Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Note From Former Lecturer To An Enquirer About Sathya Sai Education

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 6, 2011

Since about 1999, former devotees’ replies to enquirers have been a great many. My closest colleagues and I go out of our way to assist those who enquire with courtesy.

It seems very right to ignore those who are offensive. Why – when one has invested so many years in striving to pursue a decent and humane path – fall to the display of hatred and anger that has all too often reached our inboxes?

The below email response which I have just sent to an enquirer is typical in tone and purpose to many that former devotees have, for many years, spent time and care in responding to enquirers.

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Dear ……..,

Thank you for writing to my blogsite.

I may suggest that, in matters so serious as your education, you feel welcome to share this email with your parents and any elders within your extended family or circle of mentors whom you feel that you can approach for wise guidance. I am happy to answer any questions they may wish to put.

I don’t know whether you read further into my blogsite at:  https://barrypittard.wordpress.com . I also recommend the blogsite of the longtime former head of the Sathya Sai Organisation, Robert Priddy, a retired academic of the University of Oslo, Norway: http://robertpriddy.wordpress.com

There are other outstanding and highly senior leaders, too, who have resigned – after proper and scrupulous investigation of primary sources (families and young men from countries around the world) – from the Sathya Sai Organization.

It is extremely hard for devotees to credit the integrity of those many former devotees who have investigated the serious allegations against Sathya Sai Baba, and, I must quickly add, certain of his servitors, including some teachers. I myself lectured for two years at the Whitefield college (1978-9), and was deeply devoted to Sathya Sai Baba for twenty-five years.

In 1999, after very careful investigation that extended around the world, the evidence of sexual abuse against boys and young men, and other great wrongdoing was utterly compelling. Some of the investigation was by outstandingly qualified sexual abuse professionals, who have long stood ready to testify in any properly accountable legal jurisdiction.

The truth remains that many of those who have left the Sathya Sai Organisation have done so on the highest moral and ethical principles. They have exercised the same standards that have, all along, been seen in them in their professions, trades and wider communities.

No amount of vilification can change the actions of those renowned for telling the truth and practising righteous principles. We have remained within integrity no matter that some Sai devotees have often and cruelly attacked and libeled us, on and off the internet.

Nothing can equal the sense of inner strength that comes from fearless assertion of truth and right conduct, no matter what the odds.

My best wishes to you,

Barry Pittard, Australia. Former lecturer at the Sathya Sai College, Whitefield.

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Subject: [Call For Media and Government Investigation] Please moderate: “Sai Baba’s Imperial 83rd Birthday Celebrations Photo, Puttaparthi, India”

A new comment on the post “Sai Baba’s Imperial 83rd Birthday Celebrations Photo, Puttaparthi, India”

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I am a class X student. I am a devotee of Shri Sathya Sai Baba. I want to get an admission in the Higher Secondary School because I want to devote myself to Babaji service

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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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Sathya Sai Alumni Need To Speak Out. Hiding Maintains A Culture Of Dirt

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 8, 2011

This article continues from:  The Upside Down Chair In A Sathya Sai Baba College. Posted by Barry Pittard on August 8, 2011

and:  Bhagavad Gita and Facing Villains. Will Sathya Sai Alumni Speak Up? And Fight!? Posted by Barry Pittard on August 7, 2011

and: Ex- Sathya Sai Baba Students Could Aid Sex Abuse Change In India. But Will They? Posted by Barry Pittard on August 5, 2011

Is it honorable to wrap oneself in the silent icy shadows of unspoken terrible truths, leaving others to stand forth and to take the brunt? 

When all the details become available, I hope to be able to tell a story of one family’s determination to expose the dirty, abusive cabal that surrounded Sathya Sai Baba, and the catching of one of the most prominent of his teachers. All eloquent when on the stage at Puttaparthi. All neat, pressed and white-clad on the outside, but all dirt on the inside. Prison clothes will befit him. He will have to be kept in another section of the prison. Many prisoners love children, and they do not in the least like what, in Australian prison argot, are referred to as ‘Rockspiders’.

