Thursday, January 27, 2011

"We are living, then, at the end or at least the beginning of the end", says Eric Hobsbawm

Humans have always been fascinated by endings: the end of life as we know it, the end of our present prosperity or misery, the end of civilisation, the end of the world. Terminal events have long been anticipated by human societies, either in fear of apocalyptic disaster or in hope of the utopia waiting at the end of history. Perhaps our minds think in lineal terms, preferring denouement to the meandering paths of the past. Reaching termination, or some definitive historical turning point, is psychologically satisfying; it imposes order on disorder, narrative onto chaos.
For Hobsbawm the financial crisis changed everything. “A systematic alternative system may not be on the horizon,” he argues, “but the possibility of disintegration, even collapse, of the existing system is no longer to be ruled out. Neither side knows what would happen in that case.”

We are living, then, at the end or at least the beginning of the end. The market, as Hobsbawm writes, creates many problems in its pursuit of limitless growth. “Once again the time has come to take Marx seriously.” Hobsbawm has little time for those on the Left who treat Marx as a prophet whose word is law. “What could be learnt from Marx was his method of facing the tasks of analysis and action rather than ready-made lessons to be derived from classic texts.”

Marx remains a powerful figure and at some point we have been touched by Marxist thinking even if we were not aware of it. Indeed, Hobsbawm, a man firmly on the Left, is one of our greatest living historians. He is certainly one of the most popular: his series of books on global history are widely read classics.

From Ben Wilson's comment in The Telegraph. More Here

"Islam is a very simple religion to adopt" says Eric Hobsbawm

Monday, January 24, 2011

"The price for a taste of that touchable water" - Meena Kandasamy

the pot sees just another noisy child
the glass sees an eager and clumsy hand
the water sees a parched throat slaking thirst
but the teacher sees a girl breaking the rule
the doctor sees a medical emergency
the school sees a potential embarrassment
the press sees a headline and a photofeature
dhanam sees a world torn in half.
her left eye, lid open but light slapped away,
the price for a taste of that touchable water.

- A poem from a collection of Meena Kandasamy

The categories into which Meena Kandasamy falls—Dalit and female—have put her among those Indian society has historically tended to oppress and marginalize the most.
Repeated humiliation pushed the 26-year-old to fight back—through her social activism and her inflammatory writing, in verse and prose.
In a recent interview at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Ms. Kandasamy, who is from Tamil Nadu in south India, said the aim of her poetry is to send a social message.

In her poems she addresses issues of caste and untouchability—something that stems from her being a Dalit, considered the lowest and most oppressed of India’s castes and formerly known as “untouchables”.
She said she embraced her identity as a Dalit partly because there was no way of escaping it. “People will force that label on you so you might as well make the most of it,” said Ms.  Kandasamy.

From Margherita Stancati's write-up in WSJ.
More Here and here

"God consciousness is the most effective tool to eradicate corruption"

Introspection is the need of the hour.  We badly need a complete socio political transformation.  Any changes required in our political system to make the country a real and vibrant democracy shall be carried out. Men at the helm of affairs should be made answerable and accountable in true sense. Values should be taught and practiced at various levels. The criteria for selection to the responsible positions should compulsorily include honesty, sincerity, righteousness and integrity. Corrupt practices and corruption should be dealt iron handedly. The ongoing investigations should be taken to their logical conclusions by bringing them to justice. Regardless of their stature and affiliations, the guilty should be punished severely. Amendment if necessary should be carried out in Prevention of Corruption Act.
God consciousness is the most effective tool to curb the menace of corruption when the stick of law also fails. It alone creates a sense of accountability before the Almighty and helps man to abstain from the forbidden things.

Excerpts from the memorandum submitted to the Governor of Karnataka by a delegation headed by Janab Abdullah Javeed, State Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Karnataka. More Here.

Malegaon blasts, media and Justice!

