Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Times of India’

Indian State High Court Blow For Swami Nityananda In Big Sex Case

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 17, 2010

As previously pointed out at ‘Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba’, the Nityananda case has had huge coverage India-wide. The battery of television cameras point and shoot at even the most trivial details, along with excited commentary.  Wealthy, influential and international though it is, Nityananda’s organization cannot bear comparison with the enormous wealth, political and religious clout of Sathya Sai Baba and his global Sathya Sai Organization.

Nityananda has spent over fifty days in jail. It has long been a commonplace in and beyond India that Sathya Sai Baba and his core servitors will never be brought to justice. A traveler round India can hear this comment quite easily. An editor of the Times of India told me privately:  Sai Baba and his people are far too powerful to take on. However, a cross-section of Indian commentary suggests a marked increase, if not a mobilization, of concern about the issues of gurudom or swamihood in India. For those who feel relieved by probing, consecutive analysis (vastly lacking in Sathya Sai Baba-proxy internet attacks on virtually all who raise questions about Sathya Sai Baba), there is lengthy and intelligent discussion in The Medha Journal, here – Lessons from The Swami Nithyananda Saga . Wednesday, 17 March 2010 18:40 by Rajiv Malhotra

——————————————————-

Big Story: Nityananda Verdict

By Vox Purpli – YahooINEditors – June 11th, 2010

Swami Nityananda

The Karnataka High Court delivered its verdict on Swami Nityananda’s bail plea. The 32-year-old spiritual teacher and founder of the Dhyanapeetam, faces several criminal charges including that of rape and “unusual sex”.

12th June 2010: Swami Nityananda has got conditional bail but has been instructed not to teach or preach.

11th June 2010: Swami Nityananda gets bail on Rs 1 lakh bond. No witness against Nityananda in rape case.

30th April 2010: When the CID was interrogating him, the swami’s shocking statement, “I’m not a man. There’s no way I could have indulged in sexual activities with women. Do a potency test on me,” gave a new twist to the  sordid saga.

21st April 2010: Almost a month and a half after the sex scam broke out, Swami Nityananda was arrested from Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district. At the time of his arrest, the Bangalore police found Rs 3 lakh and 2000 dollars with him.

2nd March 2010: The Swami scandal surfaced in March 2010 when a local channel aired video footage of the swami in a compromising position with a Tamil actress after he had retired from his ashram to live a life of “spiritual seclusion”.

After almost 50 days in jail, the decision on his bail plea will be taken today. Amidst allegations against Nityananda and all the controversy, some loyal devotees continue to hold onto their faith.

Swami Nityananda is not the only self-professed godman to be embroiled in a controversy; several others too have been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

—————————————————

See Also

Robert Priddy

Barry Pittard

———————————–

The Public Petition

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed 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)

——————————————

Subscribe in   NewsGator Online Subscribe   in Bloglines Add to My AOLAdd to Excite   MIX Add Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba   to Newsburst from CNET News.com Add to   netvibes Add to The   Free Dictionary Add to netomat Hub Add to Webwag Subscribe in a reader Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Posted in New Age, Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Roman Catholics’ Deep Concern At Pope’s Apology. But He Is Way Ahead Of Indian ‘Pope’ Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 23, 2010

It is enormously instructive to watch the unfolding saga of papal apology for clergy sexual abuse. Large numbers of both Roman Catholics and others round the world have expressed deep dissatisfaction with the Pope’s apology. They say that it goes nowhere far enough, and does not address acute issues of crime and punishment. The Roman Catholic Church, like the international Sathya Sai Organization, has every reason to be afraid of sore depletions  of membership and finance, as well as moral standing in the world community.

RC Abuse Priests Collared. Clergy sex revelation storms threaten worldwide

RC Abuse Priests Collared. Clergy sex revelation storms threaten worldwide

There have been many critical commentaries from within and far beyond the Roman Catholic Church. They make it clear that there are central issues of institutional power and control that prevent far-reaching and genuine reforms from taking place. Even when the methods of statecraft far exceed the spirit or even letter of an institution’s spiritual, ethical and moral aims, it is the long history of powerful institutions to use the apparatus of legalistic and other forms of self-protection. In other words, cover up. And, at best, cosmetic reform. For a glimpse at an ancien régime swinging into action, see The Times report: Vatican moves to distance Pope from abuse scandal. Richard Owen. Rome.

 

Sorry Pope Indeed

Sorry Pope

 

What many Roman Catholics, including one of the greatest and outspoken theologians in Church history, Professor Hans Kung, and others are, in effect, asking is: why is this man so publically sorry now and not years ago, when he was cognizant of sexual abuses within his church?

The Dark Pages That Have To Be Faced

A secular example. The immediate past US President George  W. Bush’s name will stand forever darkened by his secret policy of “extraordinary rendition”, where prisoners deemed to be a threat to US security were spirited away to countries friendly to the US which routinely practise torture, so that the hands of US citizens would not personally be bloodied by the heinous acts then committed without the knowledge and consent of the American people at large.

