Books and Documents
Current Affairs

In the naming of crusading against corruption, a number of supporters of the caste system, who are also vociferously opposed to reservations for the historically oppressed castes, have got together to stir up a massive agitation against India’s democratic system, insisting that democracy must bow before their dictates. In effect, what they are demanding is that the government must do as it is ordered to by them, and that if it does not do so, they will engineer mass protests which will make it difficult for any government to survive. Who has given the right to the so-called ‘Team Anna’ and its backers among the middle-class urban Savarna Hindus across India to brand every voice that opposes them as a ‘collaborator of corruption’, a ‘Congress agent’, or as ‘lacking in merit’? Is it that they still view the world through instrument of the Brahminical texts, the Puranas and the Smritis, according to which Shudras have no rights at all to study, speak, and even to know, understand and ask, their only task being to slave for others? Anna Hazare’s so-called ‘anti-corruption movement’ is distinctly casteist, supportive of the varna system and opposed to Dalits. -- Bhanwar Megwanshi (Translated from Hindi by Yoginder Sikand,

Despite carefully choreographed images of Muslim children publicly breaking their Ramzaan fast with Anna Hazare, prominent Dalit, Muslim and Christian leaders are deeply suspicious of the faces on display and the voices emanating from the crowds. They argue that Anna’s ends — fighting corruption — is undoubtedly justified, they condemn his arrest and the decision to send him to Tihar Jail. But behind his cause, they see a clear disdain for the very institutions crucial in safeguarding democratic freedom and rights. In Team Anna’s contemptuous indictment of Parliament, they see a tarring of representative politics and, in effect, an indictment of the vital safeguards of minorities. No wonder that Deoband’s new Mohtamim, Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, has said that they have not supported this movement: “The movement is basically suspect. The security and protection of Parliament and (to honour the) glory of democracy is the duty of every citizen.” Critics are also wary of those who have clambered aboard the Anna bandwagon. Ramdev may have stepped back but there are questions about the more urbane Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living and youth factions who shared the stage with the anti-reservation Youth for Equality. Less than 10 days ago, they took part in the Hindu Unity Day, in Texas. Also present was Subramaniam Swamy, most recently in the news for writing that Muslims should be denied voting rights if they do not accept their “Hindu legacy.” Indeed, reflecting this unease, Dalit activists and writers including Udit Raj, Kancha Ilaiah, John Dayal and Joseph D’Souza, have argued for reservation in the Lokpal set-up for SC/STs, OBCs and minorities “to ensure that there is no injustice done to the backward and marginalised.”-- Seema Chishti

Syria, Libya, Iran and North Korea have always existed beyond the global pale or on the fringes. As troubles ferment and become entrenched there, the world at large sits by seeing these entities unravel. Pakistan must not see itself being categorised in such a league. Even sham associations with anachronistic ideological moorings are suspect in current times, and while America may seem to be an unyielding hegemon in this association, it will do us well to remember that nations such as China, India and Indonesia are happily becoming a part of the future world with newer anchoring of their own. In India, we have a 74-year-old, feeble man, à la Gandhian mould, leading a popular anti-corruption movement against a corrupt political and business culture and within that challenging an unyielding political system. While in Pakistan, we only cry out the advent of a transformational moment but remain mired in introspective idealism. Our targets vary; to some it is a moment of redemption from an inexorably deviant military, to others it is the opportunity of lifetime to shun modernity and re-embrace religious idealism. -- Shahzad Chaudhry

We should differentiate between Bangladesh-India relations at official level from the non-official or people's level. People in general in Bangladesh are keen to maintain cordiality and warmth with the Indian people. A steady rise in people-to-people contact in both countries has been noticed. But official policy makers are guided by assessment of national interest. The policy stance of successive regimes in India on bilateral disputes with Bangladesh has divided Bangladesh policy makers into what might be called "soft to India" and "hard to India" camps. There is much hope and aspiration centering on bilateral relations in both countries. It was visible during and after Sheikh Hasina's visit, and it is expected that the Indian prime minister's visit will further cement bilateral relations. However, one should not be swayed by emotion and euphoria in calculating the political and economic dividends of such visits. The present Awami League government has proved to India that it is a dependable ally by taking the Indian insurgents issue very earnestly. -- Akmal Hussain


