Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), Marie Claire Magazine, Salon.com, BT, Bild, Focus, Trouw, Speegelbield, Noordhollands Dagblad, Sokaren, Gatopardo, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Age, Australian Financial Review, West Australian (a major front page article by an award-winning journalist (Torrance Mendez) was pulled at the 11th hour!), Adelaide Advertiser, etc., ….. It was not until a close friend of ours, at the top of a notable profession, was able to dine with an official of the Indo Asian News Service that our Duke of Edinburgh story concerning Sai Baba’s propaganda people that we were able, after many futile attempts, to make some inroads on a small section of the Indian media.

Extraordinarily, in the last days, wide sections of the Indian media are surfacing evidence that powerfully tells against Sathya Sai Baba and many of his core servitors. It is, of course, to the historic shame of the Indian media (with the honorable exception of India Today) and successive, typically corrupt Indian governments, national and state, that we long remained voices crying out in the wilderness. For my appreciation of India Today’s publisher Aroon Purie and his team, see:  Sai Baba Treasure Scandals: His Big Political Protectors Now Run For Cover.  Posted by Barry Pittard on June 27, 2011.

See also:  Sai Baba Treasure Scandals: His Big Political Protectors Now Run For Cover Posted by Barry Pittard on June 22, 2011

http://robertpriddy.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/rapes-police.jpg

In 2007, the Government of India released its landmark survey on sexual abuse in that country. (See:  Over 53% children face sexual abuse: Survey. TNN Apr 10, 2007, 12.00am IST:

NEW DELHI: In a shocking revelation, a government commissioned survey has found that more than 53% of children in India are subjected to sexual abuse, but most don’t report the assaults to anyone.

The survey, released on Monday and which covered different forms of child abuse — physical, sexual and emotional — as well as female child neglect, found that two out of every three children have been physically abused.

See also:

Sai Baba Promised to Transform India. But Child Abuse Rampant. Posted by Barry Pittard on April 11, 2007, and Child Abuse in India. Will Minister Renuka Chowdhury Act? Posted by Barry Pittard on April 11, 2007). I have written of our vast, uphill climb – including of our Indian colleagues – to make meaningful headway with India’s foremost political, government and religious authorities, and most of the media, even though, in some quarters, we had high-level backdoor access. See:  Indian Media and Governments Heedless of Decade of Foreign Media and Sai Baba Critics’ Revelations. Posted by Barry Pittard on June 27, 2011.

Whether in our contacts with Vajpayee’s or Sonja Gandhi’s or Manmohan Singh’s officials, we found the taboos against raising sexual abuse issue extreme. In our networking, we saw how extraordinarily courageous Indian activists daily fight for social justice in India. They face death, grave injury, gaol, persecution, defamation, and profound denial of their civil liberties ostensibly guaranteed under Indian law. See:  Open Letter to Prime Minister of India, Hon. A.B. Vajpayee, By Barry Pittard, Australia, former Lecturer, Sri Sathya Sai College of the Arts, Science and Commerce, Whitefield, Karnataka.

Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh at Sathya Sai Baba's Funeral

Sonia Gandhi and current PM Manmohan Singh at Sathya Sai Baba’s funeral. Both leaders assisted, as had Vajpayee earlier, in the cover up of Sai Baba’s serial sexual abuse of countless boys and young men from around the world.

Vajpayee and Sathya Sai BabaFormer PM Vajpayee, photo below left, like Manmohan Singh, a longtime Sai Baba devotee

If my reader is very busy, at least you may find time to view a concise and hard-hitting IBNLIVE.com (India) report (2 minutes, 10 seconds): India: world’s most sexually abused children!

Worldwide, statistics show that sexual abuse, far more than being a ‘stranger danger’ issue, secretes itself among our own families, friends and acquaintances. We need to squirm – without running away. We need to face our own consciences – without thinking there is nothing we can do. We need to speak – without retreating into a numb, corroding silence. We need to love and protect children – properly.

