Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Andronovo cradle of the Indo-Iranians?

The Andronovo cradle of the Indo-Iranians?
Article from the exceptional website -

The Andronovo cradle of the Indo-Iranians?

In 2006, the late Russian archaeologist Elena Kuzmina wrote a hefty book on the Origin of the Indo-Iranians (Brill, Leiden). No one who is serious about deciding the Indo-European Homeland question can afford to leave this book unread.

In 2006, the late Russian archaeologist Elena Kuzmina wrote a hefty book on the Origin of the Indo-Iranians (Brill, Leiden). It gives a very detailed history of the Andronovo culture and its surroundings in time and space. 

The Andronovo culture spanned most of Central Asia in the 2nd millennium BCE, from the Urals to Bactria. At the same time, the book contains a lot of speculation about links to the information given in the Veda and the Avesta, generally convincing. 

While it has become a very authoritative work on Andronovo, there remains a big question-mark over its presumptuous title: was this culture indeed the cradle of the Indo-Iranians?

Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations.

No one who is serious about deciding the Indo-European Homeland question can afford to leave this book unread. It promises to give the prehistory of the Aryan invasion, the preceding movements of the tribes concerned, perhaps even the events that triggered their migration into India. No one serious about arguing the case for an Indian Homeland can afford to leave it unanswered. I have had it on my shelves for a few years, hoping to find time to thoroughly review it. Realistically, I still haven’t found that time, and I have not yet co-operated with an archaeologist on this. But a review simply cannot wait anymore.

The book ends with a discussion of the procedure for establishing the chronology of Andronovo, and starts with a detailed explanation about the archaeological method and the rules for ethnographic reconstruction. 

Then follows an analysis of the typical Andronovo features that allow her to define the spatial and temporal boundaries of the culture she studies. Culturally important and archaeologically easily accessible are funeral practices: “Cremation dominates in the Urals; in central and northern Kazakhstan the cemeteries are bi-ritual; in eastern Kazakhstan and south Siberia, inhumation prevails.”

And at once, we notice something that will characterize many passages: though convinced of the Aryan invasion, she furnishes data that are compatible with, or even point to, an opposite Bactria-to-Urals migration. 

In this case, the Indo-Europeans, historically known to practise both types of disposal of the dead, but mainly cremation (though inhumation will be magnified in the eyes of the archaeologists as it leaves so many more traces), brought cremation with them along the Amu Darya to the Aral Lake area and on to the Urals. The native practice was predominantly inhumation, and it was preserved far from this trajectory, in areas where the Indo-Europeans didn’t come.

An Indo-Iranian culture

While the observation has no evidential value in itself, it deserves noting that the cultural identity of the Andronovo culture has now virtually become a matter of consensus: the Andronovo culture was Indo-Iranian. This book itself has greatly contributed to that consensus, for before its publication, there was still some hesitation.

Thus, many sacrificial and burial practices (and sati, the self-immolation of widows) “characterize the burial practice of the majority of Indo-European peoples: Hittites, Greeks, Germans, Balts, Slavs etc. It leads to the undisputable statement that the 

Andronovans were Indo-Europeans. However, the common Indo-European character of the whole burial complex does not, strictly speaking, permit one to declare the Andronovans as Indo-Aryans.” (p.195) However, she finds that “the variety of Andronovo funeral rites finds a complete and thorough correlation in early indic texts “. (p.195)

What decides the question for her, is the wealth of correspondences between her material findings and references in Indian or Iranian texts. 

Thus, she describes the typical fireplace and then the corresponding reference in Vedic literature. These “hearths comprise a shallow round or oval pit… often covered with flat stone slabs on the bottom…. This hearth is described in ancient Indian texts as the domestic fire gārhapatya-, ‘fire of the master of the house’… Such hearths were used for ritual purposes: a bride would go around it, a widow would perform a ritual dance, people jumped over it during a feast.” (p.45)

Another type of hearth “has a rectangular form… and was made of closely adjusted rectangular stone slabs inserted into the ground on their narrow ends. Such hearths were found in the centre of a house, kept clean, and it is likely that they had a ritual function… This type of hearth corresponded to the early Indian special cult hearth āhavanīya…” (p.45) As she notes, round and rectangular hearths had different functions among the Indo-Europeans. Thus, in Rome, round hearths were sacred to the goddess Vesta, rectangular (including square) ones to male deities.

This could be coincidence, for there are only that many ways of making a fireplace, and it may have been by coincidence that Indo-Iranians and Andronovans hit upon the same design. But let us assume a genealogical relationship: either the Andronovan hearth became the Vedic one, as Kuzmina assumes, or vice-versa. Then everything depends on the chronology. South-Asians may have left their homes and taken the fireplace design with them to Central Asia, where from 2000 BCE they participated in the Andronovo culture.

This, of course, presupposes that an “Aryan emigration from India” took place at the very least 500 years before the AIT posits its own Aryan invasion of India. Indeed, this would fit what Shrikant Talageri says in his The Rigveda and the Avesta, a Final Analysis: the proto-Mitanni/Kassite Indo-Aryans left India ca. 2000 BCE (for West Asia, but some of them may have branched off to Central Asia), the Iranians even earlier.

Indians and Iranians

Though Indo-Aryan and Iranian, together with Dardic, are usually reckoned as branches of a single linguistic group, there is evidence for a conflict between an Indo-Aryan and an Iranian population connected with the Vedic c.q. Avestan tradition: “H. Oldenberg showed that in spite of the genetic closeness of religious beliefs, the Vedas and Avesta differ considerably, and that in the Avesta many of the heroes play opposite roles to their counterparts in the Veda.” (p.183)

This starts at the level of the gods, where Indra is glorified in the Vedas and demonized in the Avesta. Rjashva, the Vedic king in the Varshagira battle, is glorified in the Rg-Veda, but demonized in the Avesta. And yet, except for Shrikant Talageri, no one has drawn the logical conclusion: that Indians and Iranians waged a war against one another, in which one side’s heroes were the other side’s villains.

They fought even though they were linguistically and religiously very close. That is one thing most Western or Western-trained scholars miss out on in their study of Vedic conflicts: the battles are not between the very different cultures of an invader group and the natives, they are between different groups of “Aryans”. Even in the Aryan Invasion paradigm, where Indo-Aryans and Iranians are like colonizers of adjoining territories after penetrating south of Bactria, this should have been thought of.

Just compare with the colonial wars: the English against the Spanish on the high seas (pirates), the French against the English in Canada, the Dutch against the Portuguese in Sri Lanka, the English against the Dutch Boers in South Africa: after the initial conquest, subsequent conflicts were between different groups of conquerors. So it didn’t even take the Out-of-India Theory to see that the Vedic Aryans were not fighting the “black aboriginals” in the Battle of the Ten Kings, but their own proto-Avestan cousins.

In mapping the connections between Indo-Aryans and Iranians, her grasp of social and family relations and how these are different between the two groups, is a bit hazy and ultimately incorrect: “Kinsmen marry each other among modern Iranian peoples (…) This could be attributed to the caste system in India when marriage was within a caste without taking into account kinship affiliation.” (p.195) Good try, but this analysis from a distance obscures the thorough difference between the Iranian and Indian family structures.

