Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gujarat Genocide 2002 and the spirits of Shah Alam Camp

The days pass somehow in Shah Alam Camp, but the nights are an endless nightmare. God alone can save us from this hellish torment. And what a terrible, terrible cacophony! You can barely hear your own voice. Such shouting and screaming, raving and ranting, moaning and groaning, sighing and sobbing…

After midnight, the spirits come to meet their children. They caress their orphans, stroke their heads and gaze into their lifeless eyes with their own wasted and vacant eyes, as though trying to convey something. Then they clasp their children to their breasts and the air is rent by the same gut-wrenching screams that had escaped them when they were being burned alive like so much kindling.


"Amma, can I become like you?"

When the rest of the camp is asleep, the children stay wide awake. They are waiting to see their mothers, to have dinner with their fathers.

"How are you, Siraj," the mother’s spirit asks, fondling his hair and caressing him.

"How are you, Amma?"

The mother looks visibly happy. She says, "I am a spirit now, Siraj… no one can burn me alive any more."

"Amma, can I become like you?"

A mother in search of her infant son

One night, a woman’s nervous, agitated spirit reaches Shah Alam Camp well past midnight. She is looking for her son, who is not to be found — neither in the other world, not here. The mother’s heart is close to breaking with grief and terror. Other women help her look for her son. They look all over the camp, then they go to the mother’s old neighbourhood. The whole street is up in flames, houses burning like stacks of firewood. Since they are spirits now and able to come and go at will, they enter these raging infernos with complete ease. They search every nook and smoke-filled cranny, but they cannot find the mother’s little boy.
In despair, the spirits go to the homes of the rioters. There, the lumpen are making petrol bombs, cleaning their guns and polishing their weapons. When the mother asks about her missing son, they laugh and say, "You madwoman, when scores upon scores of people are being burned alive, who can keep track of one little boy? He must be lying buried under a mound of ash and rubble somewhere."

The mother says, "No, no, I’ve looked all over… I can’t find him anywhere!"

Then one of the rioters remembers: "Hey, is she the mother of that boy we left dangling from the trishul?"
Let us make this INDIA

The spirits come to Shah Alam Camp after midnight. They bring food, water, clothes and medicines from Heaven. That is why you won’t find any sick, naked, hungry or thirsty children in Shah Alam Camp. And that is also why Shah Alam Camp has become so famous. Its fame has spread far and wide among the dead. A certain dignitary from New Delhi who had come to inspect the camp was so pleased at what he saw that he announced: "This is a very fine place… all the Muslim children from all over India should be brought here."
I want to come home, Ma..!

The spirits come to visit Shah Alam Camp after midnight. All night long they stay with their children, gazing at them with love and longing, worrying about them, fretting over their future, talking to them…

"Siraj, you should go home now," a mother’s spirit says to her son.

"Home?" Siraj whispers, and his eyes glaze over with terror.

"Yes, home. After all, how long can you stay here? I promise I shall come and see you every night."

"I won’t go home, never, never, never." Smoke. Fire. Screams. Noise.

"Amma, I want to live with you and Abba."

"Darling Sikku, how can you live with us…"

"But Bhaijaan and Aapa live with you."

"That’s because they were also burned alive, along with us."

"Then I shall return home, Amma."

A child’s spirit comes to Shah Alam Camp in the wee hours, like a firefly burning brightly in a dark night. He flits and flies all over the camp, scampers and gambols, plays little mischievous tricks on everyone. But he does not lisp; he speaks clearly. He runs and hides in the folds of his mother’s clothes. He holds his father’s finger and traipses along.

Unlike all the other children in Shah Alam Camp, this child looks amazingly happy.

Someone asks, "Why are you so happy?"

"Don’t you know… I thought everyone knew."

"Know what?"

"That I am the Evidence."

"Evidence? Evidence of what?"

"I am the Evidence of Bravery."

"Whose bravery are you the evidence of?"

"Of those who ripped open my mother’s womb, tore me out and hacked me in two."
Bhaiya...! Bhaiya...!
The spirits come to Shah Alam Camp after midnight. A sister’s spirit comes one night, looking for her brother. She looks everywhere and finally spots him sitting on the step of a staircase. The sister is delighted and runs to meet him. "Bhaiya," she cries out. The brother hears her, but pretends as if he doesn’t. He just sits there, mute and unmoving like a stone statue.

The sister speaks again, "Bhaiya, listen to me."

Again, the brother gives no sign of having heard her, nor does he look at her.

"Why won’t you listen to me, Bhaiya?" the sister says loudly. This time the brother’s face flames like fire. His eyes shoot sparks. He rises in a fury and begins to beat his sister mercilessly. A crowd gathers and someone asks the girl what she has said to enrage her brother so.

The sister says, "I only called out to him, ‘Bhaiya’."

An old man speaks up, "No, Salima, that was very wrong of you. Why did you say that? That was absolutely the wrong thing to say." And the old man starts crying like a baby. The brother starts beating his head against a wall.
Brilliant Muslim
A political leader asks a spirit who has come to visit Shah Alam Camp: "Do you have a father and mother?"

"No, they were both killed."

"What about brothers and sisters?"


"Any other relatives alive?’

"No, they’re all dead."

"Are you comfortable here?"

"Yes, I am."

"Do you get enough to eat?"

"Yes, I do."

"Do you have clothes on your back?"

"I do."

"Do you need anything else?"

"No, nothing."



The leader is pleased. He says to himself, "The lad is bright. Not like other Muslims."
Written in Urdu by Asghar Wajahat
Translated by Rakhshanda Jalil in Little Magazine. Here

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gujarat is the battle for the idea of India

Among the human debris scattered around the courtyard of the Shah-e-Alam relief camp in Ahmedabad, the largest with over 10,000 survivors, are Saira (age 12), Afsana (age 11), Naina (age 12), Anju (age 12), Rukhsat (age 9), Nilofer (age 10), Nilofer (age 9), Hena (age 11). They are all survivors from Naroda Patiya. And they have seen things no child should see. They know words no child should have to learn.

“Balatkar” (Rape) — they know this word. “Mein bataoon didi?” (Shall I tell you?), volunteers a nine year old. “Balatkar ka matlab jab aurat ko nanga karte hain aur phir use jala dete hain” (Rape is when a woman is stripped naked and then burnt). And then she looks fixedly at the floor. Only a child can tell it like it is. For this is what happened again and again in Naroda Patiya — women were stripped, raped and burnt.” (The Survivors Speak, fact-finding by a women's panel, April 16, 2002. P. 13)

Nothing was left of these mutilated women — no bodies, no evidence, no justice.
Nothing but the scars on this little girl's mind. I still remember her face, and today 10 years later, I wonder where she is, how she is making her way through life, scarred by this macabre, twisted image of rape. I wonder where those men are, the ones who butchered so many childhoods and got away with it. I wonder, again and again, at the State, whose constitutional duty it was to protect, that colluded in the massacre of its own citizens.
Remains a wound

Ten years to the pogrom in Gujarat, I try to look back. But for me, like for thousands of survivors and activists, it is impossible. How does one look back at something that is so much a part of one's present? And so, Gujarat remains a wound that stays with me always, deep and continuous. I cried often in 2002. I still cry. And I guess that is all right. Because Gujarat should make us collectively weep. And make us truly ashamed of ourselves as a nation.

What happened 10 years ago is the kind of upheaval that refuses to be historicised. That cannot be consigned to the pages of any history book with a full stop at the end. In part because the violence of Gujarat continued for long after February-March 2002, and is continuing today in the frightened little lives lived by scores of destroyed Muslim families; in the lives of thousands of men, women and children still languishing in ‘resettlement colonies' relegated to the margins of Gujarat's seemingly flourishing towns and cities. In part, because many battles for justice are still being bravely waged in the courts, and the narrative is still unfolding. But in greatest part because the ‘meaning' of what Gujarat did to India remains contested.

