Of all reasons to oppose CAA, NPR and NRC, most worrying is the Islamists across the borders feeling enthused.
Seattle City Council, one of the most powerful city councils in the United States, recently made history. It became the world’s first elected body to pass a resolution asking the Indian government to repeal the CAA, stop the National Register of Citizens and uphold the Indian Constitution. It also sought ratification of United Nations treaties on refugees. The said resolution is being seen to be “leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA”.
Seattle is definitely not an exception.
Many concerned voices have spoken against the highly controversial discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, which excludes Muslims [and Jews] and enforces a selective citizenship criteria based on faith. This new law effectively reduces the status of millions of Muslims in India to illegal migrants. A similar resolution was tabled by members of the European Union Parliament last month. It stands postponed right now, but that will be a short reprieve, for the members have resolved to take it up again shortly.
For the first time in independent India’s history the Indian diaspora—which is normally projected as pro-Prime Minister Narendra Modi and which does participate in rallies in his support—has been protesting against the bill along with Indian students studying in the West. These protests have been going on for close to two months in different cities and towns in different cities in the West.
Couple this development with the resistance within the country spreading to new areas and broadening to include more sections of society, as people gradually wake up to the CAA’s grim portents. Definitely, there is growing discomfort against the Modi-Shah regime. Perhaps it is a sign of desperation that in order to legitimise this law the government has been peddling half-truths even in Parliament. Prime Minister Modi quoted selectively from the Nehru-Liaquat pact to buttress his case. He used the same Nehru-Bordoloi letter to defend the CAA, which his party had earlier used to slam the Congress. Gopinath Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam after Independence.
( Note : To be published in the Annual Number of ‘Mainstream’)
In this conversation academician, writer and social activist Zaheer Ali talks about his latest book ‘Romancing With Revolution : Life and Works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ (Aakar Books, Delhi, 2019) and why Faiz is ‘ extremely relevant in today’s India’
This is the hour of madness, this too the hour of chain and noose You may hold the cage in your control, but you don’t command The bright season when a flower blooms in the garden. So, what if we didn’t see it? For others after us will see The garden’s brightness, will hear the nightingale sing
(This Hour of Chain and Noose (Faiz, Tauq o dar ka Mausam, 1951)
I am an Indian, but a separatist too. I am hostile against Kashmiri people because I only love my fellow countrymen.
The feeling of separatism among the people of a bordering state is easily identified. But there are two types of separatism. In a state or region like Kashmir and North – Eastern states, separatism is identified in such a way that there is a group or more than one group of people who want to secede from Indian nation and they carry out “actions” to fulfill this desire. They try to galvanize public support through their “actions” and harm government machinery as well. But have we ever identified the separatism that is professed by the majority section of the society?
I belong to a Hindu family of north India. Right from the beginning, a separatist feeling against Kashmir has been cultivated within me. A survey can be conducted in entire north India to know how a relationship with Kashmir has been nurtured among the people of this region during their childhood. If I ask 100 children, they all know Kashmir only through the materials available in media. I want to repeat the story how I was introduced to Kashmir. I was born in the early years of 1960s. While going to school or returning back, I was told that Kashmir has a separate flag which is different from Indian tricolour. Like prime minister of India, it also has a prime minister. There is a separate section in Indian Constitution for it and Muslims are in majority there. Since Pakistan follows Islam, therefore loyalty of Kashmir people is also doubtful.Continue reading Separatism of Majority against Kashmir : Anil Chamadia→
Since the death of a young and charismatic separatist named Burhan Wani, Kashmir has erupted into violence and chaos. Weeks of violent protests in the Valley have resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people and over 5,000 injuries. Kashmir is not new to violent protests and civilian deaths, but this time the intensity of the protest and the passion of the protesters is unprecedented. Continue reading Not Pakistan, but Modi has pushed Kashmir on the Brink : Ashok Swain→
Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative, Delhi Chapter
The valley of Kashmir is on the boil again. Forsaking the so-called normal routines of their lives, people are on the streets. Not just young men, but even children and women are out, challenging the military might of the Indian state. Any fear of the police and army appears to have been discarded. Police stations and even CRPF camps have been attacked. A popular upsurge, it is energised by mass fury. Forty people have lost their lives in one week at the hands of the Indian security establishment. Hundreds of others have suffered serious eye and other injuries from presumedly ‘non-lethal’ pellets used by the police. While people are out confronting the police, para-military and army, the other organs of the Indian state in Kashmir, the elected government and its bureaucracy, elected members of the legislature, panchayats, etc. are in a rathole, fearing public appearance. It is just the people of Kashmir valley versus the institutions of organised violence of the Indian state.