He gave many of you who were part of the Sathya Sai education system a bad time. Some of you lay down in the dirt with him. Some of you perpetrated the same offences on yet others. He, and those like him, took your strength, but only YOU can reclaim it. Mental health professionals well know that such experiences later on terribly erode (though often unconsciously) marital and family life and health.

This so-called educator is an utter disgrace to his noble profession. The whole world of responsible, caring and ethical teachers can only condemn his betrayal of students, their parents, family and friends, and the extended Sai community.

Only the habit of strong actions can build you up and make you strong again. It is a perpetually self-renewing habit. One cannot allow oneself to be made weak by the strength of the weakness of those all around.

When I taught my boys at the Sathya Sai College outside Bangalore (1978-9), I thought that this role was as fortunate a one as could ever bless a teacher.

Sai Baba's Brindavan Campus - A Pretty Face To The World

It seemed to me, then, that in front of me were souls, noble and good, who would shine wherever they went in the world, some to the world of the farm, some to affairs of state, some to healing, others to exploring the stars and oceans, to government, the armed forces, and all the rest. And indeed, some to be teachers – a role, in significant ways, second only to that of parents and immediate family.Trustworthy teachers, I mean ……

The Small Library (Whose heart’s aim was to make boys grow into strong men)

Let me tell those boys – although, I have to remind myself, they are men now – a story. Remember how we had a room to ourselves in the college. We called it ‘The Small Library’. It was rather special, wasn’t it? It was a bustling hub of cultural activity. Moreover, a meeting place for boys who would not normally mix all that much. Boys who were dark or lighter-skinned. Boys posh. Boys rough. Boys who had it comfortable in the residential college, and others who daily, six days a week, came and went in rattling, crowded buses, some from long distances. Boys who hailed from villages and from cities and towns up and down India. Boys from the homes of ex-maharajas and maharani’s and the power elites.

Golden Builders

But the ‘Small Library’ without preachings but more like bees building the golden honey –  welded us into a learningful, toiling force. It was a place for sinking obstructive differences. A place that went far beyond  grubbing for paltry marks and petty privileges.

And years later, I heard that your beloved English lecturer PK (Mohanty), my dear and esteemed colleague,  got cast out. Why? Because, it is my understanding, his was one small voice strong in defence of your innocence. Think back to others, whom you happen to know were not ‘bad eggs’  who got cast out. Think back, too, to the boys whose parents withdrew their boys from college. Think of all the hush-hush that went on about it. This form of thinking back that has triggered off the questioning process in others. Boys whom you held dear were lambs to the slaughter. I can tell you, if you do not already know it – they suffer terribly now. There is a terrible legacy of sexual confusion, relationship difficulty, and great spiritual and moral betrayal.

Because you are alumni of Sathya Sai institutions, the careers of many of you have prospered. It has allowed you to leap over candidates for jobs in many trades and professions. It has conferred  privileges for you and your families vastly denied even to many in India’s privileged classes in India. But then, because of the psychological damage of the great many abuses, many of your brothers from your Sai education days have had their lives wrecked. Might you not think that they need you now? Might it not occur to you that some of them wish to see stopped those perpetrators who still thrive? 

There are moves – in India and internationally – to apply various remedies to these evils. Some of these are:

– Legal. Both in regard to criminal law and civil litigation

– Healing in regard to individuals and families affected by various forms of abuse by Sathya Sai Baba and his accomplices and supporters

– Addressing abuse of the young via the work of public education and reform in India and other countries .

Well may PK’s voice still have trembled. But feeling weak does not mean that you are not strong. The good soldier is scared to the gut, but pitches into battle. It is all a matter of working with what strength you have available to you, and landing the blow, or doing the tender deed, in the best place you can manage at the time.

Bullies need to be felled. And you need to strike down their ability to offend. Rehabilitating them is often out of the question. The habit of strength grows from less to greater, and weakness becomes a stranger. Some of you who see PK may like to tell him that I am speaking to you.

There, in that ‘Small Library’ with its big strong heartbeat, which I have always since heard in my heart, was a sacred place. Have they pulled it down?