People say — “move on, get a life, why do activists keep raking up this ‘unpleasant' past? It's been 10 years.” Why? Because if we settle for the past as some would like it scripted, we threaten the meaning of our present, and endanger our future. These contestations are not just about many battles in courtrooms that must be waged. The contestation is about the meaning of citizenship. It is about the relationship between citizen and State. It is about challenging State impunity. Gujarat is the battle for collective memory against forgetting because it is ultimately the battle for the idea of India.

In 1950, India made a constitutional promise to protect the rights of its minorities to live with dignity and with full rights of citizenship. Time and again, that sacred promise has been violated — in Delhi, Nellie, Meerut, Bhagalpur, Hashimpura, Kandhamal, Gujarat and most recently in Gopalgarh (Sept. 2011). In each case, innocents were murdered, maimed, sexually assaulted, burnt out of hearth and home, scattered to the winds, simply because of their minority identity, because of who they were. In each episode of targeted violence, the officers of the State acted in a biased manner, failing in their duty to protect, to prosecute, and to give justice. How long can this go on? How long will those in political power use the might of the State, the guns, and the police, and sirens against one group of citizens and get away with it? Institutional biases of the State machinery cannot be acceptable in any civilised democracy — that is the lesson of Gujarat.
The challenges

The massacre in Gujarat poses many challenges to us as a nation, exposing holes in our hearts, in our social fabric, as well as in our criminal justice system, laws and jurisprudence. Now we cannot legislate against communal prejudice and hatred in the hearts and minds of people. That is a battle that we as a society and a people must wage in a million different ways at a million different moments in our collective and individual lives. But we can and we must legislate to ensure justice to the weak.
Elusive justice

Unlike any other violent episode in India's recent history, Gujarat 2002 tested the strength and resilience of many of our democratic institutions to the fullest. The National Human Rights Commission, the honourable Supreme Court, and the National Commission for Minorities. Each came forward and acted. And yet somehow, that thing called justice still eludes the victims of Gujarat. These victims and survivors call upon us to restore equality in the working of the law for all citizens; to create a legal remedy for institutional bias by the State; to fill the lacunae in our laws and our jurisprudence that has failed time and again to ensure criminal culpability for those in command, those who are never caught with the knives in their hands, but who instruct others to lie, and kill and misuse the law for electoral gain. These are not very tall orders. For, if we get this right it will help realise, better than we have so far, the constitutional promise of justice and equality before law. And without justice, we cannot move on.
A survivor's courage

On January 18, 2008, Bilkis Bano, a Gujarat survivor who had the courage to speak of the unspeakable, withstanding over 20 days of gruelling cross-examination, found a little justice, when 12 accused who had gang-raped her, murdered and raped 14 members of her family, and smashed her three-year-old daughter to the ground during the horrifying days of 2002, were finally awarded life sentences by a Mumbai Session court.

On January 21, 2008, at a press conference in Delhi, Bilkis made this statement:

“For the last six years I have lived in fear, shuttling from one temporary home to the other, carrying my children with me, trying to protect them from the hatred that I know still exists in the hearts and minds of so many people. This judgment does not mean the end of hatred but it does mean that somewhere, somehow justice can prevail.
This judgment is a victory for not only me but for all those innocent Muslims who were massacred and all those women whose bodies were violated only because, like me, they were Muslim. It is a victory because now, hereafter, no one can deny what happened to women in Gujarat in those terrible days and nights of 2002. Because now it will forever be imprinted on the historical record of Gujarat that sexual violence was used as a weapon against us. I pray that the people of Gujarat will some day be unable to live with the stigma of that violence and hatred, and will root it out from the very soil of a State that still remains my home.”

We give up on the battle for justice in Gujarat at our own peril. For in giving up on Gujarat, we give up on hope for a better India — an India that is by right home to each one of us.
Farah Naqvi in The Hindu. Here

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Women Visiting Graves

For a good understanding of the Sunnah, it is important to reconcile sahih (authentic) hadiths that appear contradictory in that, at first glance, their textual meanings are at variance. It is necessary to combine some of them with others, and place each in its correct place, so that they harmonize and do not differ, so that they complement and do not contradict. We do not do so for weakly supported texts except as a voluntary service or act where there is no requirement or duty to do that.
For example, the hadith of Abu Hurayrah: "God's Messenger condemned women visitors to the graves". Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibn Majah narrated it, also al-Tirmidhi who called in hasan and sahih, and Ibn Hibban narrated it in his Sahih. Supporting that is what has come in other hadiths prohibiting women following funeral processions, from the import of which is derived the prohibition of women visiting the graves.
In opposition to these hadiths, there are others from which one understands the permissibility for women, as for men, of visiting graves. Among them is his (peace be upon him) saying: "I had forbidden you to visit graves, but [now I say] visit them." [Hakim]"Visit the graves, for indeed they remind of death." [Muslim] Women are included in the general permission to visit graves, and in the need of everyone to be reminded of death. Also among these hadiths is what Muslim narrated (and al-Nasai and Ibn Hanbal) from Aishah. She asked: "How shall I address them? (she meant 'when I visit the graves'). He said: 'Say: Peace be upon the people of the homes of the believers and the Muslims; and God have mercy on the early-comers among us and the late-comers. And indeed we, if God wills, are catching up with you.'" Another example is what the two Shaikhs (Bukhari and Muslim) have narrated from Anas, that "the Prophet passed by a woman weeping at a grave. So he said: 'Fear God and be patient.'..." Now, he forbade her anxiety, but he did not forbid her visiting the grave. Another example is narrated by al-Hakim from Fatimah, the daughter of God's Messenger, that she used to visit the grave of her uncle, Hamzah, every Friday, and she prayed and wept near it.
Moreover, these hadiths demonstrating the permissibility of women visiting graves are more sahih and more common than the hadiths demonstrating the prohibition of it. So combining and reconciling them is possible, in this way: one can interpret the 'condemnation' mentioned in the hadith as warning against wailing, and the like which may apply to both men and women. If reconciling two (or more) hadiths contradictory in outward sense is not possible, then one may resort to preference between them.
Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 113-116

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Secularism and the Pope

Baroness Warsi gives a copy of the Holy Quran to the Pope

Baroness Warsi today handed over a copy of the Koran and a gold-plated cube inscribed with references to Allah as personal gifts to the Pope.

The Cabinet Office minister and chairman of the Conservative Party met Benedict XVI at the conclusion of a trip to the Vatican, also presenting him with a letter from David Cameron and a message from the Queen.

Baroness Warsi said the Pope thanked her for comments she made this week against secularism, adding "he said he was glad I was making the case for faith".
A report in London Evening Standard. Here 

Baroness Warsi's Christianity remarks came amid an ill-tempered debate on the place of religion in public life sparked by a court ruling banning local councils from holding formal Christian prayers at the start of official meetings. The ruling followed a complaint from the National Secular Society and an atheist councillor who argued that members who were non-believers were being “indirectly discriminated against”, in breach of human rights laws.

The government moved swiftly to reverse the ban but by then all hell had broken loose with faith groups warning against “the rising tide of secular fundamentalism” and citing the case as another example of attempts to “silence” Christian voices in Britain. The secularists and atheists hit back as hysterically with familiar arguments about keeping religion out of public space. The Queen also waded in with a strong defence of the Church saying it had a “significant position” in British life.

The debate is still raging as I write this.

To put it in perspective, while Britain is a secular society in practice the British state is Christian with an established church headed by the Queen. The only religious figures with the right to sit in Parliament are Christian. As many as 26 Church of England bishops, known as Lords Spiritual, sit in the House of Lords and read prayers at the start of each daily meeting. Sittings in both Houses of Parliament begin with Christian prayers
Hasan Suroor in The Hindu. Here 

For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.

