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Indian Section and President Election â A View

Apr 30, 2009 10:33 PM
by MKR

Indian Section and President Election â A View

In a letter dated September, 26, Annie Besant wrote to George Arundale, âAs
you are to succeed me as President, I think you should come over here. This
is our most numerous Section, and you must win its affection, before the
election of 1928..â. Besant was an outstanding leader and consummate
organizer and she well knows first hand the need for the affection of the

Let us look at the significance of Besantâs comment on the need for Arundale
to âwin the affection of the Indian Sectionâ.

Indian Section is the largest Section at that time and  continues to be so
today. Many especially in the West, seem to forget that TS is not the
typical business organization. It was not chartered by the genius of a few
mortals sitting around a dinner table. Anyone who has read the early history
of the TS knows that the idea and impetus for the launch came from the Inner
Founders and HPB and HSO acted as Their Agents. Also in the early formation
years, the Founding President was in close contact with several members of
the Lodge and was privy to their wise counsel. The fine tuning of the
organization was done with Their advise and help.

We all know that HPB & HSO moved the HQ to India under their direct orders
at a time when the future in India was unknown. Looking back, the wisdom of
the decision to move the HQ to India is clearly evident from the fact that
the Indian Section has been steadily growing and becoming larger and larger
when the situation outside India is sad when we hear of stagnant sections
and a few small section not having chartered a single new lodge in 50 years.

It is self evident that the significant size of the membership in India has
deep implications for anyone trying to get  elected President. No one can
get elected without a  significant support from the members in the Indian

The country has a unique track record of  de facto practicing the
Brotherhood. India, as a country, had elected leaders from minorities such
as Islam, Christian, Untouchables, men and women.

As for TS, N SriRam was the first President of TS from India. Olcott was
from the USA, Besant was a Englishwoman, Arundale was a Englishman,
Jinarajadasa was from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), John Coats was an
Englishman. And of course Radha Burnier is from India.

It is to be pointed out that when John Coats ran as a candidate, the other
two candidates were Rukmini Arundale and Radha Burnier. Rukmini was very
well known in India due to her role in the revival of Indian Dance and her
activism in Animal Welfare. She was a member of the Parliament and declined
nomination as the President of India. Radha Burnier has been active in TS
life long and was the General Secretary of the Indian Section for years and
so was very well known to Indian members. Still John Coats was elected as
the President. I think John Coats won the election because he won the
affection of the Indian Section members in spite of other two well known

So it is obvious that the Indian TS members practice what they preach. They
are ready to elect a candidate without prejudice of their national origin or
other factors that  normally plays a part in all elections. To understand
this, all you need to look at the TS in America. While there is a
significant Afro-American, Hispanic, and Asian population in the USA, TS in
America has never had a Afro-American or Hispanic President (National
Secretary) to this day. On this is a fact, we are likely to hear numerous
reasons from those who may be offended by this comment. (Members in the USA
still remember the saga of what happened when Bing Escudero, who migrated
from Philippines challenged the establishment candidate and lost. This is
something no body wants to talk about.)

In the light of the above, Indian Sectionâs support and affection is
essential for anyone who wants to run for the presidency and win and head a
thriving TS. Past history shows that the Indian Section is quite open minded
in supporting the candidates, which demonstrated their practice of

Let us look at the last election. Some of leaders who supported the
non-candidate candidate, spread the erroneous and untruthful information
that the sitting President Radha Burnier is sick both mentally and
physically and hence should be defeated. Even after three independent
physicians from two continents (one from Europe) certified her fit, both
mentally and physically, no attempt was made by the leaders to provide this
fact to their members. The motivation seems to be the wishful thinking that
the sickness allegation will work to defeat Radha Burnier. Theosophists
expect their brothers and sisters to be truthful in their dealings with each
other. While Indian Section literacy level may not be that high, most have
enough common sense to see false as false. In the mind of members of Indian
Section, this poor health allegation in the face of physician
certifications, lowered the opinion of the leaders behind the allegation.

Soon after the election, allegations were also made against the Indian
Section about election procedure trying to cast doubts about the election
results. Many members were upset and publicly questioned the allegers to
substantiate their allegations. What was the result? Simple silence. Silence
spoke louder than words and again lowered the opinion of the members in the
leaders behind the allegation.

Next was the shocking revelation of the secret move by some leaders from the
USA and West, to disenfranchise the membersâ right to directly elect the
President. It was an ultra secret move and was to have been quickly approved
and implemented and take members by surprise. Due to the good luck of TS and
help of Internet this was discovered and broadcast around the world.

India was a British Colony for 200 years and today the largest democracy in
the world. Every man, woman and child in India understand what voting right
is. A handful of leaders from the West trying to secretly take away the
right, made many of the members really upset. Again this attempt to take
away the voting right is very easily seen through by even illiterate

To head and lead an organization such as TS needs to win the affection of
the members of the largest Section. All the above actions have actually
severely poisoned the atmosphere. Anyone who wants to get elected as the
president needs to win the affection of the Indian Section, since it is the
largest section and is growing in size.

The above actions by some of the leaders are some of the most damaging and
foolish in our lifetime. The damage they have caused is going to last a long
time and because motives of any candidate from outside India running for the
president would be automatically suspect. In such  circumstances, I do not
know if any of the current (formal and informal) âleadersâ  in the West have
thought of any radical actions to restore confidence and trust in the
leaders from the West. This exercise is not going to be either quick or
easy. Not doing anything, is only going to make the matters worse and future
leaders from the West will find their task very difficult.



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