She is definitely mistaken in linking cousin marriage with the caste system. Iranian cousin marriage probably predated the caste system. Even in the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), the invasion predated and occasioned the genesis of the caste system, which took place in India, where the Iranians never set foot. Indian sources too indicate that caste endogamy (not even cousin marriage) was only gradually formed, and that initially caste was passed on only in the paternal line, regardless of the mother’s provenance.

The Brahmin law books prohibited cousin marriage and enacted what the Catholic Church was to call “forbidden degrees of consanguinity”. This prohibition happens to make biological sense too, for a population with frequent cousin marriages produces more handicapped or malformed children (as can be seen by a comparison between native Britons and the worse-afflicted British-Pakistani community, where cousin marriages often form the majority). So, Iranian cousin-marriage can safely be disconnected from Indian caste endogamy.

That was just to illustrate how her knowledge of the Indo-Iranian cultures she is dealing with, is not as good as her undoubtedly first-class knowledge of Andronovo archaeology. That is not an argument in itself, but it is good to keep in mind before accepting her correlation between scripturally attested cultures and archaeology.

One difference is the Iranian predilection for sheep, partly replacing the central place of cattle among the Vedic people: “An ancient term for ‘cattle’ was recorded in the Avesta and was later attributed to ‘sheep’ in the Iranian languages; Yima’s sacrifice of cattle (Yasna 32:8) was replaced by a sheep sacrifice. These facts indicate that the rise of sheep-raising in Iranian society occurred after the collapse of Indo-Iranian unity.” (p.158)

These facts, including their chronological order, are not explained by any Central-Asian development, but fit Shrikant Talageri’s Out-of-India scenario precisely. The first Indo-Aryans and Iranians were neighbours in Northwest India; they developed a conflict in which the Vedic people were victorious while the Iranian regrouped in a territory where some of them had already migrated: Afghanistan. In this mountainous territory, sheep flourished much better than cattle, and therefore became the centre of the Iranian economy.

Indo-Aryan Fedorovo culture

Within the Andronovo horizon, one culture stands out as especially related to the Vedic culture of the Indo-Aryans: the Fedorovo culture. While she finds plenty of Iranian toponyms, many probably stemming from the later Scythian period (1st mill. BCE, as far west as Ukraine), yet “part of the Andronovo toponyms can only be interpreted as Indo-Aryan”. Moreover, ”the Indo-Iranian toponyms of the pre-Scythian period have been found on the territory populated by the Fedorovo tribes”.

Let us assume, with the author, that the Fedorovo culture is Indo-Aryan; though mixed in its classical habitat on the eastern slopes of the Urals with Ugrian, the Uralic branch that was to spawn Hungarian. It flourished around 1700 BC, just in time to reach India for an invasion ca. 1500. That looks neat and surely AIT believers will seize upon it as supporting their invasion scenario.

But then, Kuzmina herself provides material reasons for inverting this northwest-to-southeast scenario:“The hypothesis of an origin of the Fedorovo type in the Urals has been disputed. The sources for Fedorovo ceramic technology and triangular ornamentation are found in the Eneolithic of central and eastern Kazakhstan.” (p.201)

Worse, even eastern Kazakhstan and beyond: “Federovo monuments are discovered not only in the Urals, but also in the south of Central Asia and Afghanistan, where Ugrians have never lived.” (p.201) Moreover, elsewhere she designates central Kazakhstan as the Fedorovo heartland: “The further one moves from central Kazakhstan, the frequency of the complex diminishes and substratum elements increase”. (p.24)

It won’t take any special pleading to have the Fedorovans migrate from Bactria to the Urals instead. At best we could agree that at present, the distribution of Fedorovo findings across Central Asia can be interpreted in more ways than just the Urals-to-Bactria scenario. Moreover, any movement understood as going to Bactria, is never traced as going beyond it, entering India. Here too, we notice a disappointment for those who expected an underpinning for AIT-compliant migrations from the Andronovo data.
Aryan Invasion

When it comes to the AIT, we note that Elena Kuzmina totally relies on an outdated and certainly wrong racial account: “In the Rigveda light skin alongside language is the main feature of the Aryans, differentiating them from the aboriginal Dāsa-Dasyu population, who were a dark-skinned, small people speaking another language and who did not believe in the Vedic gods.” (p.172) This is strictly separate from her archaeological findings, but it strongly colours her interpretation of those findings in favour of a northwest-to-southeast migration. It is mostly based on the usual reading of the Vedic references to the Battle of the Ten Kings, which is in fact not against any dark aboriginals but against the Iranians.

In her view, three stages are discernible in the movement from Andronovo into India.

Stage 1 takes place in the 20th-17th century BCE. Material culture, including “a cult of the horse” moves from the eastern slopes of the Urals to Central Asia, but: “There is no evidence that they reached India.”(p.452) She naturally rejects whatever might still remain of a belief in the invaders’ violent destruction of the Harappan cities.

More to the northwest, on the Amu Darya near the Aral Lake, “the newcomers were not numerous, but they employed horses and chariots and established elite dominance and adopted the culture of the BMAC.” (p.452, Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex) So what she has actually found, is the cultural elements of BMAC near the Aral Lake. This means the BMAC was expanding northward, precisely what you would expect if you assume the Iranians first settled in Bactria and then expanded into Kazakhstan and onwards to the Urals. We will meet a later movement from Bactria to the west, but this movement took place several times, including in ca. 2000 BCE.

Then she jumps to India, without positing any causal link with any Andronovo development, and quotes G. Possehl to the effect that “the way of life essentially changed in India in this period” (453): urban culture became a village culture, luxuries and international trade disappeared, but means of transport, types of pottery and procedures of house-building continued. “So the opinion of the Indian scholars, who emphasize the conservation of the Harappan traditions in the culture of the subsequent periods is quite correct.” (p.453)

Stage 2 is situated in the 16th-14th century BCE. All kinds of movements take place north of (or at most, in the north of) present-day Afghanistan, such as the Timber Grave culture mixing with the Andronovo culture around Samarkand, far away from India. No sign, apparently, of an invasion of Andronovans into India, confirming the non-discovery of Andronovan elements by Indian archaeologists. Yet, this is precisely the age of the supposed Aryan invasion, that AIT believers go around declaring to have been confirmed by Kuzmina’s research.

This is when the “Fedorovan tribes reached the Amu Darya… And actively interacted with the bearers of the farming Bactria-Margiana culture.” (453) We note “the penetration of the Andronovo population in the BMAC and the probable subjugation of the indigenous population” (454), the “synthesis of the Andronovo Fedorovo culture and BMAC” (454). Fine, but none of that amounts to an invasion of India.

Stage 3 really comes too late for the Aryan invasion of India: 13th-9th century BC. It was “caused by the cultural transformation of the Eurasian steppes as a result of internal development and ecological crises”. (p.454) That is richly vague, but it has no effect anymore on a putative invasion of India around 1500 BCE.