The 2006 Malegaon blasts are a watershed in the history of Indian Muslims. The trend of targeting mosques and Muslim localities originated like a sparkle in Nanded, Parbhani and Jalna in 2003 and the sparkle turned into fire when it reached Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer and Samjhauta Express. The screaming voices of Indian Muslims to investigative these blasts from all possible angles were lost in wilderness and it came back like an echo at Mahabaleshwar’s Arthur point. Then all of a sudden 2008 blast took place. It was the honesty and integrity of a brave officer whose investigation turned the tables. There is a gap of five years between 2003 and 2008. The political voice of Indian Muslim is so weak that it took five years to travel from bylanes of Malegaon to power corridors of Delhi. The political Muslim dispensation is still living an age of defeat; they have yet to come out of slump of 1857.

The reinvestigation of 2006 Malegaon blasts will be litmus test for Central Bureau of Investigation. It remains to be seen which path CBI chooses to tread. Its battered image can get a fresh coat of paint if it applies the rule of common sense. It will not be unfair to suggest that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur knew about the 2006 blasts. She visited former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi’s house on December 30, 2007, the night after he was murdered by his “own” men in and took away a briefcase without telling the family members. The family was unaware of Joshi’s death and nobody questioned Sadhvi since she was “regular” visitor. Sadhvi has told investigators that the motorcycle used for the Malegaon blast was the one she had sold to Joshi. Aseemanand’s confession is a masterstroke in the sense that main accused Sunil Joshi has been murdered in mysterious circumstances. Both Sadhvi and Aseemanand seem to suggest that Sunil Joshi was the main player in 2006 and 2008 blast. It will be an uphill task for CBI to connect dots with a dead man. Which court in the world has successfully prosecuted a dead man? 

With Swami Aseemanand’s confession the mood in Malegaon seems to be celebratory. The same mood prevailed when 2006 blasts inquiry was mischievously handed to CBI after filing of chargesheet. The same mood prevailed when approver Abrar Ahmed turned hostile. The same mood prevailed when CBI told Bombay High Court that it has not found anything incriminating against the nine accused.  This vicious cycle of justice seems to be as evasive as a mirage of barren desert. At each episode, the key players involved in the struggle of justice have enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame but nothing has happened. Will January 28, 2011, the date of hearing for bail, turn out to be an extension of this vicious cycle?

Media is the mirror of society. It returns to Malegaon only when there is some ‘development’ in the bomb blast case. One cannot blame media for this trend because news-hunt is their job. Omair Ahmed sarcastically describes the role of media in covering Mozammabad thus, “Look at them, how they gather, descending like kites upon a fresh kill.” In doing so, media has greatly affected the collective behaviour of Malegaon: leaders only appear when on screen when there is any ‘development’. There is no persistent attempt for justice. The air-conditioned office of a chief minister or a home minister (be it RR Patil or Chidambaram) is not the ideal place to seek justice in a democracy. The days of Mughal Empire are long over! In a democratic setup, justice is sought in court of law. One understands the importance of building political ‘pressure’ but this exercise is always performed discreetly not in front of camera. No Kashmiri went to meet Home minister when SAR Geelani was wrongly convicted in 2001 Parliament attack case. Instead they turned to famous lawyer Ram Jethmalani who successfully fought Geelani’s case free of cost despite strong opposition from right-wing quarters.   
From Mubashir Mushtaq's post in his blog. More Here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to hold 5-day Islamic Conference and Exhibition in Bangalore

The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Bangalore City will hold a 5-day Islamic Conference and Exhibition at Quddus Saheb Eidgah Grounds (Hajj Camp) on the theme “Return Towards Your Lord & His Prophet (pbuh)” from 26th to 30th January 2011. 

The conference includes a massive Islamic Exhibition, Book Stalls, Talks by renowned Scholars, Programs for Ulemas, Students, Youth, Professionals, Women, Girls, Programs for non Muslim Brothers and Sisters and much more.
On the 29th January the Students Islamic Organisation of India, Bangalore City, has organised a program for students and youth from 10 am to 6 pm.