Again, cover up. Again, acknowledgement only when the forces of exposure have reached tipping point.

Typically, among the lower orders of institutional membership, there are many who rationalize and justify an autocratic leadership’s  actions and instructions that appear to enhance or protect an institution. The rank-and-file do not act with the full knowledge, cynicism and realpolitik of those right at the nub of power. That this relative kind of ignorance, naivety, piety (or whatever form it takes) cannot, and should not, be used to plead excuse was made very clear in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials that ran from 1945 to 1949.

What of India’s shame?

As we can see in recent weeks, there has been a public upsurge of concern at sex scandal revelations about high-powered religious figures in India. See: Nityananda Sex Scandal Erupts in India. Sathya Sai Baba Lessons? .

 
 

 

Puttaparthi Sai Baba. Will soon rule world, he says

Sathya Sai Baba will soon rule world, he says

Note: The glitter of pure gold, and immense pomp and circumstance are the order of the day at Sai Baba’s ashram at Puttaparthi. See:

It forever echoes in my mind how a then editor of The Times of India told me privately that Sathya Sai Baba is too powerful to take on. One irony was that one of the most powerful figures on the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust – the former Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagawati, was at the same time on the Board of Directors of The Times of India. In fact, our group had to work extremely hard to get UNESCO senior management to cause the Press Trust of India (PTI) to make amends for publishing a gravely watered-down version of the UNESCO Media Advisory concerning Sathya Sai Baba and certain of his key officals. See:

The Case of UNESCO’s Missing Media Advisory and BBC Caught UNESCO Head Bowing To Indian Government

In India, a particularly lamentable fact that speaks  against religious institutions is that their scandals have often had to exposed by such courageous rationalists as the late Basava Premanand.  See:  Basava Premanand Long Challenged Indian Governments To Come Clean On Sathya Sai Baba and Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach .

Or, as anywhere in the world, by whistleblowers from’inside’ who undergo the most shameful attacks by those who proclaim to live by ‘Life, Love and Spirituality‘.

See also:

Religion and the Catholic Church Sex Abuses

Posted by robertpriddy on March 21, 2010

Ireland Acts On Clergy Sexual Abuse. India Does Not Act On Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barrypittard on November 27, 2009

Reputed Media and Other Agencies Decried By Sathya Sai Baba’s Defenders

——————————

(Up-and-coming article at Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba:  Australia’s Shame …)

——————————

Excerpt from New York Times, Agencies Report

Pope’s words of remorse fall flat for abuse victims

JOHN BURNS, DUBLIN

March 23, 2010

“POPE Benedict XVI’s weekend apology to sufferers of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy in Ireland has drawn a deeply sceptical and angry response from many Catholics.

In the apology – a pastoral letter read aloud at all weekend Masses across Ireland’s 26 Catholic dioceses and handed out in printed form to thousands of churchgoers – Benedict ex-pressed ”shame and remorse” to victims and their families for what he called ”sinful and criminal” acts by members of the clergy. But in the apology, the Pope did not require that Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Irish church, or any other church leaders be disciplined for their mistakes, as some victims had hoped

Nor did he clarify what critics in Ireland and elsewhere have said are contradictory Vatican rules about the procedures for investigating abuse cases and church leaders’ responsibility to inform civil authorities about offences they uncover, a duty the Pope reiterated strongly in his letter.

By remaining silent on the issue of punishment for top church figures implicated in what critics in Ireland have described as decades of cover-up, the pastoral letter appears to have done little to assuage the dismay and anger of many in Ireland at years of revelations about paedophile priests and child carers”.  NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCIES

———————————

Click here to view list of brief video clips available from the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ documentary

———————————

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

——————————————

Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Bloglines Add to My AOLAdd to Excite MIX Add Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba to Newsburst from CNET News.com Add to netvibes

Add to The Free Dictionary Add to netomat Hub Add to Webwag

Subscribe in a reader

Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

 

Posted in New Age, Opinion, Rationalism, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Why Has Sathya Sai Baba Not Faced The Indian Justice System?

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 14, 2010

There is a question that keeps getting asked. It is one never answered by pro Sai interests – other than with a superficiality and ad hominem attacks resoundingly obvious to serious and probing investigators:

Given the grave seriousness of the allegations of serial sexual abuse of boys and young men from countries around the world, why have these matters not been dealt with through the Indian justice system? 

But – what Indian justice system?! 