A migration that is identified, however, is east-to-west: “a part of of the Timber-grave tribes moved [from Uzbekistan or even the Amu Darya basin] to the North Caucasus because of the crisis; they had already begun appearing and settling in the Caucasus at an earlier time”. (p.454) This must be the Scythian migration, which only added to the already existing Iranian presence near and beyond the Urals. 

Intermittently, groups of Iranians must have moved from Bactria to the Urals and even to Ukraine for more than a thousand years. (One of the later migrating tribes were apparently the Hrvat, now known as the Croats. Before migrating west and adopting the Slavic language of the Serbs, they belonged to the Harahvaita tribe in Afghanistan mentioned as tribute-payers to the Persian empire in an Achaemenid document.)

It is important here that we can recognize a historically known migration, viz. from Bactria westwards. This means that archaeology, though uncertain and vague, is nonetheless relevant for history. That makes the archaeological silence on another supposed historical development, viz. the Aryan invasion of India, all the more significant.

We have nothing to add to the wealth of archaeological data on the Andronovo culture that Elena Kuzmina provides. Her interpretative framework, however, is flawed and limited by the rather dated presuppositions about the Homeland and the invasion of India. Moreover, a culture beginning in 2000 BCE comes a bit late to stage an Aryan invasion, especially given the many indications that the concomitant chronology of ancient Indian literature is late.

Things would be more challenging, if we had been shown a rootedness of the Andronovo culture in preceding cultures, thousands of years older.

In that case, it would be difficult to deduce those earlier cultures from an emigration from India, and the case for an intrusion from a non-Indian Homeland would be that much stronger. Perhaps this was not the object of her book, and another archaeologist might be able to trace Andronovo to earlier cultures, to the exclusion of Indian influences. There are many might-have-beens in the Homeland debate, but this deeper non-Indian genealogy of cultures has at any rate not been offered in this book. Nor, to our knowledge, anywhere else. If it had been, it would be mustered by interested parties all the time.

While this is undoubtedly an important book, and as far as I can judge, it is a classic of Andronovo archaeology, but it fails in its primary mission: to show that this culture was the staging-ground for an Aryan invasion of Iran and India. It only assumes that much, but doesn’t demonstrate it.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Article from the exceptional website -

Greece to Cambodia: Our Neighbours

Map: Greece to Cambodia: Our Neighbours

Authorship and Copyright Notice: All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula
First let us attempt to understand the European angle on Indian History.
Geography: In the map below, I want us to look at the land route from Greece to India, through Istanbul, Turkiye (Turkey), Persia (Iran, Iraq), Gandhar (Afganisthan), Kekeya (Pakisthan)., or Arabia and the Indian Ocean. The British could have heard about us only through the Europeans, who could have only heard of us through the Persians and the Arabians. They had no real direct idea about us. The Spanish being the ‘western most’ Europeans, hoped they could find a sea route to India via the Atlantic Ocean, because they underestimated the size of the earth and they wanted to be free of Arab control. The ‘Mediterranean Sea Religions’ Jews (Judaism – 1500 BC), Christianity (0 BC),  and the “Red Sea Religion” Islam (600 AD) are all from the west coast of ancient Arabia. (The Mediterranean coast belongs to Israel now, I want us to focus on geography for a bit and not the political boundaries.)
Why Europeans know Egypt:
  • The Mediterranean sea closely connects the South of Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Greece etc) to the North of Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt). It is no surprise that the Europeans are aware of Egypt and accept its antiquity.
  • The Jews left Egypt around 1500 BC and Jesus is said to have lived there with his parents till King Herod died. So they were familiar with Egypt.
Alexander, Seleucus, Megasthanes : The first Greek Contact
  • There is evidence from non Greek sources, that Alexander defeated a weakened Persia and Egypt. See Map:
  • Alexander the Greek did not cross The Sindhu River and the Hindu Kush mountain range in modern Pakisthan.
  • Plutarch collected Oral Legends much after Alexander’s death and wrote the biography of Alexander.
  • There are only legends concerning his battle with Porus (Puru) of Kekeya (Pakisthan) with both sides claiming victory. Whoever won, it is clear that Puru not only retained his kingdom but also got a piece of Taxila, which allied with Alexander. Is it because Alexander lost the battle OR because the man who slaughtered his own mercenaries after the battle was all of a sudden generous in victory, unlike in Persia and Egypt?
  • Either way Alexander went back, and his general Seleucus lost another battle before concluding a treaty with Sandrokottus.
  • Alexander tooks some Brahmans back with him and some account of these conversations you can find here.
The net effect of this is that to Europeans, India became “real” only after Alexander. Since they believe only their legends and not ours, they dismiss everything before Alexander as mythical with the single exception of Buddha’s birth. Which is a pity! Annoying but a pity nevertheless. The real pain is our Macaulay affected mainstream historians to whom anything that the Europeans say is gospel and anything that Indians say is a myth.😦  :(  :(
Now let us take a look at  Africa.
Somalia being the eastern-most African country and being closest to us is additionally interesting because Ravana’s maternal grandfather’s name was Sumali. The sea route from Somalia to Kerala and Sri Lanka is practically on the same latitude. The presence of Meru mountains in Africa as well as Murugan as a deity there are points of interest.
And now let us take a look at  Arabia.
Sur (Oman) is the closest point to India on almost the same latitude as a direct sea route toDwaraka from Arabia.
Let us come back to our eastern neighbours again at a later time.

Opioid Painkillers Raise Deadly Heart Risks for Some

Opioid Painkillers Raise Deadly Heart Risks for Some: StudyMuch of the risk for early death was related to cardiovascular complications, not overdoses

TUESDAY, June 14, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- While the dangers of overdose among patients prescribed powerful opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and fentanyl are well known, a new study found unexpected heart risks with the medications.

Patients who had just been prescribed an opioid painkiller had a 64 percent higher risk of early death when compared to patients who were given an alternative pain medication. But much of that increased risk was related to the onset of breathing difficulties during sleep, followed by heart rhythm irregularities and other cardiovascular complications.

"We were not surprised by the increased risk for overdose deaths, which is well known," noted study author Wayne Ray, from the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

"However, the large increase in cardiovascular death risk is a novel finding," Ray said. "[And] it suggests being even more cautious with opioids for patients who are at high cardiovascular risk, such as those who have had a heart attack or have diabetes."

In the study, the team analyzed data collected between 1999 and 2012 on nearly 23,000 patients, average age 48, who had just been prescribed a long-acting opioid medication. The researchers compared that to data on an equal number of patients who had been given an alternate pain medication.

The alternate medications included anticonvulsants such as Neurontin (gabapentin), Lyrica (pregabalin) and Tegretol (carbamazepine) and low-dose antidepressants. Anticonvulsants are used to control seizures, bipolar disorder and/or nerve pain.

During an average tracking period of about four to six months, there were 185 deaths in the opioid group versus 87 deaths in the alternate medication group.

In all, the opioid group was found to face a 64 percent increased risk of death due to any reason, the team found.

But the opioid patients also faced a 65 percent increased risk of death specifically related to new heart complications, the findings showed.

The study authors concluded that alternate pain medications should be favored over long-acting opioids whenever possible, particularly for those patients who have a history of heart disease, heart attack or diabetes.

