SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 151 November 2014
Editors: Daya Varma (Montreal) and Vinod Mubayi (New York)

EDITORIAL – SIX MONTHS LATER

Vinod Mubayi

 

Six months into his term Modi’s electoral magic, which dipped slightly in the September by-elections in U.P. and Bihar, seems to have recovered.  In Maharashtra, BJP doubled its erstwhile tally of seats to emerge as the largest single party though it fell short of a majority. In Haryana on the other hand, BJP had a ten-fold increase in seats (from 4 to 47) and emerged as the majority party.  While Modi can claim credit for this result, another factor, the decimation of the Congress Party in both states, should not be overlooked. Read more…

MODI’S IDEA OF INDIA

Pankaj Mishra

 

India, V.S. Naipaul declared in 1976, is “a wounded civilization,” whose obvious political and economic dysfunction conceals a deeper intellectual crisis. As evidence, he pointed out some strange symptoms he noticed among upper-caste middle-class Hindus since his first visit to his ancestral country in 1962. These well-born Indians betrayed a craze for “phoren” consumer goods and approval from the West, as well as a self-important paranoia about the “foreign hand.” “Without the foreign chit,” Mr. Naipaul concluded, “Indians can have no confirmation of their own reality.” Read more…

DOORDARSHAN AS RSS’S PUBLICITY AGENT: DANGEROUS HINDUTVA PORTENTS

Praful Bidwai

 

Hindutva crossed another red line in Indian politics on October 3 when the state-owned Doordarshan news channel made a live broadcast, for the first time ever, of the Vijayadashami (Dussehra) address of a Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh chief.  Read more…

A PROPOSAL FOR JOINING HANDS TO SAVE SECULARISM

Gautam Chaudhuri

 

Upsurge of religious communalism/fundamentalism is nothing new in this sub-continent, each time taking its toll. Secularism in true sense has never got its root deep and been sincerely practiced by the authority in our country too. Inheritance of the communal contamination of our freedom movement and the partition of the country has paved the hardcore communal forces the privilege to get their ideological influence spread over the society, even within our civil administration, the police, the army, the judiciary and everything—with also deliberate infiltration of trained cadres—and causing mayhem time and again as witnessed in demolition of Babri Masjid, post-Godhra genocide in Gujarat, blasts in Samjhauta express, in Malegaon, at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad—to mention a few. Murder of ATS chief Hemant Karkare on 26/11/2008 during the militant attack in Mumbai also point to a deep seated conspiracy against the nation in connivance with Israeli militant groups like Mossad. All these make it a compulsion for the true secular individuals and groups of the country to build a strong secular popular front to combat the menace of communalism in this country, nay, the sub-continent. Read more…

“HER”

A POEM

Khawla Zainab Read more…

BJP’s MORONIC THESIS ON RAPES

A while ago, the Chief of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) proclaimed that there are no rapes in Bharat; they take place in India. Read more…

ISLAM FOR PEACE, OR VIOLENCE?

Javed Anand

 

Until recently, often in private and sometimes publicly, the complaint was voiced that moderate Muslims do not speak out or not loudly enough against Muslim extremism, militant Islam. Now, curiously, the ongoing savagery of the Islamic State has prompted the high priests of “New Atheism” (for whom “moderate Muslim” is an oxymoron) to turn their guns against liberals in general. Read more…

THE BACKWARD MUSLIMS

Irfan Engineer

 

Two years ago, I was invited to speak at a two day convention of Backward Muslims  organized by “Tehrik-e-Pasmanda Muslim Samaj” in Patna. Translated, the name would mean movement of backward Muslim communities. Read more…

INTERMARRIAGE IS NOT JIHAD, IT IS INDIA

Saif Ali Khan

 

When Kareena [a Hindu by birth] and I [a muslim by birth} married, there were similar death threats, with people on the Net saying ridiculous things about “love jihad”. We follow whatever religion or spiritual practice we believe in. Read more…