Essentially, the answer is that Sathya Sai Baba is powerfully protected by Indian governmental corruption, irrespective of which political regime has the upper hand. His devotee base is vast. In 2001, the celebrated Indian advocate Kamini Jaiswal (who was a lawyer for the famous ‘Bandit Queen’ Phoolan Devi) attempted to mount, pro bono, a case against Sai Baba on behalf of a former Sai Baba devotee, Hari Sampath. apparently a former member of Sathya Sai Baba’s intelligence and security wing. They were thwarted in what lawyers, including eminent ones from different countries (their identities are available to bona fide investigators by writing me), have described by such terms as “a kangaroo court”. One used to democratic court proceedures can hardly believe, as one reads the lawyer’s notes in transcript, that judges could be so blatant. See, Record of Proceedings document of Hari Sampath’s 2001 case against Sai Baba in the Supreme Court of India, and further comments on this case scuppered by Judges G.B. Patnaik and R.C. Lahoti with the concurrence of then Chief Justice Dr A.S. Anand.

Sathya Sai Baba Disposed Judges Sathya Sai Baba Disposed Judges

Another example of the appallingness that can pass for Indian justice (often an oxymoron) is illustrated by the conduct of a Sai Baba devotee Judge,  Y. V. Anjaneyulu, in Sai Baba’s state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a judgement that contradicts India’s secular justice system and confounds our lawyer members in far more democratic countries than India who have seen the document. For this perversion of justice, see HERE.

Although one must pay tribute to those in the Indian police and legal systems who strive against great odds to do an honest job, one fact has to be faced squarely: there is terrible and extensive corruption in the Indian justice system. With great superficiality and intellectual dishonesty, Pro Sai forces, such as Gerald Joe Moreno, like to attack those of us who point out this internationally-known fact, and they speak, of “India bashing”. It is nothing of the sort. Indian commentators have long and widely lamented the profound corruption of Indian institutions. In a delightful and well-written piece, at the LEGAL RESOURCE CENTRE INDIA, “India’s top 10 lawyers”, Dhananjay Mahaputra (in Times of India Crest Edition Saturday 9 January 2010) writes of K. Paransaran, whom he describes as “the grand old man of India’s court royalty” as one who:  “believes the Bar is no longer as ethical as it once was. He is sad that the image of the higher judiciary has been tarnished with so many allegations of corruption”. Paransaran reflects: “What can I do, but offer my prayers?'”.

A legal course of action initiated in the United states failed to get off the ground because of a legal loophole, in which the Sai Baba group portrayed their entity as being a bookshop. There was no trial, contrary to what has been said by pro Sai interests who are very careless with the facts, and gravely misrepresented by Dr G. Venkataraman, Sai Baba’s deputy world head.  

Anyone who wishes to undertake litigation has both to ask themselves what are their financial resources and what are their emotional resources. They also need to establish whether they can hire a lawfirm not noted to employ advocates who can be outsmarted both before and during a trial.

Here are some resources:    ‘Alaya Rahm’s Lawsuit vs Sathya Sai Society of America – Joint Statement by the International JuST Group and the Rahm family’: http://www.rfjvds.dds.nl/ex-baba/engels/articles/alayarahm.htm .   ‘Alaya Rahm’s Testimony – Some Key Statements:  http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/6/alaya.htm   ‘On Alaya Rahm’s Testimony Against Sathya Sai Baba’:  http://www.saibabaexpose.com/PremRahm.htm . Dr G. Venkataraman is extensively refuted in a four-part article by Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard:  ‘The Sathya Sai Organisation’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed’ – Part One Two Three Four

For Al Rahm’s remarkably decent, self-restrained and detailed reply to a notorious antagonist Gerald Joe Moreno, Sathya Sai Baba’s principal defense on the internet, see: Al Rahm’s Explanatory Letter To Sathya Sai Baba Internet Proxy Gerald Moreno 

General  

The International Sathya Sai Organization – an accessory to a massive libel and disinformation campaign. Open letter to the Prasanthi Council – c/o Dr. M. Goldstein, Dr. G. Venkataraman and its other members

………………………………………………..

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

 ——————————————————

Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Subscribe in a reader

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Posted in Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

CNN-IBN Reports Action On Corrupt Indian Gurus

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 2, 2008

The influential media outlet CNN-IBN has just come out with a series of articles on the increasing exposure of ‘godmen’ in India.

What will not be so obvious is the courage of those in journalism, the judiciary, police forces and so on who are putting themselves in danger when they attempt to confront the forces of corruption.

The links to the CNN-IBN reports are immediately below, and beneath these are links (with quotes) to a number of articles in Call for Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba. These span many months, and hold out the hope that the forces of anti-corruption and of those who uphold the justifiable Indian pride in her great and varied culture will be able to triumph.

Even as I write there are reports that India has the best human rights record in Asia. This will not have been achieved without the cost of tremendous courage and sacrifice – much of it never recordable.