That’s why in the 20th century, one of the first acts of totalitarian regimes was the targeting of organised religion.

Of course there is a crucial caveat to all of this. I am not calling for some kind of 21st century theocracy. Religious faith and its followers do not have the only answer. There will be times when politicians and faith leaders will disagree. What is more, secularism is not intrinsically damaging. My concern is when secularisation is pushed to an extreme, when it requires the complete removal of faith from the public sphere. So I am calling for a more open confidence in faith, where faith has a place at the table, though not an exclusive position.

When we look at the deep distrust between some communities today, there is no doubt that faith has a key role to play in bridging these divides. If people understand that accepting a person of another faith isn’t a threat to their own, they can unite in fighting bigotry and work together to create a more just world.

All the major religions ask their followers to stand up for their neighbours. Doing so doesn’t make you less of a Christian, less of a Jew, less of a Muslim – it makes you more of one.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi in The Telegraph. Here

Richard Dawkins

Britain and most of the Europe has ceased to be religiously devout
Research carried out by for a secularist foundation has suggested that most of those who describe themselves as Christian in Britain have only a low level of belief and practice of the religion.

A poll carried out by Ipsos-Mori for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science indicated that half of those in Britain who say they are Christian rarely go to church while nearly 60% do not read the Bible.
A report in BBC Radio. Here

Monday, February 20, 2012

The relevence of Time zones and Time

The evening of December 29, 2011 was a Thursday evening. Most of the citizens of Samoa — a mere 190,000 in total — came home from work, had their nightly meal, and went to sleep. But when they awoke, it was Saturday morning. Friday, December 30, 2011 had disappeared. More precisely, December 30 was erased from the routine progression of time. Those with December 30th anniversaries, lovers of Fridays, and people not quite ready for the next year were out of luck. The clocks had been turned forward, a full day forward. December 30, 2011 was a day no Samoan would know.

The government of Samoa had decided the previous June to move westward across the international date line, so everyone knew the lost Friday was coming. The Samoan government made this change because they wanted to better align Samoa with trading partners in the East: Australia, New Zealand, China, the rest of Asia in general.

Samoans had actually been on the Asian side of the date line before, back in the 19th century. Then, in 1892, an American business house trading in the region convinced the king of Samoa that slipping over the date line to the other side, facilitating trade with California rather than Asia and Australia, was in everyone’s best interest. At the time, it made sense to the king. San Francisco was proving to be a much more influential trading partner than Sydney, and American ships lined Samoan shores. So Samoa left its time zone, and was suddenly just three hours behind California. In a twist of diplomatic self-congratulation, Americans had Samoa perform the shift backward in time on July 4, giving Samoans the opportunity to celebrate American Independence Day twice. In her Letters from Samoa, Margaret Isabella Balfour Stevenson — the mother of Robert Louis Stevenson, who had emigrated to Samoa with her son in 1890 — described the double Fourth of July thus:

It seems that all this time we have been counting wrong, because in former days communication was entirely with Australia, and it was simpler and in every way more natural to follow the Australian calendar; but now that so many vessels come from San Francisco, the powers that be have decided to set this right, and to adopt the date that belongs to our actual geographical position. To this end, therefore, we are ordered to keep two Mondays in this week, which will get us straight.

For 120 years, America’s trading authority has been encapsulated in the Pacific island nation of Samoa. Now, Samoa is three hours ahead of eastern Australia rather than 21 hours behind it, and 22 hours ahead of California. You could say the ever-shifting time zones in Samoa are symbolic of the ever-shifting tides of geopolitical influence: then from East to West; now from West to East.

The international date line is an imaginary line we have drawn onto the planet. The line is artificial and did not exist until we drew it. It is not a straight line, but rather snakes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, bending this way and that around islands and atolls. It is opposite from the Prime Meridian on the planet’s other side, which helps to define Universal Time and is the meridian by which we calculate all time zones. If you could peer from one side of the date line to the other, you would see a different day. Though the globalization of time would seem to be something quite old, it is only as old as globalization itself. The date line was first proposed in 1884, at the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., where the primary topic was to choose “a meridian to be employed as a common zero of longitude and standard of time reckoning throughout the world.” The common zero chosen was Greenwich Mean Time, the national mean time of Britain, established in the 17th century mostly to aid naval navigation. So the world’s time turned British. But it wasn’t until 1929 that most major countries had adopted time zones and they still did so at their own discretion. Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, (once Greenwich Mean Time) is universal only in the sense that it is an internationally agreed upon reference point. Otherwise, local time zones are decided upon by individual nations.

A century or so later, time zones seem sacred, inviolable. And so it is disconcerting when we remember that they are not inviolable at all, that they are, rather, capricious. Time zones are suggestions. There are international overseers of time zones, like the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, creator of Greenwich Mean Time. But there is no transnational or trans-universal time zone enforcer. “There seems to be no legal reason why any country cannot declare itself to be in whatever time zone it likes,” the Royal Observatory confirmed to the New York Times around the turn of the millennium, when the tiny nation of Kiribati had caused an international stir by proposing it, too, would enact a time zone change. Taken at face value, the Royal Observatory’s statement is shocking. Could New Yorkers experience the UTC+0545 time zone of Nepal, 10 hours and 15 minutes ahead of itself, living days of nights and nights of days simply because they chose to?

The uneasy truth is that we can shift time around all we like, if we like, and countries have been playing with the malleability of time zones since their inception. But the way we mark time is as metaphysical as it is economic. As Manuel Castells wrote in The Rise of the Network Society, “We are embodied time, and so are our societies, made out of history.” The Russian Empire, for example, once observed solar time, the time of the ancients in which days are dictated by the sun, and traditional Russian society, wrote Castells, “viewed time as eternal, without beginning or end.” For hundreds of years, Russia was regularly disrupted by modern notions of organizing life around time, until Moscow Mean Time was finally introduced in the late 19th century. The country has had a fickle alliance with its time zones since, moving them about, creating and deleting as geography and politics dictated. Today, Russia has the most time zones of any nation; they totaled 11 as of 2010, but President Medvedev excised two that year, and now the country has nine. Perhaps Russia’s time zones are as restless as the Russian soul.

By contrast, there is China. The vast nation of China encompasses a citizenry speaking 292 languages and a land mass that has almost as many climates as exist on Earth. It geographically spans five times zones but observes just one — one big time zone that stretches from cosmopolitan coastal Shanghai to the rural far west. From 1912 until 1949, China did observe five time zones. But after the Chinese Civil War, the emergent Communist Party used a unified time zone as a way to consolidate the Party’s power over all the territories it claimed and to hail the existence of a unified Chinese nation.

Once, when there were no time zones, our time was told by the basic movements of the sun — daybreak, daylight, peak sun, nightfall, darkness. If you were living in Samoa, people in the United States didn’t exist in the future; regardless of what time it was, everyone was still living now. Even when we decided to split our days into 24 hours, to facilitate a common understanding of time, noon in Denver still felt a little different than noon in Los Angeles. Before the 1880s, British clocks had two minute hands, one for Greenwich Mean Time and one for local. It’s likely only businessmen and sailors were interested in the former. As the world has become more regulated, time zones represent a tension between how time is thought about and planned for, and how time is actually experienced.

If there were no time zones, would we work when we could, and sleep when we could, regardless of train schedules or cargo shipments? Would the consequences be disastrous? Would civilization as we know it collapse?
Stefany Anne Golberg in The Smartset. Here

Arvind Adiga: Why I have learned many languages?