....the country’s Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities, who are at the bottom of India’s social pyramid and who suffer the most at the hands of the corrupt system that Anna and his supporters are supposedly denouncing—have maintained a studied distance from this movement. Not a single well-known and respected Dalit or Adivasi intellectual, social activist or public leader has come out in support of the movement. Nor, too, have ordinary Dalits and Adivasis. Likewise, workers and peasants are hardly involved in the movement. Yet, despite this, the movement and the men leading it claim to represent the entire country! ‘India Against Corruption’, the outfit behind Anna’s movement, claims that it is the voice of the 120 crore people of India. But, when the tens of crores of Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities have evinced little interest in the movement, how can such erroneous claims be made on their behalf and on behalf of this movement, too? One of the reasons that Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities feel ignored by the movement is precisely this sort of behavior on the part of the men behind this movement, self-proclaimed ‘people’s leaders’ who are projecting themselves as the messiahs of the masses. -- Bhanwar Megwanshi (Translated from Hindi by Yoginder Sikand,

The Western economy is going through crisis and unemployment is increasing which causes frustration among the unemployed youth and frustration and anger motivates them to indulge in acts of violence. They begin to think that real cause of their unemployment is migrants who take away their jobs though that is not the real reason. It is crisis of capitalist economy and also American war dependent economy but migrants become target of their wrath. It also has to be seen in the background of rising intolerance and rejection of multi-culturalism in Europe in the wake of revival of rightwing politics and revival of rightwing politics is mainly on account of deep economic crisis western world is going through. It has been observed since Second World War that economic downturn brings in its wake revival of racism and neo-fascism. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

The real face of the Hindutva forces, their true stance on Dalits and other oppressed castes, is easily understood from their position on reservations for these communities. This brutal reality strips the masks under which they seek to hide. From time to time, Hindutva leaders, including top bosses of the RSS, issue confusing statements about reservations for the oppressed castes, but, overall, these are calculated to negate their importance and seek to do away with them. Some years ago, Sudarshan, the then head of the RSS, issued a statement that such reservations had become a tool to mobilize votes. Indresh Kumar, another important RSS leader, declared that reservations on the basis of caste had divided India against itself and had even, so he had the gumption to claim, threatened its unity and integrity and the love and harmony between its different classes.-- Bhanwar Meghvanshi, noted social activist from Bhilwara, Rajasthan. (Translated from Hindi by Yoginder Sikand,


While Adivasis and Dalits together comprise more than a fifth of Gujarat’s population, they remain at the bottom of the state’s steeply hierarchical social pyramid. This clearly illustrates the caste-class interests that the politics and ideology of Hindutva and Modi’s ‘developmental model’ are geared to promoting. Much of Gujarat’s reported economic ‘success’ owes to the exploitation of cheap Dalit and Adivasi labour. Gujarat enjoys the dubious distinction of having one of the largest numbers of child labourers in the country, most of whom are Dalits and Adivasis or belong to other such marginalized caste groups. They work in miserable, often bonded-labour like, conditions, being paid a pittance, and the state government, apparently, is completely apathetic to their plight.-- Yoginder Sikand,

The Oslo shootings reinforced a point that was self-evident and yet seemed to require re-stating every time a bomb blast shattered the peace anywhere in India. Terror wears the mask of religion and this religion can be Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism or something else. From Nathuram Godse in 1948 to Breivik today, we have seen terrorists claiming affinity to a host of faiths and ideologies. Nonetheless, Muslims alone have been made to feel that they have somehow to answer for the perverted acts of their alleged co-religionists. When Muslim boys are picked up and shown off as terrorists, there is rarely any interrogation of the police accounts despite their dreary sameness. Over the past many years, we have become habituated to seeing young Muslim men, their faces covered, being paraded at press conferences. Each of these has been a trophy moment for the police and a spectacular newsbreak for the press. What happens when the same men are later released because the prosecution could not produce an iota of evidence? -- Vidya Subrahmaniam

When one talks about minorities in Pakistan the usual impression is that they are Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis. However, there is, as Sono Khangharani, a low-caste Hindu from Sindh, who rose to prominence from humble origins, put it, a minority within this minority. They are the Dalits of Pakistan – the low-caste Hindus. There are six million of them, and while Hindus do not consider them Hindus, the State simply classifies them as a Hindu minority. Thus they are subjected to discrimination from both sides. Something the low-caste Hindus in Pakistan, as well as in India, look forward to, is identity and recognition, which is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a human life. Three per cent of the population of Pakistan is classified as a minority, out of which, 50 per cent are Hindus. Interestingly, nine out of 10 of these Hindus belong to the Dalit community. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had installed a Dalit Federal Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. -- Siddique Humayun


The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) has unequivocally condemned Chinese government policies that have caused another outbreak of violence in East Turkestan. Without a substantial change to policies that discriminate against Uyghurs economically, culturally and politically the prospect of stability in East Turkestan is remote. According to Chinese and overseas media reports, incidents of bloodshed on the streets of Kashgar occurred between July 30 and 31, 2011. The tragic events over the weekend in Kashgar took place less than two weeks after a day of violence in the southern city of Hotan. Due to the tight control of information and the imposition of a street curfew, the WUC is unable to confirm the accuracy of information from Chinese state media of events in Kashgar.  -- New Age Islam News Bureau


Stagnation is lethal to any dialogue process. The dictum in its irreducible minimum is: ‘For God’s sake, keep doing something.’ From the state of play in the India- Pakistan dialogue process, when we look into the womb of time, the danger is of inertia leading to stagnation. Stagnation can deal fatal blows to an inherently perilous relationship. It is becoming increasingly hard to find the ‘feel- good’ CBMs (confidence- building measures). The need to ‘reset’ the sights has arisen. In sum, things have been successfully navigated as far as diplomatic ingenuity allows. The time has now come for politicians to step in and play their due role of captaincy.... -- M. K. Bhadrakumar


Simply put, Vastanvi did not want to spark another riot or have licences of his colleges cancelled. All this had to be somehow construed as plain praise of Modi, and, worse, be taken as a sign of modernity. The problem does not lie in a Muslim's praise of Modi but in our turning that into a benchmark of modernity. Islam and modernism, as philosophical systems, are incompatible, but nevertheless reconcilable within the framework of political liberalism. But If Vastanvi knew what modernism is, he would not touch it with a barge pole. As a trained cleric, Vastanvi is deeply loyal to Darul's vaunted Deobandi school of thought that follows from the Hanafi School of Islamic Jurisprudence. It is this jurisprudence that was the basis for the Imrana rape case fatwa, which declared that a woman raped by her father-in-law must be made a legally wedded wife of her rapist.-- Zia Haq

The subcontinent is a beehive of intelligence and counterintelligence activity and spy craft. There are two reasons for this. One is Islamic terror with AfPak as the hub. Two, India is spending billions of dollars on armament and other defence equipment. Together, they are compelling motives for most major intelligence agencies to spread their net as wide as possible in India: the main players being—apart from the ubiquitous ISI— the CIA, the FSB (Russia’s spy agency), China’s MSS (Ministry of State Security), DGFI (Bangladesh’s intelligence agency) and the Mossad. MI6 and the French have a presence, too, but their information gathering is largely related to defence. To make friends and influence people, various time- tested methods are used—women, booze, bribes, foreign trips, scholarships and cyber craft. -- Ravi Shankar


Soon after news that a bomb had gone off near government buildings in Oslo, Indian and international news channels started speculating on which Islamic group could have been responsible. Experts -- if that is what one can call them -- even tried to name groups from the trickle of information coming out of Norway. The only responsible players in this were the Norwegians themselves who largely refused to speculate as they grappled with the fact their largely peaceful country had been targeted. But a few hours later, when tragedy was compounded by news of the shootings at Utoya Island and the fact that the shooter was 'Nordic' looking, the 'experts' vanished. What is evident is that intolerance -- whether it is saffron, green or any other colour -- is a killer. -- Ranjona Banerji

A study published in 2009 by the Department of Applied Psychology of Padua University (Italy) shows that in Western countries the big gap between social-biological nature and fast changing cultures results in psychological violence, especially for women, torn between their natural, biological needs and the boost and desire to pursue social approval. This would give back at least part of the lost dignity to the house work, which is now almost at the bottom in the scale of social consideration. It could be also a way to curb unemployment and to allow women that work only from necessity to make a less stressful life and be more available for their family. -- Giovanni Comparini


There is a bitter and bloody turf war on in Karachi, being fought not by resolutions and statements but live bullets and what we call target-killings. Not the Kashmir elections, which are a sideshow and an excuse for other things, but the urgency of this battle for survival and dominance lies at the heart of the MQM’s grouse against the Zardari dispensation. By using the ANP, now entrenched in large swathes of Karachi territory, El Presidente is playing games with the MQM and the MQM doesn’t like it. Hence it’s growing anger. Let’s not forget that Pakistan has a long history of both holy and unholy alliances, the unholy outnumbering those which had any good in them. For alliances forged against seemingly-democratic governments – against Bhutto’s in 1977, Nawaz Sharif’s in 1999, just prior to the Musharraf takeover, and two conditions have been essential: a Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan and the blessings of Aabpara. -- Ayaz Amir


Even if Vastanvi had not given any statement in favour of Narendra Modi, one or the other excuse would have been brought forth to defeat him. He got trapped for his statement on Narendra Modi. He is not the first person to get trapped on this account. There is a long list of it. Amitabh Bachchan, Anna Hazare, Rajeev Gandhi Foundation, a higher ranked Army officer, S P and some leaders of CPM have also borne the brunt of such a charge from secularists. They also have only stated what they had seen in Gujarat vis-a-vis Muslims who have progressed in Modi’s government. Sachar Commission has also said this about the Muslims there. Main point which would have made the Shoura angry, is, how Vastanvi asked Muslims to forget post-Godhra massacres and move forward. In fact not only for Muslims but for all the nationalists the massacre of Gujarat is impossible to forget and Vastanvi was the V C of Deoband and a Muslim and a Maulvi himself. It was very difficult for the Muslims to tolerate it and this is what his undoing became. -- Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik (Translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi,

From where has this mindset been inherited? Newspapers and media rush to collect the bad news and the worst of these hit the headlines. In the breaking news you mostly see a terrorist attack, a targeted killing, a bomb blast, murder, rape, and so on. Do you ever see a ‘breaking news’ saying, “Bumper crop this year of...” mango, or orange or something else, or “A doctor has saved a life in an amazing fight over x number of days,” or “Economic situation seems to have stabilised...” or something, which is ‘good’. It is obvious, very obvious, in our situation, but it is not limited to us alone. An international, ‘prestigious’ publishing house sends out weekly summaries. -- Naeem Tahir


India figures in a remarkable 102 pages of the sprawling 1,518-page manifesto. Breivik's manifesto says his Justiciar Knights “support the Sanatana Dharma movements and Indian nationalists in general.” In section 3.158 of the manifesto, he explains that Hindu nationalists “are suffering from the same persecution by the Indian cultural Marxists as their European cousins.” Breivik's manifesto applauds Hindu groups who “do not tolerate the current injustice and often riot and attack Muslims when things get out of control,” but says, “this behaviour is nonetheless counterproductive.” “Instead of attacking the Muslims, they should target the category A and B traitors in India and consolidate military cells and actively seek the overthrow of the cultural Marxist government.” “It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible,” he concludes. “Our goals are more or less identical.” -- Praveen Swami

One analyst called the attacks possibly Europe’s “Oklahoma City” moment, a reference to American right-wing militant Timothy McVeigh who detonated a truck bomb at a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people. Police forces in many western European countries worry about rising far-right sentiment, fueled by a toxic mix of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry and increasing economic hardship. If true this would be pretty significant — such a far-right attack in Europe, and certainly Scandinavia, would be unprecedented,” said Hagai Segal, a security specialist at New York University in London. The Norwegian daily Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying he became a right-wing extremist in his late 20s. It said he expressed strong nationalistic views in online debates and had been a strong opponent of the idea that people of different cultural backgrounds can live alongside each other. First Post World (Photo: Norway PM)

Why is the military bent on rubbing the nose of the civilians in the dust? Why does it want to retain charge of foreign policy when it is clearly such a disastrous and debilitating exercise? The populist policies of the Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, and the Prime Minister- in- Waiting, Nawaz Sharif, are a prime example of misplaced concreteness. Angry columnists are spilling barrels of ink exhorting the masses to launch an “Islamic Revolution” while self- righteous anchorpersons are warning of “rivers of blood” to sweep away the accumulated filth of sixty years of corrupt, dysfunctional Pakistan. Alas. The civil- military chattering classes are fiddling while Pakistan inexorably melts down. -- Najam Sethi


 Saturday’s formal separation may have been an inevitable and even necessary step, but these two states will be tied together for many years to come. Trying to work through outstanding disagreements, many of them already violent, will require difficult negotiations, political savvy, and carefully considered international engagement to ensure both North and South develop into peaceful and stable states. At this point, the signs do not look particularly good. Both sides have violated the 2005 agreement, and escalating tensions have sparked conflict in critical border areas. In May, Khartoum’s forces launched an attack on the contested town of Abyei. -- Louise Arbour


Two things that happened in the subcontinent last Wednesday promise to be a game changer in regional politics. That they happened simultaneously in India and Pakistan and manifested an unspoken harmony of spirit — although by no means coordinated — make them meaningful. First, seldom, if ever, would soft-spoken Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram feel the need to raise his voice and firmly contradict a newspaper story — as he did on Wednesday in the Indian capital. But then, the New York Times story was, as Mr. Chidambaram said, “highly exaggerated.” Equally, on Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani made a significant speech in Mingora in the Swat valley — not far from Jammu and Kashmir. From all accounts, the speech had two halves — one full of unease over the U.S.' recent attempts to destabilise Pakistan and the other an overture to India. Mr. Gilani said: “Pakistan views India as the most important neighbour.....-- M. K. Bhadrakumar


HOW far can, or should, a journalist go to get the scoop? Many reporters would instinctively reply that going to any length is kosher and that, indeed, the willingness to put yourself on the line is what separates the brilliant from the merely competent. But a no-holds-barred approach may not necessarily be the right one, as the News of the World case illustrates. On Sunday, amidst much controversy and anger in various quarters, the UK tabloid put out its last edition. While the presses for the 168-year-old paper rolled for the last time, the media world reeled from an ethics scandal that has caused heads to roll and left UK Prime Minister David Cameron in a difficult position. After questions were raised about Pakistani news organisations’ reportage of terrorist attacks and violence, media houses came together to agree upon a self-enforced code of conduct in such situations. -- Hajrah Mumtaz

1 2 ..25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 ... 44 45 46
Get New Age Islam in Your Inbox

Global Terrorism and Islam; M J Akbar provides The Indian PerspectivePLAY 

Shaukat Kashmiri speaks to New Age Islam TV on forced conversions to Islam in PakistanPLAY 

Petrodollar Islam, Salafi Islam, Wahhabi Islam in Pakistani SocietyPLAY 

Dr. Muhammad Hanif Khan Shastri Speaks on Unity of God in Islam and HinduismPLAY