With India on her way to becoming a superpower, a great contribution she can make – one that can indeed shame those countries which flaunt their democratic traditions – is to clean up her ‘house’ and set an example of flourishing democratic achievements. For decades, the profoundly failed guru, Sathya Sai Baba, has been saying that he will first clean up his ‘own backyard’. He has made all too little dent but India does not need him. She has, down millennia, furnished the worthy aims that he uncontroversially preaches. She has long abounded in great exemplars. It is goods delivery well in excess of all the preaching by her sometimes shady and failed gurus that is needed.

In her rich and marvelous multiculture, these qualities can be asserted by any irrespective of culture, class or creed .

…………….

CNN-IBN Reports just released

Self-styled godmen under increasing scrutiny

Fri, Aug 01, 2008 at 21:34, Updated at Fri, Aug 01, 2008 in Nation India section

Framed or foul play? Asaram followers left wondering

Fri, Aug 01, 2008 at 21:16, Updated at Fri, Aug 01, 2008 in Nation sectio. Tags: Asaram Bapu, Ashram , New Delhi

Journalists protest against media attack in Gujarat.

CNN-IBN, Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 18:53 in Nation section

Spiritual guru’s followers brutally attack journos

Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 23:17 in Nation section

…………….

Further related articles at Call for Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba at: https://barrypittard.wordpress.com

These articles tyically refer to the poor, but apparently slowly improving, India media showing with regard to running news inimical to the most powerful Indian gurus, of whom Sathya Sai Baba has long been the most powerful of all, worshipped by millions as God.

Supercool Indian Gurus Under Fire

The following readings indicate two-way pulls occurring in India – towards gurus and the extraordinary power many of them have, down millennia, wielded, and away from them

V.P.B. Nair. B.Premanand. R.Priddy: Sai Baba Bedroom Killings

Many Indian journalists and editors and others know of the profound extent of the cover up by the then powerful Home Minister S.B. Chavan, and central, Andhra Pradesh State and local governments. It is a pity that very few have had the courage to speak out publicly on the issue, as has former Andhra Pradesh Home Secretary V.P.B. Nair, who was in office at the time of the killings. It is a sad commentary that very few had the courage in speaking out displayed by those such as Nair and B. Premanand. See the BBC Film Clip of V.P.B. Nair making his statement

The Guru Trap. Will India Be Forever Trapped?

Tehelka is regarded by many observers as one of few newspapers in India which can show some investigate clout and courage. It has sustained tremendous pressure by Indian governments and other power brokerage forces in India. Below is an excerpt from Tehelka, which points the need for India to come clean and act decisively about her frequent cultivation and protection of nefarious gurus. Sathya Sai Baba gets a reference.

‘Moon Mission of Sathya Sai Baba’. Re Merinews Article

Noting that the Indian news service Merinews.com contained an article by Natteri Adigal which gave me a brief mention, I responded.

This was, Moon mission of Sathya Sai Baba: Only for the faithful! by Natteri Adigal, Thursday, 29 November 2007

Is Sai Baba’s Governmental Influence ‘Miraculous’?

Yesterday’s blog, HERE, noted the Indian magazine Business Standard news current report that the Sathya Sai Central Trust is putting Sai Baba’s Puttaparthi airport up for sale. It was revealing to find an old 1998 Indian Express report that saw corrupt links between Sai Baba’s chief representatives and a then Civil Aviation boss. Most Indian publications have long suffered their publisher’s censorship against reports adverse to Sathya Sai Baba. As the Editor of one of India’s leading newspapers told me: Sai Baba is too powerful, with so many devotees all over India. Likely to have been all too little noticed, then, was a report filed in the Indian Express in February 1998 by reporter Swati Chaturvedi. It points to corrupt origins in the sanctioning of the Sathya Sai airport. What the Swati Chaturvedi article does not mention is that the then Civil Aviation Secretary, M.K. Kaw, is a Sathya Sai Baba devotee.

Sai Baba’s Airport Up For Sale, Reports Business Standard

business-standard.jpg

Sai Baba`s airport up for sale

S Kalyana Ramanathan / Chennai October 31, 2007

“Trust puts floor price at Rs 600 crore

The airport’s owner, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, which manages the religious and philanthropic assets and work of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, has invited bids for it and put the floor price at Rs 600 crore”

Indian Nuclear Scientist Now Sai Baba’s Global Radio Chief

These days Sai Baba’s chief international propagandist (via Sai Global Harmony and WorldSpace International Satellite Radio Service) and deputy head of the immensely wealthy and influential world Sathya Sai Organization, Dr G. Venkataraman, was a top Indian nuclear scientist
Top Vajpayee Minister Thinks BBC Was Plotting

For a glimpse at the clearly morally bankrupt showing of the Vajpayee government on many allegations facing Sathya Sai Baba, see the video clip from the BBC’s The Secret Swami (2004), HERE

Is Indian ‘Godman’ Sai Baba’s Moon Waning Still Further?

The report below, I have excerpted from the DNAINDIA news service. It indicates that Sathya Sai Baba’s chief translator and personal India and international emissary, Professor Anil Kumar, has acknowledged the extraordinary traffic and crowd snarls occasioned by Sai Baba’s trip to his private airport at Puttaparthi.