More Here, Here and Here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Indian Media is soft on Hindutva Terror

“When Abdul Kaleem of Hyderabad and Imam of Haj House, Mumbai were arrested then it’s a national news and when they were released no one bothered in the media to make it news. This attitude of Media must change.”
- Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, Markazul Ma’arif

L-R: Nazar Mohammed Madu, President Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Maharashtra, Abu Asim Azmi, President Samajwadi Party, Maharashtra, Maulana Azhari, Kul Jamaati Tanzeem, Malegaon and others

“Hemant Karkare has proved that Military camps and Ashrams are the breeding ground of Terror and not the Madarsas.”
- Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari, president of Kul Jamati Tanzeem
''It’s a deadly combination of Brahmanical fascism and Zionist communalism which is not only dangerous for Muslims but for the nation. He reminded, “It’s not only Muslims but they are the first target of Brahmanism the rest, who are not Brahmin, will follow.”
-Nazar Mohammed Madu, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Maharashtra
"Media also played very communal role in profiling Muslims"
-Rashid Azeem from Movement for Peace and Justice MPJ.

Hyderabad youth Abdul Kaleem, already acquitted in the Mecca Masjid blast case and released on bail on Monday in another case, and whose good conduct and torture story moved Swami Aseemanad, also participated in the agitation. He told the media that he and many other Muslim youths were picked up after the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast not for investigation but to get their confession. He said, “I was brutally tortured by the police to get my confession. Even Swami Aseemanad ji had tears in his eyes when he heard that I was asked to sleep naked on ice, electric shocks were applied on secret parts of my body, and was hanged naked for hours, abused and beaten like an animal.”

Abdul Kaleem wants to pursue LLB to help the poor innocents who are unable to pay fees to advocate. He also shared his meetings with Swami and said, “I was behaving as a normal Muslim and practicing what is taught to me by my mother i.e. to respect elders.” He thanked God that he was released but is worried about his elder brother who is still in jail in some other case. He demanded the government that arrest must not be allowed before investigation.

Sheikh Abdul Kaleem (with a shawl) of Hyderabad at the Mumbai rally

Corrective and immediate legal actions must be taken to get these boys released, Amjedullah Khan, Lawyer of Abdul Kalim from Hyderabad suggested to the Mumbaities.
Advocate Zubair Azmi, Urdu Markaz termed Anti-Terrorist Squad as Anti-Muslim Terrorist Squad and demanded the resignation of RR Patel, home minister of Maharashtra for his anti-Muslim behavior.

The NGOs have given ultimatum to the Central and State Governments to take the corrective steps before the budget sessions of Parliament and Assemblies. Otherwise, they will gherao the assemblies and Parliament and will lie down in front of the vehicles of Ministers to press their demands.

From a report of Rehan Ansari in Two circles. More Here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two rapes, two media yardsticks

Perhaps nothing exposes media’s double standards better than the two recent cases of reporting involving two females: one in Bihar and other in Uttar Pradesh.
While media, electronic as well as print, rightly pursued the gang-rape story of a Nishad, an extremely backward caste girl in Uttar Pradesh it virtually blacked out a similar incident in Bihar, where ironically a Brahmin lady principal of school, Rupam Pathak, in her 40s, was allegedly raped several times by a BJP MLA and his aide.
There is one thing common in both the stories: the involvement of ruling party MLAs and their aides. While in UP the chief minister, Mayawati, at last got her own party’s Brahmin MLA arrested and the victim-girl released from jail when the media pursued the story in Bihar the media blacked-out the story so much that the victim woman had to take up the knife herself. On January 4 she stabbed to death the BJP MLA, Raj Kishore Kesri.
What is strange is that in case of UP even after Mayawati got Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi arrested, the media, especially the electronic channels, continued to criticize her for taking action one month later.
In Bihar Rupam, an upper caste educated woman had been undergoing trauma for last over three years, yet nobody dared to listen to her. At last when on April 18, 2010 she lodged an FIR against the MLA the deputy chief minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, who is the senior most leader of the BJP in the state, dubbed her blackmailer. A Local English weekly of Purnea, the town of Rupam and the MLA, carried a story based on the FIR. The state media grossly underplayed it and the national channels never deemed it fit to give any space to it.
However, the charges levelled by Rupam Pathak were serious. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, while on his visit to Purnea during Vishwas Yatra after this development, refused to share dais with the said MLA, (now late) Raj Kishore Kesri. However, his deputy Sushil Modi, while delivering his speech from the same dais openly defended the MLA making it loud and clear for the administration not to listen to the victim’s complaints. She was forced to withdraw her statement before the court.