While the immediate cause of popular anger is the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, reasons for this anger go much deeper and have a longer history. The stifling and repression of the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination stands at the root of this conflict. This repression has taken on extreme violent forms. For twenty five years now, the Kashmir valley has been among the most militarised places in the world. More than half a million troops of Indian army and para-military forces have been stationed in the state and its border with Pakistan. Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF camps dot the land scape. Highway checkpoints and random searches are part of everyday life. Thousands of men have disappeared, been picked up by security forces, thrown in the black hole of interrogation camps, often ending up in unmarked graves. The hated AFSPA gives Indian security forces legal cover to assault basic rights of Kashmiris to live a life of elementary dignity. If an average valley resident is alienated from the normal practices of the Indian state such as elections and its administrative initiatives, s/he harbours deep resentment against the presence of Indian security forces in their homeland. This resentment has erupted in mass protests again and again.
Faith based banking in a country which has secularism enshrined in its constitution ! Does not it sound anachronous ?
Well, as far as the present dispensation at the centre led by BJP is concerned – which has an altogether different take on secularism – it does not seem to think so. And that’s why it has gladly accepted the proposal by the Saudi Arabia based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) – an international investment organisation – to start its operations here. In fact this proposal is considered a positive outcome of PM Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia sometime back.( April 2016) Although a date has not been announced when the Bank would start its operations here, all the formalities regarding its launching have been completed and even the city for its first branch in India has been identified. Ahmedabad would see the first branch of this Bank. Continue reading Islamic Banking in India – For Financial Inclusion of Muslims or to squeeze them further ?→
Freedom at midnight put some people in a spot – those Muslims who chose to stay back in India and did not opt for Pakistan. Pakistan was always conceived as a nation that would be created in areas where Muslims were in a majority in undivided India i.e., the north-western portion and a part of the eastern portion. It was difficult to visualize how all of India’s Muslims would be accommodated there because the reality was that Muslims were and are found in every nook and corner in this country. How then was Pakistan going to fulfill its purpose? It clearly could not. Recognizing this and recognizing the danger to those Muslims who could not go to the ‘promised land’, many Muslim leaders opposed the creation of Pakistan. Muslims against Partition by Shamsul Islam (Pharos Media, 2015) is their story. It details how such leaders were in effect betrayed after having striving unreservedly for a united India. Continue reading Betrayal at Midnight – Review of ‘Muslims against Partition’ : Guest Post by Karthik Venkatesh→
Pakistan was created as a homeland for the sub-continent’s Muslims and yet, even before it had formally taken birth, its founder in a famous speech delivered on August 11, 1947 stated his intention to establish a secular nation where religion would be relegated to the private sphere and the public discourse would be given to pressing development issues. Jinnah’s first cabinet consisted of an Ahmadi (considered by orthodox Muslims as a heretical sect), Sir Zafarullah Khan and Jogendranath Manadal, a Hindu from East Pakistan. Jinnah himself was a Shia while the majority of Pakistan’s Muslims were Sunnis. Roughly one-quarter of Pakistan was non-Muslim at the time of independence and secularism seemed a realistic option. Also, Jinnah’s actions appeared to imply that it would actually be practised. But events proved otherwise.
What did our Ram-bhakt Hanuman do in Lanka, the land of his master’s enemy when he went there in the golden past? Everybody knows. What will Hanuman do, if today he is sent to Pakistan? Lankan voyage of Hanuman then, and cinematic expedition of his modern counterparts now (Sunny Deols of Border, The Hero, Ghadar, etc.), leave no room for imagination. Pakistan – the enemy land of India’s nationalist imagination – must be taught a lesson, as Rashtra-bhakt TV news anchors keep shouting from behind fire and embers on the screen.
We have seen on almost daily basis the bhakts, posing variously as Rashtra-bhakt or Ram-bhakt or lately as NaMo-bhakt. Bhakts, who persistently wish to annihilate the enemy land in TV studios, social media, or movie theatres. However, what a latest Hindi film Bajrangi Bhaijan shows is an unusual, or should I say, an abnormal bhakt. A bhakt, who does not want to destroy Pakistan! Lo and behold, he is a Hanuman-bhakt! He is called Bajrangi-Bhaijaan (Salman Khan). For, the word Bajrangi is a synonym of Hanuman, the ubiquitous monkey-god. He is bhaijaan because he is unable to lose his affection for a cute little girl even after knowing that she is a Muslim and, more than that, a Pakistani! Continue reading Of Hanuman, Pakistan and Bhaijaan: Prabhat Kumar→
[ This is a post from two friends in Pakistan responding to the tragic assasination of Sabeen Mahmud, activist and director of ‘The Second Floor’ (T2F) – a space that hosted many wonderful conversations and brave events. Sabeen was killed as she was going home after an event dedicated to a public discussion of disappearances and human rights violation in Balochistan.]
A normally quiet and desolate gali is packed with camera crews and hundreds of attendees for the funeral of Sabeen Mahmud. While there is a steady trickle of mourners entering and exiting the premises of the vibrant community space Sabeen created, the crowd waiting in the gali outside seems to be arrested by a mixture of disbelief, anger and grief.
Similar emotions paralyze us as we write about Sabeen in the past tense. It is difficult to believe she is gone, infuriating to think about the way she went, and, perhaps, the hardest to accept the beginning of her absence.
While watching her interview with PBS NewsHour last month, one is struck by how her cavalier attitude to fear and security, reverberates eerily in the wake of her murder.
“I grew up playing cricket on the streets” she said, “I just feel when the time comes, the time will come”.
On the night of February 1st, Jibran Nasir Pakistan’s leading activist and a handful of peaceful protesters sat on a road in Karachi near the Sindh Chief Minister’s house for more than 24 hours, demanding the arrest of terrorists responsible for the January 30th Shikarpur attack which killed 65 Shias during Friday prayers, and demanding action against banned sectarian organizations. There were only 20 protesters, their average age 25, outnumbered it seemed by riot police with water cannon and batons at the ready.
[ This guest post marks one month of the 16th December massacre of school-children by Islamists in Peshawar, Pakistan ]
Pakistan has become a euphemism for insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different outcome. There are though some incredibly brave, thoughtful, humane and patriotic Pakistani men and women who have decided enough is enough and they are determined to chart a different future for the country. Continue reading Love in the Time of Military Courts: Fawzia Naqvi→
The brutal murders of Shehzad and Shama, a Christian couple in the village of Kot Radha Kishan in Kasur district on 4th November, spawned predictable outrage in the press and social media. The rush of horror, the diagnoses and prescribed course of action against such violence involved the familiar paternalistic discourse of the ‘illiterate masses’ whose ‘ignorance’ evidently leaves them particularly vulnerable to the manipulation of the much maligned mullahs. Such a narrative serves the dual function of reducing religious violence to the faceless masses while at the same time reaffirming the educated urban upper class as the rightful custodian of Islam and Pakistan. This construction conveniently ignores the role played by the state and the elite in producing religious violence and feeds the class-based blind spots that exist in our understanding of what constitutes religious extremism.
Though ‘No’ finally trumped ‘Yes’ and the United Kingdom stayed ‘united’ the recent referendum for Scottish independence holds several important lessons for both votaries of separatism as well as national unity everywhere.
It also raises many questions, chief among them being, on a planet run by corporations and shaped by tsunami-like capital flows, do terms like national ‘independence’, ‘unity’ or ‘sovereignty’ have real meaning anymore? An even more fundamental question would be whether the nation-state, in its current form, has any future at all or not?
Coming to the lessons first, among the most obvious is the fact that it is possible to hold a referendum on independence peacefully, without a single shot being fired or spilling a single drop of blood.This has been hailed as a triumph of democracy and rightly so too. How many countries around the world, which call themselves democracies, can muster the guts to allow a section of their citizens to exercise their right to self-determination through a simple vote? Continue reading Lessons from Scotland for South Asia: Satya Sagar→
We are reproducing this piece by Mina Malik-Hussain, which appeared in The Nation (Pakistan) as it deals with an important issue which concerns the changes that are taking place within subcontinental Islam. The piece underlines the great cultural battle underway within Islam which, in the final analysis is about being Muslim in many different ways. Mina Malik-Hussain is a feminist based in Lahore.
When we were small, there was a month and it used to be called Ramzan. It was Ramzan on television, it was Ramzan in the newspaper with the sehr-o-iftar timings and while nobody had a cell phone or Facebook to wish anyone, it would have been Ramzan Mubarik nonetheless. Sometimes if one was being quite linguistically adventurous it would be Ramazan, but nobody seemed to mind.
And then, insidiously, The Arabs crept up on us. It wasn’t like the return of Muhammad Bin Qasim, but somehow Ramzan became Ramadan. Nobody knew exactly how it happened, but almost overnight our crisp z’uad sound became a lisping Arab burr, and we—a nation of language speakers with no apparent consonant pronunciation difficulties—were flung into the downward spiral of an affectation obsession. Now it was cool to sound Arab, and soon enough it began to be increasingly desirable to look it. Cue Al Huda, cue our streets being lined with gangly palm trees that do nothing, either in terms of beauty or shade, cue the availability of the most bling Islamic cover-up gear you’ll see this side of Dubai.
Still, as a nation we were still fairly open-minded about this, so we fasted year after year and didn’t really pay attention to the semantics of it. We were busy trying to live our lives and be regular Pakistanis, but The Arabs kept making inroads onto our cultural minds. One year ‘khuda-hafiz’, that old and comfortable way of saying goodbye and Godspeed, became ‘Allah hafiz’ with the dubious reason of having to specify which deity to whose protection one was recommending you. Because here in multi-religious, multi-cultural and secular Pakistan there was actual leeway where one would wonder who exactly Khuda is, and perhaps not want to be entrusted to a pagan god. Some people resisted, and continue to resist Allah hafiz and keep saying khuda-hafiz with the logic and hope that whatever His name, He will still protect and love them. Also if it was good enough for one’s grandfather and great-grandfather, it was just fine for them too. Read the full article here
[What the corporate interests have done to the Indian media the military is doing in Pakistan. In the continuing face-off, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has suspended Geo TV’s license for fifteen days and imposed a fine of $ 104, 000 on it. See report here]
Media revolutions in different developing countries are seen as an important factor in democratic process, in acquiring information and in enhancing consciousness. However, the media can be manipulated, coerced and used to develop certain consensuses that favors the ruling groups, as the example of recent happenings in Pakistan shows.
It could be other things. (It certainly was other things.) But it could quite as easily be its incomparable food and music that has drawn kings, foreign army generals, enlightened mystics and famous globe-trotters to ancient Sehwan. Standing on the west bank of the mighty Indus, Sehwan – or Siwasitan as Ibn Batuta describes it in his travel accounts – is most famous for being the place chosen by Hazrat Laal Shahbaz Qalandar to settle in in the 13th century. The shrine of the great sufi saint draws hundreds of thousands of people to its doors from all across Pakistan every year. The bazaar around the shrine plays host to a panoply of tongues and customs; the courtyard of the mazaar offering hospitality to visitors from out of town. The impressive gold dome of the shrine is the center from which all activity – cultural, social, religious, political – appears to emanate. Like many of Sindh’s other ancient towns, Sehwan is steeped in a history that continues to breathe.
लखनऊ के बारहवीं कक्षा के एक छात्र आदित्य ठाकुर ने हाल में विदेश मंत्रालय के सचिव को हाल में एक पत्र लिखकर तकलीफ जताई है कि भारत का संचार तंत्र , विशेषकर टेलिविज़न पड़ोसी मुल्कों के खिलाफ नफरत का प्रचार करता है. आदित्य ने यह पत्र ‘इंडिया न्यूज़’ नामक टी. वी. चैनल के एक कार्यक्रम से दुखी होकर लिखना तय किया. कार्यक्रम पाकिस्तान में पोलियो की बीमारी की समस्या पर केंद्रित था. ऊपरी तौर पर एक गंभीर मसले पर चर्चा करने के लिए बनाए इस कार्यक्रम का शीर्षक था, ‘लंगड़ा पाकिस्तान’. आदित्य ने लिखा है पूरा कार्यक्रम पाकिस्तान के बारे में प्रचलित ‘स्टीरियोटाइप’, उसके प्रति अपमानजनक और सनसनीखेज प्रसंगों से भरा पड़ा था.रिपोर्ट लगातार पाकिस्तान को ‘दुनिया को तबाह करने के सपने देखने वाला’ कह कर संबोधित कर रही थी. ‘बम का क्या करोगे पाकिस्तान , खाओगे?’ और ‘दो बूँद से मत डरो पाकिस्तान’ जैसे संवादों से कार्यक्रम की पाकिस्तान के प्रति घृणा जाहिर थी. Continue reading पाकिस्तानी गाली नहीं है : अपूर्वानंद→
As Pakistan battles with militancy, part of the war is also being fought in the arena of ideas.
In order to fight militancy, some argue, Pakistani society has to win hearts and minds back from extremists. It is the ‘fundamentalist’ thinking in our midst that prevents us from confronting militants wholeheartedly. On the other side of the talking divide stand those who feel that ‘liberals’ are forcing the state to declare a war on its own people under the guise of fighting militancy.
There is, however, at least one way in which both camps are similar. Regardless of who is right or wrong, the two sides view each other as being incompatible binaries with nothing in common. This is a flawed approach. No society, and especially not one as complex as Pakistan, can be divided so cleanly into two groups that do not overlap. Continue reading Pakistan beyond liberal and conservative: Ayesha Siddiqa→
Guest post by SAMEER KHAN: Mr. Chaddha lived in my neighbourhood, a tall lanky elderly gentleman who looked young for his age. I would often see Mr. Chaddha come for a morning walk in our local park, but I stayed aloof, not having an interest in the elderly gentlemen in the park who were either part of laughter clubs or the local residents union. Whenever I managed to struggle out of my bed for my morning exercise I would notice Mr. Chaddha walking ramrod straight like a soldier. He was never generous with his smiles and would simply nod his head whenever I greeted him.
One pleasant winter morning as I passed Mr. Chaddha in the park I was surprised to hear him call my name. I went towards him, and looking at me from his towering height he asked me, “Can you read and write Urdu?” Startled by the question I answered, “Uncle I can read Urdu but I am not too confident of my writing abilities.“
Guest post by SAIM SAEED: Democracy in South Asia is its own animal, and has little resemblance with its counterparts in the United States and elsewhere. Gone are any kind of faultlines between liberals and conservatives, ideologies and the like; “Social Democrats” means little, and Greens, Communists and Freedom, even less.
A widely held view is that political parties in Pakistan (and India) are based on ethnic lines. And there is good reason to believe that view. The PML-N, run by Punjabis, controls northern Punjab. The PPP, run by Sindhis, controls Sindh and parts of Southern Punjab. The ANP, run by Pushtuns, controls the Pushtun-dominated Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province in the North-West, and represents a few Pashtun-heavy neighborhoods in Karachi. Smaller parties run similarly. The MQM, a party founded as a Muhajir – immigrant – party, runs Karachi, the city with the largest Muhajir constituency. The BNP, founded as a Baloch pro-independence party is the most popular party in Balochistan. At various points, parties have tried to fashion themselves nationally, reflecting their larger ambitions. PPP’s official rhetoric talks of a national narrative. The MQM, originally short for Muhajir Quami Movement – National Immigrant Movement – changed to become the Muttahida Quami Movement (without any change to its initials), Muttahida meaning United. These changes have been cosmetic, however, and each party’s constituency remains more or less the same.