It is reported that India’s most famous and controversial guru was at the airport in his car on the evening of Thursday October 4, 2007, which got badly detained by unruly crowds. He would be present, it was believed, to preside over a profound mass vision that he, as God, would perform. An Indo Asian News Service (IANS) staff writer reported …

P.N. Bhagwati, India’s Ex-Chief Justice: Wild, Reckless Claims

P.N. Bhagawati, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, a key figure on the Sathya Sai Central Trust (India) has also long been on the Board of Directors of The Times of India

Indian Gurus Stifle India’s Chance To Excel

“Watershed year for Indian law” reports BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder
“For many, 2006 has been a watershed in Indian legal history”, states Sanjoy Majumder, Friday, 5 January 2007, BBC News, Delhi:
For the first time, a serving cabinet minister (Shibu Soren), was given life imprisonment for murder. Under a fortnight later, a cricket star and MP (Navjot Singh Sidhu) was jailed for manslaughter. Majumder reports “A recent study suggests that nearly a quarter of the country’s MPs are facing criminal charges ranging from murder to extortion and even rape”, and that “India’s courts are estimated to have a backlog of some two million cases”. See useful BBC News links about corruption in India
here.

Gurubusting Sathya Sai Baba

Breaking decades of virtual Indian media silence on comment critical of Sathya Sai Baba, a number of major Indian news organizations have run (mostly November 22, 2006) the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) report on Paul Lewis’s article in The Guardian,The Indian living god, the paedophilia claims and the Duke of Edinburgh awards’“…
Sai Baba’s “Back Yard” Still A Mess

India A Mature Democracy? BBC Probes

Would many Indian politicians, notorious for their extreme corruption, dare expose the foreign goose that lays the (cosmic!) golden egg? Driving this question would have reinforced the producer Eamon Hardy’s original query about whether India is a mature democracy.

View The Secret Swami HERE. Available in broadband and modem. Read:

The BBC’s The Secret Swami – A Revision.

The Genesis of the BBC’s The Secret Swami (Sai Baba)

Who In India Will Stand out Against Abuses?

According to reports by Sanjoy Majumdar, BBC New Delhi and Tim Sullivan of Associated Press, there have been some recent populist stirrings in India against corruption and its cover-up.  Not that there have not long been those Indians who have stood up valiantly against these. One may hope that the groundswell will come to include corrupt gurus

Will India’s New Backlash Against Corruption Lash Sathya Sai Baba?

“Watershed year for Indian law” reports BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder
“For many, 2006 has been a watershed in Indian legal history”, states Sanjoy Majumder, Friday, 5 January 2007, BBC News, Delhi:
For the first time, a serving cabinet minister (Shibu Soren), was given life imprisonment for murder. Under a fortnight later, a cricket star and MP (Navjot Singh Sidhu) was jailed for manslaughter. Majumder reports “A recent study suggests that nearly a quarter of the country’s MPs are facing criminal charges ranging from murder to extortion and even rape”, and that “India’s courts are estimated to have a backlog of some two million cases”. See useful BBC News links about corruption in India
here.

Exposure of Sathya Sai Baba. Media Source List

Posted in Religion, Social and Politics, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Case of UNESCO’s Missing Media Advisory

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 15, 2007

Note 20 June 2010. As more people quit the Sathya Sai Organization and to inform more recent readers and researchers, I shall, for the while, put to the front of my blogsite an article I wrote in March 2007.

To point to underhand institutional conduct is never enough. Fact in plenty may still be not enough – especially when an institution under question does its best to make it appear that those who question it have malign intent, and have no notable evidence. Or when that organization attempts to bury evidence of statements by its founder that, all unwittingly, militate against both it and him. See:

The Quiet Weeding Out Of Sathya Sai Baba’s Embarrassing Statements

Sathya Sai Baba and Absurdity – Revealed in His Officials’ Documents

However, when a research effort involves an august institution like the BBC, those institutions which have been covering up are shaken, and only then can sometimes become more accountable, as has been the case of UNESCO’s ‘missing’ Media Advisory. In this case, it was UNESCO which was forced to become accountable. Neither the Indian government nor the international Sathya Sai Organization have been so, all along. The BBC has described Sathya Sai Baba as ‘The Secret Swami’. See:

The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision

BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ and British Press Praise

BBC Hidden Camera in ‘Secret Swami’. Ethical?

Earlier that year (2004), the producer of the one-hour television documentary, Eamon Hardy, noted in my hearing that the Sathya Sai Baba saga raised very real questions as to India’s maturity as a democracy. As it turned out, the BBC exposure of the unhealthy Indian Government-Sathya Sai Organization-UNESCO Director nexus was not able to be referred to in ‘The Secret Swami’. It was all too late. However, any intrepid investigator can approach the BBC and UNESCO, quite apart from reading this article fine tooth-comb in hand.