From Soroor Ahmed's blog in More Here

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Now that Aseemanand has confessed, what about the innocent Muslim youth languishing in jails?

Whispers have become words. Murmurs have taken form of sentences. Private conversations and personal convictions are no longer confined within the four walls of a decrepit Muslim household. A quiet sign language has been replaced by a wild scream. The guilt-soaked eyes have got new sparkle of hope and redemption. The Indian Muslim has finally got the guilt-free-pass handed by a ‘devout’ Hindu priest Swami Aseemanand of Dangs, Gujarat.
Aseemanand’s judicial confession – that he and his Hindutva men were responsible for five major bomb blasts – has opened Pandora’s Box. The bees of the box have stung so many men in Khakhi. One confession has destroyed the credibility of countless police officers. It is safe to assume that Rajwardhan, the then Rural SP of Nasik, did not sleep properly on Friday night. He weaved a dangerous fictional tale in order to implicate 11 innocent Muslims in Malegaon’s 2006 blasts. It is equally safe to assume that the conscience of former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi must be cursing himself. It was Raghuvanshi who proudly displayed sketches of two suspects who bought new cycles. How conveniently he forgot the fact that the sketches don’t match with the bearded Muslims languishing in jail! How conveniently he forgot the fact that Shabbir Masiullah, one of the accused, was already in Mumbai police custody since many months before the blasts! How conveniently he forgot the fact that Noorul-Huda, the accused number one, was under close police watch since many years! 

Aseemanand’s confession has brought open the divide within the CBI. The confession is an indictment CBI as well. CBI blindly followed the footprints of KP Raghuvanshi when it filed a supplementary chargesheet in Malegaon 2006 blasts repeating the lies woven by ATS. How conveniently CBI relied on ATS theory that Zahid, the Imam of Phoolsavangi, planted bomb when he was leading Friday prayers hundreds of miles away!  It is altogether a different matter that Aseemanand was arrested by CBI! Therefore it can be safely assumed that there are two kinds of CBI; one highly communal and the other secular. Does CBI stand for Communal Bureau of Investigation?

Harish Gupta, the then Hyderabad Joint Commissioner of Police, took inspiration from KP Raghuvanshi when he falsely implicated 19 Muslims in Mecca Masjid blast case.

The role of RSS has come on spotlight after Aseemanand’s confession. Ram Madhav, RSS spokesman, has said that confession was given under “duress”. He should know that it’s a judicial confession recorded as per the guidelines laid down in Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code which says that confessions recorded before a magistrate are legally admissible evidence. Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab had given confession under the same section. It is very difficult to retract the confession given under this section. If one retracts confession then it is quite possible that perjury charges will be slapped on him. Retired Bombay High Court judge Justice Hosbet Suresh is of the opinion that the accused can retract his statement. In a recent interview Justice Suresh remarked, “Even if the prosecution relies on it, the magistrate who recorded the confession is summoned and he will give evidence in the court. The magistrate can be cross-examined”.

The communal and biased role of investigating agencies must be fully examined by Prime Minister Manmoham Singh. There is an urgent need for a legislation which will hold our investigating agencies accountable for their misdeeds. Delivering the Fourth R.N. Kao Memorial Lecture on January 19, 2010 organised by the Research and Intelligence Wing (RAW), Vice-President Hamid Ansari had called for greater “oversight and accountability” in the operations of the country’s intelligence agencies. He had suggested setting up of a standing committee of Parliament on intelligence. He passionately argued that just like other democracies like the United States and the United Kingdom, the “concerned agencies should make public their mission statement, outlining periodically their strategic intent, vision, mission, core values and their goals”. It is high time to implement the suggestion of Hamid Ansari. 

Similarly we need to have a mechanism in place whose job is to keep watch that no innocent is falsely accused on terror charges. 32 Muslims have been wrongly imprisoned on terror charges. Four years of incarceration has ruined their lives; their families had literally given up the hope that they will get justice. It remains to be seen how the Indian government is going to right the wrongs done by law-enforcing agencies. Will the offending police officers be booked under the same stringent laws which were abused by them? This will be the biggest test of Indian democracy.   