In ‘The Small Library’, in imaginative and vivid ways, you were able to crawl out from under the dreadful and stilted rote ‘learning’ endemic in so much ‘education’ in India and many another place. You affirmed, in pragmatic ways,  Sathya Sai Baba’s insistence that the only ‘caste’ is the ‘caste’ of Humanity. We worked strongly as a team.  But of what profit if you should apply teamship only to doing so well in cricket if you cannot be strong in the far greater ‘game’ of a life well-lived? (Mind you, if I may dilate – India will do well at cricket at least until our new players in the Australian Test 11 have had their baptism in fire in the next three or so years).

Remember how we organized for boys with advanced English skills to communicate our tasks across a number of Indian state mother tongues? Think of any one initiative of ours – and how one kind of strength would contribute to the building of other types of strength! Think of how we got out of our heads and into our hands and, for example, bound books with rapidly establishing skill – and how, the respect of the intellectuals burgeoned when the boys who came from artisan backgrounds were able to shine. And how boys who were not bookish or particularly philosophical began to see how ideological concepts can interact with practical ones.

What did it matter to us that the old system – not terribly much reformed since the Englishman Lord Macaulay had his way with ‘education’, so-called, in India – got a bit of a shaking, and boys streamed through the ‘Small Library’, and sat up and down corridors, around what we created!  This spectacle shocked some of the frigid, chin-stroking ‘elders’? It was only later that I heard that some of more hide-bound lecturers wanted us shut down. And what would a foreigner know about teaching young Indians? How could I fail? – you guys taught me ….! 

Thank goodness we had some who stood forth for us. Will you not stand forth now?

Eventually, your famous Indian scientist Dr Bhagavantham sent a lovely letter of appreciation. Some of you may know that in later years he spoke up to Sai Baba. (I am told, but cannot prove, that a member of his family was abused). A well-known and respected Indian industrial leader who was permitted to pass in and out of Sai Baba’s compound, told me that Sai Baba, just outside the door of the Kadugodi residence, went into a terrible fit of yelling at Bhagavantham. The latter was cast out. One of a long line of abrupt, often unexplained disappearances, as many of you will know. How absurd that we ever thought that Sai Baba simply showed, from time to time, his “Rudra Siva aspect”.  He was a bully. Let’s call things by their right name. Are you still scared? Then stop it. You will despise yourself, when the children all around you need to see a man of alight with strength and decency.

But you see, unless you stand forth strongly yourself, you never get to identify those others who are strong, and with whom you can make common cause. Stand with them and you will end up with friends the like of which will make you wish to be in no other company.

Trust was established, obstacles fell.  We blazed pathways to cooperative learning. We put the ‘busy’ into business. I had a good time. Did you?

This article continues at:

Sexual Abusers Must Be Convicted And A Public Educated (the Sai Baba Saga)

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 8, 2011

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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Sathya Sai Baba College Teachers Angry At “Illegal” Non Payment And Sacking

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 12, 2011

News Flash – Today ……

Scarcely a few days pass before there is yet another series of revelations about the Sathya Sai institutions. In the past, Sai Baba devotees have been extremely remiss to speak out about the negative experiences they have had of the various sections of his organization as being e.g., “Baba’s Leela”, “Swami’s Test of our faith”, “Bhagavan’s Lesson”, etc., etc., ……

Anything that is remiss, ugly, cruel and unusual, irregular, and so forth, has long been passed over with a profound sense of psychological denial, or, in other cases, because those who have been outraged have not wanted to cause difficulties to themselves, families or friends. Sai Baba would commonly say – don’t criticize, see your own reflection in what you like to criticize. In other words, a teaching which, in certain applications, may have sense, but was repeatedly perverted in a way supportive of cover up, suppression and the climate of fear that attends authoritarian rule. The outcome has been, all along, a far-reaching denial of perfectly normal, legal entitlements, what to mention serious and fundamental human rights.

One may, soon enough, witness an increased readiness for more and more Sai Baba devotees ready to give court testimony of a kind which, in the following months and years, can tear away duplicitous and complicitous mask after mask from the leaders of the Sathya Sai Central Trust and international Sathya Sai Organization.