……………………………………………………..

In September 2000, after months of intense effort by former Sai Baba followers from several countries, UNESCO and its joint sponsor the University of Flinders, South Australia, withdrew sponsorship of a large international education conference on human values under Sai Baba’s aegis at Puttaparthi. After the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Chubb, appointed a senior Staff member to investigate, delegates from Flinders University Institute of International Education were required to cancel. UNESCO’s Media Advisory stated:

“The Organisation is deeply concerned about widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been leveled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.”

UNESCO’s Advisory Had a Number of Concerns

The advisory also said that:

“Certain decisions were taken by the Institute of Sathya Sai Education without consultation, such as plans to hold some of the sessions at the Ashram of the Sathya Sai movement in Puttaparthi, and the inclusion of some speakers in the conference programme without their previous consent. Furthermore, the Organization is deeply concerned about widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been levelled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.””

Subheaders For This Article 

UNESCO and University of Flinders (South Australia) Withdraw From Big Sai Baba Conference

Sathya Sai Baba’s Officials Simulate UNESCO Involvement

UNESCO Complains to Press Trust of India

UN’s Dr Leonarda Jekantaite. Witting Sai Baba Tool Or a Babe-in-the-woods?

UNESCO Directors Scuttle Own Senior Officials

Indian Government-Puttaparthi Line: Sai Baba’s and India’s Interests are Synonymous

Top Sai Baba Aide Opens Mouth. Cat Jumps Out

UNESCO Directors Capitulate to India and Sai Baba

Will the Internet Wayback Archive Go Missing Too?

BBC Exposes Two Heads of UNESCO and Their Staff

BBC Catches UNESCO Heads and Staff In Falsehood

Sathya Sai Baba’s Officials Simulate UNESCO Involvement

Indulal Shah, then head of the Sathya Sai Organization, maintained the fiction of UNESCO involvement. Yet UNESCO had already fully informed him of its cancellation many days before the release of the Media Advisory on September 15, 200. In his inaugural conference address, Shah said:

“Let me share with you that U.S. magazine Week has chosen to give respect to the UNESCO conference held in Prasanthi Nilayam highlighting the message of Bhagawan on ‘Values for All”.  (Source: ‘Materials of the 7th World Conference of the Sai Organization’, 20.11.2000).

That is to say, Shah in front of over 900 conferencees spoke of “the UNESCO conference” – when there was no UNESCO involvement! Indeed, Shah and other organisers had spent several previous days dealing with the crisis of UNESCO’s cancellation, the Indian media situation, and so on.

UNESCO Complains to Press Trust of India

When the Times of India printed an alarmingly small portion of the Media Advisory, the world body lodged an objection to the Press Trust of India, It may be mentioned that the Times of India has long been a stronghold of Sai Baba devotees and supporters, including a board director P.N. Bhagwati, Sathya Sai Central Trust member and former Chief Justice of India, more recently with the United Nations.  PTI then forced the Times of India to publish the Media Advisory in full.

UN’s Dr Leonarda Jekantaite. Witting Sai Baba Tool Or a Babe-in-the-woods?

The same fiction of UNESCO participation was also preserved by the appearance on the dais by a high profile UNESCO diplomat, Dr Leonarda Jekantaite. Despite UNESCO’s withdrawal from the conference, Sai Baba’s official organ, Sanathana Sarathi (Volume 43, October 2000, page 317) reported:

Dr Leonarda Jekantaite, Secretary General of UNESCO (Lithuania) presented the Keynote Address.”

 There are two issues here. First, that the official organ of Sai Baba’s Central Trust – distributed worldwide – AND the conference organizers maintained the fiction of UNESCO participation. Second, that Dr Jekantaite still not only attended but gave the keynote speech at the conference, despite the withdrawal of the body she ostensibly represented. A colleague of mine, Robert Priddy, previously head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway and retired lecturer in Philosophy and Social Science at the University of Oslo, corresponded with Dr Jekantaite on this matter. Very lamely, she excused herself by saying that she attended in a personal capacity. This line would seriously obscure the fact that the conference presenters portrayed Dr Jekantaite to the conferencees as the UNESCO representative. Was she was being incredibly naïve, being an unwitting propagandist tool in the conference organizers’ hands? Or was she actually prepared to be a witting tool in the hands of Sai Baba’s demonstrably dishonest organizers like Indulal Shah in allowing her presence to suggest UNESCO’s presence at the conference? Was she in fact a Sai Baba devotee? Was there anything all that “personal” about her reasons for staying on at the conference? A simple, natural, truthful response in her email to one who had long taught in one of the world’s foremost universities could have clarified much.