The furore at the moment over the Delhi rape case elicits some action.  See Robert Priddy’s article: Tehelka.com and the Delhi rapes – new India’s media conscience.  Posted by robertpriddy on January 5, 2013

Again, ordinary Indian people stir and protest – making life more difficult for the Indian power elites who have tried heavily and constantly to throttle such issues, as they did with decades of scandal after scandal about Sathya Sai Baba and his cult.

At least the Delhi case has penetrated the Indian and international media. And yet rape and other forms of abuse are endemic throughout India, almost sanctioned by large sections of her police forces whose officers frequently hold extremely chauvinist attitudes toward women.

But essentially, Indian authorities do not even heed and act on this 2 minutes and 10 seconds of information.

In marked contrast to the decade in which my colleagues and I have worked to expose Sathya Sai Baba and his international cult, more articles in leading Indian media begin to surface, such as yesterday’s  Hindustan Times, with its hard-nosed practical recommendations. The Guardian article, which has many useful links, is a strongly researched piece, again giving indications of a groundswell of public anger in India, which we have also seen in the recent and pan India demonstrations against political and corporate corruption.

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Patriarchy exposed

Hindustan TimesBy Hindustan Times | Hindustan Times – Sun 6 Jan, 2013

Mumbai, Jan. 6 — The sustained national outcry over an unspeakable sexual assault has put the spotlight not only on crimes against women, but also exposed the underlying patriarchy that is holding India back. The crisis of femininity and masculinity has never been more apparent. How do we heal?

Why is India so bad for women?

Of all the rich G20 nations, India has been labelled the worst place to be a woman. But how is this possible in a country that prides itself on being the world’s largest democracy?

The Guardian, Monday 23 July 2012 21.00 BST

Video of a woman being molested in Guwahati, India

Video of a woman being attacked in Guwahati, Assam, has sparked outrage in India.

In an ashram perched high on a hill above the noisy city of Guwahati in north-east India is a small exhibit commemorating the life of India’s most famous son. Alongside an uncomfortable-looking divan where Mahatma Gandhi once slept is a display reminding visitors of something the man himself said in 1921: “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex (not the weaker sex).”

One evening two weeks ago, just a few miles downhill, a young student left a bar and was set upon by a gang of at least 18 men. They dragged her into the road by her hair, tried to rip off her clothes and smiled at the cameras that filmed it all. It was around 9.30pm on one of Guwahati’s busiest streets – a chaotic three-lane thoroughfare soundtracked by constantly beeping horns and chugging tuk-tuks. But for at least 20 minutes, no one called the police. They easily could have. Many of those present had phones: they were using them to film the scene as the men yanked up the girl’s vest and tugged at her bra and groped her breasts as she begged for help from passing cars. We know this because a cameraman from the local TV channel was there too, capturing the attack for his viewers’ enjoyment. The woman was abused for 45 minutes before the police arrived.

Within half an hour, clips were broadcast on Assam’s NewsLive channel. Watching across town, Sheetal Sharma and Bitopi Dutta were horrified. “I was fuming like anything. There was this horrible, brutal assault being shown on screen – and the most disturbing thing was, the blame was being put on the woman, who, the report emphasised, was drunk,” says Sharma, a 29-year-old feminist activist from the North-East Network, a women’s rights organisation in Guwahati. “The way it was filmed, the camera was panning up and down her body, focusing on her breasts, her thighs,” says Dutta, her 22-year-old colleague.

When the police eventually turned up, they took away the woman, who is 20 or 21 (oddly, Guwahati police claimed not to know exactly). While NewsLive re-played pixellated footage of her attack throughout the night, she was questioned and given a medical examination. No attempt was made to arrest the men whose faces could clearly be seen laughing and jeering on camera. Soon afterwards, the editor-in-chief of NewsLive (who has since resigned) remarked on Twitter that “prostitutes form a major chunk of girls who visit bars and night clubs”.

It was only a few days later, when the clip had gone viral and had been picked up by the national channels in Delhi, that the police were shamed into action. By then, Guwahati residents had taken matters into their own hands, producing an enormous banner that they strung up alongside one of the city’s arterial roads featuring screen grabs of the main suspects. Six days after the attack, the chief minister of Assam, the state where Guwahati is located, ordered the police to arrest a dozen key suspects. He met the victim and promised her 50,000 rupees (£580) compensation.

The damage was already irreversible. Most Indians know full well how tough life as a woman can be in the world’s biggest democracy, even 46 years after Indira Gandhi made history as the country’s first female prime minister in 1966. But here, caught on camera, was proof. And in Assam – a state long romanticised as the most female-friendly corner of the country, largely thanks to the matrilineal Khasi tribe in Meghalaya. The nation was outraged.

“We have a woman president, we’ve had a woman prime minister. Yet in 2012, one of the greatest tragedies in our country is that women are on their own when it comes to their own safety,” said a female newsreader on NDTV. She went on to outline another incident in India last week: a group of village elders in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, central India, who banned women from carrying mobile phones, choosing their own husbands or leaving the house unaccompanied or with their heads uncovered. “The story is the same,” said the news anchor. “No respect for women. No respect for our culture. And as far as the law is concerned: who cares?”

There is currently no special law in India against sexual assault or harassment, and only vaginal penetration by a penis counts as rape. Those who molested the woman in Guwahati would be booked for “insulting or outraging the modesty of a woman” or “intruding upon her privacy”. The maximum punishment is a year’s imprisonment, or a fine, or both.

As a columnist in the national Hindustan Times said of the attack: “This is a story of a dangerous decline in Indians and India itself, of not just failing morality but disintegrating public governance when it comes to women.” Samar Halarnkar added: “Men abuse women in every society, but few males do it with as much impunity, violence and regularity as the Indian male.”

Halarnkar then offered as proof a survey that caused indignation in India last month: a poll of 370 gender specialists around the world that voted India the worst place to be a woman out of all the G20 countries. It stung – especially as Saudi Arabia was at the second-worst. But the experts were resolute in their choice. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children UK, who was one of those polled.

Women on a bus in Chennai, India Women travelling on a bus in Chennai, southern India. Photograph: Gustafsson/Rex FeaturesLook at some statistics and suddenly the survey isn’t so surprising. Sure, India might not be the worst place to be a woman on the planet – its rape record isn’t nearly as bad as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, where more than 400,000 women are raped each year, and female genital mutilation is not widespread, as it is in Somalia. But 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010); 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund) and research from Unicef in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife. Plus crimes against women are on the increase: according to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011 (when there were 228,650 in total). The biggest leap was in cases under the “dowry prohibition act” (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).

A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in 12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.

A glance at the Indian media reveals the range of abuse suffered by the nation’s women on a daily basis. Today it was reported that a woman had been stripped and had her head shaved by villagers near Udaipur as punishment for an extramarital affair. Villagers stoned the police when they came to the rescue. In Uttar Pradesh, a woman alleged she was gang raped at a police station – she claimed she was set on by officers after being lured to the Kushinagar station with the promise of a job.

Last Wednesday, a man in Indore was arrested for keeping his wife’s genitals locked. Sohanlal Chouhan, 38, “drilled holes” on her body and, before he went to work each day, would insert a small lock, tucking the keys under his socks. Earlier this month, children were discovered near Bhopal playing with a female foetus they had mistaken for a doll in a bin. In the southern state of Karnataka, a dentist was arrested after his wife accused him of forcing her to drink his urine because she refused to meet dowry demands.

In June, a father beheaded his 20-year-old daughter with a sword in a village in Rajasthan, western India, parading her bleeding head around as a warning to other young women who might fall in love with a lower-caste boy.

This July, the state government in Delhi was summoned to the national high court after failing to amend an outdated law that exempts women (and turban-wearing Sikh men) from wearing helmets on motorcycles – an exemption campaigners argue is indicative of the lack of respect for female life.

But the story that outraged most women in India last week was an interview given to the Indian Express by Mamta Sharma, chairwoman of the National Commission of Women (NCW), a government body tasked with protecting and promoting the interests of Indian women. Asked by the reporter if there should be a dress code for women “to ensure their safety”, Sharma allegedly replied: “After 64 years of freedom, it is not right to give blanket directions … and say don’t wear this or don’t wear that. Be comfortable, but at the same time, be careful about how you dress … Aping the west blindly is eroding our culture and causing such crimes to happen.”

She added: “Westernisation has afflicted our cities the worst. There are no values left. In places like Delhi there is no culture of giving up seats for women. It is unfortunate that while the west is learning from our culture, we are giving ourselves up completely to western ways.”

Her remarks caused a storm. As Sagarika Ghose put it in the online magazine First Post: “It’s not just about blindly aping the west, Ms Sharma. It’s also about the vacuum in the law, lack of security at leisure spots, lack of gender justice, lack of fear of the law, police and judicial apathy and the complete lack of awareness that men and women have the right to enjoy exactly the same kind of leisure activities.”

The Guardian asked Sharma for an interview to clarify her remarks but our requests were ignored.

Maini Mahanta, the editor of the Assamese women’s magazine Nandini (“Daughter”), believes the NCW chair’s remarks are indicative of what she calls the “Taliban-plus” mentality that is creeping into Indian society. “In this part of the world, it’s worse than the Taliban,” she insists in her Guwahati office. “At least the Taliban are open about what they like and dislike. Here, society is so hypocritical. We worship female goddesses and yet fail to protect women from these crimes and then blame them too.”

Women in Bawana, Delhi Indian women, such as these three in Bawana, on the outskirts of Delhi, frequently come under pressure to abort female foetuses. Photograph: Gethin ChamberlainMahanta explains how traditions still cast women as helpless victims rather than free-thinking individuals in control of their own destiny. Girls still tie Raksha bandhan or “safety ties” around their brothers’ wrists as a symbol of their duty to protect them, she says. She complains, too, about the Manu Sanghita, an ancient Indian book that she claims preaches: “When a girl is young, she is guided by her father; when she is older, she is guided by her husband; when she is very old, she is guided by her son.” She despairs of the cult of the “good girl, who is taught to walk slowly ‘like an elephant’ and not laugh too loud”.

Even in Mumbai, India’s most cosmopolitan city, women have been arrested and accused of being prostitutes when drinking in the city’s bars.

Sheetal Sharma and Bitopi Dutta, the young feminists from the North East Network, complain that modern women are divided into “bad” and “good” according to what they wear, whether they go out after dark and whether they drink alcohol. “We are seeing a rise of moral policing, which blames those women who are not seen as being ‘good’,” says Sharma. “So if they are abused in a pub, for example, it’s OK – they have to learn their lesson,” adds Dutta, 22, who grumbles that young women such as herself cannot now hold hands with a boyfriend in a Guwahati park, let alone kiss, without getting into trouble with the moral police, if not the real police.

Many women agree the response from the Guwahati authorities shows they are blind to the root cause: a society that does not truly respect women. Instead, a knee-jerk reaction was taken to force all bars and off-licences to shut by 9.30pm. Club Mint, the bar outside which the young woman was molested, had its licence revoked. Parents were urged to keep a close eye on their daughters.

Zabeen Ahmed, the 50-year-old librarian at Cotton College in Guwahati, tells how she was out for an evening walk not long ago when she was stopped by the police. “They asked me what I was doing out at that at that time – it was 10.30pm or so – and they asked me where my husband was.”

The fact that India has a female president – Pratibha Patil – and Sonia Gandhi in control of the ruling Congress party means very little, insists Monisha Behal, “chairperson” of the North East Network. “In the UK, you have had Margaret Thatcher – if you are being harassed by a hoodlum in the street there, do ask: ‘How can this be when we have had a woman prime minister?'” she says.