I grew up, as many Indians do, in an archipelago of tongues. My maternal grandfather, who was a surgeon in the city of Madras, was fluent in at least four languages and used each of them daily. He spoke Tulu with his wife, Kannada with his daughters, Tamil with his patients, and English with his grandchildren. In my hometown of Mangalore, on India’s southern coast, it was common for a boy of my generation to speak one language at home, another on the way to school, and a third one in the classroom. These were not just dialects or variants, either. Kannada, which I spoke at home, and Hindi, which I had to learn in school, belong to different linguistic families and are as dissimilar as, say, Spanish and Russian.

Columbia University, where I went to study in 1993, insisted its undergraduates learn a foreign language, so I discovered French. I remember the thrill of sitting in the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and working my way, over the course of a week, through an entire André Gide novel in the original French. In England, where I studied in the late 1990s, I took a class in German, having heard that its peculiar syntax and word structure posed not just a linguistic, but a cognitive, challenge: German speakers apparently thought about the world in an entirely different way.

By the time I returned to India in 2003, I had been speaking, reading, and writing almost exclusively in English for more than a decade. Nothing much changed after I moved back. The international success of novelists such as Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth meant that most younger Indians in the big cities wanted to read and write in English. There were novelists, such as Kiran Nagarkar, who worked in both English and an Indian language, but bilingual proficiency of this kind was increasingly rare. The glamour, acclaim, and money were in English; why read or write in anything else?

My life is now divided between the cities of Bangalore and Mumbai. About a year ago, I decided to read only in Kannada, the dominant local language, whenever I visited Bangalore. My reasoning was partly pragmatic. Regional-language newspapers in India have a richness of local detail that is often absent in the country’s English media. A friend tells me of the time he was on holiday in Nainital, a lake city in India’s north. He was about to take a walk around the lake when an article in a Hindi newspaper reported that a man-eating leopard was on the loose. The English dailies had not reported this. He now buys the Hindi paper whenever he visits Nainital. Some of India’s best writers, such as playwright Girish Karnad and novelist U.R. Ananthamurthy, work in Kannada, and I keep discovering excellent writers who will probably never be translated into English.
Arvind Adiga in The Daily Beast. Here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Iran, India and the persian puzzle

This is perhaps what the expression ‘setting the cat among the pigeons’ means. Just when Israel was putting up that little show, going around the world crying about the way Iran was targeting its peaceful diplomats around the world, the ayatollahs come up with their own little performance taking everyone’s breath away.

Not that Ahmadinejad didn’t warn us. As always, everyone was sufficiently intimated of the glad tidings on the nuclear front were on their way. Yet it was a master stroke. Give the Iranians their due. If the Israelis are known for their cunning and craft of obfuscation and manipulation, it’s not easy beating the Persians at mind games either. After all, they invented the game of chess.

Defying years of Western sanctions and the endless talk of war by Israel, the Iranians seem to have gotten another decisive step closer to their goal. And they have all the players and pawns where they want them to be. And for all their bluff and bluster, Israel and its guardian angels can’t do much about it.

As a former Indian envoy to Iran put it, this is like the classic Persian puzzle. Iran takes one step forward and waits and watches for the reaction of adversaries before taking the next cautious step. Call it the Persian incrementalism or whatever but it seems to have worked so far.
Aijaz Zaka Syed in Foreign Policy Journal. Here

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Muslims urged to become the necessity of the nation

Moulana Muhammad Yusuf Islahi, Member, Central Advisory Council, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and a prolific author and erudite scholar delivered a soul stirring, mellowing speech in a massive public meeting organized by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Bangalore Metro in BIFT auditorium in Bangalore on Feb. 12. The following are some of the gems gathered from his speech:
“We Muslims must represent Prophet Muhammad (s) throughout our lives, and as Prophet was comforted by his wife on the first day of revelation that “Allah will not disgrace you, since you are the savior of needy”, we Muslims too must become a necessity of our nation."
Have Faith in Allah
"Every time when Muslims had trust in Allah, despite their limitedness in quantity and resources, Allah has supported them. Even today His help is not far away if we make ourselves true followers of Prophet (s). It was Allah who made things easy by the enemies themselves when prophet Muhammad(s) wanted to convey Islam during the Hajj, when Utba, Shaiba and Abu Jahal themselves introduced Prophet to the people at that time. We saw a similar arrangement from Allah after 9/11 incident that the anti-Islamic media itself introduced Islam and Muslims to the world so much so that it attracted thousands of non-Muslims to accept Islam.”

The need and necessity to introduce Prophet Muhammad (s) and convey his teachings to fellow countrymen is undisputable. This would facilitate a social change in the society. He called upon every individual to represent Prophet Muhammad (s) in his life, “and as Prophet himself was a live example of Qur’an, we too should set a similar example in our lives”, he added.

Reflect Prophet’s personality
 “Allah has given utmost importance to Ulama in Ummah. It is through Ulema that Allah has made mosques thriving. Allah has preserved Qur’an through your efforts. Your true identity lies in your expertise in Qur’an, Hadees and Fiqh and not in looking towards modern sciences” said Moulana Muhammad Yusuf Islahi, here in a special gathering of Ulema organized by the Majlisul Ulema, in the morning session.
Moulana called upon the Ulama to shape their lives according to Prophet’s seerah. “Ulema should especially adopt Prophet’s humility”, he emphasised. “The more you are nearer to Prophet’s seerah, the more you will represent Prophet Muhammad (s)” he added.

What is Unity?
Highlighting the importance of Unity of Ummah, Moulana explained that “Unity does not mean amalgamation as in case of sugar getting dissolved in water; instead it demands collaboration, wherein bricks, stones, wood, metal, cement, etc. contribute to form a strong construction”. 
Laeequllah Khan Mansoori in Karnataka Muslims. Here and a report Here

Thursday, February 16, 2012

BJP's exclusive politics and lonely canditate in UP

The BJP has just one Muslim candidate among its 403 in Uttar Pradesh where there live 37 million Muslims. It is symptomatic of the party's parochial agenda and vote bank politics.

I watched the BJP's spokesperson sporting the familiar self-righteous countenance indignantly trashing Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid's speech at Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh which has set the Ganges on fire. The Election Commission has been doing an outstanding job, so I will refrain from adding my three-bit of prudence on the EC's ire, excepting to say that other than usual electoral campaigning rhetoric that invariably occurs when addressing restless crowds, I did not see an orchestrated, deliberate attempt to undermine the constitutional authority of the EC albeit it may unintentionally have resulted in that consequence.

It seemed like a spontaneous outburst amidst cacophonous wild energy of teeming crowds that made for magnetic sound byte. But anyway, what was not surprising was the immediate collective chorus of the saffron brigade to demand Khurshid's prompt resignation for creating a "constitutional crisis". It was followed by a vociferous condemnation of "communal and vote bank politics". Really? The most flagrant revealing statistic of UP elections 2012 that reveals BJP's communal agenda will leave you flabbergasted. Let me elaborate.

UP would qualify as the fifth most populous country in the world based on its 200 million inhabitants. Larger than Brazil, with approximately 37 million Muslims residing in it (about 19 per cent of UP's denizens), more than in Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Morocco. And yet, there is one glaring revelation; the BJP has found just 1 Muslim candidate suitable for a ticket amongst 403 Vidhan Sabha seats. Isn't that an amazing expression of BJP's "exclusive politics"?