To be sure, Sathya Sai Baba is dead. But those who acted in complicity with him and ignored –  so our considerable body of evidence goes – crimes which outrage Indian laws and constitution and ethics in countries everywhere, are still very much alive.

In the news report below, a Sathya Sai Baba college lecturer, Dr Savita Swami, Senior Lecturer, Sri Sathya Sai College, Jaipur, speaks right out. She is from an institution that is run by the Sathya Sai Central Trust. That is to say, the Trust which is repeatedly being front-paged, in an atmosphere of shocking and vast-scale scandal, in India for the last many weeks. Here are its executives – all male:

Sh. Ranjeet VithaldasConvener, Sri Sathya Sai Trust

Sh. Indu Lal ShahMember, Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Jaipur &Member, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust &Advisor, Sri Sathya Sai World Council.

Sh. S.N. BhargavaChairman, College Governing Council 

Sh. J.N. SharmaSecretary, Sri Sathya Sai College, Jaipur &Secretary, Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Jaipur.

A great many who do not know the way the Sai Baba ethos and daily officialdom works, may think that there is nothing unusual about Dr Savita Swami, a part of the Sathya Sai institutional framework, being outspoken. In fact, such a pronouncement is extremely rare. She is a part of the highly integrated Sathya Sai education system. Her college prospectus proclaims that it aims to embody the ancient aspiration of  “Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye” – education which liberates. The college ventures this:  “Our own modern correlative of providing to the students that education which not only liberates but also empowers”.

Well, notoriously, the prospectuses of education institutions are, the world over, cases of promises vastly exceeding performance, and ideals that bear scant touch with the real world. But, given that the Sai Baba system, promises far more than any other institution – namely, the direct guidance of the Lord of Lords – the claims are terribly tall, and, rather, are mere plays with words. The typical flowery rhetoric gave me discomfort when I was teaching in the Sathya Sai education system – at the Sri Sathya Sai College, Whitefield, via Bangalore (1978-9), even though, at the time (and, mea culpa, for twenty-five years!) I believed that Sathya Sai Baba was the embodiment of what I then conceived as ‘Divine’.

But such education aims are simply not achievable when one is forbidden to speak out. To question. To debate. To fearlessly hold a point of view. When one is not empowered and therefore not liberated in any meaningful sense. The constraint is a terrible one, which shackles body, mind and spirit.

This is a Soviet-style, heavily hierarchic, top-down organization where there has long been a terrible price for those who do speak out. They are post-haste flung out of the Sathya Sai Organization or threats are made which cause many individuals to cower and recant against their own deeper stirrings of conscience.

However, in these days of swift and remarkable sea change in matters relating to Sai Baba’s organization, I suggest that increasingly many more ‘lower echelon’ Sai Baba organisation members will emerge to have their say. (From what I hear informally, I understand that this uprising of dissent against the Sai Central Trust will, in a number of other cases, include the presence of lawyers). Dr Swami says:

“If it were a private institution we’d have understood but its 90 per cent aided, they have to give only 10 per cent. How can there be a financial crunch then? There is no financial crunch,” said Dr Savita Swami, Senior Lecturer, Sri Sathya Sai College, Jaipur.

I suspect that Dr Savita Swami is an early symptom of a phenomenon in the rank-and-file world of Sai Baba devotion that I think will, soon enough, swing into action. In my blog of earlier today, I pointed out:

“One factor that may somewhat save the day could well be the actions of those Sai Baba devotees who have had their eyes at least somewhat opened, particularly those many who appear to have put up with more than enough from figures such as R.J. Ratnakar and V. Srinivasan, who are on the profoundly untrustworthy Sai Trust”. 

See:  Will Andhra Pradesh, South India, Only Appear To Address Sathya Sai Baba Scandals?

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Oneindia News

Sathya Sai College in a financial crunch? Teachers cry foulc with

Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 10:52 [IST]

Jaipur, Jul 12: The Sri Sathya Sai College has run into functional and financial trouble after it illegally fired 15 staff members, including 11 lecturers.

According to the college, the staff was fired for financial issues but teachers beg to differ on the same.

