It was foregone conclusion that Pratibha Patil would be elected the next president of India. The Congress, the left parties and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party supported her candidature. It is a welcome development. At the same time, our next president would do better if she did not indulge in making erroneous comments on India’s history for her knowledge seems to be based on prevailing stereotypes of Muslims. She is reported to hold the view that Hindu women adopted the practice of veil (Ghunghat) to protect themselves from Muslim rulers. Not only it is false, it is mischievous and adds to the venom against Muslims, which has been the weapon of Sangh Parivar.


Many have refuted Patil’s anecdotes of history based on hearsay. Here Kaleem Kawaja shows the role played by Muslim rulers in fostering Hindu-Muslim harmony.




Sachidananda Mohanty (The Hindu. July 22, 2007)

Better known for his Civil Society initiatives, Vithal Rajan´s literary works also show his empathy for the human condition. To those who have known Vithal Rajan as an eminent member of the Indian Civil Society groups (he was the founder Chair of the Deccan Development Society and is the current volunteer Chair of the Confederation of Voluntary Associations), his recent literary output in the form of plays and fiction is awelcome surprise. For many decades, Rajan and his wife K. Lalita, a well known feminist and writer, have lent dignity to the cultural life of Hyderabad.

Rajan´s literary works are a varied lot and belong to many genres – The Legend of Ramulamma, Sharmaji Padmashree, Varadachary´s Annotated Masterpieces, Holmes of the Raj, “Not So” Stories for Older Children, The Anarkali Diary. Rajan writes well and effortlessly. His language is crisp and clear, full of wit, humour and felicity. The present generation brought up under the influence of post-colonial writers such as Rushdie, Roy and Seth, might find him a bit old-fashioned (his humour is invariably mild and tonguein cheek).Some of his literary techniques, such as the use of diary as a point of fictional departure, are tributes to R.L. Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Joseph Conrad. Rajan, however, has succeeded in assimilating into a body of creative literature that is authentically regional and Indian at the same time. (communicated by Sekhar Ramakrishnan, For the full article see:




The United Progressive Alliance and Left have nominated Mohammad Hamid Ansari as their candidate for the post of Vice-President in the election on August 10; together they control 401 of a total of 788 electoral college votes, which can increase by another 24 if  Mayawati, the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party joins in.


According to the newspaper Hindu, Mr. Ansari is a scholar-diplomat-writer. He is currently Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. He has written extensively on West Asian affairs. Mr. Ansari joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1961. He was Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and High Commissioner to Australia. He served as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He was Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1984. For Ansari’s articles, see



Leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) say there is growing realization that caste cannot be ignored in the political arena. “Caste is a social reality whether we agree or not. It is important that the Dalit question is addressed earnestly (by communists),” said CPI’s deputy leader D. Raja, a Rajya Sabha (upper house) member and the country’s most senior Left leader of Dalit origin. CPI-M has arrived at similar conclusion.

In recent times, the CPI-M and other Left groups have organized seminars and meetings on the Dalit question and also held huge demonstrations that have drawn large numbers of Dalits. Upper castes have traditionally suppressed Dalits, which the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has compared with apartheid. Vinod Mishra, the late leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) considered caste issue as a class issue.

Raja pointed out that the caste divide was unique to Indian society and that much of what Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar preached was close to communist ideas on issues such as state control of industry and banks.



Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy supports the idea of treating Dalit Christians as Scheduled Caste, which will extend to them reservations in jobs and education. This is in accord with the recommendations of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities headed by former Chief Justice of India Ranganath Misra.




Amnesty International (AI) India is intensifying its work against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by launching a campaign against torture and ill-treatment in the ‘war on terror’. The victims of torture in India span far and wide be it disadvantaged social, political or ethnic groups like the dalits, women and adivasis or areas like Jammu and Kashmir, the North East, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and other areas affected by the acts of state and non-state actors. India has not ratified the Convention against Torture. It is one of only 8 countries that have not done so. On June 26 this year, AI India organized demonstrations, rallies, seminars, marches, candle light vigil, cycle rallies, and press conferences in 34 cities of 17 states.


A petition, seeking ratification of the Convention Against Torture in India will be submitted to the Prime Minister during the monsoon session of Parliament.





In a statement on July 5, 2007, Dr. Manmohan Singh objected to “stereotyping” of Indians after a car bomb attack in Britain and urged new Prime Minister Gordon Brown not to draw hasty conclusions about the guilt of Indians who have been detained.

“It is wrong to label any community or country. We have to look for solutions,” Singh said in the wake of two Indians being held for their suspected involvement in the failed terror plots of London and Brisbane.”I spoke to British prime minister and told him I am worried about stereotyping of Indians in the UK. Britain should not draw hasty conclusions about the guilt of those arrested,” Manmohan Singh told reporters.”I could not sleep after watching the mothers of Indians in custody,” Manmohan Singh said. “Labelling Indians and Pakistanis as terrorists is disturbing.”  Two Indian doctors – Mohammed Haneef and Sabeel Ahmed – have been detained in connection with the June 30 attack when a burning green jeep loaded with gas cylinders crashed into the doors of Glasgow airport. At least one Indian has been arrested in Britain and another in Australia.

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