Tag Archives: Asghar Ali Engineer

Indian Democracy and the Current Political Dispensation: Ram Puniyani

Guest Post by RAM PUNIYANI

Text of the Dr Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture

I begin this lecture paying tribute to my very dear friend, Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, with whom I had the rare privilege of working with for close to two decades. Dr. Engineer was a unique scholar-activist, totally committed to the dream and vision of a humane society that honours the values of diversity and where human rights for all are the defining point.

In this regard, he may have been among the first persons who realized the dangers of divisive communal politics. It was he who set the trend seeking the causal factors behind communal violence, doing his own meticulous investigation after such riots. He contributed massively to reforms that took place in the Bohra community, on the issues of secularism and finally, in the interpretation of Islam. We need to learn a lot from him in order to strive for a society that values peace, amity and compassion.

Where are we standing today? What are the major threats to Indian democracy, today, even more menacing with the coming of the Modi Government?

The factors contributing to his victory have been several. The unstinted support given to him by India’s corporate; the fanatical zeal of the RSS and its lakhs of volunteers; the role of a corporate controlled media; the false projection of the ‘Gujarat model of development’; and the polarization of society along religious lines

The promise of Achhe Din – Good Times – has vanished into thin air. Despite the steep fall in the prices of crude oil in the world, the overall ‘cost of living’ continues to going up. The promise that all the black money stacked abroad will be brought back within six months or so and that we would be surprised to see 15 lakh deposited in our accounts, has been forgotten. The pattern of (good?) governance is only visible in the centralization of power around one person, Modi. Gradually the cabinet system of governance is giving way to one man’s autocratic ways, with secretaries of Government departments reporting directly to the PM.  Continue reading Indian Democracy and the Current Political Dispensation: Ram Puniyani

Asghar Ali Engineer (1939-2013)

B_-_portrait.Ashgar_Ali_Engineer-Salzb05__c__RLA_Foundation__Ulrike_AltekruseAn obituary by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED: I first met Asghar Ali Engineer in January 2002 in Mumbai. I was a fellow with the America India Foundation and a few weeks later I would be posted to work with an NGO in Ahmedabad.

A few minutes before his presentation, I noticed him standing off to the side in silence, staring at the ground. I walked up and introduced myself. I was young, in my twenties, and I did not know what to say.

“As-salaam alaikum,” I said.

“Wa-alaikum salaam,” he replied.

I am not sure what response I expected but I thought that perhaps because he and I share the same faith that we might have a special bond, that my greeting would spark a conversation. After all, I always thought phrases like these serve less as greeting and more as an announcement, as in, I am part of the same religion as you.

But Asghar saab just held my hand and then put his hand on his heart. “Nice to meet you,” he said, and then stared at the ground again in silence. I thought it was odd, rude even.

As I continued to meet Asghar saab, I realized that he had very little patience for superficial connections. I witnessed this when I saw him greet crowds after his lectures. If you told him you were from the same caste or city he would not be as excited as if you told him that you also believe that we must fight patriarchy with the same vigor that we must fight communalism. Continue reading Asghar Ali Engineer (1939-2013)

Newslaundry ki dhulai: Kashif-ul-Huda

Guest post by KASHIF-ul-HUDA

In just a year, Newslaundry has achieved quite a following for its in-depth and hard-hitting interviews.  “Welcome to newslaundry – Sabki dhulai. You watch. We’re watching,” says the “About Us” page of this website. But the question is who will do dhulai of Newslanudry?

Newslaundry’s interview of eminent Islamic Scholar Asghar Ali Engineer makes you wonder what kind of preparation did Madhu Trehan did before doing this interview? How is this interview, asking stupid questions on the topic of women’s education, Salman Rushdie, purdah, etc., any different than idiots that play journalists on news channels? Continue reading Newslaundry ki dhulai: Kashif-ul-Huda