UNESCO Directors Scuttle Own Senior Officials

Another point that needs more attention – because, being a ‘hot’ topic, allegations of sexual abuse can tend to obscure other issues – was UNESCO’s dissatisfaction that conference organizers had maintained that the conference was to be held separately from Sai Baba’s ashram. Those who attack the Media Advisory (and many other issues about Sai Baba and his often heavily unaccountable organization well-documented by former devotee and other critics and some of the world’s leading media) need to be truthful about this. Nor did the UNESCO director and deputy director honor the earlier hard work of some of its most senior officials involved in the investigations and approvals that lead to the framing of the advisory. In repudiating the advisory these two officials were, in effect, repudiating their own officials, like Zhou Nanzhao, then head of UNESCO-ACEID in Thailand.

It is known that at the conference the UNESCO withdrawal was NOT mentioned! Clearly – highly typical of Sai Baba’s managers – major ‘stage management’ was going on.

Indian Government-Puttaparthi Line: Sai Baba’s and India’s Interests are Synonymous

Sai Baba critics who deal with senior government officials both in India and other countries have repeatedly found that Sai Baba’s propagandists have succeeded in creating the image that what affects Sai Baba affects all of India. One of the top British Foreign Officials told former Labor MP for Putney Tony Colman that where Sai Baba was concerned the Blair government did not want to ‘rock the boat’ with India. Mr Colman and (separately) some fifty other parliamentarians from various Parties, who at first had signed a Petition to raise the Sai Baba matter in the House of Commons, were asked by the Whips and others, to back off. Considerable trade deals, like the one billion plus sale by Britain to India of Hawk fighters were mentioned. Particularly active in efforts not to rock any ‘boats’ were Labor Friends of India, Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India, and the Indo-British Parliamentary Group. In one case, a leading international lawyer (who will speak to media of best repute) reported that he was told by senior London Metropolitan Police (who were far from happy about it) that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office had sent an instruction that the police were not further to pursue investigation related to Sai Baba, because the matter was an ‘international’ one.

Top Sai Baba Aide Opens Mouth. Cat Jumps Out

Little knowing that his triumphant revelations on an official Puttaparthi website would later come back to haunt him, Dr G. Venkataraman, Sai Baba’s deputy world head, who also leads the attempt to bring round-the-clock satellite Sai Baba radio to every corner of the globe, let quite a big ‘cat’ out of the bag in an offical Puttaparthi website. Hitherto, Sai Baba’s organization has been noted for its glacial silence in the face of the many and serious worldwide allegations (which are far from being solely about sexual molestation of boys and young men) against its founder. But what seemed such a triumph was clearly too much to hold back.

 Vol_02/05March01/03_Spiritual_Blossoms/ 02_Reflection/reflection.htm

But the ‘cat’ was soon to scratch. Venkataraman states:

“Both the Foreign Minister and this diplomat were terribly upset that nothing had been done this far”

Indian Diplomat Writes to UNESCO Head

India’s UNESCO representative (though he does not name her, this was Mrs Neelam Sabharwal, since named India’s Ambassador to Cyprus) then wrote, according to G. Venkataraman, to UNESCO’s Deputy Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura, saying that:

“the “Government of India considers Sri Sathya Sai Baba and his movement a national asset and takes strong exception to UNESCO press release, which spreads wholly unfounded and unsubstantiated allegation  against Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I would therefore request you to take immediate steps to remove the objectionable press advisory from the UNESCO website. I would also appreciate an expression of regret for the damage caused to one of India’s revered public figures, without first verifying the facts and any consultation with Indian authorities.”

UNESCO Directors Capitulate to India and Sai Baba

Dr. Venkataraman quotes what he claims to be the letter of reply to India’s UNESCO representative by UNESCO’s Deputy Director General:

“I do appreciate this concern and wish to inform you that following your personal intervention, the media advisory in question was immediately withdrawn from the archives of the UNESCO’s web site for education.

“I should also like to take this opportunity to say how much the Organisation regrets this unfortunate incident and to reiterate to you, on behalf of the Director General, that the Organisation attaches the greatest importance to the varied forms of fruitful collaboration that we have enjoyed with your country for many years.

“I hope this letter will set your mind at rest and dispel any misunderstanding.”

Venkataraman’s account (which the BBC later showed to be correct) was that he succeeded in getting (now former Prime Minister) A.B. Vajpayee’s Foreign Minister, Yaswant Sinha, and a former Indian Ambassador to France at this time now at UNESCO, to get the head of UNESCO to suppress the Media Advisory from its official website.

Will the Internet Wayback Archive Go Missing T00?

Fortunately, the document had been cached on the ‘Internet wayback machine’ and is now found at Click Here

One would not have been surprised if, given the power they wield in many high places, Sai Baba’s people had tried to obtain the removal of this document. One may guess, given their known track record for using high-profile devotees to threaten institutions with litigation, that the continued existence of this file in the Internet archive owes more to the integrity of the company operating this remarkable service than it does to the probity of Sai Baba’s top officials. (We shall report widely on the Internet should that document go missing too). Perhaps they accepted as a fait accompli that, in any case, the document has been widely copied to the Internet. Or else that the document – should anyone try to dispute the accuracy of the copies of it on former devotee and other websites – is in any case obtainable from the written archives of UNESCO.

