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In what is perhaps the first admission of its kind, the police have concluded that there is a trust deficit among Muslims, who see them as “communal, biased and insensitive…. ill-informed, corrupt and lacking professionalism”......

Gods on Earth: Shankaracharya Says No To Worship of Sai Baba
Ram Puniyani

Last three decades in particular while on one hand one saw the plethora of Godmen like Mahesh Yogi, Rajneesh, J. Krishnamurthy, Aasaram Bapu, Satya Sai Baba (Bhagwan) coming to the fore, the popularity of Sai Baba of Shirdi and Mata Vaishno Devi has gone up exponentially. Bhagwan Satya Sai, who died few years ago, had vast following and he was regarded as the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. At the same time Shirdi Sai pilgrimage became very popular and his temples came up in most cities. Sai Baba of Shirdi has a beautiful syncretic background. While he was born in a Muslim family he came up more in Sufi tradition and intermingled with equal affection amongst Hindus as well as Muslims. His major focus was bringing Hindus and Muslims together. One major landmark in his life will give the essence of his efforts. In 1896 he instituted the annual Sufi ‘Urs' festival with the explicit purpose of bringing these two communities together....

 

“Barring Tamil Nadu, police forces of all states suffer from this adverse perception about them,” says the report. The community questions nearly every police action, the report says. “Dispersal of crowds and use of force, arrests of accused, registration of criminal offences, applications of sections of law, preventive arrests, enforcement of curfew and providing security to minority members are some of the issues which are viewed with suspicion and allegations of unprofessional and prejudiced conduct made.”….

“Muslims will be treated as common citizens -- nothing more, nothing less. And, they must learn to respect Hindu sentiments. If they keep opposing Hindus, how long can they survive?” said the 88-year-old who has been a lifelong Pracharak of the RSS, the ideological parent of the BJP. Asked to elaborate, Singhal said Muslims should give up claims over Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura and also accept a uniform civil code......

 
Forbidden Pages
A.G. Noorani

Forbidden Pages
A.G. Noorani

Neither Jinnah nor the sponsors of the law would have imagined that nearly a century later, Section 295-A, would be invoked against a historian of repute Wendy Doniger. Her work is entitled The Hindus: An Alternative History. The very subtitle suggests an effort at an original interpretation even as her doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian Studies testify to certain empathy for Hindu thought.....

 

The Atrocity:  Bombs Are Raining On Gaza and Rockets on Southern Israel
Uri Avnery

When the bodies of the three were found by tourist guides, the chorus of hatred reached a new crescendo. Soldiers posted tens of thousands of messages on the internet calling for “revenge”, politicians egged them on, the media added fuel, lynch mobs gathered in many places in Jerusalem to hunt Arab workers and rough them up.  Except for a few lonely voices, it seemed that all Israel had turned into a soccer mob, shouting “Death to the Arabs!”.....

The death toll from Israeli air strikes on Gaza has risen to 100, Palestinian sources say. The latest deaths were of two people in a car in the Bureij area on Friday, they said. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes since launching its operation on Tuesday to stop rocket fire from Gaza. Militants there continue to fire on Israel, causing damage and injuries. The US earlier offered to help with a truce in a call to Israel's PM. Egypt and Turkey have both criticised Israel's use of force.

Democracy and Islamic Morality
Najam Sethi

Politics is taking another ugly turn in Pakistan. Unfortunately, politicians are at the centre of the gathering storm, notwithstanding the provocative role of the military’s intelligence agencies to exploit some of them to cut others down to size and tilt the civil-military balance in the military’s favour…..

 

Dynastic Politics in Pakistan: Government Attacks Imran on His Personal Life
Mehr F Husain

Granted, political figures mean their private lives are up for scrutiny and admittedly, nepotism is the ugly truth about politics. But the real tragedy is that the legitimacy of the elections for a collective good is overshadowed by personal issues……

 

The problem with Hindutva, which has impeded its capture of the average Hindu’s political and cultural imagination, is that it is the outcome not so much of hatred for others, especially Muslims, but rather of Hindu self-hate. It’s a historic and possibly doomed attempt to change everything about Hinduism that makes it what it is — its ability to accommodate mind-boggling diversity, its avoidance of strict definitions and boundaries, its amorphous, heterogeneous, tolerant and fluid character…….

Under UPA, Number Of Muslim Cops Hits New Low: 6.2 Percent Muslim Component In All-India Police In 2013 From 7.11 Percent In 2004, The First Year Of UPA Rule
Bharti Jain

Notwithstanding UPA regime's claims that it was committed to implementing Sachar panel's recommendation for better representation of Muslims in the police forces, the share of the minority community has fallen steadily to touch a new low of 6.2% in 2013. This marks a decline from the 6.5% Muslim component in all-India police in 2012, 6.52% in 2011 and 6.9% in 2010.  Incidentally, the percentage of Muslims in police forces across the country was much higher at 8.3% in 2001 and 7.11% in 2004, the first year of UPA rule.......

 

Chaining 1,200 Years: Our PM’s Recalculation of How Long Indians Have Been ‘Slaves’
Hasan Suroor

Mridula Mukherjee, former professor of modern Indian history at JNU, described as the “standard Hindu communal view of history”, which regards the period of Muslim rule also as a period of slavery. The problem is that even then the numbers don’t add up. Muslim conquest of the subcontinent began around the 12th century and was effectively over by the 18th century, though it lingered on until 1857. Modi’s account still leaves us with 400 years to account for, spawning jokes on the internet. On Twitter, someone going by the name ‘Angry Brown Man’ wrote: “Narendra Modi claims India has faced 1,200 years of slavery? Is prohibition not on in Gujarat anymore? ‘Coz he is obviously high as kite.”…..

Let's Say It for India, My Name Is Khan
Samar Halarnkar

“I feel increasingly the climate is such that I am made aware of the ‘difference' and oddity of my name in the most fleeting of encounters — in airports while checking in, while paying with my credit card, registering in hotels, etc,” Khan writes. She worries what her teenage daughters will have to face. As early as the third grade, in her exclusive and supposedly progressive school, the older daughter was told to “go to Pakistan”......

 

Grist to the Reactionary Mill
D.N. Jha

It is neither possible nor necessary to deny that the Islamic invaders conquered parts of Bihar and Bengal and destroyed famous universities in the region. But Shouri’s laboured effort to associate Bakhtiyar Khilji with the destruction and burning of the University of Nalanda is an example of the wilful distortion of history. Shourie created much controversy by publishing his Eminent Historians in 1998 during the NDA regime and now, after 16 years, he has issued its second edition from which his article under reference is excerpted. His descent to this planet in a historian’s avatar coincides with the BJP’s ascent to power. Interesting, isn’t it?.....

Pakistan Politicians Prefer TV to Parliament
Maleeha Lodhi

A fourth factor is related to the 24/7 broadcast media. This has increasingly become a competing forum for political debate, with politicians giving priority to appearing on television over showing up in Parliament. Media engagement may be a political imperative of the new environment. But that doesn't mean parliamentarians should regard television appearances as a substitute for parliamentary activism…..

 
J&K: Trails of Death
Anurag Tripathi

It is abundantly clear that Pakistan will continue its policy of supporting cross border terrorism in J&K, and enveloping regional trends suggest that a sharp escalation is possible in future. If the impact is to be contained, and in the absence of effective instrumentalities to force Pakistan to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil, the strongest possible measures will be required to prevent infiltration across the LoC/IB and to track and neutralise terrorists who manage to cross into Indian territory......

 

Shara added that “after being hit, al-Baghdadi, with a range of elements of his organization fled into Syrian territory because of its proximity to Qaim,” indicating that “al-Baghdadi might be killed as a result of the severity of his injuries.”…..

 

Fading of the Strongman: Muttahida Qaumi Movement Leader-in-Exile
Khaled Ahmed

Living in London, Altaf Hussain is no longer the dapper figure he was. He should have managed his finances better too, like many Pakistani nationals and leaders who have their wealth stashed away in the UK. The technique of flying into a rage, borrowed from the religious cleric, should have been modified after the MQM became the only modern-liberal party in Pakistan, affording shelter to such minority victims of the predatory state as Shias, Ismailis, Ahmadis and Hindus. But the cult prevailed......

 

“They are barbaric, but mostly they targeted Shias and those who had gone to Iraq on a pilgrimage. We were told they killed pilgrims while they were offering prayers or performing Ziyarat. Pilgrims were captured and mercilessly killed and the situation was the worst in Samara.”....

 

An unusual confrontation is building up ever since Dwarka Shankaracharya, Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, ran down the followers of Shirdi Sai Baba, saying they ought not to worship the 19th century mystic who was no god, and remove his photographs and idols from temples where he gets the pride of place with Hindu deities. The 90-year-old pontiff's comments hurt a legion of Sai devotees. In Varanasi, protests broke out soon after the Shankaracharya's observations, while the 'Sanatani' followers of the seer hit the streets of the temple town in the seer's favour......

Senior counsel Philip Koh, who is keeping a watching brief for the Majlis or council of non-Muslims religions, pointed the case is not confined to Christians as Sikhs and others also use the word 'Allah' to refer to God in their Holy Scriptures. He cited the dissenting judgment of Datuk Zainum Ai that "a secular court such as ours is ill-equipped to determine the veracity, accuracy or even sincerity of subjective religious beliefs about doctrine and practices….

 

Believe it or not, after days of trying  in vain to get positive news from any Muslim country for the front page of my magazine, it was a Christian country—the most Christian you can get—Vatican City—which brought me relief with good news at last. I was really delighted, especially after hearing about the Malaysian judgment, to read that the Vatican had organized prayers for peace, bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews. How I wished similar good news would come from Muslim countries, too!.....

A campaign to isolate Muslims living under apartheid-like conditions is gathering steam in western Myanmar, driven by Buddhist activists emboldened by the country's transition from military rule. Religious violence since 2012 has killed hundreds of Rohingya Muslims and displaced more than 140,000 in Rakhine State. Survivors live as virtual prisoners in camps or in segregated villages, subject to restrictions on travel, and, in some areas, marriage and the number of babies they can have…..

 

India has a rich heritage of science and technology, including in the field of space. An understanding of the cosmos, and its relationship to Life and Science; is deeply rooted in our ancient thought and knowledge. Our ancestors had conceived of ideas like ‘Shunya’ and ‘flying objects’, long before others. The works of visionaries like Bhaskaracharya and Aryabhata, continue to inspire scientists.

Many misunderstand space technology to be for the elite. That it has nothing to do with the common man. I however believe, such technology is fundamentally connected with the common man. As a change agent, it can empower and connect, to transform his life. Technology opens up new opportunities of development. And gives us new ways of addressing our challenges.

 

The Songlines of Secularism
Shiv Visvanathan

One sought to keep religion and the rest of life separate; the rest treated it as an affable mix. Yet, I sensed a paradox. The affable secularism seemed a private affair, an autobiographical fragment while the official secularism dominated our public spaces. It is as if the officially secular lacked roots in the same metaphors of creativity. The officially secular projected a sense of intolerance about society in Gujarat. It showed no sense of dialogue, confusing Hinduism with Hindutva. On the other hand, our tacit secularism created private doubt but did not enter the public space. Official secularism met Hindu majoritarianism in Gujarat and was defeated partly because of the failure of imagination…..

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