"Our opinion, which is consistent with the recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is that opioids should be used as a last resort," said Ray. "The best way to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks is through a careful practitioner-patient discussion."

Dr. Joseph Frank is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He cautioned that while "we have learned a great deal about the risks of opioid medications in recent years, [we] still have a long way to go."

And, he added, "There may be patients for whom the improvement in function due to opioids outweighs the modest risk found in this study, but this balance is often challenging to assess and communicate to patients, particularly in busy primary care settings."

Frank, who is also a general internist at the VA Medical Center in Denver, agreed that non-opioid pain treatment is preferable when possible.

But since the study focused exclusively on the risks faced by first-time opioid users, he stressed the need for more research to assess the risks faced by those trying to kick a long-term opioid habit, "as this transition can be very difficult, and may actually increase risk of some adverse events for some patients."

Ray and his team published their findings June 14 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

SOURCES: Wayne Ray, Ph.D., department of health policy, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.; Joseph Frank, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, medicine, division of general internal medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, and general internist, VA Medical Center, Denver; June 14, 2016, Journal of the American Medical Association
Copyright (c) 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Indian govt is going to be a 'great ally': U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan

Indian govt is going to be a 'great ally': U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan

Ryan said they have better security cooperation with India and this needs to nurture for world development
Press Trust of India | Washington June 11, 2016 Last Updated at 22:26 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) meets with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), before addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber in Capitol Hill, Washington

The Indian government is going to be America's "great ally" and there is a need to nurture this relationship, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan has said.

In a major foreign policy speech here in which he was highly critical of President Barack Obama's policies, the US-India relationship was the only aspect of it which was appreciated by Ryan.

"I think you need, and in particular, specifically under Modi's leadership, and he and I have discussed this at great length yesterday, (US-India) have a great potential for the future particularly with the seas, in the Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, making sure that we help police the global commons and international order, namely China building, you know, runways on islands in contested areas," Ryan said.

He said this in the speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress at his invitation.

Modi was the first foreign leader to be invited to address a joint sitting of the Congress under Ryan's speakership.

On Wednesday, Modi and Ryan had a one-on-one interaction before the Prime Minister's address. Ryan also hosted a lunch for the visiting leader.

A day later, Ryan was all in praise for Modi.

"I think the Indian (government), the new Indian government, is going to be a great ally of ours and we have better security cooperation with them. That's one thing that we need to nurture and grow," Ryan told the audience at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think tank.

"And those of us who are fans of Modi, you know, he's a conservative who wants, who embraces free enterprise. He's bringing needed reform to the country," Ryan said, according to the remarks released by his office.

"That's the kind of an alliance that we need to forge and build upon. That stands in stark contrast, I would argue, to the Obama foreign policy of the last eight years where we have neglected our allies and we have basically rewarded our enemies, our adversaries," said the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Except for his comments on India, Ryan slammed Obama's foreign policy.

"We know that this new Obama foreign policy concept, leading from behind, can now be declared an unambiguous failure. It is making us unprepared. It is reducing our military capability and strength," he alleged.

"It is confusing our allies and incentivising our adversaries. And all that does is tempt fate. So we are saying we've got to reset our system. We've got to restructure and reaffirm our foreign policy, in particular our military policy if we want to prevent these problems on the horizon from getting out of control," Ryan said.

In response to a question, he said Modi's address to the joint session of the Congress was a great day.

"So we just heard the prime minister of India at the Capitol Hill yesterday. It was a great day. He spoke before Congress and it was a great moment for the growing friendship between our two countries. The main reason I think this moment was so notable is that nowadays it's so rare," Ryan said referring to the bipartisan support that India-US relationship enjoys in the Congress.

"On the past seven years, our friendships have frayed. Our rivalries have intensified. It's not too much to say that our enemies no longer fear us and too many of our allies no longer trust us," he said.

In the Republican document on foreign policy and national security released by Ryan, the party said India and the US working together for betterment of the world.

"We must also embrace emerging partners that could help keep the peace in their region and beyond," the document said.

"India, the world's largest democracy, shares common interests with the world's oldest democracy, the United States and we must build upon that foundation to work together in shaping world events," it said.

As part of its objective of advancing American interest, the 25-page document calls for "deepening relations" with emerging powers like India.

The foreign policy document released by Ryan is also critical of the Pakistan policy of the Obama Administration.

The Obama administration failed to prioritise economic growth in its approach to foreign aid and development, preferring high-profile "presidential initiatives" and short-term responses such as loan guarantees and enterprise funds, it said.

"In places like Pakistan, the administration has made major investments in infrastructure but failed to accomplish the reforms necessary to create a positive environment for economic growth. Without reform, these initiatives will do little to improve livelihoods," the policy paper said.

Monday, 13 June 2016

A timeline of tragedies through Obama speeches

A timeline of tragedies through Obama speeches

By Leon Neyfakh,
Sunday, June 12, 2016 5:43pm

To revisit the record of every other mass shooting that President Barack Obama has had to publicly address since taking office in 2009 is to realize how many of these horrific events most of us don't even think about anymore. On Sunday, as the country began to process and react to the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the president offered the latest entry in what has become an unfathomably large canon of speeches and statements about mass murder. "We as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, horrific massacre, of dozens of innocent people," Obama said. "We pray for their families who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city."

Soon, this brief speech will take its place in the history alongside all the others. It's worth looking back at the opening lines of 15 others that will keep it company.

1. "Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the act of senseless violence in Binghamton, New York, today." (April 3, 2009)

2. "I had planned to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for Native Americans, as well as collaboration with our administration, but as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. We don't yet know all the details at this moment; we will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence." (November 5, 2009)

3. "As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims. She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life." (January 8, 2011)

4. "I know many of you came here today for a campaign event. I was looking forward to having a fun conversation with you about some really important matters that we face as a country and the differences between myself and my opponent in this election. But this morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family. By now, many of you know, many of you have heard that a few miles outside of Denver in a town call Aurora, at least 12 people were killed when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater, and dozens more are being treated for injuries at a local hospital. Some of the victims are being treated at a children's hospital." (July 20, 2012)

5. "Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded." (August 5, 2012)

6. "We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children —beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today — for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost." (December 14, 2012)

7. "Before I begin, let me say a few words about the tragedy that's unfolding not far away from here, at the Washington Navy Yard. That's part of why our event today was delayed. I've been briefed by my team on the situation. We still don't know all the facts. But we do know that several people have been shot, and some have been killed. So we are confronting yet another mass shooting. And today it happened on a military installation in our nation's capital. It's a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, going their job protecting all of us. They're patriots. And they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home." (September 16, 2013)

8. "Hello, everybody. I just got off the phone with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sandy Winnefeld to get the latest report on the situation in Fort Hood. Obviously we're following it closely. The situation is fluid right now. But my national security team is in close contact with not just the Defense Department but the FBI. They are working with folks on the ground to determine exactly what happened to make sure that everybody is secure. And I want to just assure all of us that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. Any shooting is troubling. Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago." (April 2, 2014)