“If it were a private institution we’d have understood but its 90 per cent aided, they have to give only 10 per cent. How can there be a financial crunch then? There is no financial crunch,” said Dr Savita Swami, Senior Lecturer, Sri Sathya Sai College, Jaipur.

Teachers also said that the college owed each of them Rs 2 lakh and only 66 percent of them were given their salaries since 2008.

The college has a different story to say. According to the institution, the money taken from teachers were donations, while the latter say that money was taken from them on the pretext of bringing the college out of crisis.

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General

Excerpt From Public Petition (and introduction)

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

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Sathya Sai Baba’s Institute of ‘Higher Learning’. Independent Professional Assessment Needed

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 10, 2011

Self-praise is no recommendation.

Sathya Sai Baba’s public discourses, and many speeches by those around him, keep hailing the supposed glories of his education system.   It would be useful if there were an authoritative, independent assessment. But where would one look?  Certainly, beyond the loud hailing systems at Puttaparthi. And far beyond the political favouritism that is so endemic among the demonstrably corrupt government and political supporters of Sathya Sai, who sanction and support the almost unimaginable wealth, pomp and circumstance that are to be seen at Puttaparthi.  And, still worse, cover up the facts surrounding the police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom 1n 1993. See:  The BBC and the 1993 murdersAnd innumerable cases of his, and sometimes of his close servitor’s sexual abuses of young males, and many and grievous other forms of abuse. See:  Barry Pittard’s Guide To His Articles On The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Exposing Sai Baba)

                                                                      

Let us take, for example, Sathya Sai Baba’s university at Puttaparthi. 

There is, in fact, a noted international authority which does rate the top four hundred universities in the world. It is here:  www.topuniversities.com. But one searches in vain for any assessment that supports  Sathya Sai Baba’s and his associates’ loud hailing of his institution.

A professional, rather than a devotional assessment, is a perfectly reasonable expectation.

 
 
 
Further Reading
 

 Sri Sathya Sai University – Or All That Glitters Is Not Gold. by Serguei Badaev

General 

 Excerpt From Public Petition

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

 Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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Robert Priddy’s Views on Key Human Values in Relation To Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 6, 2009

In the brief article – Human Values – Sai Baba’s truncated ideas Robert Priddy, an academic philosopher at the University of Oslo for many years, and a former head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway, states his view of what human values are, in contradistinction to “divinely-instated values for humans” as proclaimed by Sathya Sai Baba. 

In the mind of any serious educator, especially when versed in the history of educational theory and practice, very concerning questions are raised. One of the key concerns is that, in the Sathya Sai educational undertaking, critical thinking is distinctly missing. When an English teacher at the Sathya Sai College in Whitefield, via Bangalore, South India, then Sai Baba’s premier education institution, I was alarmed at the extraordinary amount of rote learning to be seen. Swatting and regurgitation were on all sides. It was as though the great educational innovators, whether East or West, had never lived. Where were the exiting staff room discussions? Where was the meeting of minds? Where were the in-service professional development programs?  Where was there a working towards new paradigms? Rather, things were stuck in a time warp. Here or there was a teacher in love with his subject who deeply cherished the students (I think fondly of my former colleague P.K. Mohanti), but each lecturer slaved away in his own ‘burrow’. Lacking was a sense of the organic, of a meaningful community of learning. Marks and gold medals were the thing, and a wider unreformed education system in India reenforced this defecit of true learning. True, there were movements of reform in India, but the Sathya Sai setup, despite all the trumpet-blowing by those of narrow, uncritical mindsets on education, was decidedly not one of them.

In the way of innovation, I was fortunate in having the protection of the Principal (which actually meant Sai Baba), who handed over his own third year degree course to me as well as my teaching the other two years of the English course and the encouragement of the scientist and Sai Baba’s chief interpreter into English Dr S. Bhagavantham and the Board and two of my immediate colleagues, and many marvelous boys (both those devoted and not devoted to Sathya Sai Baba). But the flaws were great.