Every Indian woman the Guardian spoke to for this article agreed that harassment was part of their everyday lives. Mahanta revealed that she always carries chilli powder in her handbag if she ever has to take public transport and needed to throw it in the face of anyone with wandering hands. Deepika Patar, 24, a journalist at the Seven Sisters newspaper in Assam, says city buses were notorious for gropers. “If women are standing up because there are no seats, men often press up against them, or touch their breasts or bottom,” she explains.

In June, an anonymous Delhi woman wrote a powerful blog post detailing what happened when she dared not to travel in the “ladies carriage” of Delhi’s modern metro. After asking a man not to stand too close to her, things turned nasty. Another man intervened and told the first to back off, but soon the two were having a bloody fight in the train carriage. Rather than break up the brawl, the other passengers turned on the woman, shouting: “This is all your fault. You started this fight. This is all because you came into this coach!” and “You women always do this. You started this fight!” and “Why are you even here? Go to the women’s coach.”

Speaking under condition of anonymity, the 35-year-old blogger says she had experienced sexual harassment “tonnes of times”. “I hate to use the word, but I’m afraid it has become ‘normal’,” she says. “Like if you’re in a lift, men will press up against you or grab you or make a comment about your appearance. It’s because of this that I stopped travelling by buses and started travelling by auto rickshaws, and eventually got a car myself – to avoid this ordeal. When the metro was launched I loved it – it’s an improvement in public transport, very well maintained, you feel safe. Then this happened and I was blamed.”

By Thursday last week, the Guwahati molestation case had become even murkier. Police had arrested and charged 12 men with “outraging the public decency of a woman”, and on Friday they charged journalist Gaurav Jyoti Neog of NewsLive with instigating the attack he filmed. Neog denies orchestrating the attack or taking any part in it, apart from filming it “so that the perpetrators can be nabbed”. But police have forced him to give a voice sample, which has been sent to a forensic laboratory for analysis, to compare with the footage. The verdict is out on that case, but one thing is clear: 91 years after Gandhi urged Indian men to treat their women with respect, the lesson has yet to be learned.

• This article was amended on 24 July 2012. The original said brothers tied Raksha Bandhan threads around their sisters’ wrists, when it is the sisters who put the threads on the wrists of their brothers.

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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

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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.
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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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The Decline and Fall of the Showman Empire

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 10, 2007

Note: Because of marked upsurges of enquiry and interest in our exposure of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult, I shall briefly post to the Home Page (from 10 September 2007) ‘The Decline and Fall of the Showman Empire’. This article gives background and perspective to our earlier as well as our subsequent work.  A few days ago, I did similarly with an article 4 April 2007 , which I have now reverted to its former chronological position: The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision

Despite a great deal of sacrifice of time and health, former devotees have persisted. Against them, there have been remorseless and unconscienable libels, attacks on families (including our children who have been maliciously named on the internet to get at their parents, interference in professions and community lives, and almost daily distortion and vituperation on the internet by a known associate of those closely connected with Sathya Sai Baba and his international Sathya Sai Organization.

The fact that we will not stop has led to profound fallings-away from Sathya Sai and his cult.

Barry Pittard

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Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘showman empire’ is worth many highly unaccountable billions. Frequently, they pour to his Sathya Sai Central Trust from your country and mine. (See Rediff.com reference in my note, Sai Baba Exchequer Worth Billions. Many Countries Donate).

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Given India’s endemic corruption that extends to the highest echelons, it is not to be wondered at that successive governments in that otherwise great country have ensured that nothing is allowed to stanch the flow of bounty from foreign countries into India.

Media Empires Are More Effective

rupert-murdoch-mogul-of-media-moguls.jpgturner-799961.jpgsubhash-chandra-chairman-zee.jpgdr-richard-parsons-of-head-of-time-warner.jpg

R to L. Media mogul’s mogul Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, a slight competitor! (film star Jane Fonda’s Ex), Zee TV’s Subhash Chandra, Time Warner’s Dr Richard Parsons

But now, Sai Baba has been increasingly exposed to the world on television by the BBC, DR (Denmark), AZUL (Argentina), CBC (Canada), ABC,  SBS (Australia), and in the press – India Today, Times of London, Telegraph, Guardian, Age, Australian Financial Times, and newspapers in several parts of Europe, Canada, and elsewhere. This does not mean that any of these major institutions did a thorough job, for there abound many compelling accounts of various kinds of abuse by both Sathya Sai Baba and his servitors, some of them tragic indeed.