9. "As I was preparing my remarks, something intervened yesterday. And so I want to just devote a few words about yesterday's tragedy in Kansas. This morning our prayers are with the people of Overland Park. And we're still learning the details, but this much we know. A gunman opened fire at two Jewish facilities — a community center and a retirement home. Innocent people were killed. Their families were devastated. And this violence has struck the heart of the Jewish community in Kansas City." (April 14, 2014)

10. "We're the only developed country on Earth where this happens. ... And it happens now once a week. And it's a one-day story. There's no place else like this." (June 10, 2014)

11. "Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated. No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims' loved ones." (February 13, 2015)

12. "Good afternoon, everybody. This morning, I spoke with, and Vice President Biden spoke with, Mayor Joe Riley and other leaders of Charleston to express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night. Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church. We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night. And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn't say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel. Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship." (June 18, 2015)

13. "I just received a briefing from FBI Director Comey, as well as my White House team, about the tragic shooting that took place in Chattanooga today. We don't know yet all the details. We know that what appears to be a lone gunman carried out these attacks. We've identified a name. And at this point, a full investigation is taking place. The FBI will be in the lead, working closely with local law enforcement." (July 16, 2015)

14. "There's been another mass shooting in America — this time, in a community college in Oregon. That means there are more American families — moms, dads, children — whose lives have been changed forever. That means there's another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children." (October 1, 2015)

15. "Yesterday, a tragedy occurred in San Bernardino, and as I said in the immediate aftermath, our first order of business is to send our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have been killed and to pray for a speedy recovery for those who were injured during this terrible attack. (December 3, 2015)

A timeline of tragedies through Obama speeches 06/12/16 [Last modified: Sunday, June 12, 2016 6:12pm] 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Karnataka government is spending crores of rupees on Churches

How Karnataka government is spending crores of rupees on Churches: A Report from

The Karnataka state government has been spending crores of rupees for the support and expansion of Christianity, including the renovation of existing churches and construction of new Christian community halls, according to the information provided by the government in response to recent RTI queries.

The preamble of the Indian Constitution claims that India is a “secular” state. The definition of secularism is, literally, the separation of Church and state. The State shall not interfere in religious matters, nor would it fund religion.

Indian secularism, has, perversely been defined as its exact opposite. The state has no qualms in interfering in Hindu practices. It is equally has no problems in liberally funding the Church.

Even in a dominant Christian country like the US, the government funding for church construction, repair, or renovation would be considered illegal. Funding for a “minority” religious institution would be both illegal and unheard of. Yet, in India, which avows its “secularism” state governments unabashedly fund the renovation of churches.

In this IndiaFacts exclusive, we document the funding of Churches by the Karnataka government based on detailed RTI documents. The Karnataka state government has been spending crores of rupees for the support and expansion of Christianity, including the renovation of existing churches and construction of new Christian community halls. In contrast the Karnataka government confiscates crores of donations made at Hindu temples, using only a small fraction of it for temple maintenance. This is nothing other than State support for one religion while working to destroy another, the very antithesis of a secular state.
What the RTIs asked

Four RTI’s were filed on 26 March 2016 making four specific queries with respect to the Government Order- MWD.318MDS2011 dated 16/01/2012, and regarding the funding of Churches from the Minorities Department of the Karnataka state government. The RTI queries (as shown in Image 1 attached below) were as follows:

Image 1: Copies of four RTI queries filed with Minorities Department, Karnataka
What is the year-wise funds provided by the government of Karnataka for the repair/renovation/development of existing churches?
What are the details (name, address, etc.) of the various Christian minority organizations/churches/entities/associations that have received funds from the government of Karnataka for the repair/renovation/development of existing churches?
What is the year-wise funds provided by the government of Karnataka for the construction of new churches?
What are the details (name, address, etc.) of the various Christian minority organizations/churches/entities/associations that have received funds from the government of Karnataka for the construction of new churches?
What the Government responded

In response to the four RTI queries, the government furnished documents regarding:
The amount of government funding given towards repair and renovation of the existing churches during the years- 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16, along with details of the churches and Christian organizations that received the funding.
The amount of government funding given towards construction of new ‘Samudaya Bhavana’ (Community Halls) for the Christian community during the years 2013-14 and 2014-15, along with Christian organizations that received the funding.
The document of the Government Order- MWD.318MDS2011

The government response did not contain any documents regarding either renovation of existing churches or construction of new Samudaya Bhavana for the year 2012-13. Also, funding details for the construction of Samudaya Bhavana for the year 2015-16 is missing from the RTI replies, though it is available at the Directorate of Minorities website here.
What the Government Order(s) say

The government order (GO)- MWD.318MDS2011 dated 16/01/2012 says that the government will provide financial assistance for the repair and renovation of existing churches in Karnataka in order to encourage the minority Christian community of the state. (The order can be accessed here) The money will be given for the repair and renovation of existing Churches, and for the construction of compound walls around the existing Churches.

According to the order, only registered churches can apply for government assistance in proper format, along with an estimate amount required and the state government will decide the final amount to be given in assistance. The GO clearly says that the state government should not give funding to churches, which have not registered either under Indian Trusts Act, or under Karnataka Society Registration Act; whose documents have been falsified, or whose activities are suspicious, and whose members have spent the government funding on purposes different than for which the funding was given.

Further, the GO says that the church must finish its renovation and repair work within six months of receiving the money and only under special cases it can be extended up to one year (and in few exceptional cases, beyond one year). The government is supposed to give money in two installments, thesecond installment being given only after an inspection and approval of the progress of the renovation work. Further, the government may conduct an inspection of financial documents and other activities of the churches and in case any church is diverting the money for other activities, then they are liable to return the entire amount back to the state government.

It is important to note that this GO speaks only about the repair and renovation of the existing churches (along with construction of compound walls around existing churches) and does not make any reference to the construction of the new churches or other Christian community buildings. The reference to the latter can be found in another Government Order- asamkaE.70MDS2011, dated 19/09/2011.

This GO- asamkaE.70MDS2011, is actually the foundational government order based on which the GO- MWD.318MDS2011 for repair and renovation of existing churches was issued in 2015. This GO-asamkaE.70MDS2011, also forms the basis for another government order GO- MWD.351MDS2014issued on 25/02/2015.

According to GO- asamkaE.70MDS2011 (which can be accessed here), the GO was issued after the then state government decided (i.e. 2011) to spend 50 crore rupees for the welfare of the Christian community. The amount was stipulated to be spent on the Construction of Community Halls, Repairs and Renovation of Churches, providing basic necessities to orphanages, old age homes, providing various trainings under Skill Development Programmes, providing scholarships and incentives to Christian students through the Directorate of Minorities, etc. Out of the stipulated 50 crore rupees, 10 crores was set aside for construction of new Samudaya Bhavana (community halls) for the Christian community and 5 crores was set aside for repair and renovation of existing churches. The GO stipulates that the amount given in each case, be it the construction of a community hall or renovation of an existing church,should not exceed 10 lakh rupees and any excess amount required by the churches for the said purpose should be arranged by them on their own.