Indian Muslim’s quest for inclusion in new India will remain a dream unless the guilty police officers are punished. The average Indian Muslim is still trapped between two keywords: Justice and survival.  

From Mubashir Mushtaq's article in Inquilab. More Here


Monday, January 03, 2011

"It has become fashion to condemn human rights", laments Shiv Viswanathan

Sen is a reminder of the deeper travails of our society. We hate the poor for their poverty. Worse, we hate those who fight for the poor. Somehow it has become fashion to condemn human rights, to treat activists as fifth columnist, to regard them as fronts for terrorists groups.

Let me frame it in a different way. Today’s sedition might be tomorrow’s axiomatics. We often define as sedition what we can’t understand or can’t stand. It challenges our sense of security, the security of categories. It might be easier to understand Sen’s work within a framework, a spectrum of thought.

Begin with the Arjun Sengupta report on the informal Economy. It shows how we have sinned against the life world of hawkers, traders, scavengers, trades which constitute 70% of our economy. Then think of Jairam Ramesh claiming forests are not as renewable as we think and that tribes and forests have a connectivity that we must understand. That shakes up the naïve theory of growth. Then think of Mahasweta showing how tribes have been converted to bonded labour, how mining has corroded our country.

From an Open letter to PM written by Shiv Viswanathan. More Here.

"In the future we may expand our role", says Moulana Ejaz Ahmed Aslam

Mahan Abedin - What is the role of the Jammat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) in Indian politics?

Ejaz Ahmed Aslam - Jammat-e-Islami Hind stands for Islam and works on behalf of Islam. Political and economic activities are parts of Islam. In short, the JIH is an Islamic organization that is trying to promote, propagate and strengthen Islam. Our primary role in India is to protect and strengthen the Muslim community in addition to reaching out to non-Muslims. Politics is important since politicians shape the future of a country. In the political sphere hitherto the Jammat-e-Islami has given opinions about political parties and supported certain political figures with a reputable ethical background. In the future we may expand our role. 

Mahan Abedin interviews Moulana Ejaz Ahmed Aslam for Religioscope. More Here. 

"He died in front of us"

Sugali Nagamma with a photo of her husband

Naryamaswamy Naik went to the cupboard and took out a tin of pesticide. Then he stood before his wife and children and drank it. "I don't know how much he had borrowed. I asked him, but he wouldn't say," Sugali Nagamma said, her tiny grandson playing at her feet. "I'd tell him: don't worry, we can sell the salt from our table."

Ms Nagamma, 41, showed us a picture of her husband – good-looking with an Elvis-style hairdo – on the day they married a quarter of a century ago. "He'd been unhappy for a month, but that day he was in a heavy depression. I tried to take the tin away from him but I couldn't. He died in front of us. The head of the family died in front of his wife and children – can you imagine?"

The death of Mr Naik, a smallholder in the central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in July 2009, is just another mark on an astonishingly long roll. Nearly 200,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves in the past decade. Like Mr Naik, a third of them choose pesticide to do it: an agonising, drawn-out death with vomiting and convulsions.

The death toll is extrapolated from the Indian authorities' figures. But the journalist Palagummi Sainath is certain the scale of the epidemic of rural suicides is underestimated and that it is getting worse. "Wave upon wave," he says, from his investigative trips in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. "One farmer every 30 minutes in India now, and sometimes three in one family." Because standards of record-keeping vary across the nation, many suicides go unnoticed. In some Indian states, the significant numbers of women who kill themselves are not listed as "farmers", even if that is how they make their living.

From Alex Rendon's article in The Independent. More Here.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A moving, inspiring story from Madurai!

Here is an inspiring, moving and heartening story of a brahmin from Madurai. When the Prophet of Islam was asked, "What is Islam?", the Prophet of Islam replied : "Feeding the hungry is Islam - பசித்தவருக்கு உணவளிப்பது தான் இஸ்லாம்" 
Mr Narayanan Krishnan of Madurai is doing the same. Here is a lesson for us - Muslims. Watch him in this TWO minute video. He has been  awarded CNN Hero of the year. More Here.


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