MALALA YOUSUFZAI: THE PRIDE OF PAKISTAN, BUT SHE CAN’T GO HOME

Kamila Shamsie

 

Take that, Islamic extremists, anti-Muslim bigots, Pashtun-bashers and misogynists! Malala Yousufzai has become the youngest person to win any Nobel prize and, fittingly, did not appear before the media to respond for several hours because it was a school day, and the girl’s got priorities. Read more…

SENDING PAKISTAN TO MARS

Pervez Hoodbhoy

 

When spacecraft Mangalyaan successfully entered the Martian orbit in late September after a 10-month journey, India erupted in joy. Costing more than an F-16 but less than a Rafale, Mangalyaan’s meticulous planning and execution established India as a space-faring country. Although Indians had falsely celebrated their five nuclear tests of 1998 — which were based upon well-known physics of the 1940s — the Mars mission is a true accomplishment. Read more…

HOW TV PROMOTED TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN

Pervez Hoodbhoy

 

IF today, with remote in hand, you randomly flip through channels on your TV, or browse through nearly two dozen online newspapers, you will see video clips or photos of Pakistan Air Force jets pounding targets in North Waziristan, artillery firing into the mountains, or, perhaps, some other celebration of Operation Zarb-i-Azb. But hang on! You rub your eyes. Our jets bombing Islamic fighters within the territory of this Islamic republic? Read more…

SATYARTHI’S NOBEL IS A CHEER – AND A WARNING FOR INDIA

Praful Bidwai

 

The award of the Nobel Peace prize to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai has been widely welcomed in India. This is doubtless positive for the cause of children’s rights. But it’s also a comment on how the world looks at the social reality of an India that struts about as an “emerging power” but tolerates large-scale abuse and merciless exploitation of children. Read more…

‘RIP VAN WINKLE’ AND RAMAN SINGH GOVERNMENT

Subhash Gatade

 

Can an elected Panchayat deprive a section of its own people belonging to a minority community its constitutionally granted right to practice its religion – e.g. organize prayers or engage in religious propaganda and have sermons? Read more…

MULTI-CULTURAL HERITAGE: GODHARA MUSLIMS CELEBRATE DANDIYA WITH HINDU FRIENDS

Godhara. India is unique—the city associated with the infamous 2002 anti-Muslim riots, resonated this Navratri with Dandiya-Garba festivities organized by a leading Muslim personality.  The incident revealed also, that this was no chance occurrence; Muslims of Godhara and Gujarat have been at the forefront of Dandiya-Garba events since centuries. Read more…

FOR A PLACE ON THE WORLD STAGE

Arun Kumar

 

India seems to be happy to get from the big economic powers things such as surplus capital, technology, trains, cleanliness, education and so on. This also spells its weakness 67 years after Independence. We rejoice at getting the basics from others while giving in return our best minds and yoga. Read more…

LETTER ON THE FUTURE OF NREGA

Shri Narendra Modi 13 October 2014

Prime Minister of India Read more…

OF DIRT AND CLEANLINESS – SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN

Nityanand Jayaraman

 

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign) is powerful in its simplicity, and problematic for the same reason. The absence of complexity in the presentation of the campaign, and the inherent contradictions between Modi’s consumerist growth agenda and SwachhBharat’s objectives fuels my skepticism and raises many questions: Which parts of India will be cleaned, which not and why not? What will we do with the wastes we remove?  Where will we put it? Read more…

THE BANGLADESH WE ALL LONG FOR

Uday Sankar Das

 

The scars inflicted on September 29, 2012 in Ramu will take a long time to heal.

 

It has been two years now since a number of Buddhist monasteries and houses of Buddhists were razed to the ground in Ramu, Ukhia, Teknaf, and Cox’s Bazar on a night of mayhem on September 29, 2012. This carnage no doubt tarnished the image of Bangladesh both at home and abroad. The events, painful as they were and still are, still rekindled hopes about the kind of country we fought for and long for. Read more…

INDIA: TWO LAWS ON CENSORSHIP

Pankaj Butalia

 

Two individuals stand at opposite ends of the film-censorship spectrum in India: One a Bollywood filmmaker, Vishal Bhardwaj, who made Haider, and the other a young documentary filmmaker, Shubhradeep Chakravorty, who made En Dino Muzaffarnagar, a documentary on last year’s riots. Bhardwaj, who agreed to 41 cuts, was able to state in his film that the Indian army was responsible for the disappearance of Kashmiri men in 1995, blew up homes at will, tortured people in the most brutal way and let loose a counter-terrorism force that played havoc with Kashmiri society. He was also able to incorporate in his film another holy cow of a censorious society: incest. Read more…

IS MODI TRYING TO TURN INDIA INTO ONE GIANT ‘LAWLESS’ SEZ?

Nirjhari Sinha

 

When Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, one of his primary focus was to build as many Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as he could to make his industrialist friends happy. According to Gujarat Government, there are presently 55 SEZs in Gujarat covering an area of approximately 27,125 hectares. Some of the SEZs have been given away to his close friends, Ambani, Adani and Tata. For eg, Adani got the Dholera and Mundra SEZ, Reliance got the Reliance SEZ, while Tata got the Tata SEZ. Read more…

HAS PM MODI BOWED TO US PRESSURE ON PATENT LAWS?

Rema Nagarajan,

 

A paragraph buried in the US-India joint statement, which talks of establishing an annual high-level Intellectual Property (IP) working group as part of the Trade Policy Forum, has made health activists across the world apprehensive that the Modi government might be bending to US pressure to change its patent laws. Several health policy experts and activists have issued statements urging India not to give in to US pressure and pointing out that India’s IPR policy was compliant with the WTO’s trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) agreement as it used health safeguards available in the agreement to protect the interests of Indian patients as well as millions of people in other developing countries Read more…

PRICES OF LIFE-SAVING DRUGS INCREASED BY THE MODI GOVERNMENT

“Bimaron ke acchhe din aa gaye hain?”

 

Daya Varma

 

The outgoing United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government had initiated a “Right to Health” scheme and kept the price of drugs at controlled prices. Despite this scheme the prices were still high given the resources of the Indian population. Read more…

JOIN INTERNATIONAL FRONT AGAINST RELIGIOUS-RIGHT AND FOR SECULARISM

Petition by Maryam Namazie (London, UK)

 

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm. Read more…

AWAMI WORKERS PARTY FIRST CONGRESS

Awami Workers Party held its first congress on September  27-28, 2014 at   Islamabad, Pakistan. Read more…

THE WRITERS FORUM CONDEMNED THE POLICE SUPPRESSION ON FORWARD PRESS

The writers’s forum and other organisations came in support of the ‘ Bahujan- Shraman’ issue of Forward Press and condemned the police action against it. Janwadi Lekhak Sangh issued a press release today (written below) while forum for  freedom of expression marked a protest March in Bhagalpur Bihar. The Convenor of forum, Om Sudha  asked the Home Ministry to immediate withdraw the FIR , lodged against ‘ Forward Press.’ Read more…

SURREY-WHALLEY MLA BRUCE RALSTON TO RECEIVE DR. AMBEDKAR SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD

Surrey (BC) – The veteran MLA from Surrey-Whalley, Bruce Ralston, will be presented the Dr. Ambedkar Social Justice Award 2014 at an October 14 ceremony, President of Chetna Association of Canada Surinder Ranga announced. Read more…

COLUMBUS DAY AND THE SANITIZATION OF HISTORY

Owen McCormack

 

The strife that has engulfed Christopher Columbus’ legacy in recent years has put the concept of an Indigenous People’s Day at the forefront of discussion. Read more…

OBITUARY: BALRAJ PURI (1928-2014)

Manoranjan Mohanty

 

For more than half a century, Balraj Puri was a journalist, political thinker, federalist, human rights activist, socialist democrat and much more. He spoke for Jammu and Kashmir and of Jammu and Kashmir to the rest of the world and was widely respected in the state. A tribute by a friend of many decades. Read more…

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