We are now better able to see the Decline and Fall of the Showman Empire. But the core leaders of the ‘Secret swami’ (as the BBC has named Sai Baba) are immensely powerful, and will not go down without a fierce fight. Theirs is a secret world, and this secrecy is one of the first roadblocks encountered by scholars and other investigators who have attempted to study Sai Baba and his organization. It is one of the distinguishing marks that go to defining a cult.

No Edward Gibbon To Chronicle Sai Baba’s Decline and Fall – Yet

Some exceptions to a a long-muzzled Indian media occurred November 2006, when Paul Lewis’s story broke in The GuardianThe Indian living god, the paedophilia claims and the Duke of Edinburgh awards. It raised concerns about the nexus between the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the UK Sai youth, on their way in large numbers to see Sai Baba. Those, such as myself, who have had to deal with media issues, pay tribute to the work of IANS (Indo Asian News Service) who did some adroit work about getting this story into India.

In London, a not very experienced or competent UK CEO, Peter Westgarth – see HERE – was slow off the mark. However, after very high level representations from our side, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme trustees and Prince Philip’s Private Secretary, Brigadier Sir Miles Hunt-Davies KCVO, CBE,

sir-miles-hunt-davis.jpg

realized that a serious matter was at hand. Questions were also raised by some powerful citizens, including a former Home Minister, Tom Sackville. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards required of Dr G. Venkataraman, at an official Sai Baba website to take down the triumphant – but absurdly mistaken – information that the Duke of Edinburgh Award had been awarded to Sai Baba himself.

G. Venkataraman, formerly a member of India’s highly secret nuclear establishment, is Sai Baba’s deputy world head, who also directs Sai Baba’s international 7 days 24 hours satellite radio service via the WorldSpace international corporation. According to the Wikipedia entry for ‘Sathya Sai Baba’, its Director Dr Michael Nobel is “one of the patrons for the radio network” and “said that the radio network would spread Sathya Sai Baba’s message of global harmony and peace”. (With little sense of time’s passage, the Sai devotees who wrote the Wiki article say, absurdly, that Michael Nobel is the son of Alfred Nobel, who founded The Nobel Foundation and after whom the Nobel Prize is named)

An Imperial Puttaparthi Wishes To Penetrate Every Corner of Globe

Dr Venkataraman states:

“Sometime in September 2001, two distinguished visitors came to Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital in Bangalore. They were Dr. Noah Samara, CEO, WorldSpace Corporation, and Dr. Michael Nobel, Chairman, Nobel Family Society, and a Member of the Board of Directors of WorldSpace. Dr. Nobel is the great grand nephew of Dr. Alfred Nobel, the founder of Nobel Prize … Who can deny the play of the “hidden hand”? Dr. Samara and Dr. Nobel were duly blessed with a Divine Interview, in the course of which Dr. Samara offered at the Lotus Feet an entire digital radio channel for broadcasting Swami’s Message of Love and Compassion to the entire world”.

Duke Versus Emperor. Edinburgh Beats  Puttaparthi

On November 4, 2006, The Guardian ran Paul Lewis’s story (see above). In a development that occurred quite without (a story perhaps to be told one day) The Guardian seeking it, in November 2006, The Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) managed to get a few major Indian media to take the feed on the Paul Lewis story. There have been decades of censorship of material adverse to the politically and religiously too-hot-to-handle Sai Baba and his vast and, in India, extraordinarily powerful Sathya Sai Organization. This feed also went to parts of Asia and the Middle East. It has been an absurd situation that NRI’s (Non Resident Indians) have been accessed in the media of many countries with large Indian diaspora to critical information about Sai Baba, when Indians in their own country have been denied.

