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    ....Our actors work there...our musicians have been popular there.....does that mean we have to modify our content to suit their seasoned tastes?....If only the answer was a simple binary choice.....One cannot peel away all the layers of history within a single article, so I won't even is as real today as it was in 1947....let us look at it from a strictly business perspective.....
    Adi Abdurab (head screenwriter for the TV series Burka Avenger) has raised an important question which has implications on the cross-border cultural exchanges (and  the impact thereof).
    [ref. Wiki] Burka Avenger is a multi-award winning Pakistani animated television series created and directed by famous Pakistani rock star and social activist, Aaron Haroon Rashid. The show features Jiya, an "inspirational teacher" whose alter ego is a burka-wearing superheroine. Jiya uses "Takht Kabaddi", a special martial art that incorporates books and pens, to fight crime. The Urdu language series first aired on 28 July 2013. 
    Our feeling is that Adi Sahib is unduly worried about Pakistani culture losing its way and getting merged with India, though we agree that Pakistanis have the right to be paranoid. The Pakistani TV serials which are making waves in India are doing so because of fascination with a conservative culture and old-fashioned Punjabi, which appeals to an older generation in North India (and may also appeal to youngsters looking for something different).All such productions already meet the "something different to digest instead of the same drudgery" standard that he claims to be aspiring for.
    That said there are of course some cross-border no-no-s. Pakistani movies that depict a thumping victory over evil Indians on (or off) the battlefield will not work in India (and vice versa). As to the critique that an excess of crying is required for success in India, we are not so sure. There are a number of recent Indian movies by a certain Vidya Balan which are not tear-jerkers (Bobby Jasoos, Kahani) and which have been fairly successful in the mass market.

    Perhaps Adi is thinking of a Hindu boy - Muslim girl romance (or the other way around)? That formula has been made to work in India of the past, though we are not so sure about today (see Love Jihad). Perhaps this is what he means by the "peeling away layers of history" - the forgotten history of Hindus and Muslims living side by side in imperfect harmony. We may be wrong but the impression we get about Pakistan today is that any show of minority-majority community bonding (for example, Shia boy - Sunni girl) will not be hugely popular on the home front. 

    There are places where Adi contradicts himself: if we accept that 10% of India (market wise) will be more sizable than Pakistan (his words), then it is no longer just a secondary market (his words). Indeed this is exactly the logic which enthuses the cited producer and (as we see it) it is a cause for alarm for Adi. Also his analogy of Turkey vs. Pakistan with Pakistan vs. India is not credible. Despite his protestations the cultural distance between the respective pairs of nations are not comparable.

    Finally, back to the Burka Avenger. As we understand it, this serial has been appreciated internationally. It is a smart way to undermine the patriarchy that permeates all of South Asia. Adi Sahib should continue the good work and make movies/shows about strong women (who of course will not cry even under the most trying circumstances). We are sure that such a product will be a success in Pakistan, India and beyond. Best of luck!!!
    I was once approached by a producer for making a movie. The prevailing notion was that we need to make something that sells well in India. The producers were willing to go to any lengths to ensure that outcome; from hiring Indian actors to outsourcing key production tasks. This got me thinking:

    Bollywood already makes their own blockbusters, so why would they patronise what would, at best, be our tribute to them? We already have such talented individuals in our own country; why outsource?

    Waar is the most lucrative movie in Pakistani history and not a Bollywood blockbuster. Why not try to replicate that success instead?

    To be clear, this is about introspection, not hate. It's about learning, and to that end, I ask you: should Pakistan be making entertainment primarily for Indian audiences? 

    Our content is slowly becoming India-centric with each passing iteration, simply because we are gaining traction there.
    Zindagi Gulzar Hai was picked up for regular telecast. Our actors work there frequently, our musicians have been popular there for decades now. So, does that mean we have to modify our content to suit their seasoned tastes? Should we not be giving them something different to digest instead of the same drudgery they can just source locally?

    If only the answer was a simple binary choice. One cannot peel away all the layers of history within a single article, so I won't even try. However, money is as real today as it was in 1947, so let us look at it from a strictly business perspective.

    India has a population of just over 1.25 billion. For such a massive audience, even 10 per cent penetration generates more business than the Pakistani average. It makes perfect sense to market (even pander) to that region.

    For the same outcome, we should put serious efforts in making our content more commonly available in China, even a tiny portion of those accumulated eyes on our product will be more than what Game of Thrones does on a good day.

    The cardinal rule of business is that you don’t turn away a paying customer. If any country wants our content, it should be sold happily — there can’t be any limitations there.

    However, they remain a secondary market. Our primary market is Pakistan. If we prioritise the secondary market, our content will lose traction in the primary market. To simplify, we cannot hope to sell a product in any international market if it fails to succeed locally.

    But what's happening is that producers and writers are creating bipolar content: content that has shifted focus to generic situations that translate well across the border featuring the likes of atypical relationships and oh so much crying; trumping content pertinent to Pakistanis on a personal level.

    To put it into perspective, imagine the immensely popular Turkish dramas turning into something akin to Humsafar and Bulbulay. That is very unlikely because these shows are designed to generate business in Turkey. Whatever business they do here is a bonus. India might be a huge market, but it is still just that — a bonus.

    In recent times, everyone from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Adnan Sami Khan, Junoon and Ali Zafar built their personal brands first. They did not start out by creating music specifically for India. They created original content that made such a huge impact it was felt over the border.

    With regards to cinema, our films are rapidly anchoring themselves to what are rather disjointedly named as “item songs”.

    In the meeting with the aforementioned producer, there was talk of hiring an international studio for CG work, even though there are studios in Pakistan which had successfully worked for illustrious projects like Spiderman 3, Tomb Raider, Discovery Channel, Audi Ad campaigns to quote a few examples.

    One’s identity should be a matter of pride, especially when catering to the whims of Pakistani audiences has proven profitable in the past. Content creators should not water at the mouth so voraciously at the prospect of taking it across the border that they end up trampling our own audiences to get there.

    We have spent a lifetime cultivating our own identity, and fickle as it's often made out to be, it does exist. When we refuse to take ownership of it, others impose their presumptions. If we work harder at pleasing the world over ourselves, we risk losing both. And that would be really bad for business.




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    "sorry....You should go back....You should apologise.... You should be ashamed...250 passengers have suffered....It is your fault, sir" ....."Malik sahab, you are not a minister any more....And even if you are, we don't care...Anymore".... 
    A most refreshing bit of news out of Pakistan. The golden rule is that the planes must wait, the traffic must halt, the queues must give way for the elite class in South Asia. This is especially true if the man (it is usually a man) has taken a public vow to serve the public. Cheers are due when the suffering commoners take a stand against their high-handed overlords. It will be even better if this causes people to introspect. Bravo!!!
    Angry passengers on board a PIA flight stopped former interior minister Rehman Malik and a Hindu lawmaker of the ruling PML-N from boarding the plane, accusing them of causing over two hours of delay.

    The Islamabad-bound Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-370 from Karachi was delayed by two and a half hours yesterday as it kept waiting for the arrival of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) senator Malik and National Assembly member Dr Ramesh Kumar Wakwani.

    When they finally came, the passengers stopped them from boarding the aircraft.
    According to a video clip repeatedly shown by the local media, passengers were shouting at Malik who was filmed going back hurriedly when confronted by the passengers.


    "Malik sahab, sorry. You should go back. You should apologise to these passengers. You should be ashamed of yourself...250 passengers have suffered because of you. It is your fault, sir," a passenger was heard saying in the clip.

    "Malik sahab, you are not a minister any more. And even if you are, we don't care...Anymore," he said.

    The clip, which has gone viral online, showed passengers booing and ridiculing the lawmakers as the crew also joined them.Kumar was not shown in the video but Dawn reported that he was also not allowed to board the plane.

    PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar speaking to Dawn denied the flight was delayed because of Malik and said that shift manager Nadeem Abro and terminal manager Shehzad Khan have been suspended due to the delayed take-off of PK-370.

    "PIA does not promote VIP culture...But this flight was delayed an hour and 30 minutes due to a technical reason," Tajwar said.After the initial delay which was due to technical reasons, the plane was delayed for a further 15 to 20 minutes and they have been suspended for this delay, he claimed.

    "The delay had been conveyed to passengers via SMS. Some passengers who had given the contact details of their travel agent may not have been conveyed the message by their agents," Tajwar said. He said the plane took off at 8:55 pm last night.

    "The flight was not delayed because of Rehman Malik. We are looking into what actually happened but after the delay, the flight departed when it was meant to," he added.

    Meanwhile, Malik today denied on Twitter he was responsible for the delay while Wakwani told PTI he only reached the airport after informed by PIA staff when the flight was going to take off.
    "I had confirmed before leaving for the airport if the flight was on time and when it was delayed, I adjusted my plans accordingly," Wakwani said.





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    More than 3 years ago I wrote a piece asking whether Pakistan is a failed state or the Weimar Republic? At that time, i was still an optimist and thought it was probably neither. But I did say at the end:  (the original article is at the end of this post, to see it with hyperlinks go to  ).

    So much for the optimistic version. Since this is a post about Pakistan, it cannot end without some pessimism. The most dangerous element in Pakistan today is not the Islamist fanatics. It is the rise of China. Not because the rise of China threatens Pakistan or because Chinese hyper-capitalism or cheap Chinese products threaten our industry or our social peace or any such thing, but because it may inflate the egos of the military high command to the point that they lose contact with reality and try a high jump for which we are not yet ready (and may never be ready). It’s not that the high jump will get anywhere, but that the attempt may lead us into more trouble than we can handle. Jf 17 thunder

     I say this because GHQ, for all its pragmatic pretensions, has been known to overestimate their skill and underestimate their opponents.  If China was not truly a rising power, and if Pakistan did not have some real assets and advantages, we might have been safer in the long run. But since there is an element of truth in the paknationalists notions about China and the changing global balance of power, they may lose their balance.  All I am saying is GHQ is prone to flying off on a self-generated hot air pocket even when the situation does not encourage such optimism. When the situation actually has some positive aspects, there may be no restraining them. But, I remain an optimist. I think our own weaknesses may protect us from the fate of a much stronger and more capable country (Germany in 1940).

    This year, things have taken a turn for the worse. According to a report (written months ago, so not cooked up after the event), a plan was hatched in London to depose Nawaz Sharif and bring in a new government under the supervision of the army. Who knows what the real details of the plot are (it may be that the army chief, for example, was not involved, but only some generals and retired adventurers put the script together) but it hit a snag on 14th August when Imran Khan failed to deliver his promised 100,000 motorcyclists to the "Azadi March". But not to be deterred by poor crowds, he has kept up the show and the civilian institutions of the state have failed to establish their writ in spite of court orders and blatant violations of the law by Imran Khan and Qadri (including a raid on a police station by Imran Khan himself, to free PTI workers being held there). Whether this failure is due to incompetence, collusion or fear of the army (likely all three), the insistent drumbeat of speeches (and their 24-7 amplification by most news channels) in Islamabad continues and the central government looks weak and ineffectual in spite of the support of most established political parties. This is not necessarily considered a negative in Pakistan, where the government, the police, the courts and the political parties are all corrupt to varying degrees and all have their hand in robbing and insulting the citizenry on a daily basis. In fact, some leftists (and not just leftists) who are not necessarily fans of Imran Khan or Qadri cannot help but be delighted by the scenes of policemen getting beaten up and "high authorities" looking like fools.

    But unfortunately (or fortunately, if you happen to think that the demise of Pakistan is in fact a desirable outcome and the sooner the better) this humiliation is not being meted out to bring about more democracy or a Bolshevik revolution (itself a most undesirable event as far as I am concerned, but i am sure many friends disagree with that) but to bring in a new cycle of military rule (this time using the "Bangladesh model" of technocrat govt to mask the "military" part) and Paknationalist cleansing. This is an old dream. Since Pakistan does not seem to conform to the dreams of "true Pakistani nationalists" (too much "disorder", too many dirty politicians, too much "provincialism", too little discipline and too few white rings on trees) there is a recurring desire to try and clean the place up (the "Chakwal solution"). Shoot the corrupt politicians. Bring in "clean people". Break up existing provinces with their linguistic and cultural identities and replace them with "more efficient smaller provinces" and "pure Pakistani culture". Get rid of "Indian culture".  etc etc....of course there isnt just ONE dream. In actual practice, the dreamers have many different dreams. Some want an end to "fake democracy". Others want an end to democracy, period ("no political parties in Islam"). Some want Swedish Social Democracy but with more Islam and fewer naked women. Some want organic farming (with "extra people" being exported elsewhere perhaps, so that some sort of Vandana Shiva paradise can be re-established with a pre-1960 population level) while others want modern progressive agriculture (Jahangir Tareen). Some want to cut off the hands of thieves (with future troublemakers, but not the current lot, having their hands and feet cut off on opposite sides, as per Quranic recommendations) while others just want more handouts. But the dreams converge on the desire to destroy the current "system" and replace it with a better one. Oh well, I guess the phrase I am looking for is "useful idiots" and lets leave it at that..

    But thats not what triggered this post. What triggered this post is the notion that all this is itself a symptom of that good old social phenomenon "things fall apart".  It used to be the case that a general would just poke the president in the ribs and send him on his way (Sikander Mirza, literally poked in the ribs to encourage him to leave) and the political class and civil service would (overwhelmingly) fall in line and take orders. That was in "old Pakistan". That fell apart in 1971, but new Pakistan retained the institutional characteristics and ideological peculiarities of old Pakistan (in fact, they became more concentrated once the inconvenient Bengalis exited Jinnah's dream palace). General Zia conducted his coup without any fuss. Sure, he then had to hang Bhutto and flog tens of thousands to keep the show on the road, but at least the civil service remained fully loyal (Roedad Khan rising to become secretary general of the interior before retiring and writing about dreams going sour and now joining Imran Khan!). Generals Aslam Beg and Waheed KakaR did their thing via President GIK but by 1999 things were messier. At least one general went along with an attempted pre-emptive strike on the army by the prime minister before the old ways prevailed. But even that was smooth sailing compared to this farce. Now the army chief may not even be the main conspirator! Retired generals and (perhaps, if even half the rumors are true) some soon to be retired ones are trying one thing, the chief is trying another. The good old bureaucracy has long since splintered into various camps. The police is looking shaky. Old reliables of the deep state are present on all sides of the "revolution" and cannot seem to agree on one deep state script. The corrupt politicians are proving surprisingly resistant to "positive change". Journalists are in opposing camps. Media houses are openly fighitng each other. Even the main actors (Imran Khan and Qadri) dont seem to be on the same page. And to top it all, Punjab has one set of priorities and all the other provinces seem to have very different ones, not just amongst the people (where it was always thus perhaps) but even among the leaders of those provinces. Even the Taliban are not united any more. Is this a good sign or a bad sign?

    In the short term, it must count as a bad sign. Whatever your politics (and if you are reading this in English on the internet, your politics are likely to be either paknationalist or leftist...or both; cognitive dissonance is not just a river in Egypt) the country as a functioning state needs certain institutions to function at bare minimum levels. Last year there was even hope that in Pakistan those institutions may be strengthening and may now include a superior judiciary, an election commission and a parliament, but thanks to Imran Khan and his "youthful" supporters, all that has been delegitimized very thoroughly. Still, that is India-level dreaming, forget about that. What about having a police force and a civil adminstration? what if you no longer have those either? that has not happened yet, but both are being battered as we speak. No big deal you say. They are corrupt, incompetent and useless anyway...mostly true, but then, they are all we have. What happens when they are gone? Some army officers and their cousins (which covers most of the Punjabi middle class) are probably going "you forget the army", but no, I didnt forget them. The army is the pride of Pakistan. Still disciplined, united, well armed, etc etc. But there has NEVER been a martial law in which they actually ran things at the local level. The country has always run (and never run too well, but it is what it is) using the civilian instittutions of the British Raj. Ideally, the aim would have been to remodel them over time into improved versions suitable for an independent democratic country, but what with ideological confusion and martial laws, that never really happened. So OK, they are pretty bad by now, even compared to British Raj standards. But they are all there is. Lose them and its over, Even if root and branch replacement is someone's aim, no replacement actually exists, so the question is academic.
    Are we heading for that point? Please give your opinion in the comments.
    My own feeling: we are headed that way and if this goes on, it could become irreversible. I am an incorrigible optimist, so I dont think its too late yet. If MNS survives AND actually learns some lessons and rules a little better (less reliance on police and gangsters, more inclusive and responsive government) AND his victory pushes intelligence agencies a little on the back foot, then institutions may come out a little stronger and more secure. But that seems increasingly unlikely (perhaps it always was, I dont know). If he does not survive this and we are to host the Bangladesh model, then things will look better for a few months (at most), then decay much faster than before as the emperor is seen to have no clothes. That will then lead to Paknationalists "doubling down", with the possibility that the full Chakwal solution may finally be attempted. Provinces will be broken up, political parties will be decapitated. "Bad journalists" and intellectuals will be arrested or exiled. The ideological vacuum will be filled with Paknatinalism, which is just too shallow and confused a construct on which to base a successful state. Chaos and/or war with India will follow as the cart follows the horse.
    Too pessimistic? What do you think?

    The old article from 2012 follows.


    by Omar Ali

    I recently wrote an article with this title that was triggered by a comment from a friend in Pakistan. He wrote that Pakistan felt to him like the Weimar Republic: An anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. While the Weimar comparison was new to me, the “failed state” tag is now commonplace and many commentators have described Pakistan as either a failed state or a failing state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?  For my initial answer, you can read the article in the News, but when that article was circulated among friends, it triggered some feedback that the blog format allows me to use as a hook for some further discussion and clarification.

    Some friends disagreed with my contention that Weimar Germany was too different to be a useful comparison. Germany and Pakistan may indeed be apples and (very underdeveloped) oranges, but the point of the analogy was that the current artistic and creative ferment in Pakistan is not sustainable and just as the Weimar Republic fell to fascism (not to state collapse), Pakistan’s current anarchic spring is a prelude to fascism.

    It’s a fair point, but I think the crucial difference between Pakistan and Weimar Germany that I should have highlighted is the decentralized and broken up nature of the polity, with so many competing power centers that it is very hard to imagine a relatively modern fascist takeover (which, I assume, is the danger we are being warned against).

    To make this point clearer, let’s look at the power that is supposed to be the agency of incipient fascism in Pakistan; Liberals who fear a fascist takeover almost universally regard the military high command as the center of this fascist network. They may regard the Jamat e Islami, with its long history of organizing thuggish student and labor wings, its close alliance with the jihadist faction of the army, and its systematic (islamicized) fascist ideology, as the ideological center of such a takeover. But they expect the army and its intelligence agencies to be the actual executors of Pakistani fascism.  Thus, they point towards army apologists like Ahmed Qureshi and Zaid Hamid as propagandists who are preparing the ground for this supposed takeover.

    But a closer look reveals a vast gulf between anarchic and incompetent reality and slickly presented “paknationalist” propaganda. The army’s “Islamist-fascist” wing has been pushed back by 10 years of American vetting of the high command that makes it hard to imagine a successful Islamist version of fascism. Of course, some leftists accept that, but believe that the threat was never from “Islamo-fascism”, but from good old fashioned fascism in the German and Italian mode, led by army officers in Western uniforms, not by the beards and their gangs. But that leads to two other problems; one is ideological, i.e. what will be the ideology of this fascist takeover? In Germany and Italy it was German and Italian nationalism, but Pakistani nationalism minus Islam is still too incoherent to be useful for this purpose (which is why the small sliver of educated westernized paknationalists who flock around army websites are so ineffectual and confused). But the critical missing component is not ideology (which can be created from very thin gruel if needed), the critical missing component is capacity; the army cannot even control its own agents in the tribal areas and South Punjab. It could not fix the electrical grid after running the system unchallenged by civilians for almost ten years. Its ministers and trouble-shooters ran a semi-functional Pakistan Railways into the ground during a similar period of direct military control. Even during martial law, they are forced to make deals with corrupt and useless politicians to keep other corrupt and useless politicians at bay. This, in short, is the gang that cannot shoot straight. They may be more capable in some areas than their detractors imagine (witness the efficient handling of the Raymond Davis families by the ISI or their ability to make nuclear bombs or advanced aircraft) but they really cannot make the trains run on time even if they do take over again. Their strong points are limited to a few areas (very good at milking their foreign patrons, for example) but their weak points are far too many and are getting worse. The threat is less serious than imagined.

     A lot of feedback comes from the opposite extreme: the people who are convinced that Pakistan is on an unstoppable slide to disaster. To these people, the army is less capable than I indicated. Since they believe that all other institutions have already become junk, the army is the last wall standing between the current disorder and total state collapse, and the army is not immune to decay. Since the army has been ruling the country in one form or the other for decades, it has become politicized and discipline, morale and professional competence are deteriorating. Add to that the fact that the army is now fighting a civil war against the very elements it created and lionized for years and is doing so without any ideological framework beyond conspiracy theories about Hinjews and CIA agents. This situation is not sustainable and the army itself will crash and burn at some point, with horrific consequences. Meanwhile, the country is splitting further on ethnic and sectarian lines and is always one step away from economic chaos. No one, not the army, not the mainstream political parties, not the intelligentsia, has a coherent framework in which they can disengage from Islamist millenarian dreams and rebuild the country as a more normal country “developing” country.

    Again, some of the points are fair points, but I think the doom and gloom may be exaggerated. First of all, it is very hard to break up a modern post-colonial state. It’s been done, but it is not easy and it is not the default setting. The modern world system is heavily invested in the integrity of nation states and while some states do fail in spite of that, this international consensus makes it difficult to get agreement on any rearrangement of borders. In most cases, distant powers as well as surrounding neighbors find it more convenient to find ways to compromise within existing borders. Even a spectacular failure, like the collapse of the Soviet empire, actually ends up validating already existing borders rather than creating entirely new ones. The supranational structure of the Soviet Union collapsed, but its component nations remained almost entirely within their existing borders. In this sense, Pakistan does not have 4 separate ethnically and culturally distinct units joined by weak supra-national bonds. Even an extremely unhappy component like Baluchistan is not uniformly Baloch. In fact, Balochis are probably no more than half the population of that province. Sindh contains large and very powerful Mohajir enclaves that do not easily make common cause with rural Sindh. More Pakhtoons live in Karachi than in the Pakhtoonkhwa capital of Peshawar. Economic and cultural links (especially the electronic media) unite more than they divide. If nothing else, cricket unites the nation. In addition, the reach of modern schooling and brainwashing is not to be underestimated. Even in far flung areas, many young people have grown up in a world where Pakistani nationalism is the default setting.

    Economically, the country is always in dire straits, but agribusiness and textiles are powerful sectors with real potential. More advanced sectors can easily take off if law and order improves a little and irrational barriers with India are lowered a little bit.  The nation state is not as weak as it sometimes appears to be.

     So much for the optimistic version. Since this is a post about Pakistan, it cannot end without some pessimism. The most dangerous element in Pakistan today is not the Islamist fanatics. It is the rise of China. Not because the rise of China threatens Pakistan or because Chinese hyper-capitalism or cheap Chinese products threaten our industry or our social peace or any such thing, but because it may inflate the egos of the military high command to the point that they lose contact with reality and try a high jump for which we are not yet ready (and may never be ready). It’s not that the high jump will get anywhere, but that the attempt may lead us into more trouble than we can handle.

     I say this because GHQ, for all its pragmatic pretensions, has been known to overestimate their skill and underestimate their opponents.  If China was not truly a rising power, and if Pakistan did not have some real assets and advantages, we might have been safer in the long run. But since there is an element of truth in the paknationalists notions about China and the changing global balance of power, they may lose their balance.  All I am saying is GHQ is prone to flying off on a self-generated hot air pocket even when the situation does not encourage such optimism. When the situation actually has some positive aspects, there may be no restraining them. But, I remain an optimist. I think our own weaknesses may protect us from the fate of a much stronger and more capable country (Germany in 1940).

    - See more at:

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  • 09/16/14--19:55: The lives of peasants
  • The boy comes out at the sound....Nitai is quick, he has the energy and focus of an animal filled with itself and itself only.....pushes him against the mud wall and drives the curve of the blade with all the force in his combusting being...This time the blood, a thin, lukewarm jet, hits him full on his face...
    Earlier it was feudalism. Now it is globalization. Even the so-called elites have very little control over their lives. If you are looking for a profession where you will never run out of clients (and money) try being a psychiatrist. The ones we know have one mile long queues in front of their office- clients suffering from unbearable stress of having great expectations (from ourselves, from our near and dear ones) in an uncertain and unforgiving world.
    None of the above excuses the utterly horrific conditions in which peasants continue to lead their lives. If we enjoy living in a liberal democracy (however flawed) and not suffer from armed revolutions the elites will need to share. Every man, woman and child must be guaranteed dignity of life (and labor). To take just one example, all communities (and local governments) should learn from the example set forward by the Sikhs and adopt a no beggar policy.

    The days of dividing and misruling are mostly behind us, as the BJP has discovered in the recently held by-poll(s) shocker - losing 9-2 to Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and 3-0 in Uttarakhand and 3-1 in Rajasthan to a Congress party which is supposedly dead and buried. We live in hope for a better tomorrow, but there will be many a (non-fictional) Nitai Das who need help now and are unable to wait.
    A third of the way through the half-mile walk from the landlord's house to his hut, Nitai Das's feet begin to sway. Or maybe it is the head-spin again. He sits down on the lifeless field he has to cross before he can reach his hut. There isn't a thread of shade anywhere. 
    The May sun is an unforgiving fire; it burns his blood dry. It also burns away any lingering grain of hope that the monsoons will arrive in time to end this third year of drought. The earth around him is beginning to fissure and crack. His eyelids are heavy. He closes them for a while, then, as sleep begins to take him, he pitches forward from his sitting position and jolts awake. Absently, he fingers his great enemy, the soil, not soil any more, but compacted dust. Even its memory of water has been erased for ever, as if it has never been.

    He has begged all morning outside the landlord's house for one cup of rice. His three children haven't eaten for five days. Their last meal had been a handful of hay stolen from the landlord's cowshed and boiled in the cloudy yellow water from the well. Even the well is running dry. 
    For the past three years they have been eating once every five or six or seven days. The last few times he had gone to beg had yielded nothing, except abuse and forcible ejection from the grounds of the landlord's house. 
    In the beginning, when he had first started to beg for food, they shut and bolted all the doors and windows against him while he sat outside the house, for hours and hours, day rolling into evening into night, until they discovered his resilience and changed that tactic. Today they had set their guards on him. One of them had brought his stick down on Nitai's back, his shoulders, his legs, while the other one had joked, ‘Where are you going to hit this dog? He is nothing but bones, we don't even have to hit him. Blow on him and he'll fall back.'

    Oddly, Nitai doesn't feel any pain from this morning's beating. He knows what he has to do. A black billow makes his head spin again and he shuts his eyes to the punishment of white light.

    All he needs to do is walk the remaining distance, about 2,000 hands. In a few moments, he is all right. Some kind of jittery energy makes a sudden appearance inside him and he gets up and starts walking. Within seconds the panting begins, but he carries on. A dry heave interrupts him for a bit. Then he continues.

    His wife is sitting outside their hut, waiting for him to return with something, anything, to eat. She can hardly hold her head up. Even before he starts taking shape from a dot on the horizon to the form of her husband, she knows he is returning empty-handed. The children have stopped looking up now when he comes back from the fields. They have stopped crying with hunger, too.

    The youngest, three years old, is a tiny, barely moving bundle, her eyes huge and slow. The middle one is a skeleton sheathed in loose, polished black skin. The eldest boy, with distended belly, has become so listless that even his shadow seems dwindled and slow. Their bones have eaten up what little flesh they had on their thighs and buttocks. 

    On the rare occasions when they cry, no tears emerge; their bodies are reluctant to part with anything they can retain and consume. He can see nothing in their eyes. In the past there was hunger in them, hunger and hope and end of hope and pain, and perhaps even a puzzled resentment, a kind of muted accusation, but now there is nothing, a slow, beyond-the-end nothing.

    The landlord has explained to him what lies in store for his children if he does not pay off the interest on his first loan. Nitai has brought them into this world of misery, of endless, endless misery. Who can escape what's written on his forehead from birth? He knows what to do now.

    He picks up the short-handled sickle, takes his wife by her bony wrist and brings her out in the open. With his practised farmer's hand, he arcs the sickle and brings it down and across her neck. He notices the fleck of spit in the two corners of her mouth, her eyes huge with terror. The head isn't quite severed, perhaps he didn't strike with enough force, so it hangs by the still-uncut fibres of skin and muscle and arteries as she collapses with a thud. Some of the spurt of blood has hit his face and his ribcage, which is about to push out from its dark, sweaty cover. His right hand is sticky with blood.

    The boy comes out at the sound. Nitai is quick, he has the energy and focus of an animal filled with itself and itself only. Before the sight in front of the boy can tighten into meaning, his father pushes him against the mud wall and drives the curve of the blade with all the force in his combusting being across his neck, decapitating him in one blow. This time the blood, a thin, lukewarm jet, hits him full on his face. His hand is so slippery with blood that he drops the sickle.

    Inside the tiny hut, his daughter is sitting on the floor, shaking, trying to drag herself into a corner where she can disappear. Perhaps she has smelled the metallic blood, or taken fright at the animal moan issuing out of her father, a sound not possible of humans. 

    Nitai instinctively rubs his right hand, his working hand, against his bunched-up lungi and grabs hold of his daughter's throat with both his hands, and squeezes and squeezes and squeezes until her protruding eyes almost leave the stubborn ties of their sockets and her tongue lolls out and her thrashing legs still. He crawls on the floor to the corner where their last child is crying her weak, runty mewl and, with trembling hands, covers her mouth and nose, pushing his hands down, keeping them pressed, until there is nothing.

    Nitai Das knows what to do. He lifts the jerrycan of Folidol left over from three seasons ago and drinks, his mouth to the lip of the plastic canister, until he can drink no more. His insides burn numb and he thrashes and writhes like a speared earthworm, thrashes and writhes, a pink foam emerging from his mouth, until he too is returned from the nothing in his life to nothing.





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  • 09/17/14--06:50: Bangladesh forgives Jamaat
  • Delwar Hossain Sayedee is the Nayeb-e-Ameer (Vice President) of Jamaat-e-Islami of Bangladesh and has been accused of war crimes (mostly against Hindu civilians) in 1971. He was awarded the death penalty which has now been down-graded to life in prison.
    This, in our opinion, is a good (but not fair) ruling. Bangladesh urgently needs a working compromise between people who swear by Partition-I (freedom from Bengali Hindu oppression) and those who are loyal to Partition-II (freedom from Punjabi Muslim oppression). People (Bengali Muslims) need to forgive and forget the past, else more people are dead and broken in the present (total death count from last year's riots was in excess of 100).
    What about the (Bengali Hindu) minorities? To our infinite regret we have to agree here with Professor Sharmila Bose (Oxford University). These people are so irrational that they are still clinging on to their bhitey-mati (home and land). However time is not on their side- legal and extra-legal means have been used to grab an estimated 2 million acres as of date (45% of all Hindu owned land). As Professor Abul Barkat(Dhaka University) observes"when it comes to land there is no secularism."

    The recorded change in Hindu-Bangladeshi population: 22% (1951), 18.5% (1961), 13.5% (1974), 12.1% (1981), 10.5% (1991), 9.2% (2001) and 8.5% (2011), see below for more details and links. We have faith in history as a (persistent) teacher, the Hindus will eventually get the message and clear out. 
    ......over9 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus have vanished from the country during the past decade. This has been reported officially by the Bangladesh Statistical Bureau (BSB) and the NationalPopulation Research and Training Institute (NPRTI).

    Currently, Hindus account for 8.5 per cent of the total population of the country. However, in the 2001 census, the Hindu population of Bangladesh was 9.2 per cent. The Muslim population was 89.7 per cent in 2001, but increased to 90.4 per cent.

    The two census reports identified 15 districts in the country where the Hindu population has decreased alarmingly. The institutions were quoted by the speakers as having claimed that the ‘missing population have not shifted anywhere in the country’.....

    Professor Abul Barkat of Dhaka University's Department of Economics, in his survey on the status of Hindus since independence, found that the Vested Property Act was the single largest cause of migration of Hindus from Bangladesh. The law, which allowed the government to possess property abandoned by those who fled during Partition, soon metamorphosed into something abused by both citizens and the state.

    The study found that 2.01 million acres, comprising 45 per cent of the land owned by Hindus, was lost due to this Act. Though there were attempts to amend the law, little has changed. Sustained campaigning on the issue led to the Awami League government passing the Vested Property Return Act 2001. 

    But this law to return appropriated land is caught in bureaucratic and legal tangles. "When it comes to land, there is no secularism. All parties have been involved in land grabbing and no one is keen on implementing this law," Hossain said. 


    While fingers will point many different ways in order to diffuse (or deny) the blame for the ongoing ethnic cleansing, we prefer to characterize this process as a tribute to the two nation theory. At least the Hindus have an escape route north, west and east, across the border, do spare a thought about the Urdu speaking "Bihari" Muslim minorities rotting away in Dhaka slums, neither the Islamic Republic of Pakistan nor the secular republic with Islam as state religion Bangladesh have time or space for them.

    An important side-effect of TNT may be observed in the recent by-polls in India (held after the Lok Sabha elections in May).  In most cases the BJP lost miserably all across India- Bihar, Uttar Pradlesh, Uttarkhand, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Even in Gujarat BJP has under-performed. But there is a bright spot: victories in Basirhat Dakshin in West Bengal and Silchar in south Asom. Both are regions bordering Bangladesh and the rise of the BJP shows that the migrant Hindus have abandoned the "secular" formulations (Trinamool Congress and the Communists) and voted in favor of the Hindu-Hindi party. In its own way (and in not a good way) this is a sign for the times to come.
    Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Wednesday commuted the death sentence of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a top Islamist preacher whose sentencing last year triggered the deadliest political violence in the country's history, , to life term.

    In a surprise ruling, the court said Sayedee should spend "the rest of his natural life" in jail, attorney general Mahbubey Alam said. "We had expected that the court would uphold his death sentence," Alam told reporters.

    Lawyers for Sayedee said they were not satisfied with the court's ruling on the 74-year-old, who was convicted last year on eight counts including murder, rape and persecution of the country's minority Hindu community. "He should have been acquitted of all charges as the case was tainted by a number controversies," Khandaker Mahbub Hossain told reporters.

    Last February's judgement by a war crimes court triggered weeks of bloody protests left more than 100 people dead and plunged the impoverished nation into a major crisis.

    Security was tightened nationwide ahead of Wednesday's ruling, with thousands of police, the elite security force, Rapid Action Battalion, and the paramilitary border guards being deployed in major cities and towns.

    Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was one the country's most popular Islamic preachers with millions of followers. In his heyday he would draw hundreds of thousands to his preaching sessions, and CDs of his speeches were top sellers.

    He has said the original judgement was influenced by "atheists" and pro-government protesters who wanted to see him executed.


    Link (1):

    Link (2):

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  • 09/18/14--01:20: The UK is Greater India

  • God save the Queen & her United Kingdom on this momentous day. Niall Ferguson makes a wonderful point that Scotland is AfPak (Afghanistan is the highlands, Pakistan the theocratic lowlands) and England is sort of India. Who knows maybe one days we can re-confederate and Scotland staying demonstrates the precedent, Unity is the principal principle of this new age of mankind.

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  • 09/18/14--10:57: An Appeal for Alan
  • Even if we are a bit too cynical and feel that (a) the appeal for Alan Henning by British Imams and muslim organizations is nothing but public relations and that (b) the Caliphate folks are unlikely to listen to anyone (heck, even Al Qaeda has requested them to let the hostages free), the important point still remains that a man is (maybe) alive now, he will certainly be dead later.

    It must be a terrible time for his family as they live in zero hope and from day to day. Our sympathies would be meaningless, so the best we can do is watch and wait in silence.
    Henning, a taxi driver, was kidnapped within 30 minutes of crossing from Turkey into Syria. He had volunteered to drive an ambulance full of medical aid as part of a community-funded charity trip organised by volunteers from Bolton, England, and the UK Arab Society.

    It is believed he was abducted by the Islamic State (IS) in Al Dana, a town 38km from Aleppo.

    Reports suggest he was separated from Muslim counterparts by masked men. Friends who traveled with him said they made desperate attempts to get him freed before returning to the UK.

    Video footage of Henning, filmed before he was captured in Syria, has shown him describing his trips to the country. He said: "It's all worthwhile when you see what is needed, as you get where it needs to go. That makes it all worthwhile."

    Henning had appeared at the end of the video released on Saturday in which Haines was beheaded by IS.


    Letter by British Imams and Muslim Leaders appealing for release of Alan Henning

    We, the undersigned British Muslim Imams, organisations and individuals, wish to express our horror and revulsion at the senseless murder of David Haines and the threat to the life of our fellow British citizen, Alan Henning.
    Mr Henning was a volunteer who travelled to Syria to help innocent civilians. Acts of humanitarianism are an essential element of religious practice for all Muslims, and of course they are just as significant to other people too. Islamic teachings call for charity and selflessness. ...
    Most importantly, acts of beneficence do not, and cannot, exclude non-Muslims. In Islam, concern for fellow humans and the duty to help everyone is a religious obligation. Anyone undertaking a humanitarian act is paving his or her way to receive help from heaven, should be commended and held in the highest esteem.
    In contrast, the senseless kidnapping, murder and now the despicable threats to Mr Henning at the hands of so-called ‘Muslims’ cannot be justified anywhere in the Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic traditions).
    The un-Islamic fanatics are not acting as Muslims, but as the Prime Minister has said, they are acting as monsters. They are perpetrating the worst crimes against humanity. This is not Jihad - it is a war against all humanity.
    The Holy Quran says that: "Whosoever kills a human being... it is as if killing the entire human race; and whosoever saves a life, saves the entire human race." We plead with those holding Alan Henning to see the errors of their ways. To embrace the word of the Quran and accept that what they are now doing constitutes the worst condemnable sin.
    We appeal to them to release Mr Henning immediately. The Quran states that “repentance is not accepted from those who continue to do evil deeds.” In the name of the Almighty All Merciful God, we beseech Mr Henning's kidnappers with the words of our Prophet Muhammad - "Show mercy to those on earth, the One in the Heavens will have mercy on you.
    British Muslim communities have done a great deal to speak out over the evils of terrorism over many years. We will continue to do everything within our power to prevent any other young man or woman getting caught up in this poisonous ideology.

    Sheikh Arif Abdulhussain, Director, Al-Mahdi Institute, Birmingham, @AMIOutreach
    Imam Khalid Hussain Abdullah, Lecturer and Imam, KQZ Institute & Masjid Tajdar Madina, Nottingham & Leicester
    Mohammed Afzal, Councillor, Birmingham
    Mufti Fazal Ahmad, Chief imam, Central Mosque, Derby
    Dr Husna Ahmad OBE, CEO, Global One, London
    Akeela Ahmed, London
    Sughra Ahmed, President, Islamic Society of Britain
    Usma Ahmed, Councillor, Birmingham
    Muddassar Ahmed, Patron, Faiths Forum for London
    Shakil Ahmed, Principal, Ayesha Community School, London, @_ACE_School
    Dr Khurshid Ahmed CBE, CEO, Bahu Trust, Birmingham
    Maqsood Ahmed OBE, Director of Community Welfare& Development, Muslim Hands, @maqsoodajmedobe
    Rushanara Ali, MP for Tower Hamlets
    Hafiz Javed Akhtar, Imam, Central Mosque, Manchester
    Salah Yusuf Al-Ansari, Imam, Palmers Green Mosque, London
    Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli, Imam, Noor Trust, London
    Abubakar Ali, Chairman, Somali Bravanese Welfare Association, London
    Asif Ali, Imam / Head Teacher, Karimia Institute, Nottingham
    Azhar Ali, County Councillor and Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing, Lancashire County Council, @azhar4pendle
    Nawaz Ali, Councillor, Birmingham
    Mahmoud Ali, General Secretary, Hosseinieh Foundation, Bristol, @HosseiniehSahibzada
    Mufti Akhtar Ali, Chief Imam, Sheffield
    Haider Alkhateeb, Manager, Centre for Islamic Shia Studies (CISS), London, @halkhateeb25
    Kerrar Al-Khayat, Trustee and Vice Chairman, My Voice Project, London, @Kerrar_
    Sayed Yousif Al-Khoei, Director, Public Affairs, Al-Khoei Foundation, London
    Haytham Ali Alsahlani, Imam, London
    Abu Sayeed Ameer, Dawatul Islam uk & Eire, Dawatul Islam uk & Eire London
    Mohammed Ali Amla, Vice Chair of Preston Faith Forum, Founder of Global Village, Founder of Christian Muslim Encounters, @mohammedaliamla
    Anjum Anwar MBE, Dialogue Development Officer, Blackburn Cathedral, @AuntyG
    Dr Qari Muhammad Asim, Senior Imam, Makkah Mosque, Leeds, @QariAsim
    Maulana Dr Ather HussainAzhari, Imam, Birmingham
    Mufti Mohammad Yousuf Azhari, Imam, Leicestershire
    Mohammed Azim, Councillor, Birmingham
    Maulana QamaruzzamanAzmi, Secretary General, World Islamic Mission, Manchester
    Kalsoom Bashir, Co-Director, Inspire
    Yahya Birt, Executive Committee, Public Policy and Community Debate, City Circle, London, @ybirt
    Dr Mamadou Bocoum, Director, Interfaith Through The Arts (ITTA), London
    Maulana Syed Fida Bokhari, Imam, Manchester
    Imam Tayeb Mustapha Cham, Chairman, Tayba Foundation
    Makhdoom Ahmad Chishti, Chairperson, Social Unity Foundation of Innovation Trust, Birmingham
    Maulana Hafeezurrahman Chishti, Imam, Leicester
    Irfan Chishti MBE, Imam, Light of Islam Academy, Rochdale @ichishtiM
    Aslam Choudry, Elected Councillor for Dudden Hill Ward, Brent Council, London
    Gulamraza Datoo, Vice President, KSIMC of Birmingham, Birmingham
    Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, Imam /Resident Alim, Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat, Portsmouth
    Shaykh Muhammad Amin Evans, Imam       
    Mustafa Field, Director, Faiths Forum for London, @mustafafield
    Rabiha Hannan, New Horizons in British Islam
    Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal MBE DL, Chair, Chase Against Crimes of Hate, Stafford, @hhi1
    Dr Mohamed Adam Hassan, Chairman, Somali Youth Forum, London, @Hafiz
    Moulana Shamsul Hoque, Chairman, Council of Mosques - Tower Hamlets, London
    Mahmood Hussain, Councillor and Former Lord Mayor of Birmingham
    Dilwar Hussain, New Horizons in British Islam, @DilwarH
    Rizwan Hussain, Chief Executive, Jawaab, London, @JawaabUK
    AKIpaye, Director, Dairatul-Amni, London
    Zafar Iqbal, Councillor, Birmingham
    Mohammed Iqbal, Councillor, Leader of the Labour Group, Pendle Borough Council, Lancashire
    Ali Jaffri, Trustee, Idara-e-Jaaferiya, Mosque and Community Centre, London, @mralijaffri
    ‎Dr Husein Jiwa, President, The Council of European Jamaats, London, @CoEJ
    Belgacem Kahlalech, Director, WAMY UK, London
    Mohammedraza Kanji, Secretary, Wessex Jamaaat, Al Mahdi Centre, Fareham
    Dr Majid Katme, Ex-President, Islamic  Medical Association/UK, London
    Nagina Kauser, Councillor, Birmingham
    Zahra Kazmi, Co-Founder, Save Muslim Heritage, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
    Changese Khan, Councillor, London
    Mariam Khan, Councillor, Birmingham
    Hamzah Khan, Manager, Al-Mustafa Trust, Bradford, @almustafacentre
    Mohammed Khan, Chair, Council of Bristol Mosque, Bristol
    Sara Khan, Co-Director, Inspire
    Sadiq Khan, Shadow Justice Sectretary
    M Afzal Khan CBE, MEP, Manchester, @akhanmep
    Imam Tahir Mahmood Kiani, Lecturer, Birmingham, @tmkiani
    Farzana Kosar, General Secretary, Centre for Spirituality & Cultural Advancement, Feltham, @csca_uk
    Riyaz Laher, Chair, FMO Leicestershire, Leicester, @FMO_Leics
    Maualana Safraz Madni, Imam and Chairman, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board, Birmingham
    Majid Mahmood, Councillor, Birmingham
    Khalid Mahmood
    Shabana Mahmood, MP, Birmingham
    Mufti Helal Mahmood, Coordinator, Oldham Mosques Council, Oldham
    Imran Malik, General Secretary, Blackheath Jamia Mosque Trust, Blackheath
    Shaz Manir, CEO, Amirah foundation, Birmingham, @directoramirah
    Salim Mbaruk, Chair, Bilal Education, London
    Dr Asghar Moledina, President, The World Federation of KSIMC, London, @wfksimc
    Ghulam Moyhuddin, Head Imam, Ashton Central Mosque, Ashton
    Fiyaz Mughal, Director, Faith Matters and the TELL MAMA anti-Muslim Monitoring Project, London
    Zubaiar Muhammadi, Afghan Isamic Culture Centre
    Gul Muhammed, Imam and Senior lecturer, Jamia al Karam, Retford
    Maulana Farooq Mulla, Imam, Leicester
    Aamer Naeem, Editor in Chief, British Muslim TV, Yorkshire
    Suleman Nagdi MBE, Public Relations Officer, Federation of Muslim Organisations, @fmo_leics
    Maulana Syed AbbasNaqvi, Imam   
    Maulana Syed Najm ul HasanNaqvi, Imam, Manchester
    Ifath Nawaz, FFL Council Member, Faiths Forum for London
    Maulana Farogul Qaadri, Imam, Glasgow
    Maulana Farogh Ahmed Qadri, Imam, Glasgow
    Qazi Abdul Latif Qadri, Chief Imam, Central Aylesbuy, Aylesbury
    Ali Qureshi, Secretary General, Union of Muslim Organisations UK&EIRE
    Murad Qureshi, London Assembly Member   
    Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East
    Fazal Rahim, Coordinator, Oldham Interfaith Forum, Oldham
    Ayub Rashid, Imam and Chaplain, Muslim Community of Essex
    Syed Ali Abbas Razawi, Imam and International Speaker, Majlis Ulema-e-Shia, London
    Maulana Shahid Raza, founder trustee of the British Muslim Forum, and Senior Imam, Leicester Central Mosque, Leicester
    Maha Rida, Social Affairs officer, Al-Kawther, Al-Kawther, London
    Ali Raza Rizvi, President, Majlis Ulama-e-Shia, London
    Allama Pir Syed Zahid Hussain Shah Rizvi, Jamia Mosque, Birmingham
    Maulana Syed Hassan Abbas Rizvi, Imam & Finance Officer, Majlis Ulema-e-Shia, London
    Asif Sadiq, President, National Association of Muslim Police, @asifsadiq
    Raheed Salam, All Faiths and None, London, @raheedsalam
    Mufti Ghulam Sarwar, Senior Imam, Hanfia Mosque and Educational Institute, Huddersfield
    Mufti Imran Sarwar, Secretary, Kirklees Imams & Mosques Advisory Board (KIMAB), Kirklees
    Dr. Shuja Shafi, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
    Mohammed Shafiq, Chief executive, Ramadhan Foundation, @mshafiquk
    Cllr Chauhdry Shafique MBE, Chairman, Council for Christian Muslim Relations, High Wycombe, Bucks
    Amjad Shah, General Secretary, Idaara Maarif-e-Islam, Birmingham
    Shafique Shah, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Birmingham
    Maulana Syed Sultan Shah, Imam, Leicester
    Ismael Lea South, Director, The Salam Project, London & Manchester, @thesalamproject
    Amir Taki, Director & Executive Producer, Ahlulbayt TV, London, @AmirTaki
    Sh Talat, Board of trustee, MCEC, London
    Imam Ghulam Rasool Tipton, Principal, Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust Sandwell & executive member of MINAB, Sandwell, @grashgr
    Waseem Zaffar, Councillor, Birmingham
    Allama Hafiz Muhammad Sadiq Zia, Jamaia Masjid, Birmingham
    Maulana Dr Mohammad Rashid Zia, Imam, London
    Maulana Azmat Abbas Zohairi, Imam, Majlis Ulema-e-Shia, Burnley





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  • 09/19/14--01:17: Naw (55) beats Aye (45)
  • The British have always loved partition...for other people. In each case the justification was that the sub-nations are unable to co-exist side by side. This is when the British played not an insubstantial role in stoking the communal fires - the (in)famous divide and rule policy.

    The two nation theory which is best summarized as "our heroes are their villains" has no doubt been hugely compounding misery of all the communities involved.. The wrongs of the past should have been dealt with a truth and reconciliation commission (just like in South Africa).  

    The irony is that separation did not reduce the rancor one iota: Pakistan-India and Israel-Palestine have fought four (official) bitter wars, things are not too much better in Northern Ireland.

    But when it comes to Britain herself, the answer was made clear today. Partition is never a solution to the problems, it also makes all of us poor as people. The cultural lines are never clearly drawn and purity is over-rated. Speaking of India specifically, the answer to a prosperous future is to encourage more secularism (and mixed marriages aka love jihad) not to create more ghettos and breed intolerance.

    The bad blood that has been created over this partition fight will not (easily) go back into the bottle. The polls are clear on this point: the English now resent the Scots just as much as the Scots look down upon the English. The dividing lines will be sharper once a vote is announced for a Brexit from the European Union. Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage are smart ambitious politicians, they are unlikely to take no for an answer.

    All that said we are happy for the Brits. Yes, it is certainly better together.
    Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. Scots voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent against independence in a vote that saw an unprecedented turnout.
    A majority of voters did not embrace Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's impassioned plea to launch a new state, choosing instead the security offered by remaining in the United Kingdom.
    Salmond conceded defeat, saying “we know it is a majority for the No campaign” and called on Scots to accept the results of the vote. He said the voted “has been triumph for the democratic process.“

    “If that is the result for the referendum then clearly I am deeply disappointed,” Scottish National Party (SNP) deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon told the broadcaster. Votes cast for and against Scotland's independence in a historic referendum were running virtually neck and neck, but leading “No“ campaigners had suggested that victory was in sight.

    Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, a “No” supporter, told AFP: “It's early days but it's looking fairly good.“ Michael Gove, Conservative former minister and confidant of Prime Minister David Cameron, told Sky News that “fingers crossed”, the union appeared safe. “The result looks disappointing,” admitted Patrick Harvie, a member of the Scottish parliament for the Green Party and “Yes” campaigner.

    Crowds gathered for all-night parties in Glasgow and Edinburgh, draped in the blue-and-white Saltire flags of Scotland and setting off flares. “We are going to stay out till the result,” said Dylan McDonald, 17, one of Scotland's 16- and 17-year-olds who have been able to vote in a referendum for the first time after the qualifying age was lowered.

    The historic decision gripped many Scots who previously took little interest in politics, igniting passions and raising the prospect of deep changes to the governance of the union no matter the result. Cameron promised greater powers for Scotland's parliament in a last-minute bid to convince voters to stay in the union, prompting politicians in his Conservative party to call for the same treatment for England.

    He will speak on the future of the United Kingdom as soon as the referendum outcome is issued, and if independence is rejected he is expected to announce plans to change the division of power in the highly-centralised union.

    Some ballot boxes were brought by helicopter and others by boat from remote islands to be counted after polls closed, with the final result predicted to arrive in the early hours of Friday.
    The closure of the airport on the Isle of Lewis due to fog meant ballot boxes would have to travel by slower fishing boat.

    At the counting centre in Scotland's oil city Aberdeen, boxes of postal votes were tipped out onto tables at the stroke of 10:00 pm when polls closed, and officials immediately began sorting the ballots.

    Election officials in Glasgow said they had contacted police over a handful of allegations that people had turned up to vote only to find their names already crossed off the ballot sheet.

    The question for voters at Scotland's more than 5,000 polling stations was “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and they are asked to mark either “Yes” or “No”.

    International media descended on the Edinburgh venue where the city's ballots will be totted up to witness a count that could have repercussions from Spain to Canada.
    The SNP has said it hopes for full independence by 2016 if it wins, and a range of separatist movements sent representatives to Scotland to learn from the election.

    “Scots, please, vote yes, for yourselves, but also for us,” Daniel Turp from the Parti Quebecois said at a press conference in Edinburgh where 29 European separatist movements also signed a declaration calling for self-determination.

    Leaders of France and Spain warned that separatism risked undermining Europe in the run-up to the vote. A palace spokesman told Sky news Queen Elizabeth II was following events from her family home Balmoral Castle in rural Scotland. She is “kept abreast of information... from her team of advisers in London and Edinburgh,” the spokesman said.

    Many people in the rest of the United Kingdom are concerned about the prospect of Scottish independence, which would sever a deep bond and cut the UK's surface area by a third.

    “At last the threat we have over Scotland's future may be lifted if people vote the right way,” said pensioner Alistair Eastern, 60. “We just have to hope that it turns out with the right result and Scotland isn't ripped out of the United Kingdom by the nationalists."





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  • 09/19/14--06:28: Honor restored
  • ....Biswas's lawyer Ravi Batra said in a statement to PTI that the "honour" of Biswas, Indian diplomats and India has been has been "vindicated" with the court order. The settlement acknowledged that Biswas was an "honor student" at the time of her "false arrest".... 
    As a stereotype this is at least half true, Indian students in the USA (and elsewhere) will be focused on grades and are expected to do well in studies, while Americans will look at high-school and college as more of a life experience.

    Indians are likely to be unfamiliar with US harassment laws and zero-tolerance principles and the fact that the criminal justice system will not hesitate to take action against elites (unlike in India where things can be hushed up).

    As a daughter of a diplomat Krittika Biswas is not a typical case.  She benefited from strong support from the Indian diplomatic establishment and (we presume) did not lack in financial backing. This will not be true for middle class Indian kids in search of "US degree" who may be wholly destroyed by their own thoughtless actions or malicious behavior forthcoming from fellow (american) students.

    We understand the need for emotional closure (and lawyer-ly hyperbole) but we are uncomfortable about all the drum beating about violated honor being restored of Ms Biswas, Indian Foreign Service and India (it is a bit like how Dr Aafia Siddiqui is described by patriots as a daughter of Pakistan....also unfairly targeted by the Americans). It was a false case against a civilian who was not representing India officially, and the "crime" was probably upgraded due to zero-tolerance principles adopted by US schools. 

    Still the question remains, why was the student who actually committed the crime not charged? Without any other exculpatory information it does lend credence to the charge that the indictment (and arrest) was driven by "ethnicity" and/or a "tragic rush to accuse."

    It is only in rare cases that a white male american student will suffer extreme prejudice from the police and courts, the most memorable recent example is the Duke lacrosse case which was initiated in 2006 and whose aftermath can be felt even seven years later in 2013-2014 (!!!) when the falsely accused students settled their cases against Duke University and the city of Durham and a rogue policeman who used to disproportionately target Duke students committed suicide. Even in that instance the false accuser was never charged for any crimes.


    In March 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum, falsely accused three white students, members of the Duke Blue Devils men's lacrosse team, of raping her at a party held at the house of two of the team's captains in Durham, North Carolina on March 13, 2006......On April 11, 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges and declared the three players innocent. Cooper stated that the charged players – Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans – were victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."

    On May 16, 2014, the three accused lacrosse players and the City of Durham settled their long-running lawsuit. Under terms of the settlement, Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans received no monetary compensation, instead they requested that the city give a $50,000 grant to the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission.....On February 21, 2008, the families of 38 of the lacrosse team's 47 members who were not accused filed a 225-page lawsuit against Duke University. The lawsuit against Duke University was settled out of court in 2013. Both the University and the players declined to comment on the details of the settlement....In early July 2014 Sgt. Mark Gottlieb committed suicide in Dekalb County, Georgia where he had worked as a paramedic.....

    In a significant legal victory for the daughter of an Indian diplomat, the city of New York has agreed to pay her USD 225,000 to settle a lawsuit she brought against it after she was jailed for a day and suspended from school on suspicion of sending obscene emails to her teacher.

    Krittika Biswas has in turn agreed to dismiss all the claims against the city, Board of Education and the officials of the New York Police Department who had arrested and detained her in 2011.

    US District Judge John Koeltl in the Southern District of New York said in his order that the City of New York agrees to pay Biswas USD 225,000 in "full satisfaction of all claims" and in consideration for the payment Biswas "agrees to dismissal of all the claims" against the defendants.

    He said that the parties in the case "desire to resolve the issues" raised in the litigation "without further proceedings and without admitting any fault or liability."

    Biswas's lawyer Ravi Batra said in a statement to PTI that the "honour" of Biswas, Indian diplomats and India has been has been "vindicated" with the court order. The settlement acknowledged that Biswas was an "honor student" at the time of her "false arrest."

    He said Biswas joins him in "thanking" the Indian- American community, former ambassadors Prabhu Dayal and Meera Shanker and her former classmates and teachers whose "emotional and moral support" helped her in her legal fight.

    Biswas had filed the lawsuit seeking USD 1.5 million in damages for her wrongful imprisonment and suspension from school. She was detained and arrested in February 2011 on the grounds that she had sent "offensive and sexually threatening" emails to her teachers in Queens's John Browne High School.

    Biswas is now in India. The defendants had moved to "dismiss" the entire lawsuit but an appeals court had last month refused to throw out the lawsuit saying the arguments by them were "without merit."

    Biswas's lawsuit had detailed the circumstances that led to her being handcuffed and imprisoned forcibly approximately 28 hours "for nothing."

    Biswas was "forced to be processed through the criminal justice system, and spent over 24 hours in jail without being allowed to meet her parents or visited by senior Indian diplomats. All of this occurred, despite her actual innocence as this was a case of mistaken identity."

    It states that she was discriminated against and falsely accused of sending offensive e-mails because of her ethnicity.

    An investigation after her arrest had found that another student had sent the emails but that student was not arrested or criminally charged, which Batra said is "proof of foul discriminatory disparate treatment" of Biswas "despite her actual innocence."

    Citing the India-US relations, particularly in the wake of the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Batra said he advised Biswas and her family that a "just resolution" of the case would be an appropriate move to "enhance the bilateral relationship."





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    After prolonged deliberation the choice for Viceroy has been finally declared. Richard Rahul Verma is a close associate of the next-in-line-to-the-throne Madam President. A master-stroke by Obama no doubt. Now we have an Indian-American under secretary for South Asia (Neha Biswal), an I-A ambassador and all that remains is for Hilary Clinton to declare Dr Ami Bera from California as her choice for V-P.

    We are not sure whether to be proud (first time an xx-American has been appointed to an xx country) or parochial (why not a Bong or Mallu ambassador, why do Punjus always get to go first?). Then again we are given to understand that when appointed to important government posts (also university faculty positions) in the USA you have to declare that you have not been knowingly associated with communists. One cannot be too careful these days you know.

    Richard Verma remembers the time when he was a little kid, seeing his mom in her sari waiting for a bus to go to work in sub-zero centigrade temperatures in blowing and drifting snow. His father had emigrated from Punjab, arriving in New York City in 1963 with $24 in his pocket, and his mother and siblings had followed a few years later. ...
    "The times were hard. We had no money. The kids could be mean in school to this new immigrant family. But they persevered," he recalls. "They showed us what it meant to be strong, what it means to stay together, and confront challenges as a family, and they taught us to be proud of our roots."

    On Thursday, the proud son of Indian immigrants who personify Indian enterprise and academic excellence — his parents were the first ones in the family to be educated; his father went on to earn a PhD — was nominated by US President Obama to be the US ambassador to India. He will be the first Indian-American to take the job if (or when) he is confirmed by the Senate; indeed, he will be the first Indian-American to get an ambassadorial appointment to a major country, not counting the sinecure (to Belize) Obama's bestowed on his collegemate Vinai Thummalapally.

    Richard Rahul Verma is from a different stock from the entrepreneurial Thummalapally, who now has a key job in the Department of Commerce; the Indian-American of Punjabi stock is himself no slouch when it comes to academic and professional accomplishment. While there is an element of surprise in his nomination given his south Asia background and India roots, his formidable resume (including an ongoing PhD program at Georgetown University) and the Washington roadmap he has traversed for two decades make him a shoo-in for the New Delhi job, despite reservations in some quarters about whether an Indian-American is best suited for the post.

    Verma is a consummate Washington insider who has worked in both the legislature and the executive; in fact, his last post bridged the two — he was the Assistant Secretary of State for legislative affairs during Hillary Clinton's stewardship of Foggy Bottom — and that job came to him by virtue of his years as a chief foreign policy aide to Senate leader Harry Reid. Before that, between clerkships and stints at law firms, he worked with the legendary Pennsylvania lawmaker Jack Murtha, learning the ropes on the Hill.

    So despite the Senate holding up some 50-plus Obama appointments due to a political gridlock, the reckoning among South Asia veterans is that if there is one candidate who is a surefire confirmation, it has to be Rich Verma. Although some India hands suspect that the announcement of his nomination is timed to lubricate the Modi visit, it has the added advantage of providing continuity should Hillary Clinton make it to the White House in 2016. For there is no greater Verma supporter in town than the former Secretary of State, although Verma first signed up for the Obama camp when he prepped the President for the presidential debates in 2008.

    In fact, in a farewell to Verma when he left the US state department job in 2012, Clinton recalled in a very personal way how much Verma guarded her back and how much he meant to her. "My mother lives with us in our house here in Washington, and I was saying goodbye to her this morning and she said, 'What's wrong, you don't look very good.' And I said, 'Well, I know, I am not just in a very good mood today.' And she says, 'Well, you know, there's so much going on in the world, all over the country, and the economy.' But I said, 'No, it's not it; it's Rich Verma (leaving).'" Clinton related.

    President Obama himself sent his National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to the farewell with a personal letter that paid glowing tributes to his contribution to the administration. It read: "Dear Rich, I extend to you my sincere thanks for your valuable service to my administration. Over the past two years, our country has faced a host of challenging foreign policy and national security issues. At each turn, your skilled judgment and leadership has helped shape effective Congressional engagement. You played a key role in our efforts to ratify the New START treaty, to manage the response to the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake and to negotiate a powerful Iran sanctions bill. You worked in a demanding environment and always responded with able advice and good humour. I appreciate your dedication and professionalism."

    Of course, Obama would know — also personally. Verma assisted him in debate prep during his 2008 Presidential campaign, and like the President and his wife, Verma and his wife Pinky are also legal eagles, a power couple with law degrees from American University and UPenn respectively. When he arrives in New Delhi later this year or early next year, Verma will bring with him not just legalese, having worked on a ton of legislation and international treaties (including some New Delhi is not particularly fond of), but also a smattering of Hindi, which he is said to have kept up with.

    Doubtless, much more than that will be needed to elevate the US-India partnership. But despite his relatively modest vintage (he's only 45 and of Asst. Secretary rank; previous US ambassadors have been heavyweight political appointees like David Mulford and Tim Roemer; or foreign service veterans such as Frank Wisner and Tom Pickering), Verma will bring to the table impressive range of work, from national security legislation to international treaties on non-proliferation, to bilateral agreements, including the US-India Civilian Nuclear deal, which he oversaw from the Senate side.

    But most of his, he will bring an India connection, the likes of which is unprecedented, as is evident from this story he relates: In the fall of 2009, Verma was invited to the White House arrival ceremony of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. When he told his father about this, his dad was very excited "because in my dad's words, 'we are from the same place' in India."...With my dad, says Verma, no matter what Indian person we meet anywhere in the world, shopkeeper, waiter, restaurant owner, doesn't matter, he always say you are from the same town, went to the same school, from the same village. "I said Dad, there are 1 billion Indian people, it is mathematically impossible that all of you can be from the same place....he said well, I'm telling you, you should tell the PM. Thanks, dad, but I'm not doing that...."

    "When the day comes, and I am getting my turn in line, and there is the President, and he says this is Rich he works at the State Dept (you could tell the President was relieved to have at least one Indian person in the receiving line...). The Prime Minister looks at me, and says oh you are Indian, I said yes...the President nodding approvingly. What do you do? Prime Minister Singh asks: Oh I work at the State Dept Great, he said. Where are your parents from? I said, Northern India, Punjab. He asked where ... and I said my dad is from Jullundur. The Prime Minister turned to the President and said, "Oh, his father and I are from the same place...."





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    ...the evolutionary history of ostriches, emus and rheas does not match the break-up of the continents....scientists believe that their common ancestor could fly.....New World monkeys rafted to South America on a clump of earth.....these three groups represent 73 percent of the land mammals living there.....
    It was Darwin who first suggested that wolves arrived on the Falklands Islands by floating on icebergs. For making such an extraordinary speculation the greatest biologist ever was criticized in the strongest terms. Now there is fascinating evidence of snakes swimming 120 miles across the open ocean (and many others). Forget the boring old stories of human colonization, this is the exciting new story of animal colonization of the the planet we all call home.
    We are reminded here of Jurassic Park (the novel) where female dinosaurs had escaped from their habitat and had found a way to breed. Nature - it was famously said - will always find a way.And nature has found a way for creatures as immobile as snails to migrate from one continent to another by clinging on to the feet of birds.
    In June 2000, Alan de Queiroz became curious about an enormous, ragged-looking garter snake that lived on the tip of Baja California. Like many other biologists of his generation, de Quieroz had been taught that species traveled the Earth to new habitats on slowly drifting continents.  
    This snake had relatives on the other side of the Sea of Cortéz on Mexico’s mainland, and de Queiroz assumed that this population ended up on Baja 4 to 8 million years ago, when the peninsula split from the mainland.

    But using a new method based on genetic sequencing to estimate when the two populations split, he found that it had occurred in the past few hundred thousand years. In other words, one or more pioneering garter snakes had probably floated across 120 miles of open ocean.

    As de Queiroz prepared to write up the surprising results of his snake study, he discovered that the reptile was not an outlier. Biologists were finding that even after continents drifted apart, plants and animals somehow hopped between them.  
    “Obviously, the continents had moved — nobody was claiming that the theory of plate tectonics was wrong — and obviously, they had carried species with them,” he writes, “but somehow, these facts did not explain nearly as much about the modern living world as we had thought.” Chance ocean crossings did.

    In his engaging new book, “The Monkey’s Voyage,” de Queiroz makes the case that the vibrant and distinctive biological communities we see today were created by organisms rafting across oceans and soaring through the atmosphere.“The large number of these colonizations tells us that, in the long history of this living world, the miraculous has become the expected,” he writes.

    To understand how contentious this notion is, de Queiroz takes us back to the 1950s and ’60s, when a wealth of new information emerged about continental drift. Geologists had long recognized that the coasts of South America and Africa fit together like puzzle pieces and had theorized that they were once a single landmass. 

    But now measurements from the ocean floor revealed several ridges, including one in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where the sea floor was spreading before the scientists’ eyes. These discoveries provided a clear mechanism for how the continents creep along. Geologists determined that, approximately 180 million years ago, there was an ancient uber-continent called Gondwana, which sat on the equator and was composed of what are now South America, Africa, Antarctica, India and Australia. 

    Gondwana was also a revelation for evolutionary biologists. Its break-up, they surmised, was probably etched in the history of life. For instance, ostriches, emus and rheas, closely related birds found in Africa, Australia and South America, became a textbook example of this continental drift theory. Another famous example were southern beech trees, which are found in South America, Australia and other smaller pieces of Gondwana.

    This theory was attractive because it was elegant and sensible, but, as de Queiroz colorfully describes, its proponents became a little too dogmatic about it. Léon Croizat, a self-trained botanist of French heritage who lived in Venezuela, coined the phrase “Earth and life evolve together” and believed that continental drift explained everything about plant and animal distributions. To him, the idea that plants or animals crossed oceans on their own was outrageous and unscientific. 
    He characterized Darwin as “congenitally not a thinker,” in part because of Darwin’s suggestion that wolves may have reached the Falkland Islands on icebergs. Croizat came in for criticism himself. An eminent American paleontologist called him “a member of the lunatic fringe.”

    Indeed, there had always been evidence that, over the long history of life on Earth, plants and animals made remarkable journeys. Consider, for example, that young spiders are carried on the wind by their silky threads and land on the decks of ships far from the coastline. Freshwater snails cling to the feet of migrating birds. And fishermen on the Caribbean island of Anguilla once watched a natural raft of logs get washed onto shore with 15 green iguanas on it, a species that had not previously existed there.

    Proof of how important these journeys are in evolutionary history finally arrived in the late 1990s with genetic-dating studies, such as the one de Quieroz conducted on his garter snakes. We now know that the evolutionary history of ostriches, emus and rheas does not match the break-up of the continents. Some scientists believe that their common ancestor could fly and that they became flightless only after settling on their respective continents. Among the other creatures de Queiroz considers are New World monkeys and two other groups of mammals, which apparently rafted to South America on a clump of earth. Today, these three groups represent 73 percent of the land mammals living there.





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    Fine doubt meant sincerely. It is smart politics and smart policy to divide the opposition vote-bank (as the BJP sees it) into Indian Muslims (patriots) and Muslim Indians (splittists). Our opinion remains unchanged: actions speak louder than words (and words need to be spoken with care).  
    Above all we need to put a stop to the polarization for votesaka match-fixing (all parties do it), it is an un-reliable recipe for success (even if it was not such a despicable one to begin with).Everything considered, Toilets before Temples seems to be the best slogan for a secular nation full of young people which looks to the future and stops worrying (but still caring) about the past.

    Top-line Verdict:Fareed Zakaria is mostly impressed by Narendrabhai Damordas Modi and has a few reservations. FZ describes NDM as "among the sharpest" he has met and that FZ "underestimated him." Also this: "He is very smart, intelligent and focused. He is very driven and has a long term agenda. He wants to be a statesman at the world stage. He is a man who looks to the future and not into the past," the CNN journalist said.
    This seems to be the key observation:
    Zakaria said Modi is a deft leader in international affairs and one who is clever to not get embroiled in controversies by projecting himself as a nationalist figure, something his party and its affiliates aspire for. This observation, Zakaria said, was based on his talks with the Indian prime minister. The journalist, however, thought Modi was under-performing in fields of reforms that India needs urgently and apprehended that not a bold Modi but a not-bold-enough Modi could make India suffer.

    After your election people have begun asking again a question that has been asked many times for the last two decades, which is, will India be the next China? Will India be able to grow at 8 to 9 percent a year consistently, and transform itself and thus transform the world?
    See, India doesn’t need to become anything else. India must become only India. This is a country that once upon a time was called the golden bird. We’ve fallen from where we were before. But now we have the chance to rise again. If you see the details of the last five or ten centuries, you will see that India and China have grown at similar paces. Their contributions to global GDP have risen in parallel, and fallen in parallel. Today's era once again belongs to Asia. India and China are both growing rapidly, together.
    But people would still I think wonder can India achieve the kind of 8 and 9 percent growth rates that China has done consistently for 30 years, and India has only done for a short period.
    It’s my absolute belief that Indians have unlimited talent. I have no doubt about our capabilities. I have a lot of faith in the entrepreneurial nature of our 1.25 billion people. There is a lot of capability. And I have a clear road map to channel it.

    Ayman al-Zawahiri the head of al Qaeda has issued a video and an appeal trying to create an al Qaeda in India. In South Asia, he says, but the message was really directed towards India. And he says he wants to free Muslims from the oppression they face in Gujarat, in Kashmir. Do you think, do you worry that something like this could succeed?
    My understanding is that they are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India. They will not want anything bad for India.
    Why do you think it is that there is this remarkable phenomenon that you have a 170 million Muslims, and there seem to be almost no or very few members of Al-Qaeda, even though al Qaeda is in Afghanistan, and of course the many in Pakistan. What is it that has made this community not as susceptible?
    Firstly, I’m not the authority for doing a psychological and religious analysis on this…But the question is whether or not humanity should be defended in the world? Whether or not believers in humanity should unite? This is a crisis against humanity, not a crisis against one country or one race. So we have to frame this as a fight between humanity and inhumanity. Nothing else.

    There are many people in the United States, and some in India, who wish that the United States and India were much closer allies – the world’s oldest democracy, the world’s biggest democracy. But somehow that has never happened, and there have always been these frictions and difficulties. Do you think it’s possible for the United States and India to develop a genuinely strategic alliance?
    I have a one word answer: Yes. And with great confidence I say yes. Let me explain. There are many similarities between India and America. If you look at the last few centuries, two things come to light. America has absorbed people from around the world…and there is an Indian in every part of the world. This characterizes both the societies. Indians and Americans have coexistence in their natural temperament.
    Now, yes, for sure, there have been ups and downs in our relationship in the last century. But from the end of the 20th century to the first decade of the 21st century, there has been a big change. Our ties have deepened. India and the United States of America are bound together, by history and by culture. These ties will deepen further.
    So far in your contacts with the Obama administration – you have had several cabinet ministers come here – do you feel that there is a genuine desire from Washington to try to upgrade the relationship with India substantially?
    Relations between India and America should not be seen within the limits of just Delhi and Washington. It’s a much larger sphere. The good thing is that the mood of both Delhi and Washington is in harmony with this understanding. Both sides have played a role in this.




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    ....I still remember his thoughtful and well-researched it was!.....whenever he was on air, I used to tell my parents proudly that that’s my professor on TV....I can’t believe that a scholar like him has been shot dead in such a horrendous way.....It's like losing a father....

    If we have to give one piece of (unsolicited) advice, Pakistan needs to take a serious look as to how to prevent misuse of the blasphemy act (just removing the death penalty provision would count as a miracle).
    This much is true, as Omar has pointed out repeatedly, weapons which are shiny and useful will not be put away so easily. It will require a mass movement and a big-hearted man (who can rise above all partisanship).

    A Muslim scholar named Muhammad Shakil Auj who had received death threats over "blasphemy" allegations was shot to death Thursday in Karachi, Pakistan. Auj was the dean of Islamic studies at the University of Karachi, and some of the blasphemy allegations against him reportedly originated with his colleagues. 
    From the New York Times:
    Unidentified gunmen on a motorbike attacked the vehicle he was riding in on his way to a reception at his honor at the Iranian Consulate.

    Dr. Auj was shot in the head and neck and died immediately, officials said. A female student in the back of the car was shot in the arm and was treated at a hospital.

    A week earlier, a visiting religious scholar at the same Islamic studies department, Maulana Masood Baig, was also shot dead by unknown attackers.
    Auj had told police that four colleagues at the University of Karachi had accused him of blasphemy—including one colleague who'd previously held Auj's position as dean. The four were arrested but are free on bail, and they are "being questioned" about Auj's murder, the Times reports. A seminary in Karachi had also called for Auj's death.

    Thursday morning started with very tragic news. One of my beloved teachers who had taught us in university was shot dead for some unknown reason. Dr Shakeel Auj was Dean, Faculty of Islamic Studies, University of Karachi since 2012. He completed his PhD in Islamic Studies from University of Karachi in 2000 with a PhD dissertation of “Comparative Study of Eight Selected Urdu Translations of Holy Quran”

    Apart from PhD in Islamic Studies, he also possessed an LL.B and a Master Degree in Journalism. With all his books, research papers, articles and an unending list of prizes and honors, he was an institution of his own.

    Dr Shakeel was my lecturer for Islamic Studies during my Bachelors back in 2006. After I graduated, I hardly got a chance to meet him again, and I still regret it. Dr Auj was an unconventional Islamic scholar who used to believe that Islam was an easy religion to practice, and it was the people who had made it difficult.

    We used to have detailed, open discussions on various topics in the class, and he was always very inviting to his student’s opinions despite having tons more knowledge and understanding.

    I still remember his analysis on the meaning of “Al Rehmaan” and “Al Raheem”, the two names for Allah; how thoughtful and well-researched it was! Doctor sahab also had a strong media appearance and whenever he was on air, I used to tell my parents proudly that that’s my professor on TV.

    I can’t believe that a scholar like him has been shot dead in such a horrendous way. It's like losing a father; someone who spent his whole life serving others without a complaint and played a pivotal role in teaching, grooming, mentoring, guiding and making us into better individuals today.

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  • 09/21/14--11:27: Lehman Sisters (India)
  • Indian women (elites) are doing very well, as may be judged by the just released list of Fortune top-25 in Asia/Pacific. Worlwide Indra Nooyi is ranked #3 right after Mary Bara (GE) and Gini Rometty (IBM).

    In A/P we have eight Indians out of twenty five. If there is a quibble, there are too many bankers starting with Gail Kelly (Australia, Westpac) at #1. But then we cannot be fussy in admiring the leaders we have and what they represent. As far as India is concerned there is a veritable Lehman Sisters who are currently driving the show.

    In the top ten we have Chanda Kochhar (2) of ICICI Bank, Arundhati Bhattacharya (4) of State Bank of India, Nishi Vasudeva (5) of Hindustan Petroleum, Shikha Sharma (10) of Axis Bank.
    The remaining four are Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (19) of Biocon, Chitra Ramkrishna (22) of National Stock Exchange, Naina Lal Kidwai (23) of Honkong and Shanghai Bank and Mallika Srinivasan (25) of Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE).

    Unlike the men-list (which we imagine is mostly populated by West Indians), there is only one Marwari (Kochhar) and one Gujarati (Mazumdar) and otherwise spread over all corners of India.

    Speaking of bankers the peak point was reached in 2013 when economist Ajit Ranade noted that about half of India’s banking assets are under the control of women. In addition to the executives listed above, there is Bank of India headed by Vijay-lakshmi Iyer, Allahabad Bank (Shubha-lakshmi Panse), Bhartiya Mahila Bank (Usha Anantha-subramanian), Royal Bank of Scotland (ex-head Meera Sanyal, now Aam Admi Party member).  

    And the ranks are filled with women as well, a very good sign of a very strong (future) bench.

    But there is one gender trend in banking that has gone unnoticed — the steady increase in the number of women joining the banking sector. Sample this: At Punjab National Bank, 40-45% of new recruits are women. At Allahabad Bank, that share is 25%, while HDFC Bank says that 40% of its trainees are women. In fact, some of the women executives who took up banking jobs in recent years say that in certain batches their numbers go well past the 50% mark.

    As many as eight Indian women, led by ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar, have made it to the Fortune list of 25 most powerful women "shaping the new world order" in the Asia-Pacific region.
    Kochhar, ranked highest among Indian women, has been ranked second across the region, while three others -- SBI's Arundhati Bhattacharya (4th), HPCL's Nishi Vasudeva (5th) and Axis Bank's Shikha Sharma (10th) -- have also made it to the top-10.

    The list is topped by Australian banking major Westpac's chief Gail Kelly.

    Other Indians on the top-25 list include Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (19th), National Stock Exchange CEO Chitra Ramkrishna (22nd), HSBC's Naina Lal Kidwai (23rd) and TAFE Chairman and CEO Mallika Srinivasan (25th).

    Releasing the latest rankings, the Fortune magazine said that women around the world are continuing to win the top jobs, so much so that more than a third of the women on this Asia-Pacific list are making their debut in the coveted list, including two from India.

    The two Indian new entrants are Bhattacharya and Vasudeva.

    "More and more businesswomen are taking tougher jobs and helming bigger firms. More than a third of the women on our Asia-Pacific list are making their MPW (most powerful women) debut," Fortune said.

    Among Indians, Bhattacharya is ranked second after Kochhar and is the first woman to hold the three-year post at SBI, who oversees a 208-year-old institution with USD 400 billion in assets and 218,000 employees dispersed among 16,000 bank branches across India.

    On the other hand, Vasudeva, 58, became the first woman to head an Indian oil company and is "and one of only four women to helm a Global Fortune 500 firm in the Asia-Pacific region".

    NSE's Ramakrishna is the only woman on the list heading a stock exchange.

    Meanwhile, PepsiCo's India-born CEO Indra Nooyi has been ranked third among world's most powerful business woman by Fortune in its worldwide list. Nooyi is only Indian-origin woman on this year's global list, which has been topped by IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.


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  • 09/22/14--04:59: Brand Brown Muslim
  • ....Rahman was born into a family of struggling Bangladeshi immigrants....Putting himself through Oxford, Cambridge, Munich and Yale, he has been a mathematician, investment banker and international human rights is often tempted to speculate about which of the two characters derives from Rahman himself.....Is it the brilliant, Bangladeshi Zafar?....Or could it be the aristocratic Pakistani investment banker with no name?.... 
    In a way (and we accept with great reluctance) the founding fathers of Pakistan had it right. There is a lot to be said for the creation of a "Medina in South Asia"as the authentic voice of sub-continental Sunni muslims. We have strong reasons to believe that once the memories of the dead and afflicted have faded, the sub-surface links between erstwhile East and West Pakistan will re-assert themselves.
    It is a shame that the (West) Pakistanis did not really recognize the Bangali muslims as their peers and equals. The gaps are slowly mending and with the help of imaginative leadership (aided by generous Gulf dollars) can create a broad coalition of Sunni muslim countries across South Asia (and perhaps even beyond).

    If such a federation comes to life, a huge vote of thanks will be due to ...who else...the imperialist United Kingdom (and the West as an extension). The Brown Muslims of London and New York who feel alienated by Western ways and discriminated by Western elites will be the prime movers in any reconciliation, rapprochement and if it comes to that even the hard work of federation building.

    Already Bangla-Pak alliances are popular in the West...and why not? The BMs are defined (and constrained) by what they are and what they are not...not Indians (but browns), not Arabs (but muslims), not Westerners (but living in the West).

    While inter-marriage will help, the heavy lifting must be done by powerful, sublime literature that help underline the commonalities between Bangladeshis and Pakistanis and subtly (and not so subtly) highlight the differences with other people.Thus we have "In the Light of What We Know" by Zia Haider Rahman a cultural (and spiritual) sibling of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid and one which adds to the growing (and unique) voice of Brown Muslims. May such a thousand flowers bloom. 
    The really interesting thing (for us) is the reaction of Indian Muslims. First off, the non-Sunnis (Shias, Ismailis, Bohras, Ahmadis...) may turn away from emphatic declarations of Sunni faith and due to the lived experience of non-sunni muslims in those countries. Muslims from South India (who are quite prosperous, mostly) may form a distinct cohort which resists assimilation with other Brown Muslims (similar to how Tamil Shudras will always reside outside and in opposition to the Hindu-Hindi majority).

    The two most "vulnerable" groups are the Muslims of Eastern India (primarily Bengal and Asom) and those of the Hindi belt (primarily Uttar Pradesh and Bihar). As the Hindu-Hindi state grows in strength it is likely that the sense of alienation amongst muslims will keep growing. The eastern muslims are probably the most deprived of the lot (as per the Sachar committee report). The northern muslims are probably the most victimized - Azamgarh in UP is routinely termed in the news media as Atank-garh (terrorist town).

    At the end of the day partition is as much a state of the land as it is a state of the mind. It will be a very good thing if the Hindu-Hindi state is able to overcome the caste divide that has poisoned our society for thousands of years. But it will be a very bad thing if the result is that the Muslims are defined as the common enemy (just like they are in the west). India cannot realistically hope to expel all muslims to Bangla-Pak. Even in that narrow sense there is no choice then but to co-exist.

    This is no doubt an asymmetric situation (and Hindutva-vadis are naturally upset) but ultimately the secular way is the moral way. Nations who stand on immorality will never attain their fullest potential. Alternatively, to use Amartya Sen's terminology, the contributions from the missing millions of minorities would have been a source of pride and joy...and ultimately strength.

    Imagine a book in which a gossipy story about former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf peeing in a women's washroom and drunkenly pursuing the Norwegian ambassador's wife co-exists with a chance meeting with Hamid Karzai, "at that time a rather shady figure involved in the oil business".  
    Or where a riff on Princeton mathematician Kurt Godel's Incompleteness Theorem is followed by an explanation of German physicist Johann Poggendorff 's Illusion. Or which tells you that kings in Saudi Arabia are buried in unmarked graves in keeping with austere Wahhabism and the question that Charles II asked members of the Royal Society. 
    Now don't imagine, read Zia Haider Rahman's extraordinary book, In the Light of What We Know. The banker-turned-human rights lawyer tells the story, over 500 pages, of a conversation that spans the lifetimes of its two protagonists: Zafar and the nameless narrator.
    The two men meet at university at Oxford and over the course of several years develop a friendship that survives heartbreak, nervous breakdown and cataclysmic world events, the war in Afghanistan and the collapse of the American banking system. It takes them from long walks in Manhattan which sometimes end up in Ellis Island, to ambles in London from the British Museum through the elegant Georgian squares of Bloomsbury.
    There are more dramatic leaps of time and place: Zafar travels to rural Bangladesh, where his family originally came from before his father found work as a waiter in London; to Oxford, where he fights his own embarrassment about his parents' status in life; to Kabul, where a proud nation is enslaved by the West in what the latter believes is a civilising mission; to a sunlit but sterile kitchen in a New York home, not necessarily in that order. 
    The narrator, in the midst of being accused of financial irregularities, takes time out to listen to a friend he feels he left behind, partly propelled by guilt and partly by the collapse of the certainties of his own life. It is a contrast in privileges: The narrator's own posh, have-it-all Pakistani family compared to Zafar's impoverished Bangladeshi parents unable to overcome the atrocities of the 1971 war. 
    It is no surprise that Rahman's book is earning rave reviews, gathering much acclaim as it sweeps readers off their feet with its scope and sensibility. The writer, who lives in London, and whose life seems a tempting reflection of that of his narrator, has created an extraordinary adventure. It is far away from the colonial narrative of Afghanistan, which makes it a committed political novel if ever there was one.
    At its heart, it is a post 9/11 novel. which is why one finds occasionally echoes of Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
    It is a novel of rare beauty and power that has electrified the literary establishment. It begins in London, about the time of the financial crisis of 2008. The narrator, a young Pakistani mat­hematician-tur­ned-investment banker, opens the door one morning to see a bedraggled, half-­familiar figure outside. It takes a mom­ent for him to recognise Zafar, the Bangladeshi math prodigy and his one-time mentor who had disappeared mysteriously years ago. The narrator takes Zafar in and instals him in his guest room, and Zafar’s strange, disturbing story emerges, thro­ugh conversations and diary pages, its eve­nts cross-cutting between Oxford, Lon­­don, New York, Kabul and Islamabad.

    In the Light of What We Know is a work of post-9/11 fiction, a territory that has been well covered by writers like Mohsin Hamid and Nadeem Aslam (not to mention Don De Lillo and Martin Amis), but Zia Haider Rahman presents his version of it with a seething new anger. It is a story that mixes the political and the personal—friendship and betrayal, class and alienation, the collapse of financial markets, as well as of nations. 
    Reading the book, one senses resonances of Jos­eph Conrad, V.S. Naipaul, Graham Gre­ene, John Le Carre, but most of all, perhaps, W.G. Sebald, whose novels, like this one, are a hypnotic mixture of travel, memory, fact, quasi-fact and fiction. 

    It is a hugely ambitious work, which could so easily have gone wrong, but Rahman’s towering imagination, combined with his elegant, almost mathematically precise prose, help him pull it off with env­iable ease. The novel ends with a painful twist and a reference to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, which seems to be at the heart of it all: in every system there are propositions that are true, but cannot be proved to be true. And then, one final, wry Sebaldian touch: a blurred black-and-white photograph of two men, app­arently Einstein and Godel, taken from behind, as they take one of their long walks through a Princeton evening. Thus, in a sense, we come back to where the author started out, 555 pages earlier.
    Rahman, the author’s profile tell us, was born into a family of struggling Bangladeshi immigrants (his father was a bus conductor). Putting himself through Oxford, Cambridge, Munich and Yale, he has successively been a mathematician, investment banker and international human rights lawyer. This book clearly owes its authenticity to his own personal story. Reading it, one is often tempted to speculate about which of the two characters derives from Rahman himself. Is it, obviously, the brilliant, born-into-pove­rty Bangladeshi Zafar? Or could it, not-so-obviously, be the aristocratic Pakistani investment banker with no name? 

    As the novel unfolds, one alternately thinks this way and that, until one realises that they are probably both Rahman, in different avatars, as he pours his self into the narrative. (In that blurred black-and-white photograph of Einstein and Godel on their walk through Princeton, after all, you can’t tell which is which). 



    Link (2):



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    Multiculturalism with Chinese characteristics...China's war on terror becomes a war on conservative Islam. 

    Not that I am anti-Chinese. I am also a fan of China. Actually I am a fan of everyone. Why not? In our Indian culture we never got too worked up about faraway places anyway, which I think is eminently sensible. and with the current civlizational crisis in the Islamicate world, much worse may happen in less Chinese countries.

    But while I can sort of let it go, I dont think the Paknationalist dream of a Chinese-Islamic partnership with Pakistan as China's Muslim enforcer will get away unscathed. I assume they will try to put all of this in the catergory of "American propaganda", but some of it does seem to be true. That could become an issue. 

    "China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.
    Throughout Ramadan,police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers...

    btw, those thinking I am joking about the paknationalist dream have not met Pakistani Nationalists of the senior army officer type... See Zaid Hamid  for details (paid generously for his efforts by the ISI, as reported by his own ex-accountant). Its a load of crap, but that doesnt mean it doesnt have believers....

    And meanwhile, the bombs go off.  At least three explosions have been reported in China's Xinjiang province, killing two people and injuring several more, Chinese state media has said.

    Shanghaiist reports on Project Beauty: the chinese effort to make Uighur women show their face

    Miss Tourism Queen Xinjiang, Finals

    CCTV reports on Miss Tourism Xinjiang.
    Miss Tourism Queen International kicks off on Sunday in Urumqi, the capital city of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Sunday. 

    Xinjiang cultural troupe in Pakistan

    China Post reports on Beard informants.

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    It seems us Pakis are instinctively Unionist (which makes sense - God save the Queen).

    Describing himself as a committed unionist of Pakistani-German heritage, he said he had been partly motivated to gamble that much money – the largest political bet in British history and believed to be one of the largest worldwide – because it was good publicity for the pro-UK campaign.
    But he added: “The first thing I should say is: don’t try this at home. Perhaps I have a bit of a unique background given what I do given I have been involved in markets and as my daughters tell me, I’m a bit of a data geek and information nerd.”
    Nicknamed “Peter” by Vine after he insisted on remaining anonymous, he said he had studied more than 80 polls on the academic referendum website, overseen by the Strathclyde University polling expert Professor John Curtice.

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  • 09/23/14--05:59: The happy martyrs
  • ....Hamas initially denied any link to the June attack....Last month, the group acknowledged responsibility......"Hamas praises the role martyrs Abu Aysha and Kawasme played in chasing down Israeli settlers...their assassination will not weaken the resistance"....
    The two Hamas happy to have helped ignite another war, even more happy that 2000 of their own (including small children) have been killed by the enemy (it all comes down to who wins the propaganda war), and now happiest ever in death (to be celebrated as martyrs for all time).

    It is an article of faith amongst the (western) Left that an alliance with Islamists will bring down the enemy (and in the long run this prediction may indeed come to be true). We are told that compromise is a dirty word (and the enemy believes in this creed as well). The muslim lands must be liberated at all costs.

    Meanwhile back in the real world, Israel is building up alliances with Egypt and Saudi Arabia (and when Kurdistan becomes an independent nation there will be one more all-weather friend). Hamas has been kicked out of Qatar and given shelter in Turkey. The flames in the Central Middle East is visible from space. North Africa is terribly troubled (except for Morocco and Tunisia). Afghanistan is likely to sink deep into mud starting next year. Pakistan is in a precarious position with everyone interested in gaining power (but none so keen on ruling).

    It is not that we should ignore the crimes of Israel (and for that matter India) as belonging to some lesser category. But we are not able to discern any constructive message that will make the people in the Middle East North Africa even a tiny bit hopeful (perhaps we are biased and being blinded by hatred). At this rate the world will simply learn to ignore MENA, except for periodic bouts of "lawn mowing" by the Israeli Defense Forces. Fighting thousand year wars with infidels will not bring any peace and over time even the oil fueled prosperity will look like a mirage.
    Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday and the military said they were members of Hamas responsible for the killing of three Israeli youths in June, an attack that led to the Gaza war.
    Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, both in their 30s, were shot dead during a gun battle after Israeli troops surrounded a house in the city before dawn, the army and residents said. Israel had been hunting the men for three months.
    Kawasme and Abu Aysha were suspected of carrying out the kidnapping and killing of the three teenage seminary students, who were abducted while hitchhiking at night near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on June 12.
    The military said army and police forces were trying to arrest the two suspects when a firefight erupted."We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange," Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said.

    The governor of Hebron, Kamel Hmeid, confirmed on Palestinian radio that the two were dead.
    "It's clear now the two martyrs, al-Kawasme and Abu Aysha, were assassinated this morning during a military operation in the Hebron University area. We condemn this crime, this assassination, as deliberate and premeditated murder," he said.

    Kawasme and Abu Aysha were affiliated with Hamas, which initially denied any link to the June attack. Last month, however, the group acknowledged responsibility, although its leadership said it had no advance knowledge that the men were planning to abduct the students.

    "Hamas praises the role martyrs Abu Aysha and Kawasme played in chasing down Israeli settlers and we stress that their assassination will not weaken the resistance," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the operation. "We will continue to strike terrorism everywhere," he said at the start of a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "This morning the long arm of Israeli justice caught them."
    Israeli forces have conducted widespread sweeps across the West Bank in the past three months, rounding up hundreds of suspected Hamas members in house-to-house raids in the hunt for the suspects behind the attack.
    The abduction and killing of Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, caused alarm throughout Israel and set off a cycle of violence, including the killing of Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khudair, 16, by three Israelis who have been arrested and charged.
    Khudair's killing led to clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police in East Jerusalem, while the round-up of Hamas suspects across the West Bank provoked rocket fire at Israel from militants in Gaza, leading to the war.
    Gaza medical officials say 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the 50-day conflict, while 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were also killed.
    Efforts to forge a lasting peace agreement following the war are set to resume in Cairo on Tuesday.





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  • 09/23/14--21:56: Random Thoughts
  • It is the season to be busy at work, so I am unable to write a coherent post but these scattered thoughts were itching to get out:

    1. Pakistani anchor Talat has written an interesting piece in Urdu in which the conceit is to start with a long section that sounds like one of Tahir ul Qadri or Imran Khan's speeches and then reveal that it is the Urdu translation of one of Goebbel's speeches.
    "These days anyone has the right to speak in Germany — the Jew, the Frenchman, the Englishman, the League of Nations, the conscience of the world, and the Devil knows who else. Everyone but the German worker. He has to shut up and work. Every four years he elects a new set of torturers, and everything stays the same. That is unjust and treasonous. We need tolerate it no longer. We have the right to demand that only Germans who build this state may speak, those whose fate is bound to the fate of their fatherland.

    Therefore we demand the destruction of the system of exploitation! Up with the German worker’s state!

    Germany for the Germans!"

    This is actually very apt. TUQ is consciously and IK is unconsciously (lacking the smarts to understand such things and easily manipulated by clever men) using this exact line in Pakistan. Co-opting the vocabulary of "revolution", "overthrow of elites" etc created by the Left, the fascist wing of the Paknationalist movement is preparing the ground for an overthrow of democracy and the implementation of a long-held dream: the Chakwal solution. May Allah protect us all.

    2. The delegitimization of the 2013 elections continues apace, aided by several media houses (especially the pro-army ARY group, long known for its close links with the hard-paknationalist faction and the intelligence agencies) and feckless mainstream politicians who had made rigging allegations as per the usual Pakistani routine and who now find themselves unable to point out that this election was actually fairer than most Pakistani elections and even if there had been NO irregularities whatsoever, PTI could not conceivably have won (a cursory looks the winning margins and candidates will confirm this fact).
    This of course does not mean the election was completely fair. There were many irregularities, (though maybe less than those seen in the last election), with the worst cases in KPK (ANP and PPP unable to campaign thanks to the Taliban lending a hand), interior Sindh (intimidation by local bigwigs) and Karachi (the worst case of all, led by MQM gangsterism)...none of which are a focus of Imran Khan's protest.
    So, the election, whose outcome would not have been very different even if most irregularities were avoided, has been delegitimized. The point is to overthrow the system, not to fix it. 
    This is not rocket science, but it does need to be said again and again.

    3. A somewhat parochial point, in that it is a peculiar obsession of mine based on my own history and the background I come from....I recognize that it may not be as important as it looms in my life.....but anyway, here goes: someday Allah may call the Pakistani Left to account for the fact that their main historical role seems to have been to prepare the narrative tropes that are now being used by every right wing force in Pakistan (not just the military-sponsored adventurers, but also the religious parties and even the Taliban);  not only has the Left provided the vocabulary (and ALL of the poetry) of "revolution" and "jab taj uchaley jaen gay" (when the crowns are knocked off heads), they have also undermined the intellectual foundations of the (already weak) elite faction that could have stood up for liberal democracy in Pakistan.The middle classes are obviously not all in favor of liberal democracy. They are also a breeding ground for "national-socialism" and religious fundamentalist groups, but the fraction of them that could be expected to argue for liberal democracy is further weakened in Pakistan by the penetration of Marxist-Leninist tropes among people who do not otherwise consider themselves part of the revolutionary Left.  This (mostly superficial and shallow) adoption of left-wing narratives and cliches does not imply that most of these people have stopped having servants and maids (god forbid) or have any deep interest in preserving our ancient way of life in the face of evil modernity (quite the contrary, most are looking for "progress and prosperity", just like good middle class people in other third world countries); but to a surprising extent, in Pakistan their narratives about the wold are derived (usually without any detailed knowledge of the source) from relatively small Marxist-Leninist parties and their intellectual fellow travelers. What I am saying is that this superficial and frequently muddled idle talk does seem to have a real effect on the way many educated people see the world and what patterns they impose on it. One of those patterns is a distrust of liberal democracy and a vague yearning for revolution. This leaves their representatives (and many journalists for example fall in this category) seriously handicapped when confronted with clever demagogues condemning liberal democracy and demanding revolution. (I must stress that i am not talking here about the relatively tiny band of deeply committed Marxists and/or Luddites, both groups having serious issues in my opinion, but both having some semi-rational basis for THEIR mistrust of liberal democracy and modern capitalism). Its a convoluted point, and I apologize for not being clearer. But something like this does seem to be going on...and it is handicapping the liberal democrats in the debates that are going on today in Pakistan...

    PS: I promised @umairjav that I would rewrite this...Now I dont think I will rewrite this point, just try to clarify it a bit: It is NOT about people who actually worked for Left wing causes or understood (to varying extents) the finer points of Marxist theology. THOSE people are NOT in PTI (for the most part). They can be found in the PPP, the ANP, various Sindhi and Baloch nationalist organizations and so on, but rarely in the PTI. I am aware of that. My dig is not meant to imply that Leftists have themselves become PTI activists (most PTI activists were probably born after the first death of Marxism-Leninism in 1991). No, my thought process went something like this: 

    • The "Left" (especially in Punjab) has very little direct impact on current Pakistani political shenanigans. The first part of the dig is a dig at the surprising irrelevance of the Left.
    • But thanks to the prominence of the old Left in various cultural spheres and the extraordinary popularity of Leftist talking points (not the same thing as saying "domination of leftist parties or their economic policies") in postcolonial educated people (again, think of it this way: even right wing politicians in our countries absorbed many disembodied memes that had originally been birthed in Marxist or Bolshevik circles as part of a greater whole of "imperialism the last stage of capitalism" type analysis), even these kids have absorbed notions of revolution, revolutionary change and the overthrow of the elites. 
    • Its possible I am overstating the role of the Left in creating these memes. I dont think so at this point (i.e. I dont think I am overstating it), but I am open to this possibility :)
    • I have either clarified or dug myself deeper into the hole...or both. Got to run...

    4. And last but not the least, congratulations India (and particularly the Indian Space Research Organization) on achieving a historic first: a Mars mission that has worked at first attempt. An amazing accomplishment, especially consdiering that they spent less on this mission than Hollywood spends on an average blockbuster movie production. Well done..

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), in Pakistan you cannot see the above videos because youtube is still banned in Pakistan. Allah works in mysterious ways...

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    1. K Radhakrishnan: chairman of ISRO and secretary, Department of Space....2. M Annadurai: program director Mars Orbiter Mission.....3. S Ramakrishnan: director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and member Launch Authorisation Board.....4. SK Shivakumar: director, ISRO Satellite Centre....5. V Adimurthy: mission concept designer, Mars Orbiter Mission....6. P Kunhikrishnan: mission director for the launcher....7. Chandradathan: director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre....8. AS Kiran Kumar: director, Satellite Application Centre....9. MYS Prasad: director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre...10. S Arunan: project director, Mangalyaan.....B Jayakumar....MS Pannirselvam....V Kesava Raju.....V Koteswara Rao
    Wise people (liberals) tell us that it is a sin to be parochial. We have no doubt that they mean well. The (bong) poet has said that under this (brown) skin, both Hindus and Muslims have the same red blood flowing in their veins (arteries). Personally speaking, we would be delighted to live in a world beyond parochialism but this is not what we have right now.

    Our policy is to tread the middle ground (as we see it). We celebrate identities but we do not approve of divisiveness.If that sounds weird, we are curious about your background but that is just because we do not know you. We have nothing to say about self-affixed labelings. If Barrack Obama counts his missing African dad to claim African-Americanship (while discounting the pale-ness of the maternal grand-parents who nurtured him) then we accept that at face value.

    As long as people respect the fundamental truths (but many do not) that (1) we all came from a village in East Africa (yes we know, hyperbole) and that the (2) culture in which you are raised will be a huge influence on you and that (3) discriminating against individuals solely based on their background (say caste or sect) is illogical and immoral, we can argue (non-violently) about everything else.

    That is a very long prelude to get to the topic at hand: we salute the South Indians who made the Mars Orbital Mission (MOM) a success. Before people get angry and accuse us of parochialism please see discussion above. There are countless groups in India which are subject to ridicule, derision, and even hate (women as a whole are probably the largest group to be so victimized) but it is the "South Indian" alone which causes maximum confusion. How does one go about defining an authentic South Indian?
    This not-so-original thought came to us during discussions with a "big man" woman. She is from Goa but she was having a go at South Indians. Thing is, for most of India, Goa would count as south!!! Perhaps as a (Gaud Saraswat) Brahmin she truly believes that GSBs originated on the banks of the Saraswati river in Punjab (see above for East Africa reference). But then most of the stereotyping about South Indians was pointed against southern Brahmins who have dominated the academies and bureaucracies in the North (after having been kicked out from the South).

    Perhaps a true South Indian is a Catholic fisherman from Kanya Kumari (the southern-most tip of mainland India) whose forefathers threw out a commemorative tablet glorifying the Hindu revivalist Swami Vivekananda into the ocean (Vivekananda Rock to them is St Xavier's Rock). 

    Or she may be a follower of the Kalaignar (artist) Muthuvel Karunanidhi, who rejected his own (Sanskrit-origin) name Dakshina-murthy, who was associated with breaking idols of Ganesha (such activities are termed communal only when Hindutva-vadis inflict it on others) and who publicly declared Hindus to be thieves.

    The award for the most authentic South Indian (as the one most vehemently opposed to Hindu-Hindi hegemony) must surely go to the highest Brahmin (and tallest mass leader) of them all. This is what Eknath Ranade, the Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh (RSS) volunteer and the driving force behind the Vivekananda Rock Memorial would have to say about the Man:
    He succeeded in persuading almost every State government to make a contribution towards the construction....even Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh....."Leaders of every political party became willing partners of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. The only Chief Minister who sent me back empty handed was the then Kerala Chief Minister Comrade EMS Namboodiripad. I can say this much about my abortive interview with him. It was like conversing with a sphinx. It was monologue all the way on my part. Only an empty stare from the other side!".

    This is the South India which has stood up against North India and the North Indian Party. But then this is also the South India where ISRO supremo K Radhakrishnan (also from Kerala) openly prays in (Hindu) temples so that the Mars Orbiter Mission is a success. These South Indians who presumably came up with the Sanskrit origin name of Mangal-Yaan. Then there is the inconvenient fact that a socialist, anti-superstition (read: Hindu practices) party that is loud and proud about its (non-Hindu) 5000 year old culture (or is it 50,000?) is being led by a super-caste, dictator-for-life who has added an extra "a" to her name due to advice from jyotishis (astrologers).

    Perhaps all of this adds up to the well known "pragmatic" nature of South Indians (as opposed to the allegedly violent, uncompromising Northies). But then we have the example of Lord Hanumana who is loved, respected...and even feared all over India, in idol as well as in living form. Without the violent, uncompromising (South Indian) Hanumana - as the Ramayana makes it clear -  there would be no victory of good over evil. He is also the only known being who can fly around with his tail on fire. What better analogy for the Mars rocket do we have anyway?

    1. K Radhakrishnan: He is the chairman of ISRO and secretary, department of space. The 65-year-old avionic engineer graduated in engineering from Kerala University in 1970. Radhakrishnan also has an MBA degree from IIM-Bangalore and he also got a doctorate from IIT-Kharagpur. Besides being a top space scientist, Radhakrishnan is an enthusiast of Kerala's classical art form Kathakali and a keen music lover. He received a Padma Bhushan in 2014.

    2. M Annadurai: He is the programme director of Mars Orbiter Mission. Mylswamy Annadurai joined Isro in 1982 and was the project director for Chandrayaan I, Chandrayaan II, ASTROSTAT, Aditya -I and the Mars Obiter Mission. Annadurai and his works are mentioned in the 10th standard Science Text Book of Tamil Nadu. Born in Kodhawady near Pollachi in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, Annadurai has been leading many Remote Sensing and Science missions at ISRO.

    3. S Ramakrishnan: Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Member Launch Authorisation Board. A senior ISRO scientist has more than four decades of experience in rocketry in the Indian space programme. Joined ISRO in the August of 1972 , Ramakrishnan played a key role in the development of PSLV which carried the Mangalyaan into the space. He had said, "From here to go to Mars we are going to use only a fraction of what we did in getting to the (Earth) orbit." The challenge for him was the launch of the rocket. He said the launch window was only five minutes. Ramakrishnan is a mechanical engineer from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai. He received his M.Tech in Aerospace from IIT-Madras with the first rank.

    4. SK Shivakumar: Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, Shivakumar joined ISRO in 1976. He was part of the team that developed the telemetry system for Chandrayaan-I, India's first lunar exploration mission.  He also developed satellite technology and implemented satellite systems for scientific, technological and application missions. He said, "Our baby is up in the space. It was almost like a caesarean."

    5. V Adimurthy: Born in Andhra Pradesh and educated at IIT-Kanpur, Adimurthy joined ISRO in 1973 and was the Mission Concept Designer of Mars Orbiter Mission. He was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2012.

    6. P Kunhikrishnan: He is the Mission Director for the launcher. From the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kunhikrishnan has seven successful PSLV launches under his belt since 2009. He was appointed the mission director for the ninth time. He was responsible for seeing the rocket completes its mission successfully and that the satellite is correctly injected in the designated orbit. The challenge for him was that the orbital characteristic of the Mars Mission is different from regular PSLV missions.

    7. Chandradathan: Took over as the Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in 2013. He joined ISRO in 1972. Initially, he worked for the SLV-3 project during its design phase and later was involved in the development of solid propellant formulations for SLV-3. Over three decades, Chandradathan made contribution to the realisation of solid motors for sounding rockets, SLV-3, ASLV and PSLV.

    8. AS Kiran Kumar: Joined ISRO in 1975, Kumar is the Director of Satellite Application Centre. He was responsible for designing and building three of the orbiter payloads - the Mars Colour Camera, Methane Sensor and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer. The challenge before him was miniaturising the components as the satellite does not provide much space.

    9. MYS Prasad: He is the director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre and chairman of the Launch Authorisation Board. From 1975 to 1994, he worked in the launch vehicle development programmes of ISRO. He was part of the project Ttam of SLV-3, the first indigenously developed launch vehicle of India. As the launch was during northeast monsoon season the challenge was to enhance weather forecasting capability to 10 days and simultaneously carrying out preparatory work for Mars Mission while dismantling the GSLV rocket after the mission was aborted earlier this year.

    10. S Arunan: He is the project director of Mangalyaan. Arunan was responsible for leading a team to build the spacecraft. The challenge for him was to build a new communication system, which would largely be autonomous so that it could take decision and 'wake up' the orbiter engine after 300 days.

    11. B Jayakumar: The associate project director of PSLV project,  Jayakumar was responsible for the rocket systems, testing till the final lift-off.

    12. MS Pannirselvam: The chief general manager of range operation director at Sriharikota Rocket port, Pannirselvam was responsible for maintaining launch schedules without any slippages.

    13. V Kesava Raju: He is the mission director of Mangalyaan. Raju and his team will track the journey of the MOM in the outer space.

    14. V Koteswara Rao: He is the ISRO scientific secretary. 


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