It is to be noted that GO- asamkaE.70MDS2011– dated 19/09/2011 placed a restriction on the maximum amount (=10 lakhs) that could be given to a particular activity (be it construction of a community hall or renovation of an existing church) by any church or Christian organization. But, this restriction was modified with respect to the repair and renovation of existing churches through a new GO-MWD.351MDS2014 dated 25/02/2015.

According to this new GO-MWD.351MDS2014 (which can be accessed here), the financial assistance given the repair and renovation of the existing churches will depend on the age of the existing churchand amount given may go up to 50 lakh per church. The new GO stipulates that for heritage churches, which are older than 50 years, the amount of government assistance will 90% of the renovation cost or 50 lakhs, whichever is lower. For churches, whose age is between 25 and 50, the government assistance will be 30 lakhs or 75% of the total cost, whichever is lower. For churches between 10 and 25 years age, government funding will be 20 lakhs or 50% of the total cost, whichever is lower and for churches, which are less than 10 years old, assistance will be 10 lakhs.
Funding during 2013-14

During 2013-14, the state government gave 12.30 crores for 134 existing churches spread across 26 districts for the purpose of repair and renovation. Similarly, it gave 6.72 crores for the construction of30 Samudaya Bhavana spread across 11 districts. (See Image 2 & 3 below)

Image 2: Copy of the document showing government funding for repair and renovation of existing churches for the year 2013-14. (Document furnished in response to RTI query)

From the funds allotted for the purpose of repair and renovation of the existing churches, most of the Churches received 10 lakhs rupees each, which was also the largest amount received by a church for repair. Among the 26 districts that received the money, three districts received more than one crore rupees each: Bengaluru Urban (100 lakhs), Bidar (130 lakhs), and Dakshina Kannada (177.5 lakhs).Chamarajanagara and Yadagiri received 99.5 lakhs and 96.1 lakhs respectively. Districts like Kolar, Shimoga, Chikkamagalur, and Belagavi received 78 lakhs, 52 lakhs, 58.5 lakhs, and 36 lakhs, respectively. Few like Mysuru, Bengaluru rural, Bagalakote, and Chitradurga received 10 lakhs rupees each.

Image 3: Copy of the document showing government funding for construction of Samudaya Bhavana for the Christian community for the year 2013-14. (Document furnished in response to RTI query)

Out of the 30 organizations that received the funds for the purpose of construction of Samudaya Bhavana for the Christian community, three organizations, namely, NM Memorial Education Society, St. John Minority Education Society, and J John Memorial Minority Education Society & Rural Upliftment Development Samiti, received 50 lakhs each. Sixteen organizations received 25 lakhs each. Among all the 11 districts, Bidar district alone received 4.5 crores, i.e. around 67% of the total amount allotted for the construction of new community halls.

Thus, the Karnataka state government spent a total of 19.02 crores on renovation of existing churches and construction of new Christian community halls during the year 2013-14.
Funding during 2014-15

During 2014-15, the state government gave 16.56 crores for 125 existing churches spread across 30 districts for the purpose of repair and renovation. Similarly, it gave 14.98 crores for the construction of55 Samudaya Bhavana spread across 14 districts. (See Image 4 & 5 below)

Image 4: Copy of the document showing government funding for repair and renovation of existing churches for the year 2014-15. (Document furnished in response to RTI query)

From the funds allotted for the purpose of repair and renovation of the existing churches, most of the Churches received 10 lakhs rupees each. The largest amount received by a single church at a single location for renovation was 50 lakhs, which was received by two churches: Our lady of Holy Rosary Cathedral Church of Haige Bazar, Mangalore and Kapuchin Prayers Minor Society, in Jail road, Mangalore. Few other churches that received large amounts were: Immaculate Connection Church in Mangalore (44.05 lakhs), Saint Paul’s Church in Harihara (36.9 lakhs), Anta Albone Church in Puttur (29.5 lakhs), Saint Paul’s Church in Hosapete (30 lakhs), and Sechit Paul Methodist Church in Bidar (25 lakhs). But, it was the Seventh Adventist Church, which has 28 churches spread across the Bidar district, which received the largest funding from the Government: 280 Lakhs (10 Lakhs for each of its 28 churches).

Among the 30 districts that received the money for renovation, Dakshina Kannada district received the highest: 4.6 crores, followed by Bidar district, which received 3.95 crores. In the 4.6 crores received by the Dakshina Kannada district, the RTI document does not furnish any details, including the name and location of the church on two counts: One church, which was given 100 lakhs funding and another church, which was given 25 lakhs funding. Thus, it cannot be known where, how, and by whom these 125 lakhs have been spent. Other districts like Bengaluru (Urban), Udupi, and Shimoga received 94.25 lakhs, 74.25 lakhs, and 59.75 lakhs, respectively. Chamarajanagar and Chikkamagalur, both received 70 lakhs each.

Image 5: Copy of the document showing government funding for construction of Samudaya Bhavana for the Christian community for the year 2014-15. (Document furnished in response to RTI query)

Now, coming to the government funding given for the construction of Samudaya Bhavanas for the Christian community, out of the 55 organizations that received the funds, six organizations, namely, Santoma Paris Trust, Bengaluru, Saint Mary Church Trust, Bengaluru, Saint Sebastian Charitable Society, Bengaluru, J John Memorial Minority Education society & Rural Upliftment Development Samiti, Bidar, St. Mary’s Church, Bagalkote, and Mission Compound, UBMC Trust Association, Udupi, have received 50 lakhs rupees each. Other high amount receiving organizations include: Karnataka Maranatha Pentecost, Halasuru (49.36 lakhs), The Early Apo Saulic Mission India Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Halasuru (47.14 lakhs), Ammana Church, Amana Ministries, Bengaluru (41.65 lakhs), Eminarva Mizbah Ministries, Bengaluru (38.54 lakhs) and Kanghartara Ministry Trust, Gulbarga (30 lakhs). Also, Twenty-Nineorganizations received 25 lakhs each. Among the 14 districts that received the government funding for constructing Samudaya Bhavana, highest funding was given to Bengaluru (Urban): 4.45 crores, followed by Bidar: 4.16 crores and Gulbarga: 1.77 crores.

Thus, the Karnataka government spent a total of 31.55 crores rupees on renovation of existing churches and construction of new Christian community halls, during the year 2014-15. This amount was 65.9%more than what was spent during the year 2013-14. Bengaluru (U), Bidar, and Dakshina Kannada remained the highest funded districts during 2014-15 as well.
Funding during 2015-16

The government RTI response for the year 2015-16 provided only information regarding the funding of the repair and renovation of the existing Churches. According to the response, the government spent 14.84 crore rupees on 76 existing churches spread across 20 districts during 2015-16. (See Image 6 below)

Image 6: Copy of the document showing government funding for repair and renovation of existing churches for the year 2015-16. (Document furnished in response to RTI query)

Six churches, namely, Christ the King Church, Bellary, St. Anthony Church, Chikkamagalur, Sechit Fanchis Xavier Church, Udupi, San Salvodora Church, Honnavara, Salvodor Church, Honnavara, and St. Franchis Xavier Church, Bhatkala, received 50 lakhs rupees each. St. Athony Church and St. Joseph Church in Dakshina Kannada district, both received 45 lakhs each. Among the 20 districts, Uttara Kannada received the highest: 3.01 crores, followed by Dakshina Kannada (2.57 crores), Raichur (1.3 crores), Chikkamagalur (1.1 crores), Udupi (1 crore), and Coorg (90.25 lakhs). Bengaluru (U) received 51.15 lakhs rupees.