Intimate Nexus Between the Indian Government and Sai Baba

Like a surprise gift to the rest of the world, here was G. Venkataraman’s proud revelation of a Puttaparthi-Indian government ploy to withdraw the Media Advisory. It was provided to David Savill, Assistant Producer of the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami”. Given that the screening date fast approached, the intensive, months-long work on this documentary were to be shortly concluded. Nonetheless, David Savill wrote and spoke by phone to UNESCO (Paris). He saw that UNESCO was in cover-up mode (a mode observed by all media, academic and other investigators who have attempted to probe The Sathya Sai Organization).

It was clear that Venkataraman was absolutely right. The UNESCO head, via his Deputy Director, had obliged  India in this matter.

For the many survivors of Sai Baba around the world, this felt like a setback.  It had been exhausting work Some of it was terribly sensitive, because of varying responses of survivors of sexual and other abuses. It was often hard to revisit what had been for them the most shocking betrayal. 

In passing, I may add that obtaining coherent accounts from abuse victims is one of the most difficult of assignments. Survivors, not to mention their families, can make honest mistakes about dates, times, etc., and need experienced, highly competent professional counselers to debrief them. The profoundly dishonest internet proxy for Sathya Sai Baba forces conveniently ignore such facts. Over many months of carefully documented submissions, proof of credentials, etc., (an effort also pursued with the University of Flinders), organized former Sathya Sai Baba followers from many countries had gone to great pains to submit hard evidence (most of it too sensitive to be released to this day, except to bona fide institutions) against Sai Baba and senior leaders to the world body.

BBC Exposes Two Heads of UNESCO and Their Staff

Early in 2004, UNESCO spokespersons told media and other enquirers that the Advisory did not now reflect its views. David Savill reports that only after his strenuous questioning of a senior UNESCO spokesperson, did she, Sue Williams, finally agree in writing to Mr Savill that currently “UNESCO does not regret issuing the media release of September 15 2000.” Here was a backflip! The BBC had enforced from Mrs Williams an extraordinary admission. She directly contradicted what senior UNESCO officials had told a number of enquirers both by phone and email. One  example was an email to the West Australian newspaper’s Education Correspondent Susan Hewitt on February 5, 2004. By phone – at the same time – a senior UNESCO official told Garth Wynne, the Principal of Church of Christ Grammar School, Perth, Western Australia (who acted in the Sai Baba matter on behalf of  the then Anglican Archbishop of Australia, Dr Peter Carnley) that the Advisory had simply been “routinely purged”.

BBC Catches UNESCO Heads and Staff In Falsehood

The Deputy Director General’s statement about the Advisory being “immediately withdrawn” contradicts a number of statements emerging from other officials like Isabel le Fournis and the late Elke Salas Rossenbach. They gave out the ‘routine purge’ fabrication. After my repeated attempts, and repeated evasions by UNESCO (Paris) officials, to obtain the facts, Sue Williams emailed me, May 13, 2004, stating:

“the media advisory dealing with this issue resulted from a routine operation to purge and update the site.”

That this account is false is readily shown in UNESCO’s stance appeasing India’s then Foreign Minister that the media advisory “does not now reflect UNESCO’s position”.

Having sensed serious UNESCO contradiction and evasion – particularly in the light of the Venkataraman material – the BBC first tactically held back and then, once the spins span thick and fast, released the whole Venkataraman piece to the UNESCO official, Sue Williams, whose immediate boss was the Deputy Director General.  After repeated pressure from the BBC via phone and email, Ms Williams wrote to the BBC:

“UNESCO does not regret issuing the media release of September 15 2000″.

The acrobatics were quite something to watch!Furthermore, BBC staff spoke to India’s then Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Mrs Neelam Sabharwal, (since named India’s Ambassador to Cyprus). She greeted them with the blank statement that “Sai Baba is a respected Godman” and no, she didn’t know why UNESCO had issued a media advisory and that it had been withdrawn. It is a pity for her that Dr G. Venkataraman’s account so gravely, though unintentionally, questions her veracity.

Whether it is more holy to bow to India or to bow to the BBC might also provoke an interesting discussion. Perhaps, in contorting fashion, UNESCO has tried to bow to them both.

The Public Petition

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed 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)

——————————————

Subscribe in   NewsGator Online Subscribe   in Bloglines Add to My AOLAdd to Excite   MIX Add Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba   to Newsburst from CNET News.com Add to   netvibes Add to The   Free Dictionary Add to netomat Hub Add to Webwag Subscribe in a reader Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Posted in Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »