Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Migrants Deserve Compassion

Last week we were in Puerto Rico for vacations. We were staying at a government property on a mountain right by the ocean and enjoying the view, the weather, and our time together!


One morning, we saw some commotion around the property and wondered what is going on? There was a helicopter hovering around the shore making loud noise. There were a lot of border security personnel looking up and down the shore. My husband asked one of them, what is going on? And they told us that a boat full of migrants from Dominican Republic was seen by the shore and the people on the boat were now hiding in the area. The team was looking for them so that they could put them back on an official boat to send them back to their home country. Several hours later, the officials were still looking for the migrants. I asked them if they had found any, and they said no. One official told me that some of them were injured. 

Photo credit: Anjana Dayal de Prewitt

As a humanitarian worker and an immigrant myself, I couldn't stop thinking about the people who were trying to find refuge in Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States, looking for their sharer of the ‘American Dream’. It pained my heart to think that they were hiding in fear hungry, injured, and tired. My aching heart was filled with so many questions, what if I encountered one of them, how will I interact with them and what will I say to them? I found myself having a conversation with one of them in my imagination and here’s how it went:


What am I supposed to do? 

Tell the truth or hide you?

I know, life has not been fair to you. 

Misery everywhere is looking for you!

Wish I could do something for you! 

What I have, I could share with you!

No matter what, may God protect you!

The security forces and the ocean surround you, 

In addition to the fear that hounds you!

Do you have children with you?

I heard you have some injured with you.

I wish I had an answer for you, 

But right now, I only have my concern for you!

I know it’s not sufficient for you. 

I wish I had more for you. 

I wish I had more to offer you.


Once again as a humanitarian worker, I felt so helpless! I wish, in this world, we were allowed to share more! I understand that next week on May 11th, COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration will expire. It also will mean the end of Title 42, a border policy that expanded expulsion powers based on the emergency declaration. The end of Title 42 is expected to coincide with an increase in border crossings and asylum claims.

I hope that compassion will be integrally mixed in the policy and the actions related to our response to the incoming migrants seeking refuge from their suffering and distress! I hope for a world where the resources are shared more equitably and the borders are a bit porous that protect not only the people within the lines but also those who need to desperately come inside! Maybe, letting people stay in the country permanently is not always the answer but I hope that the answer is always wrapped in generosity, empathy and kindness. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Modi's India

As an Indian American woman, who loves her birth country, I am always trying to understand what is going on in the country and how the world is perceiving current India. India, just like it's people, is complex and has many flavors. The current situation in India looks different from different angles or in other words there are several sub situations at play. 


On one hand, India finds itself in the middle of a geopolitical setting with actors like Russia, China, Pakistan in the immediate proximity but also the US and its agenda in the region. From that perspective, both Russia and US desire to have India as their ally regardless of the neutral agenda that India has had right from its independence. Because of this reason, US ignores violations of human rights or attacks on the democratic values and seeks to build a deeper relationship with the current administration.


India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is projected as the most popular leader of the country so far even though he was only able to acquire 37.4% of the votes in the 2019 general elections[1]. He is praised by the mainstream media and supported by almost all the top industrialists in the country. His party, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), is the biggest political party in the world. He is a great orator and seems to connect with people at least in the states where Hindi is spoken/understood. If one sees India from the perspective of the mainstream media, then the country seems to be doing really well!


There's another perspective, the one of the religious minorities, independent journalists who have lost their jobs, activists who are in jails and many others who pay attention to what is going on to the basic human rights of the minorities and to the state of democracy in the country! From this angle, one can see homes being destroyed by bulldozers, churches and mosques being vandalized, individuals being harassed and/or lynched because of their religion! This perspective reminds us of Modi and his supporters who are accused of perpetrating the Gujarat riots in 2022 and it feels like that mindset has spread to other parts of the country now!


Umar Khalid, student activist in jail since 2020.
Photo credit: https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/umar-khalid-is-an-intelligent-man

From the internal politics perspective, hundreds of opposition leaders are being investigated by different government institutions. Some key opposition leaders are in jail or are being threatened to be put in jail. While there are independent reports that may have information about corruption in large scale conglomerates closer to the current administration, there are no open investigations going on against them. If the opposition parties collectively demand for investigations, the ruling party disrupts the parliament, the microphones are muted, and the sessions are suspended. Most recently, the main opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi from Indian National Congress party has been disqualified from his membership in the Parliament for a speech he made in 2019[2]. These actions are seen as the direct action to undermine democracy in India.

Rahul Gandhi, main opposition leader, has been facing several legal trials.
Photo credit: https://www.onmanorama.com/news/india/2022/07/26/rahul-gandhi-detained-by-police-during-congress-protest.html


Modi hails from Hindu radical organization founded about 100 years ago called, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This organization was founded on fear. In the words of its founder, ‘If the Hindu culture perishes in Hindusthan (India) itself, and if the Hindu society ceases to exist, it will hardly be appropriate to refer to the mere geographical entity that remains as Hindusthan. The entire society should be in such a vigilant and organized condition that no one would dare to cast an evil eye on any of our points of honour[3].” BJP and RSS far right ideologies facilitate and encourage attacks on religious minorities, especially if one is seen as a threat to Hindus or even the Hindu belief system. For example, people have been lynched just on the doubt that they eat beef[4]. Modi has never put out a statement condemning these horrific acts. The voice of resistance is smothered by misusing investigative agencies, putting people in jails, demolishing their homes, and blocking them from mainstream media. Given what all is happening, India seems to be under a fascist rule. 


Modi is accused of allowing the Gujarat riots of 2002, where over one thousand people were massacred. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat then. Recently, BBC released a documentary confirming Modi’s hand in the Gujarat riots. The administration not only banned the documentary in the country, but they also raided BBC offices in the country[5]. These actions were taken based on the fear that this documentary might impact the results in the upcoming General Elections in India in 2024. 


Given how the Modi government is allegedly misusing the central investigative agencies against several opposition leaders[6], it seems that they do not want to take any chances in the elections next year. This strategy seems to be grounded in fear. Several opposition party leaders expressed that the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi happened because Modi is afraid of him[7] as the former has been asking questions about how Modi’s connection with Gautam Adani, an Indian billionaire[8] industrialist who is the founder and chairman of Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate involved in port development and operations in India.


Modi has been spending more money on his own image management and political ads[9] than on program implementation. For example, 80% of the funding for ‘beti padao, beti bachao’ program was spent on ads[10]. India has seen the highest unemployment rates under Modi[11]. The World Happiness Report 2022 ranked India 136th — tenth from the bottom of the list[12]. In the 2022 edition of the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, India fell to the 150th position, its lowest ever, out of 180 countries[13]. There are many other statistics and facts to illustrate that India is going downhill from the development perspective. Modi’s failures are in front of him despite his ‘popularity’ and that is why he seems to be afraid of facing free and fair elections. 


While it is understandable for the US to ignore the current situation in India to pursue American interests, it may not be a good idea in the long run. If India goes to one party system by silencing the opposition and obliterates democracy, it will inadvertently become closer to Russia and China! If India and its democracy is not protected by Modi and his insecurities, not only the west will lose a great ally, but the world will also lose the symbol of unity in diversity and spirituality! It is time to support the majority of Indian people which includes the religious minorities! It is time to speak up for the dying soul of India! It is time to save the largest democracy of the world before it is too late! Personally, I feel the India I grew up in and the India of Gandhi is slowly fading away! 

Photo credit: https://www.goalcast.com/top-20-inspiring-mahatma-gandhi-quotes/


[1] https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/analysis-highest-ever-national-vote-share-for-the-bjp/article27218550.ece 

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/24/india/rahul-gandhi-disqualified-parliament-hnk-intl/index.html 

[3] https://www.rss.org//Encyc/2015/3/13/Vision-and-Mission.html 

[4] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/india-modi-beef-lynching-muslim-partition/533739/ 

[5] https://www.npr.org/2023/02/14/1156726845/indian-tax-authorities-raid-bbc-weeks-after-it-airs-documentary-critical-of-modi 

[6] https://thewire.in/politics/opposition-petition-supreme-court-cbi-ed 

[7] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/modi-is-afraid-of-rahul-gandhi-allege-congress-leaders/article66658289.ece 

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/04/business/adani-modi-india.html 

[9] https://www.newslaundry.com/2022/07/21/modi-government-has-spent-over-rs-900-crore-on-media-ads-since-2019 

[10] https://www.thequint.com/news/india/beti-bachao-beti-padhao-80-funds-spent-on-ads-says-parliamentary-committee 

[11] https://www.reuters.com/markets/asia/indias-jobless-rate-rises-16-month-high-830-dec-cmie-2023-01-01/ 

[12] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/india-ranks-very-low-in-world-happiness-report/article65241462.ece 

[13] https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-the-worrying-state-of-press-freedom-in-india/article65384769.ece 

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Ready for 2023

Looking out of my window and reflecting on this last day of 2022! I feel ready to walk into 2023 with a heart filled with gratitude and hope! Happy New Year, all!

Grateful for all the challenges we overcame together. 2022 was not easy from any perspective but nothing stopped us from taking the next desired step! It is on us if continue to focus on the challenges and the pain and suffering they brought or focus on how we moved forward to next steps in our lives! I am grateful to God, family, friends, work, new opportunities and connections! Grateful for being successful at the business love in this world! Grateful for the faithful peace that never left my heart no matter what happened, courtesy my creator! 

I am hopeful for what is coming in the next year and beyond: 
    1. As an individual, I hope to continue to evolve and learn!
    2. As part of my immediate and extended family, I hope for health and happiness for all us!
    3. As part of my country and this world, I hope for peace and reconciliation. To my brothers, sisters and those who sail between being my brothers and/or sisters:
      1. Let’s connect and chat regardless what makes us different or alike!
      2. Let’s focus on more listening than reacting. Listen to listen!
      3. Let's accept that is is ok for another human being to think differently. Different is different and not necessarily wrong!
      4. Let's remember that change is the only constant. Sometimes change is too hard but we can allow ourselves to grow, evolve and transform just like the nature does as the seasons change!
      5. Let's learn to be united while respecting each other's desired boundaries and identities!
      6. Let's heal and flourish together! Sharing makes the food tastier and the time merrier! They say, no one ever became poor by sharing! Life is beyond what meets the eye and even the sky is not the limit!! Crawl, walk, run, fly, imagine... let's break the chains of hatred and control through the courage that comes from LOVE! 
Peace Is Possible.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Remember, We Are Free!

Yup, a lot of us are angry and disappointed. And possibly a lot among us are happy because the Supreme Court's decision of overturning Roe vs. Wade falls in line with our belief system. All emotions are valid because everyone has the right to have their own opinions and belief system. And precisely that is why my heart is heavy today because the decision today will prohibit thousands of young men and women from acting according to their needs and values. 

In the very core of my heart, I too believe in saving lives. From that perspective, one can call me pro-life! And I think we should do everything to save lives everywhere, which includes those of our enemies in foreign countries where we wage wars and of those who we deport to high risk contexts to die! I would be most grateful if we didn't have to send our precious men and women to conflict areas where not only we lose so many of them to death but countless lives are damaged and destroyed due to physical and mental trauma. Wouldn't it be great if our Supreme Court and Congress could strengthen laws that would stop the killing of little children in the schools. But not seeing much movement and sentiment for saving lives in other contexts, I question the motivation of the decision today especially when it puts lives of so many women in danger. And that is why my heart goes out to every sister who is feeling angry, fearful, crushed and disappointed today. 

To all those who are hurting today, I want to remind that unity and allyship can mitigate risks to lives of numerous vulnerable women who will be negatively impacted by today's decision. Let's do everything to uphold and encourage each other with compassion and grace! 

My sisters, do not despair,
Embrace peace and power
Your anger and fear is justified,
Turn it into passion and vigor!

Remember when Rosa refused to leave her seat,
You too, my sister, stay strong on your feet!
Remember when Susan got arrested for voting,
Each other's rights we must continue promoting! 

Gandhi questioned the law through Satyagraha,
Remember, you too possess the power of Freya,
They used force to put MLK behind the bars,
But they could never hold a movement in a jar!

Liberty is more powerful than repression 
Freedom is more resilient than oppression,
It's time to indulge in some good trouble,
Remember, fighting for our basic rights is not indiscretion!

This might a moment when we are down and under,
But like Maya, We Will Still RISE,
So many examples and shoulders to climb on,
Let's grab our share of the free skies!

Photo credit: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/addybaird/scotus-overturn-roe-explainer

Thursday, June 2, 2022

My Inner Story...

My hypocrisy  

I tell myself that I am perfect for the moment and yet let insecurities take birth!

My privilege   

Insights bestowed on me through interactions with multitudes from the globe!

My vulnerability 

I belong everywhere a little bit and nowhere fully!

My power 

I own who I am and I belong to the Great I am! 

What's your story? 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Who Is A Good Refugee?

There are several news stories coming out of Ukraine that confirm, once again, that often refugees have to face the racism and discrimination based on their race, color, and origins!  Humans are humans, their need for treatment with dignity, food, water and shelter remains the same! And once they receive the safe shelter, studies tells us, most refugees contribute in the host society in a meaningful way. This poem calls for compassion for all refugees no matter how they look or where they come from!

Amoakohene Ababio Williams, 26, originally from Ghana, says he was separated from his Ukrainian wife, Sattennik ...
Photo credit: https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/history-and-civilisation/2022/03/fleeing-war-facing-racism-refugees-from-ukraine-meet-challenges-at-europes-borders

So who is a good refugee,
The one who looks like me?
Who is a good refugee,
With whom I have the most similarity?

Refugees shouldn’t be defined 

by how they look.

It’s about their fear and suffering 

that made them seek refuge! 

Don’t look at the color of their skin,

Look at the scars from their journey,

Don’t welcome them based on their clothing or culture,

It’s for the fear of life from which they’re fleeing! 

Be the becan of hope for the vulnerable,

Be the host full of compassion,

Receive them in love to share in hope,

Engage with empathy without discrimination!

It’s ok to be temporarily uncomfortable,

In order to save the precious lives,

With their diverse skills and knowledge,

They will contribute to the society and thrive!

So, who is a good refugee,

That shouldn’t even be a question!

Welcome everyone regardless of their race and origin,

Just because of their needs empowered by your compassion!  

Monday, February 28, 2022

Where is Love?

Yesterday the preacher, Richard H Kottemann, in our church inspired this poem! Let's keep fighting for love in our own ways, please! No time to lose focus!   

Where is love

when we need it the most?

Where is love

when so many lives are being lost?


Listen, love is alive,

But living in parts!

Pieces of love

are hiding in separate hearts!

Photo credit: https://psiloveyou.xyz/for-the-love-of-humanity-300d882ded8d


We, the soldiers of love,

need to bring our hearts together!

And join the ‘me worlds’ and

broken pieces of love we gather!


Love will show the way

through this dark tunnel!

All the care and support 

we channel through the love funnel!


Search your hearts

my dear friends,

 each one of us

possess the various love strands!

Photo credit: https://www.amazon.com/Bothy-Threads-Heart-Cross-Stitch/dp/B00CL975PG


Let's make a tapestry of love,

To cover those suffering in the cold,

Let’s send a message with the humanitarian dove,

Love is peaceful and yet bold!


The oppressor must be defeated,

We cannot just give in,

Hate and greed must be depleted,

Because love always will win! 

Migrants Deserve Compassion

Last week we were in Puerto Rico for vacations. We were staying at a government property on a mountain right by the ocean and enjoying the v...