As the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values spread throughout Sai centers around the world, one could, yet again, see serious flaws. One saving grace was that contributors to the formation of the courses were international, which meant that some very antiquated teaching theory and practice got knocked aside. Since Robert Priddy and Serguei Badaev (the latter of whom was closely involved in SSEHV), both of them longtime educators, have incisively raised key questions, I shall point my readers to some of their critical work on Sathya Sai education programs. See my article: Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia

Priddy writes:

“The values according to [or against which] we act are unavoidable and essential links that tie together personal perceptions and judgements, motives and actions into the sphere of common cultural values.  They are central to grasping the motivations of our social and political life. Sai Baba promotes his own brand of ‘five human values’, which is a simple and often all too vague recipe. His biographer Kasturi writes that Sai Baba scribbled the 5 values down on the back of an envelope when Kasturi asked him to define them.  Grabbed as if out of thin air without any deeper thought, it is quite evident how shallow, rigid and incomplete they are when examined carefully and critically. They can only function at a most elementary level of teaching children, at best, for the doctrine is flawed and is badly out of step with modern thought and educational standards (outside developing nations)” .

Some Robert Priddy links on these issues

1) The Common Acceptance of Human Values
2) In what may human values consist?
3) Distinguishing and defining values
4) Human values defined in practice
5) Values and Anti-values
6) Values, character development and psychic health 
7) Inherent failings in Sai’s human values
8 ) Sai Baba’s teaching’s shortage of universal educational concepts and contents
9) Simplicity and vagueness in the service of moralism
10) The taint of intellectual and moral rigidity
11) Human justice as distinct from divine command
12) Sai Educare’s fundamentalist, doctrinaire teachings?

For still more detailed analysis of the above issues click here – SSEHV Exposed and:

Cardinal Failings in Sai Baba’s Human Values. Where the Teachings and the Teacher Go Wrong

Links for the study of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values and ‘Educare’ -and their shortcomings or failings – are found here:-

Sai_Baba_Five_Human_Values
Cardinal_Failings_in_Sai_Baba’s_Human_Values
Human_Values_as_Common_Ideals
Sathya_Sai_Educare_fundamentalist_doctrine
Sathya_Sai_Educare
Why the Sathya Sai organization is a cult

See also -:

Serguei Badaev

The Story of My Disqualification
by Serguei Badaev
(ex-President of Sathya Sai Organization, Moscow Centre, ex-deputy National Coordinator and National SSEHV Coordinator, Russia)

Badaev has written:   “Critical thinking, as one of a basic skills of character building, is absolutely opposed to the EHV and Sai Educare approaches. I think it is a threat to the Sathya Sai mini-empire. The situation is in a sense very similar to what occurred during the Soviet regime. Communist leaders needed people with good character to work hard and with enthusiasm. But the regime tried to restrict firmly (or to control) the area of application of their intellect and research skills to keep themselves safe from their analysis. The same with Sathya Sai. There is a sort of invisible circle around him where you should abandon your critical skills and submit completely to his uncertainty and mystery. Another interesting aspect of Sai education is an idea of separate education of boys and girls which is taken for granted without any serious justification”.

Barry Pittard On Serguei Badaev

Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia

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Barry Pittard’s comments in regard to the Public Petition) -:

Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

                                                                  ———————————

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

Posted in Morality, Opinion, Philosophy, Religion, South Asia, Theology, Theosophy, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attacks By Hooligans Against Foreign Students In Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 5, 2009

In relation to attacks against foreign students in Australia, there are some tough questions. A number of reasons exist why the majority of these attacks have occurred on Indian students, and the issue is complex. The situations are not as portrayed, with a dangerous, irresponsible oversimplification, either by certain sections of the Indian media that are clearly committed to jingoism, hysteria, sensationalism and burgeoning of sales, who gravely misrepresent the view of a great many Indians who live in Australia (See e.g., statement by Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria president Vasan Srinivasan) or by an isolated but powerful and  disgraceful class of radio talk-back hosts who are biggots and their poorly-educated audiences we alarmingly still have in Australia, known as ‘shock jocks’.

No amount of misrepresentation can alter the facts that most Australians do not engage in or approve of racism. Many from some 200 countries who have migrated to this country attest to this fact. The situation is not assisted by those who, whether out of sensationalism or simple-mindedness or agendas of hatred resort to the fallacy of confusing part with whole, branding the behaviour of a few a whole group, who do not think, or feel or act out that for which they are being assailed.

However, the question of whether we in Australia are in danger of being selfish, cocooned, complacent and far too unquestioning of our ‘authorities’ and ourselves is quite another question. It was communities in the suburbs, far more than forces within governments, which won Australia’s great achievements in  forging a multicultural society. Sometimes the word ‘multiculturalism’ has been used but it can be a confusing and systematically misleading term.  The Australian experience – or experiment –  needs to be carefully distinguished from the performances of other countries, and discussed with proper regard for the facts.  One starting-point for those who wish to survey the area is the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council, which has many resources both practical and academic. The Council’s website is HERE.

But there is a work undone: those communities especially in the outer suburbs to which many foreign students are driven by their economic constraints will have to do some of it. They will need to rise to an occasion. Or will they expect the police and other authorities to do it for them? To stand by when bones are being broken and lives destroyed does not add up to self-respect and a sense of justice within those in whose midsts violence is happening.

I offer some questions – very preliminary – that I think my fellow Australians will need to consider:

Why have not messages got through to increasingly bold urban hooligans that attacks on anyone are not to be tolerated?

Why are these uneducated hooligans being permitted to sway Australia’s standing in the fellowship of nations?

What is there about our education, justice and parental support systems that allow for the existence of hooliganism?

What, if any, community-based, imaginative, proactive steps are being taken to make foreign students, migrants and refugees to feel welcome, valued and safe in Australia?

If the police are engaged in a losing battle, as in other areas such as drugs, are the Federal, State and Local governments failing in being upfront and in ensuring the widest public awareness and debate?

Why have attacks escalated to such a point where it has taken organized protests by Indian students studying in this country – and giving up their valuable time in which to raise their voices – before there is strong action directed to remediation?

Are outer and working class suburbs embraced by the powerful ethos  in this country which has generated so many distinguished achievements in bringing about Australia’s in many ways successful multicultural society?

What, if anything, has been the responsiveness by police, the three tiers of government, welfare, civic, religious, cultural, sporting organizations, especially in the outer suburbs to the conditions in which many overseas students are economically forced to study, travel back and forth, and reside?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness about the enormity of contribution foreign students make to Australia, both in immediate economic terms but in many, and often intangible ways, in regard to the quality of lasting ties of friendship and cooperation internationally?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness of the difficulties many overseas students face in regard to finance, language, culture, cuisine, arduous travel times back and forth between residence and place of study, the perils of landlordism, their being forced to take part-time jobs and somehow coping with demanding courses of study, and so on?

Have the police forces examined their own assumptions? For example, how could police possibly know whether many UNreported attacks were racist or not? The notion is absurd.

Are some police authorities refusing to see that a crime can be BOTH opportunistic AND racial?

Many Indian students, supported by their government and by leaders in the Australian Indian community, attest that the police have not been – qualitatively – listening. Why are the police listening now, and why, in certain ways, too late? Young students at this very moment lie bloodied and broken.

What is the accountability of those policemen police who manhandled parts of the crowd, in attendance at what the responsible media has reported as, except for rare exceptions, a peaceful protest by thousands?

Why are the State and Federal Governments and the education institutions at which foreign students study suddenly galvanized? Why not before this?

A question for those who cry racism at every turning: Has it been noticed that extremely few along the path of the march have been reported, on any side, as having been racist or insulting in any way?

A Helpline for Indian students who are victims of crime is available: 1800342800. From 10am to 5pm, and 7pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday.  Hellplines for ALL foreign students need to be provided and made extensively-known through the student fraternity.

Further Reading

Indian Students Attacked In Melbourne Australia: Cricket Star Brett Lee Voices Concerns

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 4, 2009

Attacks Against Indian Students in Melbourne, Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 2, 2009

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UPDATE

From ‘Hindustan Times’ – which shows a sanity lacking in the sensationalists sections of the Indian media

See article details at this Blog:

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