Thus, according to the government response to the RTI queries, it spent only 14.84 crores on church infrastructure. But, as mentioned before, a perusal of the website of Directorate of Minorities, will lead one to the document regarding the government spending on the construction of Samudaya Bhavana for the year 2015-16. (The document can be accessed here)

According to this document, the government spent 13.15 crore rupees on the construction of Samudaya Bhavana during 2015-16. The amount was given to 42 organizations spread across 12 districts. Out of the total 42 organizations that received the money, 12 organizations received 50 lakhs, 5 organizationsreceived between 25 and 50 lakhs, 18 organizations received 25 lakhs, and the rest between 10 and 25 lakhs. The Swargarohana Maate Devalaya-UBMC Trust Association alone received a total amount of 75 lakhs– 50 lakhs for its center at Badagabettu, Udupi, and 25 lakhs for its center at Pandavapura, Mandya. Among the 12 districts, Bengaluru (Urban) received the highest money: 7.58 crores, which forms around57.6% of the total money spent on construction of Samudaya Bhavana. Bengaluru (U) is followed by Bidar (1.75 crores), Dakshina Kannada (1.24 crores), Chikkaballapura (1 crore), Kalaburgi (77.91 lakhs), and Chikkamagalur (70.55 lakhs) district.

Combining the spending on renovation of existing churches and on the construction of new Samudaya Bhavana, we get a total government spending for the year 2015-16 as 28 crore rupees. Though, this amount is slightly less than the total amount spent during 2014-15, it is still 47% increase compared to 2013-14 spending. Dakshina Kannada, Bidar, and Bengaluru (U) remained among the highest fundingreceiving districts. Uttara kannada, Raichur, and Chikkamagalur districts also received large amount.
Mismatch in Data for the year 2015-16

In the previous section, we saw that the government in its response to RTI query about the spending on renovation of existing churches during 2015-16, has said that it had spent 14.84 crore rupees for the said purpose. But, the documents published on the website of Directorate of Minorities, reveals that the spending on the renovation of existing churches during 2015-16 was actually 23.276 crores (The document can be accessed here).

Hence, there is a mismatch between the document furnished in response to RTI query and the document uploaded by the government on its website. It is not clear why there is a mismatch on two government documents on the same issue. The mismatch being due to clerical error is also highly unlikely, because the difference in amount is huge: 8.436 crores. It is possible that the document provided in response to RTI response is the latest one, but even then it does not explain why the government has not updated its website till now. Further, if one were to compare both the documents, one would notice, how funding given to districts like Bidar and Bengaluru (Rural) have been completely removed; Or how in eightout of 22 districts, half of the organizations in the order they appear in the document on Directorate of Minorities website is missing from the document furnished during RTI response.(See the Image 7 below).

Image 7: Document regarding government funding for repair and renovation of existing churches for the year 2015-16 extracted from the website of Directorate of Minorities. The organizations marked yellow are those missing from the document given in RTI response, but present in the Directorate of Minorities website.

It also appears unlikely that the funds given to these organizations were later withdrawn and hence are not visible in the RTI response document. This is unlikely, especially considering how the missing organizations appear in serial order under the various districts in the original document published at the government website. Further, IndiaFacts could not find any document regarding government declaration of any withdrawal of funds given to any Churches.

These points, raises serious questions regarding the authenticity of the RTI response by the government? Should one consider 14.84 crores furnished in RTI response as the actual spending on renovation of existing churches? Or should one consider 23.276 crores as the actual spending? Was there a foul play? Was the reduction of the amount in the RTI response deliberate? The state government needs to come up with a satisfactory response to these questions.
Steep increase in government funding within three years

We already saw above, how the yearly funding jumped from 19.02 crores in 2013-14 to 31.55 crores in 2014-15 and slightly dropped to 28 crores in 2015-16 and thus increasing 47% between 2013-14 and 2015-16. But, if we were to take 23.276 crores as the actual spending on renovation of existing churches during 2015-16, then the total spending for the year will become 36.426 crores. In other words, in 2015-16, there was an increase of 30% in spending compared to 2014-15 and an increase of 91% in spending compared to 2013-14.

Now, let’s consider spending on renovation of existing churches alone. It increased from 12.3 crores in 2013-14 to 16.56 crores in 2014-15 to 14.84 crores (as per RTI response) or 23.276 crores as per Directorate of Ministry’s website document). Therefore, there was an increase of 20.65% or 89% in the spending between 2013-14 and 2015-16 depending upon whether we consider RTI response or the Minorities department website document for 2015-16. In Uttara Kannada district, the spending increased from 32.5 lakhs and 33 lakhs in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively to a whopping amount 3.01 crores during 2015-16. Similarly, in Raichur district, the spending increased from 20.5 lakhs in 2013-14 to 1.3 crores (or 2.3 crores if document in government website for 2015-16 is taken into account). In Dakshina Kannada district, the spending increased from 1.77 crores during 2013-14 to 4.6 crores during 2014-15. It decreased to 2.57 crores (as per RTI response) or increased to 4.93 crores (as per document on government website). Similarly, spending in Bengaluru (U) increased from 1 crore to 1.27 crore (as per document on government website) or decreased to 51.15 lakhs (as per RTI response).

Now, coming to the spending on the construction of Samudaya Bhavana alone, the spending increased from 6.72 crores in 2013-14 to 14.98 crores in 2014-15 and then slightly decreased to 13.15 crores in 2015-16. In all, there was an increase of 95% in the spending within 3 years. In Bengaluru (U), the spending increased from 25 lakhs in 2013-14 to 4.45 crores next year to 7.58 crores in 2015-16. Similarly, spending in Dakshina Kannada district increased from 45 lakhs in 2013-14 to 1.24 crores in 2015-16. But, the spending reduced in Bidar district from 4.5 crores in 2013-14 to 1.75 crores in 2015-16.

Though, there has been a district-wise fluctuation in spending, the total spending on church renovation and construction of Christian community halls has almost doubled (91% increase) between 2013-14 and 2015-16. Further, the maximum amount given to an individual church for its renovation work was increased from 10 lakhs in 2013-14 to a maximum of 50 lakhs in 2014-15 and 2015-16. This increase should be seen in the context of the state government modifying the original GO- asamkaE.70MDS2011, which stipulated 10 lakhs as the maximum amount to be given to any church for renovations, by introducing a new GO-MWD.351MDS2014 during 2014-15, which determined the government assistance based on the age of the church that requires renovation and fixed a maximum amount of 50 lakhs.
Organizations that received funding under multiple heads

Apart from the steep increase in the funding of Churches by the state government, there are many instances, when the same Church and Christian organization has received funding on more than one occasion.

Take the Early Apostolic Mission India Church in Bengaluru, for example. They have received government funding every year since 2013-14. In 2013-14, they were given 10 lakhs for renovation. They have been given 47.14 lakhs for the construction of Samudaya Bhavana in 2014-15 as well as in 2015-16. 

