SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 153 January 2015
Editors: Daya Varma (Montreal) and Vinod Mubayi (New York)

INSAANIYAT DUR AST (Humanity far off)

Vinod Mubayi

 

[The famous Farsi saying Dilli dur ast or Hanooz Dilli dur ast (Delhi is far off) often ascribed to the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin represented that the voyager or seeker had still far to go before he could reach his goal].

 

When the news of the horrifying massacre of small children at a school in Peshawar surfaced those contemplating Pakistan may be forgiven if they thought of it as a place where “insaaniyat dur ast” (humanity is far off) is the norm. There was an especially macabre quality to this gruesome incident where children were forced to recite the shahada before being shot by the brainwashed robotic salafis of the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP). Read more…

IT WASN’T THE FINAL ATROCITY

Pervez Hoodbhoy

 

The gut-wrenching massacre in Peshawar’s Army Public School has left Pakistan aghast and sickened. All political leaders have called for unity against terrorism. But this is no watershed event that can bridge the deep divides within. In another few days this episode of 134 dead children will become one like any other. Read more…

AFTER PESHAWAR: SEIZE THE PEACE OPPORTUNITY

Praful Bidwai

 

When Narendra Modi called Nawaz Sharif on December 16 to say that the Peshawar carnage “was not only an attack against Pakistan but an assault against all of humanity”, he raised the hope that he would empathetically engage Pakistan during its hour of crisis. That hope was soon weakened by the kneejerk official response to the granting of bail to Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The bail was granted by a court. The Pakistan government has decided to appeal against it and detained Lakhvi. In India too, dozens of people charged with or convicted of serious offences have been granted bail, including Maya Kodnani, Amit Shah, LN Mishra’s killers, and so on. Read more…

IMPOSSIBLE LESSONS

Ravi Sinha

 

Far away from Peshawar five men and a woman sat in a physician’s waiting room in Lucknow. The television screen that ordinarily shows some Bollywood film or a cricket match had a news channel on. It was day after the slaughter of children. The assistant who maintains the waiting list of patients and collects the doctor’s fee said something very predictable, even if heart-felt, expressing his horror and revulsion. The matter would have passed as unremarkably as most things do most of the times, except for what an elderly gentleman waiting to see the doctor had to say in response. Read more…

PARIVAR’S RE-CONVERSION OFFENSIVE: NASTY THREAT TO CITIZENSHIP

Praful Bidwai

 

The Sangh Parivar has made a habit out of raking up divisive issues which most people thought were settled at the time of Indian Independence or shortly thereafter. For instance, India adopted Parliamentary democracy in preference to the presidential system after much debate. But the unitarian, pro-centralisation Bharatiya Janata Party has always been partial to the presidential form despite its unsuitability for a huge and diverse country like India. Read more…

MY VISIT TO KABAADI BASTI AGRA: THE FAÇADE OF RELIGIOUS CONVERSION

V.K. Tripathi

 

On December 20, 2014, I visited the Kabadi Basti, behind Vednagar colony, Agra where 60 Bengali speaking Muslim rag pickers were reported to have converted to Hinduism 12 days earlier. The TV channels and newspapers gave it an extensive coverage. There was debate in Parliament too. I wanted to see the truth of the ordeal these poor countrymen went through. Read more…

UNTOUCHABILITY THRIVES IN INDIA: FIGHTING THE CASTE MENACE

Praful Bidwai

 

It’s fashionable in some circles to claim that discrimination based on caste has steadily decreased in India, as it’s bound to, thanks to modernisation, urbanisation and industrialisation. The character of caste is itself changing from a system of social hierarchy based on birth and ritual purity, to a political phenomenon.  As India evolves into a “merit-based” society, the argument goes, there can be no place for untouchability vis-à-vis Dalits (Scheduled Castes) in it.

 

This argument is bogus. India has failed to industrialise significantly. And the modernisation process is slow, uneven and combines many pre-modern elements of culture and society, including caste, and sometimes reinforces caste-based deprivation and discrimination. We know this from daily experience and official reports. Hierarchy-obsessed India is nowhere near becoming “merit-based”. Read more…

HOW IS GHAR VAPASI DIFFERENT FROM FORCIBLE CONVERSIONS?

Ram Puniyani

 

Propaganda around conversions has been one of the major political tools during last few decades. It was Niyogi Commission report which investigated the conversions in Adivasi areas in 1950s, then the Meenaxipuram conversions of Dalits into Islam, the and then the gruesome murder of Pastor Graham Stewart Stains on the charges that he was doing the conversion; are few amongst the big spectrum related to the phenomenon of conversions. As such the regular propaganda by communal forces that Muslim Kings converted people into Islam by sword has been made the part of ‘social common sense’ by now. On regular basis around Christmas time one saw the anti Christian violence in Adivasi areas a decade ago, and in that context rather than focusing on the violence against religious minorities, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called for a National debate on Conversions. Read more…

HRCP SLAMS KILLING OF CHILDREN IN TALIBAN ATTACK

December 16, 2014

 

Lahore, December 16: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called the killing of more than 120 children in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar a national tragedy which it said must open the eyes of anyone still harbouring any doubts that Taliban and Pakistan could coexist. Read more…

TALIBAN SCHOOL ATTACK HIGHLIGHTS VULNERABILITY OF CIVILIANS

Amnesty International

 

The vast majority of those killed in the attack were school children.

 

“Of prime importance now is that the Pakistani authorities take effective steps to protect civilians and minimize the risk of this type of sickening tragedy being repeated.” Amnesty International’s David Griffiths Read more…

PAKISTAN’S SICKENING MASSACRE ISN’T ABOUT RELIGION – IT’S ABOUT INTIMIDATION

Bina Shah

 

To survive as a country Pakistan needs to map out a road to peace, with the army, politicians and the people rallying under a unifying cause Read more…

A SPECIAL KIND OF EVIL

The Indian Express – December 17, 2014

 

It defies comprehension, the special kind of evil that fired the minds of the men who brought death to Peshawar on Monday, an evil that made them target children gathering for their morning classes and extinguish so many young lives. In days to come, all of Pakistan will mourn. Indians will share their sorrow, as parents, as siblings, and as people who have learned that the living carry with them wounds inflicted by terror. Read more…

CRIME OF NEGLIGENT SURGERIES: “KILLING WOMEN TO CURB POPULATION”

J Amalorparvanathan

 

India is yet to treat women, especially those who are poor, with care and compassion.

 

The several guidelines in the National Population Policy and even Supreme Court directives are only meant to be flouted with unfailing regularity.The result is Chhattisgarh; not one but many Chhattisgarhs – year afteryear. After every tragedy, some doctors will be suspended and nothing more will happen, and in due course of time we will even forget Chhattisgarh completely. Read more…

RIGHT TO WATER

Sitaram Shelar

 

In a historic judgment by the Mumbai High Court, the Right to water has been equated with the Right to life, enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Read more…

FROM SIKKIM-ISATION TO MODI-FICATION

Anand Swaroop Verma

 

India’s neighbours are often skeptical about it. The merger of Sikkim in India way back in 1975 introduced a new term in political vocabulary of this subcontinent- ‘Sikkim-isation’. Read more…

PEOPLE’S SAARC DECLARATION

“PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS UNITING SOUTH ASIA FOR DEEPENING DEMOCRACY, SOCIAL JUSTICE & PEACE”

 

We, the participants of People’s SAARC Convergence met in Kathmandu on 22-24 November 2014 to reaffirm our solemn commitments to justice, peace, security, human rights, and democracy in the region for equality for all and to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Read more…

AMU (Aligarh Muslim University), RAJA MAHENDRA PRATAP AND ATTEMPTS OF POLARIZATION

Ram Puniyani

 

Those resorting to communal politics have not only perfected their techniques of polarizing the communities along religious lines, but have been constantly resorting to new methods for dividing the society. On the backdrop of Muzzafar nagar, where ‘Love Jihad’ propaganda was used to enhance the divisive agenda, now in Aligarh an icon of matchless virtues, Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh is being employed for the similar purposes. Read more…

POETICS OF A NATION: REMEMBERING NEHRU

Shiv Visvanathan

 

Jawaharlal Nehru cannot be seen merely as an object of history, a fragment of policy. He was a dream, a hope, a claim to innocence, an aesthetic, which gave to modernity a touch of elegance. Read more…

A SUMMARY OF U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS SINCE FIDEL CASTRO SEIZED POWER IN A 1959 REVOLUTION

The United States and Cuba plan to restore diplomatic relations and end more than five decades of fierce animosity that at one point took the world to the edge of nuclear conflict.

 

Here is a summary of U.S.-Cuba relations since Fidel Castro seized power in a 1959 revolution Read more…

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