Incidentally, while BSP and SP have fielded 85 Muslim candidates, the Congress has 59. Communalism is not just about cosmetic minority appeasement, it is also about practicing absolute majoritarianism. Does the BJP believe in a multi-cultural, widely -ethnic secular society where political formations need to ensure broad-based representation ? Does it practise principles of fair representation? It is a question that the Sangh Parivaar can best answer.
Sanjay Jha in Here

Tushar and Matt: Feeling the misery of the poor Indians

Late last year, two young men decided to live a month of their lives on the income of an average poor Indian. One of them, Tushar, the son of a police officer in Haryana, studied at the University of Pennsylvania and worked for three years as an investment banker in the US and Singapore. The other, Matt, migrated as a teenager to the States with his parents, and studied in MIT. Both decided at different points to return to India, joined the UID Project in Bengaluru, came to share a flat, and became close friends.
Yet, when their experiment ended with Deepavali, they wrote to their friends: “Wish we could tell you that we are happy to have our ‘normal' lives back. Wish we could say that our sumptuous celebratory feast two nights ago was as satisfying as we had been hoping for throughout our experiment. It probably was one of the best meals we've ever had, packed with massive amounts of love from our hosts. However, each bite was a sad reminder of the harsh reality that there are 400 million people in our country for whom such a meal will remain a dream for quite some time. That we can move on to our comfortable life, but they remain in the battlefield of survival — a life of tough choices and tall constraints. A life where freedom means little and hunger is plenty...

Plenty of questions

It disturbs us to spend money on most of the things that we now consider excesses. Do we really need that hair product or that branded cologne? Is dining out at expensive restaurants necessary for a happy weekend? At a larger level, do we deserve all the riches we have around us? Is it just plain luck that we were born into circumstances that allowed us to build a life of comfort? What makes the other half any less deserving of many of these material possessions, (which many of us consider essential) or, more importantly, tools for self-development (education) or self-preservation (healthcare)?

We don't know the answers to these questions. But we do know the feeling of guilt that is with us now. Guilt that is compounded by the love and generosity we got from people who live on the other side, despite their tough lives. We may have treated them as strangers all our lives, but they surely didn't treat us as that way...”

So what did these two friends learn from their brief encounter with poverty? That hunger can make you angry. That a food law which guarantees adequate nutrition to all is essential. That poverty does not allow you to realise even modest dreams. And above all — in Matt's words — that empathy is essential for democracy. 
Harsh Mander in The Hindu. Here

Full Text of the speech of Dr Ahmadinejad on Nuclear Energy

Dr. Mahmud Ahmadinejad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Nuclear Energy Advances (Full Text)

Iran: Ahmadinezhad Inaugurates Nuclear Projects
Speech by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad in Tehran at a ceremony marking the simultaneous launch of three nuclear projects — live.
Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful! O’ Lord, bless the soul of the Lord of the Age and make us his true followers and hasten his auspicious return.
I thank the great God, who is witness to the great achievements and the endeavors of the valiant children of the nation of Iran who have triumphed in various arenas, especially in the domain of nuclear power.
I present three achievements to the nation of Iran and the human community. We honor the memory of the Imam (Khomeyni) and the martyrs who showed us the path to glory and pride and not only to the people of Iran, but to the human community.
This is especially so for the martyrs of the nuclear endeavor, especially martyr Ahmadi-Rowshan, martyr Reza’inezhad as well as martyrs Shahriyary and Ali-Mohammadi.
Before I submit a few sentences about these achievements to you and the beloved nation of Iran I want to go back a bit and take a look at the global scene.
The heinous record of the hegemonic powers is not only confined to the era of slavery and colonialism. Those two periods are the darkest of all in the chapter of human history. The crimes that were committed in those periods were unprecedented.
The repugnance of their deeds caused the imposition of war and led to occupation and terror and humiliation which they inflicted on various nations. If you want to list the crimes that they committed against the international community, that list will be long indeed. They built atomic bombs, they built chemical weapons, and today, using their domination of centers of power, both in the arena of economics and politics, they have imposed a modern and complex system of plunder on the world.
In this way, the wealth of nations is systematically plundered and transferred into the pocket of the oppressors of the world. In my view, even more treacherous and more odious than this is their attitude toward science. It is their approach toward the progress of nations. They monopolize science. They monopolize technologies that originated from that science. Science has to be at the service of the international community.
It has to systemize a mode of relations between nations that fosters mutual respect and dignity. It has to be at the service of compassion, kindness, and justice. It has to be at the service of friendship.
They monopolized it and they transformed it into an instrument of domination in order to advance their colonial and repressive policies and to plunder nations. You are witness to this. Science is a bequest to humanity. It is a result of the endeavors of humanity throughout the ages.
They work little by little and it has accumulated. Little by little, they have worked on it and science has become the property of humanity.
Look at this very nuclear science; first of all they equated nuclear science to the technology of the bomb. Whenever you mention nuclear science it immediately conjures up the image of a bomb in your mind. Nuclear science and technology are quite useful to humanity and in various aspects of human life.
One of these is radio medicine. Another is radio isotopes which find applications in industry, agriculture, and medicine or generating clean power that is very cheap. It can lead to the speedy progress of nations and provide them with welfare and health and security.
Nevertheless, they (the West) equate all this to the nuclear bomb. At first glance, you might think that this is not very important. Of course, it is; when it is equated to the bomb many of the regulations related to security and constraints and monopoly creating laws are formulated. They impose various restrictions which you are witness to, that after 70-80 years it is only seven or eight nations that enjoy the benefit of nuclear power. The rest of the nations are deprived of it.
Any nation that dares to develop this science and technology is faced with pressures and sanctions on top of insults and much hullaballoo.
In my view, the biggest assault that they made on humanity was the assault on science. Look at what they have done in the arena of Iran’s nuclear episode. How much noise did they make?
How much bad conduct they showed and how impolite they were toward the nation of Iran.
They tried to prevent the progress of the nation of Iran. They launched resolutions and sanctions against us and applied political pressure and launched propaganda against Iran but all to no avail.
Our youth, our scientists, our experts bypassed all of the inhumane restrictions they imposed on us. We built and developed these technologies only to be faced with destructive software (presumably referring to Stuxnet) which they (the West) developed and infected our systems with.
They even announced it openly. The West, then, saw that the Iranian scientists and experts triumphed even over these.
Then, even more odious than that was that they had the audacity to commit bigger crimes — the assassination of Iranian scientists — Why did they do that?
This is because they didn’t want science to be spread throughout the world. They don’t want nations to progress. It is obvious that if the nations live in an enlightened way and make progress and enjoy the benefit of this enlightenment and progress and power then the West will not be able to plunder these nations.
They have closed off the source of the spring. This is so that no one would dare cross the boundaries set for them.
If a nation crosses these boundaries it would be subjected to heavy pressures and ultimately assassination. What was the crime of our scientists? What did they do other than endeavor to make the human community glorious? Martyrs Ali-Mohammadi and Shahriyari were among the most distinguished scientists in the world and the rest such as martyrs Reza’inezhad and Ahmadi-Rowshan were all at the service of the nuclear project of the nation.
They had the audacity to openly announce this (the assassinations). Today, whichever nation wants to experience the real meaning of dignity or progress, any nation that wants to enjoy justice and freedom, any nation that wants to experience greatness; has to break the domineering force of the hegemonic powers. They have to stand up to this force.
They are far weaker than they would admit. They portray the image of being mighty and powerful. They are far weaker than that. We are witness to it today. They mustered all their power against the nation of Iran but what did they achieve?
They martyred our children, the children of the nation. Then, we saw that thousands upon thousands of our youth openly cried “I am martyr Ali-Mohammadi, I am martyr Reza’inezhad, I am martyr Ahmadi-Rowshan.” Thousands upon thousands will supplant these martyrs. They show ill conduct towards us and talk nonsense.
Of course, I still advise them to stop and not to tarnish their own images further. It is obvious that you are against the progress of nations. It is as clear as daylight, you can’t conceal it. Are you really against the bomb, but how many of the neighboring nations have you supplied with bombs? We have received news that most recently you have put bombs at the disposal of the nation (presumably in the region).
Are you really opposed to bombs? A nation that has stockpiled tens of thousands of bombs claims that it opposes bombs.
Are you not ridiculing yourself? History will ridicule you. The nation of Iran has found its true path. I advise them to refrain from this ill conduct.
The blood of all these martyrs has appeared on their record. The nation of Iran has registered this (on that record) and it will adjust its relations with them on the basis of that past. They have to realize that times have changed. All nations must know, and they do know, that times have changed, the era of bullying and building empires has passed.
In these last dying moments they are desperately struggling. They are making a few noises and taking a few steps forward.
The tide of history has turned, the times have changed. Attitudes, cultures and nations have been transformed. It would be in their interest to join the family of nations.
They have to change their ways. They have to especially change their attitude toward the nation of Iran. They constantly make frequent remarks against the nation of Iran. All options are on the table, they say. Fine, we say, let these options be on the table. Let it remain on the table for so long that it rots.
Much the same as yourself and your thoughts and the stench of your attitude, which has spread throughout history, let it rot.
I advise them to change their attitude and reform their ways to accompany the family of nations, to accompany their own nation because they cannot cover up their odious past by assaulting others. They concoct and fabricate false scenarios for nations and their own nation in order to cover up their own deep-rooted weaknesses.
Those times have passed. The nation of Iran has found its own clear path. This is the clear path that our martyrs have formulated for the nation of Iran. Did you see what the mother of the martyr said, she said just one sentence: Continue the path of that martyr.
This path will continue but, Mr Abbasi (head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization) made a few remarks on these achievements. These achievements are quite significant. I think it is in everyone’s mind that nearly two years ago, or two and a half years ago, we wrote a letter to the IAEA saying that the Tehran reactor’s fuel is about to be completed. Under the regulations and the charter of the agency you should supply us with some fuel. You can receive the money and supply us that fuel.
They said we will put this under consideration. The result of that consideration was that we sit down with two or three of the countries that can supply this fuel or could help us develop this fuel, and talk to them. This was so that we could reach an understanding with them. In a very bizarre fashion, they somehow link what was a humanitarian plea to the nuclear dossier of Iran.
This is against the background of the fact that this reactor is a medical reactor and produces radio medicine.
These are drugs which can be used to diagnose illnesses and many of these drugs have to be used immediately after production.
In other words, they cannot be stored, usage after production is what is the correct mode of handling. This is because they are active. Ultimately, they came up with excuses and tried to go back on their pledges.
Then they passed the resolution and a declaration was made to Tehran and then they make noises to date.
The reason for their going back on their words was that they wanted to use the needs of the nation of Iran as political levers to pull.
They wanted to impose conditions which contravened our sovereignty. It blocked the path of our nation’s scientific development. They kept on saying suspend enrichment. What do you want us to suspend? I remember that in a meeting on 9 April 2010 I told them that if you don’t supply us with 20 percent enriched uranium the reactor would be downed.
Please keep the reactor going! If you don’t supply us with the fuel, we will have to do it ourselves. They wrote articles and took part in interviews and they used to say that Iran is bluffing.
Iran cannot produce this fuel, they said. Let us not supply this fuel so that it would put pressure on the medical sector of Iran. Then the Iranians would submit (to our will). We told them that you are wrong. The Iranians can produce this fuel themselves. They did not believe us in that meeting of 9 April 2010.
We then asked our scientists to embark on producing 20 percent enriched uranium. The production of this 20 percent enriched uranium is a very complex process. It requires a high level of nuclear expertise and scientific know-how. It requires pretty complex technology.
Let me simplify things for you; the 20 percent fuel has its own complex process. The end product is just powder. It has to be transformed into a solid object which can be transported. They have to do a lot of mixing and pressing until it becomes a plate and it is a few millimeters thick. But, the fuel that has to be installed inside the reactor is 1.5 mm thick. The thickness of this plate is 1.5 mm. The kernel of this plate constitutes what is known as the fuel. Four tenths of a millimeter this way, and four-tenths that; this is the span of the plate. (sentence as heard) The thickness of the fuel itself is 0.7 mm. Is this right? This has to be spread throughout a wide container. (sentence as heard) It has to be uniformly distributed. There can’t be a surplus thickness in one part and unevenness in another or suffer breakages or come to a stop.
Reaching this stage required a lot of hard work and study. All our scientists were mobilized. In those days, they had told us that this would take two years. We have to first build the dedicated instruments. We have to develop the science and then build the machines.
We have to build the experimental machines to carry out the development process.
We used to produce only three and a half percent enriched uranium prior to that. To be able to produce 20 percent fuel we need to develop new designs. We have to deliver 3.5% enriched uranium. It is not as if we will something and it simply does of its own accord.
They told us that it would take two years for this process to be completed. We asked them to complete this process a few months before two years so that the reactor is not downed. In the period of time that they were unable to produce these radio medicines, those very countries hiked their prices of the fuel in question a few-fold. They hiked prices so much that the honor and dignity of our men and women would not allow us to accept these conditions.
Our men and women said we will work day and night to produce these drugs domestically. Thank the Lord, today we have produced this 20 percent fuel ourselves. Every month, we need a kilogram and a half of this fuel and every three years the entire fuel itself has to be replaced.
In other words, something like 40 kg has to be replaced and you saw all of this in the film (shown before Ahmadinezhad’s speech).
Iran has found out for itself that this very process of replacement must be conducted under certain standards and procedures which have to be complied with both in the production and utilization stage. God forbid, if problems are encountered with the fuel, it can damage the reactor. It can risk the health of the individuals who work here. After all, nuclear work has certain exacting requirements which must be adhered to. Numerous experiments have to be conducted.
The material used for this fuel is from special alloys. They have to be produced under critical temperature conditions, thank God, this fuel has been produced today.
It has been installed inside the reactor, it is a gift to the nation of Iran. It has been presented to our martyrs and we have undertaken another great stride in the nuclear path.
The second achievement that has been realized, our three and a half percent capacity has been enhanced by 50 percent. In other words, we have 6,000 centrifuges and we added 3,000 more to them. The total now stands at 9,000. I will remind you that one day our negotiators used to plead with them. Let us have four or 10. They used to say, we can’t let you. In other words, this was the continuation of that same monopolistic attitude.
It was more of the same bullying, ill-conduct, impoliteness and selfishness. Now let them open their eyes and see that we have 9,000 centrifuges. These are installed and they have been designed by the Iranians, built by the Iranians, and okay, maybe a few pieces here and there which have been supplied from elsewhere. If you want to sabotage anything go and do something to those few pieces, but rest assured that those few odd pieces will be manufactured one day by our kids too.
The third achievement is the development of a new centrifuge with a capacity three times its predecessors’. In other words, if on top of these 9,000 centrifuges we produce another 9,000, altogether we will have achieved a total capacity equal to 27,000 of the old centrifuges. In other words, if we produce another 9,000 we will have a total enrichment capacity equal to 36,000. (sentence as heard) This we offer to the nation of Iran and all free nations and I hope that we will reach the stage where we can meet all the nuclear needs of our nation ourselves.
This is so that we suffer no need to stretch our begging hand to other nations especially those ungallant elements in this world. The hardest moment for a gallant nation is when it stretches its hand of need to a few ungallant elements.
We hope that we reach that stage, and we will reach it. Hundreds of thousands of specialists are working on this and thousands more are waiting in line.
The application to register on nuclear-related (university) courses has recently increased a few-fold. This has been precipitated recently by the blood of the martyrs, which is now circulating in the arteries of this nation. Once again it revives endeavor, working for God and dignity to achieve these aims. It has been institutionalized in the culture of Iran today and I congratulate the nation of Iran for these achievements. This belongs to all of humanity. We are not like them to want to monopolize this knowledge.
Under the regulations of the agency this right has been preserved for all nations, but only on paper. It has recognized the right of all members to benefit from this technology and produce the fuel and meet their own needs and I pledge to the member nations of the agency that we are ready to transfer this knowledge to them under the agency rules.
We have no covetous colonial eyes or designs. We want to do this without any political blackmail. But, I also have a plea to make with my colleagues.
This path has to be continued with resolve. We have to continue this path with might. They know that nobody is scared of all this hullaballoo. Let them shout so loud that they will suffer whatever they ought to suffer. (Ahmadinezhad laughs)
They are a bunch of uncultivated, savage people, they are the most savage in history. Even wild wolves are fairer than this lot. A wolf tears a couple of sheep apart and when he is no longer hungry, he goes and sleeps.
But the appetite of this lot is never satiated. This is a government that allocates $80 billion each year to build atomic bombs. For God’s sake, just one atomic bomb can kill 500,000 people. How much more destruction can you unleash with 10,000 bombs?
How many millions or billions of people do you want to kill? They even admit that they can destroy the whole world a few times over. Good, so you admit to it then? Let us applaud you. What great individuals you are. You call this progress or regression?
No one should listen to their promises. In fact, our nuclear activities are totally separate from the political squabbles against the nation of Iran.
These are all pretexts and if this pretext is confronted they bring up another pretext. They say they want to negotiate, so why don’t you? Or are you the sort to say that you are for talks but come to the table with a club and say listen to whatever I tell you? Is this what you call negotiation?
You want to negotiate in this way with a nation like Iran? Or, do you want to destroy the nation of Iran? Well, come and destroy it then. (laughs) Please come forward. (laughs) Please don’t pull any punches. History is filled with bullies who wanted to destroy the nation of Iran but the nation of Iran has survived and the name of their potential destroyers is not even registered in the pages of history.
We have to put up with this kind of logic in the political arena. You just get on with what you have to do. One of the things that you can do, and one of the urgent needs of the nation that the Atomic Energy Organization has to concentrate on an d the scientists must be mobilized for, is to build a few of these very same reactors.
In this way, we can deliver the drugs that are needed by the nation. I think that the fuel plate and its containers were the hardest part to build. The rest is just a matter of using a few sheets of steel and build a reactor. (laughs)
When I say this, I don’t want to belittle what you do. On the contrary, I want to show your greatness in the face of the challenges you face.
I want to say that in the face of your great knowledge, all the problems are like a few sheets of steel and a few iron rods, that’s all. (laughs)
We just saw that there was controlled instrumentation. Experimental instruments and equipment for the design of various pieces and all of these have been built by our kids. In other words, we have the infrastructure, we have the science and the structures.
We need a few more of these reactors. Prior to this, we had predicted four reactors to meet our needs. In other words, we should build reactors in four locations in Iran to both meet our experimental and research needs and our medical needs. I cordially thank all of you. (People chant “God is great” and “death to America”)
They thought that by killing a few people they can weaken your resolve. Who in Iran is scared of them? Nobody is scared of assassination. Of course, the main priority of the officials is to provide full protection to our scientists and technicians and I emphasize, of course our martyrs have reached exaltation, they have conquered the summit and are in flight, that no one should be under the illusion that people would be frightened in Iran.
The collective community of our nuclear scientists is part of one family. They are all working together to develop these products. Be it he who conducts research, or he who is a technician, or he who does control work, or he who carries out safety work, or he who conducts supply work, or transport work, or administrative work, they are all part of the same collective.
This family is the dearest family of the nation of Iran. Representing the nation of Iran, I kiss your hand. I thank you and may you continue your path to the conquest of the summit. May God be with you.

(Description of Source: Tehran Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN) in Persian — 24-hour news channel of state-run television, officially controlled by the office of the supreme leader)

Israeli diplomat's car blast in New Delhi: WAS IT A STAGE- MANAGED CAR BOMB?

Though India called it a " terror attack," both Home Minister P Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna did not echo the Israeli accusations against Iran. Chidambaram merely said that the motorcyclist who planted the sophisticated magnetic explosive device on the Israeli car was " very well trained.'All the pieces of the Israeli jigsaw do not seem to fit. Eyewitness Manjeet Singh, who was trailing the Israeli embassys Innova car, has told the police that he did not see any motorcyclist sticking the reported magnetic bomb to the car.
Security agencies are now probing the angle whether the attack was stage- managed by Israelis to ratchet up tensions with Iran.

They are also looking at the possibility of the bomb being activated by a remote- controlled device.

Incidentally, the Israelis are not giving Indians any access to Tal Yehoshua Koren, wife of the Israeli military attaché, who was wounded in the explosion.

In fact, on Tuesday the buzz was that she might be flown to Jerusalem as soon as her condition stabilises.

Realizing that she might slip out of their hands, the security agencies have communicated to the Israeli authorities through the MEA that she will not be allowed to leave Delhi until her testimony is recorded. They want her to cooperate in the probe and stay put in the Capital for the time being.

The security agencies' inquiries at the private Primus Hospital, too, have been stonewalled. The hospital claims to have conducted surgeries on the military attaché's wife to remove shrapnel that pierced her in the explosion, but it is not providing any exact details, nor allowing the Indian sleuths to speak to her on the plea that she is still in the intensive care unit.

She was not as badly injured as the Primus doctors are claiming, sources said.

Every citizen in Israel has to compulsorily undergo army training and the calmness shown by Koren after the blast reinforces suspicion that a trained militia person could be part of the staged- managed bombing job. Koren was conscious and talking coherently with people who extricated her from the burning car, and even directed them to take her to the embassy and not to a hospital. The embassy staff, too, did not allow the police to take her to a government hospital, which raises suspicion, sources in the investigation team said. Also, the incident happened before she picked up her children from school.

The Indian security agencies have also sought information about the defused bomb in an Israeli embassy car in Georgia and the latest blasts in Bangkok to ascertain if there was any link, since media reports have suggested that the same kind of magnetic bombs were used there.

INVESTIGATORS ARRIVE: Israel, meanwhile, flew in its top detectives to join the investigations into the abortive attempt to blow up the car. Giving the first official sequence of the incident after getting a briefing from the police commissioner, Chidambaram said the device exploded within seconds. The biker took advantage of the red light at the crossing to come from behind to stick the sophisticated device on the trunk side of the rear door.

He said the CCTV cameras in the area were screened, but there was " no clear image of the motorcycle rider or the number plate." The Police Commissioner, in turn, said the bomb appears to be most sophisticated and could not have been assembled in India.

An intelligence alert that Israel may hit back has led to heightened security alert at the Iranian embassy here, even as Israeli sleuths who arrived from Tel- Aviv claimed four suspects involved in the Monday attack were holed up in the embassy.

A report in Free press Journal. Here
In recent years, India has taken care to insulate its multi- faceted ties with Iran from the West's collision with Tehran over its nuclear programme. The West accuses Iran of developing nuclear bombs.

India is uneasy at Israeli accusations about Iran's hand in the Monday bombing that targeted an Israeli embassy car, badly injuring the wife of the Israeli defence attache.

India, the sources said, does not want to be drawn into a diplomatic war of words between Tehran and Tel Aviv. Iran has rubbished Israeli charges as " empty lies". But with Israel launching a diplomatic offensive and the American Jewish Congress ( AJC) asking India to scale down its engagement with Iran, New Delhi could come under renewed pressure from the West to cut off ties with what the Americans say is a rogue regime.

India has launched a probe into the terror attack.

" The probe is on," is all Indian officials would say.

K C Singh, a former Indian ambassador to Iran, told IANS: " Anything is possible.

We have to wait and watch." Ajai Sahni, a terrorism expert, said that it was very unlikely that the attack would ever be traced to the Iranian state.
A report in Free Press Journal Here

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Urdu cannot be crushed : Markandey Katju

In my opinion the best poetry in modern India is in Urdu. I have read the poetry of many countries, including England, America, France, Germany and Russia, apart from reading some of the poetry of Indian languages – Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir, etc., Tamil poetry, Bengali poetry, etc., – but there is no match to Urdu because the voice of the heart as expressed in Urdu poetry is, in my opinion, not expressed in any other language of the world.

There is a misconception that Urdu is the language of Muslims and of foreigners, which is a false propaganda made against Urdu after 1947.

Before 1947, all educated people in large parts of India studied Urdu. It was not the language of Muslims alone. It was the language of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, everybody. But after Partition a deliberate propaganda was made by certain vested interests that Hindi is the language of Hindus and Urdu is a language of Muslims. This was done to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other (part of the divide and rule policy). A lot of effort was made to crush Urdu in India. But a language that expresses the voice of the heart cannot be crushed as long as people have hearts.

Unlike Arabic and Persian, which are foreign languages, Urdu is an indigenous language and is loved by the people of India even today. If you go to a bookstall on a railway platform in India you will find a lot of poetry books of Mir, Ghalib, Firaq, etc., of course nowadays in Devanagari script. You will not find any book there of Mahadevi Verma or Sumitra Nandan Pant, the Hindi poets. Very few people read Hindi poetry, everybody reads Urdu poetry.

Urdu has a dual nature. It is a combination of two languages, that is, Hindustani and Persian, which is why it was at one time called Rekhta, which means hybrid. Since it is a combination of two languages, the question arises: is it a special kind of Persian or a special kind of Hindustani? The answer is that it is a special kind of Hindustani, not a special kind of Persian. Why? Because the verbs in Urdu are all in Hindustani. The language to which a sentence belongs is determined by the verbs used in it, not the nouns or adjectives. In Urdu, all the verbs are in simple Hindi (which is called Hindustani or Khadi Boli). For example, Ghalib says:

“ dekho mujhe jo deeda-e-ibrat_nigaah ho

meree suno jo gosh-e-naseehat_niyosh hai”

The verbs ‘ dekho', ‘ suno', ‘ hai' are all simple Hindi, though the nouns or adjectives may be Persian or Arabic.

Urdu has a dual nature because it is a combination of Hindustani and Persian. Hindustani is the language of the common man, while Persian is the language of aristocrats.

Markandey Katju in his article titled What is India? Frontline Volume 29 - Issue 02
Jan 28 - Feb 10, 2012
. Here

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives

Habit # 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment
This first habit may be the most insidious, since it appears to be highly desirable. Shouldn’t a company try to dominate its business environment, shape thefuture of its markets and set the pace within them? Yes,but there’s a catch. Unlike successful leaders, failed leaders who never question their dominance fail torealize they are at the mercy of changing circumstances.They vastly overestimate the extent to which they actually control events and vastly underestimate the role of chance and circumstance in their success.

CEOs who fall prey to this belief suffer from the illusion of personal pre-eminence: Like certain film directors, they see themselves as the auteurs of their companies. As far as they’re concerned, everyone else in the company is there to execute their personal visionfor the company. Samsung’s CEO Kun-Hee Lee was so successful with electronics that he thought he could repeat this success with automobiles. He invested $5 billion in an already oversaturated auto market. Why? There was no business case. Lee simply loved cars and had dreamed of being in the auto business.

Warning Sign for #1: A lack of respect

Habit #2: They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests
Like the first habit, this one seems innocuous, perhaps even beneficial. We want business leaders to be completely committed to their companies, with their interests tightly aligned with those of the company. But digging deeper, you find that failed executives weren’t identifying too little with the company, but rather too much. Instead of treating companies as enterprises that they needed to nurture, failed leaders treated them as extensions of themselves. And with that, a “private empire” mentality took hold.

CEOs who possess this outlook often use their companies to carry out personal ambitions. The most slippery slope of all for these executives is their tendency to use corporate funds for personal reasons. CEOs who have a long or impressive track record may come to feel that they’ve made so much money for the company that the expenditures they make on themselves, even if extravagant, are trivial by comparison. This twisted logic seems to have been one of the factors that shaped the behavior of Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco. His pride in his company and his pride in his own extravagance seem to have reinforced each other. This is why he could sound so sincere making speeches about ethics while using corporate funds for personal purposes. Being the CEO of a sizable corporation today is probably the closest thing to being king of your own country, and that’s a dangerous title to assume.

Warning Sign for #2: A question of character
Habit #3: They think they have all the answers
Here’s the image of executive competence that we’ve been taught to admire for decades: a dynamic leader making a dozen decisions a minute, dealing with many crises simultaneously, and taking only seconds to size up situations that have stumped everyone else for days. The problem with this picture is that it’s a fraud. Leaders who are invariably crisp and decisive tend to settle issues so quickly they have no opportunity to grasp the ramifications. Worse, because these leaders need to feel they have all the answers, they aren’t open to learning new ones.

CEO Wolfgang Schmitt of Rubbermaid was fond of demonstrating his ability to sort out difficult issues in a flash. A former colleague remembers that under Schmitt,” the joke went, ‘Wolf knows everything about everything.’ In one discussion, where we were talking about a particularly complex acquisition we made in Europe, Wolf, without hearing different points of view, just said, ‘Well, this is what we are going to do.’” Leaders who need to have all the answers shut out other points of view. When your company or organization is run by someone like this, you’d better hope the answers he comes up with are going to be the right ones. At Rubbermaid they weren’t. The company went from being Fortune’s most admired company in America in1993 to being acquired by the conglomerate Newell a few years later.

Warning Sign for #3: A leader without followers

Habit #4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them
CEOs who think their job is to instill belief in their vision also think that it is their job to get everyone to buy into it. Anyone who doesn’t rally to the cause is undermining the vision. Hesitant managers have a choice: Get with the plan or leave.

The problem with this approach is that it’s both unnecessary and destructive. CEOs don’t need to have everyone unanimously endorse their vision to have it carried out successfully. In fact, by eliminating all dissenting and contrasting viewpoints, destructive CEOs cut themselves off from their best chance of seeing and correcting problems as they arise. Sometimes CEOs who seek to stifle dissent only drive it underground. Once this happens, the entire organization falters. At Mattel, Jill Barad removed her senior lieutenants if she thought they harbored serious reservations about the way that she was running things. Schmitt created such a threatening atmosphere at Rubbermaid that firings were often unnecessary. When new executives realized that they’d get no support from the CEO, many of them left almost as fast as they’d come on board. Eventually, these CEOs had everyone on their staff completely behind them. But where they were headed was toward disaster. And no one was left to warn them.

Warning Sign for #4: Executive departures

Habit #5: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image
You know these CEOs: high-profile executives whoare constantly in the public eye. The problem is that amid all the media frenzy and accolades, these leaders’ management efforts become shallow and ineffective. Instead of actually accomplishing things, they often settle for the appearance of accomplishing things.

Behind these media darlings is a simple fact of executive life: CEOs don’t achieve a high level of media attention without devoting themselves assiduously to public relations. When CEOs are obsessed with their image, they have little time for operational details. Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski sometimes intervened in remarkably minor matters, but left most of the company’s day-to-day operations unsupervised.

As a final negative twist, when CEOs make the company’s image their top priority, they run the risk of using financial-reporting practices to promote that image. Instead of treating their financial accounts as a control tool, they treat them as a public-relations tool. The creative accounting that was apparently practiced by such executives as Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling or Tyco’sKozlowski is as much or more an attempt to promote the company’s image as it is to deceive the public: In their eyes, everything that the company does is public relations.

Warning Sign of #5: Blatant attention-seeking
From Forbes. More Here


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