Investigative Opportunities

The present writer (email:  bpittard(at)optusnet.com) can provide journalists and other investigators with a slew of media and academic contacts who can verify that the Sathya Sai Organization is a prime example of a cult in hiding from the media and others wishing to examine it. This is why the BBC obtained a difficult to gain sanction from its senior managment and Legals to use a hidden camera on the world chairman of Sai Baba’s orgnanization, Dr Michael Goldstein of Covina, California. (See BBC video footage HERE)

Without hazard to life and limb, astute, seasoned, well-briefed journalists should be able to slip unnoticed into Sai Baba ashrams and centers and other meeting places, and those of other cults. One financial journalist was about to investigate the vast money trails but got reassigned. Another, an award winning journalist from an Australian newspaper was, after weeks of intense investigation, about to front page when, at the last moment, his Editor-In-Chief spiked the story. A Can-West journalist had to modify his piece after heads of his newspaper got ensconced for hours with lawyers of a multi-millionaire advertizer with the same newspaper. However, many media have stood up to pressures from the Sathya Sai Organization senior brass.

Any temptation to obtain a good laugh from silly beliefs or practices should at all costs be avoided. It is no laughing matter that, for example, young people can get themselves horribly enmeshed in cult life, just as we can lose them via drugs and alcohol. Trustfully, by better awareness among broadcasters’ of their journalists getting too close to their stories, (BBC) John Sweeny-like confrontations will be avoided. See my article, Of Anger. BBC’s John Sweeney and the Scientologists.

The Emperor Without Clothes

At this link, in the article When ‘Divine’ Magnetism Becomes A Dead Weight, I provide but one example of the sort of craziness Sai Baba’s many supposedly educated devotees respond to in the manner of the subjects in the Hans Christian Anderson story The Emperor’s New Clothes. The George W. Bush medical advisor Professor Kanwaljeet ‘Sunny’ Anand, the birth scientist, stands as one of many examples around Sai Baba of those who desert their normal intelligence and range into the empirically absurd. There is a naked discrepancy which they, including Sai Baba’s more intellectual followers, see-but-don’t-see. Robert Priddy comments aptly on Sai Baba’s unscientific statements about magnetism and the nature of the atom HERE

Cult Awareness and Non-Cooperation Will Demolish Sai Baba’s Empire

According to the great British historian, Edward Gibbon (1737-1794):

“The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown barbarians, issuing from the frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.” Chapter 33, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

But it will not be armies of barbarians who humble the showman emperor’s empire into dust. There has been much exposure of his implication in police killings in Sai Baba’s bedroom on June 6, 1993. There has been the testimony relating to his rampant, serial sexual molestation of boys and young men. Thanks to some of the worlds most respected media, voices of credible witnesses from many parts of the world have been – at last!- heard. Scholarly former devotees, distinguished for their learning when they were devotees (and indeed in their own professions) have extensively exposed whole trails of contradiction and anomaly and bad science and history to be found in Sai Baba’s own – officially recorded – words and deeds. Read his discourses – simply that – and the contradictions, the absurdly non-scientific and blundering historical statements (now excised where possible by his editors, but archived by Robert Priddy and Brian Steel, see below) will demolish him.

He says he will rule the earth, but he cannot even rule the Duke of Edinburgh. Nor, breaking his widely publicized promises, can he transform India. Nor has he been able to honor many years of promises that he is about to travel to other parts of the world – see, Will World Accept Sai Baba. He says yes. Very Soon

Further Resources

Useful are the websites of retired (or refreshed!) academics, Robert Priddy (Norway), HERE, and Brian Steel (Australia) HERE. See also Wikipedia reference under: ‘Robert Priddy’ HERE and his blogsite at: http://Robertpriddy.wordpress.com
There are also the general former devotee website at http://www.exbaba.com, with English, Dutch, Italian sections. Those at Allegations concerning Sathya Sai Baba are in English, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Italian, German, Danish, Polish and Norwegian……

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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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, Protest, Religion, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »