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Imran and Bilawal Talk To the Nation
Mehr F Husain

Imran Khan goes to Sindh, Bilawal Bhutto goes to Punjab. This cross provincial politicking of leaders, visiting the locals and persuading them with their oratory, is what the people expect of their leaders. Both display a kind of unifying attitude, focusing on secular issues that can actually resolve the identity crisis that the country has been grappling with for decades now. Politics is about publicity and the skill of persuasion……

 

President of the Board for Protection of Madrasas in Gujarat Mufti Ahmed Devalvi, said that Garba, a kind of collective dance involving men and women, was a religious function of the Hindus and there was no need for Muslims to go there as performing dance or watching it was not permitted in Islam……

A Letter to Maulana Tariq Jameel on Floods
Farooq Sulehria

I am slightly curious to know the sources that finance your gigantic Tableeghi project. Before you criticise the corrupt rulers, it would indeed be reasonable that you be financially-transparent yourself. Most importantly, us ‘sinners’ might take you more seriously when we know that your Tableeghi mission has not accepted any dirty money from any ‘sinner’. I am sure that doing a little heart-searching will make you think a couple of Tauba Istaghfars yourself before you insult poor, working class victims of a natural disaster next time…..

But it was Nehru’s egalitarian figure that towered over the Indian political scene so that people and princely kingdoms of all faiths and sensibilities felt they could bond together to create the India/Bharat we now see and believe in, and which the BJP proudly touts.  Were it not for that towering statesmanship and personality – how would Patel have done his job? It is like saying that Amit Shah could have won his victory in UP during the 2014 Parliamentary Elections without the face of Modi? BJP fans themselves would balk at the thought and call it sacrilegious……

 

The Real ‘Love Jihad’
Kancha Ilaiah

We cannot achieve “Sabka Vikas” without giving equal rights to women of all castes and religions and transforming cultural codes. In some castes women’s oppression is in still in the primitive mode. In North India the condition of Jat and Yadav women is telling of their status in the family and society. North India is still an unreformed den and the Sangh Parivarwalas want to push North Indian women into worse conditions. They have no agenda for social reform. The more they want the Indian women to be oppressed “Hindu Naris” without rights, the more they will become “Muslim Begums” with rights…..

Rule of Charisma: Its Worst Trait Is the Way It Shapes the Party That Follows It
Khaled Ahmed
The schools that Boko Haram destroys in Nigeria were first smashed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda loved and spread this globally: now al-Shabaab in Somalia is the best exemplar of this “revolution”. Those of us who embraced “revolution” as utopia — I used to watch old Indian movies propagating “Kranti” for social change — are cowering before religion-driven “Inquilab”. It is not difficult to see how Pakistan has identified with its killer under a kind of Stockholm syndrome. We have become violent. The best lab demonstration is in Karachi, where the Taliban slaughters people from its “no-go” areas at the rate of 10 per day…..

The lesson of democracy can be learned from the way politicians responded to the outcome of the referendum. Although believing wholeheartedly that the Scots would choose independence, Salmond was humble enough to say that democracy was to be admired, which means the people’s voices have to be accepted……

 

The peaceful appeal, which was led by a Muslim PETA India staffer wearing a lettuce-leaf Hijab, was in support of nonviolent ways to give alms to the poor, such as gifts of grains, fruits, clothing, and money, instead of paying to slaughter goats during the Bakra Eid religious commemoration of Abraham’s offering of his son to God.....

 

Is India Taking The ‘Right’ Direction?
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

School text books have been altered to create a new system of discourse which shows that Hindus were always united, Muslims created the caste system and divided the Hindus so that they can “rule” and it is their ideology which the British acquired. Only the “Ancient” history of India is truly the “Indian” History, while the “Medieval” history of India is, what the RSS says, “Muslim” history of India and the pre-Independence age is the “Christian” history of India.....

Success and Failure of Imran Khan
Najam Sethi

A recent Gallup Poll has revealed some interesting facts. A majority of respondents support Javed Hashmi’s decision to quit the PTI and agreed that some “third force” was behind Imran Khan’s “Dharna”….

 

Love Jihad Propaganda Spurs Hate, Not Dialogue
Ram Puniyani

The ‘Love Jihad’ propaganda is a double-edged weapon: By stating that Muslim youth are being trained to lure Hindu girls, on one hand they demonize Muslims and on the other they tighten their control of the lives of girls and women. In this propaganda, Hindu women are projected as gullible, easy to be lured and incapable of deciding for themselves. In a way the communal agenda’s twin goals are achieved here. Communal politics wants to marginalize the religious minorities at the surface level and at the deeper societal level it aims to restrict the rights and freedom of women. ....

Is India’s Bold Prime Minister Bold Enough?
Fareed Zakaria

Already, Modi’s honeymoon is coming to an end at home. In a series of by-elections, his party has done surprisingly poorly. It would be a strange irony if the problem with Narendra Modi turns out to be not that he is too bold but rather that he is not bold enough…..

 

Pakistan: Assets and Liabilities Again
Najam Sethi

Amidst the continuing din of the Dharnas in clinical Islamabad, an important announcement in the badlands of Waziristan has largely escaped strategic scrutiny. This is a statement by the so-called leader of the Punjabi Taliban, Azmatullah Muaviya, renouncing armed struggle against the Pakistani state and determining to focus instead on the fight against the government in Kabul in alliance with the Haqqani Network under the leadership of Mulla Omar……

 

Love Jihad? What Rubbish!
Mitali Saran

There's something ill about a society that is perfectly comfortable with violence and control but frowns on consensual relationships. And there's something particularly grotesque about a party that will cold-bloodedly use relationships as a political weapon. Just to be clear, "love jihad" -- a concept that claims that Muslim men court Hindu women to convert them to Islam purely to take over India -- doesn't exist.  It simply isn't a thing. It's a conspiracy theory. ….

 

Even the conversions as a result of love marriages are mostly voluntary if not by heart, the reason being that most of Muslim boys do not like to flout its religious position, which disallows marriages with polytheists. Fallen in love, girls prefer to marry even if it means abandoning their religion. This is among many compromises that the couples make in order to marry one another. What is however is not being debated at all in the mainstream media is that if any forced conversion is taking place in India, it is the conversion of Muslims to Hinduism…..

Muslims Should Respond To the Divisive ‘Love Jihad’ Campaign with Friendship towards Secular Hindus

Some Muslims may be getting angry and worried at such a harmful eventuality in the nation and they may be thinking that maybe they should separate themselves from Hindus or build their own Muslim groups to provide political and social protection to them. However the fact remains that despite such troublemaking attempts by a few nefarious extremist elements, most Hindus remain secular and treat Muslim Indians as their fellow citizens. Countless Hindus and Muslims rub shoulders in schools, colleges, offices, factories, farms, places of work and places of entertainment like Melas, sporting events etc. And they have the same dreams and worries and plans to improve themselves……

‘I Was Raped Hundreds of Times, By the Man I Was Married To’
Farahnaz Zahidi

Naila’s saviours came in the form of some friends who made her realise that religion neither condoned nor allowed a man to be physically cruel to his wife, even when it came to spousal physical rights…….

The Saffron Dance: What Next?
Sidharth Bhatia

There are many similar songs in Hindi cinema — Man Tarpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj from Baiju Bawra has a similar pedigree. Actors routinely play roles of characters from another religion. The secular character of the Hindi film industry is well known and is taken for granted. India’s traditional culture too is imbued with the same spirit; we don’t make a big deal of it. That very spirit that makes India what it is, a diverse land with a multitude of religions, ethnicities, languages and dialects. It has its fault lines and conflicts, but the character has survived centuries — whoever came here got absorbed into the larger whole. The phrase unity in diversity, often used by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s enlightened and visionary first Prime Minister, was no cliché — it summed up the ethos of the nation. Despite provocations and crises, that ethos has survived……

 
A New Age Dawns Over Kashmir
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

A New Age Dawns Over Kashmir
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Sometimes blessings come in disguise. The recent flood crisis in Kashmir is an example of this old saying. The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir was almost under water. A massive rescue and relief operation by the Indian armed forces is on in the state. It was this same Indian army which was subjected to stone-throwing that is now dropping food packets, saving the lives of people and extending all possible help.....

It seems that scare-mongering about religion suits the purpose of our ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ extremists. I agree that religious differences are a problem; I would venture to add, it’s a global problem that the human species is grappling with. But I seriously don’t think India is going to sink into a morass of religious violence. While some of our myriad communities may not be in perfect harmony with each other, we’ve learnt to co-exist, by and large, without resorting to mass violence…..

 
Being ‘Sickular’
Ranjona Banerji

Being ‘Sickular’
Ranjona Banerji

Can someone then spare a kind thought for the liberals stuck in the middle? Cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them, sitting in the valley of death and being charged with just about every crime... Or if you want a more insensitive description, then a wishy-washy — “everyone has rights, even the people whose views I hate” — brigade. What sort of a position is that to take, ask those who go to gyms set up by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to pump their Hindu biceps and plan their next move against some religious minority or the other…

The Poor Are Stuck In a Losing Battle against Mother Nature
Mehr F. Husain

Every year the floods come angrily sweeping through the region, immersing anything and everything in sight. And each year hundreds if not thousands sit by and watch as their entire lives - sometimes loved ones too - are swept away. And each time the same promises of aid and rehabilitation are made. Every professional out there offers plans on what should have been done, what could be done and what would have been possible, followed by the tiresome 'if only'….

 

Floods, Dharnas and Censors in Pakistan
Najam Sethi

Yellow cabs and tractors, Sasti Rotis, laptops and Youth Loan Schemes are visibly sexy. But dams and reservoirs are dull and opaque; they don’t provide political optics like expansive motorways, gleaming bullet trains and bright red buses on stilts. Every politician is a wannabe Shahjahan but not one can recall the names of the Commissioners of the Indian Civil Service who founded and sustained the great canal colonies network that nourishes the province…….

 
Hindustan vs India
Kancha Ilaiah

Hindustan vs India
Kancha Ilaiah

Over a period of 1,600 years, Islamic culture has spread through the length and breadth of India, touched all sections of society, and penetrated into various spheres of our life. How can a Prime Minister treat a cultural system — the lifeblood of a nation — as anti-national? This question begs an answer, and the debate should be focused on this alone, and not on who is a majority and who a minority......

Cult versus Parliament in Pakistan
Khaled Ahmed

The cult derives not from secular charisma, but divine revelation. Cult organisations may be opposed to one another on the basis of mutual apostatisation, but they are led by men inspired by religion, if not a direct connection with god. The men who die for national armies are filled with the rhetoric of nationalism. But national armies function within the ambit of the laws of war agreed among nations. Men who fight for private armies are psychologically chained to the charisma of the cult leader…..

 
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