Similarly, Bethel Full Gospel Church, in Kadur, Chikkamagalur district, received funding for its renovation, both in 2013-14 (6 lakhs) and 2014-15 (10 lakhs). St. Franchis of Azizi Church in Kallattipura, Tarikere Taluk in Chikkamagalur district, also received government funding for the construction of Samudaya Bhavana, both in 2013-14 (11.5 lakhs) and 2014-15 (11.5 lakhs). Another example is Paris Society in KR Nagara, Mysore District. They received 20.6 lakhs in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 for the construction of Samudaya Bhavana.

Here is a table analyzing the funding pattern of the three districts: Bengaluru (U), Bidar, and Dakshina Kannada, which are among the highest receivers of government funding for renovation of churches and construction of Samudaya Bhavanas. The table shows the funding of only those organizations, which have received government assistance on multiple occasions. (See Image 8 below)

Image 8: A list of organizations that have received government funding on more than one occasion and the pattern of funding received by them.

Such, funding of the same organizations on subsequent years and for the same purposes in some instances, raises serious questions regarding the criteria being used by the government to disburse funds and the mechanism that is being employed for conducting proper inspection and verification.

The GO- MWD.318MDS2011 clearly mentions about inspection of the financial documents of the churches as well as the progress of the work for which funding has been given. It stipulates the churches to finish renovation works within six months and the second installment of the funding is to be released only after the inspection of progress. It further stipulates that in case of any non-compliance with the GO, the churches are bound to return the entire amount to the government.

Yet, in the last three years, there has not been even a single issue related to any malpractice or non-compliance. No reports or documents could be found regarding any inspection or verification. Also, the documents furnished by the state government do not give any details regarding the kind of repair and renovations carried out by the churches, whether they were inspected on the ground, exact address of the proposed Samudaya Bhavanas etc. Another issue of concern is the fact that the districts like Bidar and Dakshina Kannada, which have received maximum government funding, have also reported numerous incidents of Christian conversion activities over the past few years. Add to this, the fact that the entire legislative is discriminatory in nature and Hindu temples receive a meagre 36,000 rupees per temple [1] for their upkeep, though lakhs of rupees are generated by them every year.

These issues, combined together with the fact that the state government has steeply increased funding of churches over the last three years and is funding many churches repeatedly, raise many critical questions that need satisfactory responses from the state government.

Rohith Chakrathirtha in his article published on May 28, 2016 in Vishwavani newspaper, a Kannada Daily, writes: “There are 34543 temples under the Muzrai department of Karnataka. 160 Temples out of these bring an annual revenue of above 25 Lakhs. The revenue of Kukke Subramanya temple is itself 77 crores annually. 154 temples generate a revenue of between 5 to 25 Lakhs, the rest (34229) of the temples generate a revenue of less than 5 Lakh rupees annually. The Majority of this revenue goes to the Government treasury while a meagre 36000 Rupees is given as grant for the repair and renovation of each temple.”

(With inputs from Shashi Kiran)

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Indian Mobile Subscriber Stats Mar 2016

Indian Mobile Subscriber Stats Mar 2016: 7M New, 1034M Total, Airtel Crosses 250M Subscriber MarkLast updated: May 31, 2016 at 21:04 pm
The growth of Indian mobile subscriber base continues unabated – According to TRAI telecom subscription report, March 2016 saw 7 million new mobile subscribers added on various telecom networks, with Bharti Airtel adding the highest! In the previous month of Feb, India witnessed 8.7 mln new subscriber additions.

The new subscribers have primarily come from rural areas where it grew by nearly 5X compared to Urban subscriber additions

India still continues to be the fastest growing mobile market in the world – It has now added over 100 million new subscribers in past 18 months alone! Here is how the base has grown over past 2 years.

Interestingly, there was no change in number of Wireline subscribers, which has been on a perpetual decline for more than a decade. It remained at 25.22 million.

Active Mobile Subscriber Base

Active subscriber base witnessed a jump of 11.24 million, which is highest registered in past 12 months. Active subscribers are the number of subscribers that have accessed their telecom network atleast once in the month. The active subscriber percentage has now grown to reach 90.60 percent. It is the highest registered till date.

Here is a chart comparing active subscriber growth with total number of subscribers.

Mobile Subscriber Growth Highlights [March 2016]

– With an increase of 6.97 mln in Feb 2016, total mobile subscriber base has reached 1033.63 million. India had 1026.66 million subscribers by end of February 2016.

– Urban India witnessed a monthly growth rate of 0.21 percent or 1.23 mln subscribers, while rural mobile subscriber base increased by 1.31 percent or 5.73 mln.

– Urban India has a total of 588.79 million, while rural India has a total of 444.84 million mobile subscribers.

– Urban Teledensity increased to 148.73 from 148.65 in Jan 2016, while the rural tele-density increased to 50.88 from previous 50.26.

– Urban mobile subscriber share stands at 56.96% as compared 43.04% of rural subscribers.

– 4.40 million new Mobile portability requests were made in month of March 2016, taking the total tally ofMNP requests since launch to 209.13 mln.

– Active Mobile Subscriber base increased from 925.22 million in Feb 2016 to 936.46 million in Mar 2016, taking the active percentage to 90.12 percent.

– Delhi remained the circle with highest teledensity of 236.30, while Bihar has the lowest at 54.31. The all-India teledensity currently stands at 83.36

– Total Broadband (> 512 Kbps) subscriber increased from 144.87 Million at the end of Feb- 16 to 149.75 million at the end of Mar-16 with a monthly growth rate of 3.37%.

– Broadband Subscribers in India grew by 3.37% in March 2016. Out of 149.75 million broadband users, 132.24 million access internet through mobile devices or dongles.
Operator Wise Subscriber Additions [March 2016]

2016 has been a great year for Bharti Airtel – they have lead the chart for subscriber growth for all 3 months in 2016 taking their total tally of subscribers to 251.23 million. In the month of March, Airtel added over 2.5 million subscribers.

State owned Telecom operator BSNL is also having a great 2016 – they added 1.5 mln subscribers. For the first time in last twelve months, Idea Cellular subscriber additions dropped below 1 million. They only managed to add 446k subscribers.

On the other hand, Tata continued its negative growth losing nearly 180k subscribers.

Subscriber Additions by Operator in last 1 year

Bharti Airtel has come very close to reaching a quarter market share in India. They remained clear winner with 22.4 mln additions in last 1 year. Idea Cellular (13.8 mln) came in second followed by Vodafone (11.67 mln). Tata fared worst as they lost 5.74 mln users during the same time.

Top 8 Mobile Operators in Numbers
Sr. No Telecom Operator Total Subscriber Count ( till March 2016)
1 Bharti Airtel 251,237,263
2 Vodafone 197,946,755
3 Idea Cellular 175,074,042
4 Reliance Communication 102,408,072
5 Aircel 87,086,612
6 BSNL 86,345,709
7 Tata 60,097,988
8 Telewings / Telenor 52,454,949

[Trai Press Release]