SACW | 18 Nov. 2003
aiindex at mnet.fr
Mon Nov 17 20:32:14 CST 2003
SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WIRE | 18 November, 2003
via South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net
 Arms Race Leaves Medicine Behind - India and
Pakistan spend billions on weapons (Paul Watson)
 Bangladesh: Khoda Hafez versus Allah Hafez: A
critical inquiry (Mahfuzur Rahman)
 Pakistan- India: Conflict yields dividends
only for vested interests: Asma Jehangir (Kalpana
 India: Walk for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice (Ahmedabad, Dec., 18)
 Publication Announcement: "Prophets Facing
Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and
Hindu Nationalism in India" by Meera Nanda
 India: Learning in Saffron: RSS Schools Orissa (Angana Chatterji)
 Publication Announcement: [India] Communal
Riots After Independence- A Comprehensive Account
 Publication Announcement: "Eqbal Ahmed
Essays" (3 volumes) Compiled by Rana Mansur Amin
Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2003
Arms Race Leaves Medicine Behind
India and Pakistan spend billions on weapons
while aid groups struggle for funds to fight
polio and tuberculosis.
By Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - When India signed a
contract to buy a $1-billion military radar
system last month, foreign aid agencies were
still searching for $50 million in donations to
defeat the country's polio scourge.
Across the border, Pakistan's armed forces were
updating their multibillion-dollar shopping list,
including a request for U.S.-made F-16 jets,
while aid groups fighting a tuberculosis epidemic
struggled against a lethal funding gap.
India and Pakistan, locked in an escalating arms
race, were the world's second- and third-biggest
weapons importers last year. Only China spent
more on the international weapons market,
according to the 2003 yearbook of the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute, a leading
monitor of the global arms trade.
Arms control advocates argue that foreign
development aid for health, education and other
projects allows India and Pakistan to divert huge
portions of their budgets to a military buildup
that could trigger the fourth major war between
the two nuclear-armed countries since they gained
independence from Britain in 1947.
"All external assistance frees resources for arms
spending," Husain Haqqani, a leading Pakistani
journalist and visiting scholar at Washington's
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said
in a phone interview.
"So basically, the international development
community has to put its foot down and say: 'This
is what we think has to be your optimum national
security spending figure, and if you exceed that,
no money from us for schools. You can build them
with the money you're spending on arms.' "
As a group, aid workers are among the loudest
opponents of arms sales because many of them see
firsthand the human costs of war. But aid
agencies are reluctant to deny support for the
poor in order to punish the politicians.
"It's better to work with governments, and prod
them in the right direction, on issues such as
the fight against polio that affect the whole
world," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF representative
in India. "I also know that when that is done,
you can galvanize a lot of support rather than
taking the risk of postponing the resolution of
The human cost of the Indian government's
priorities is painfully evident in a polio
epidemic that struck the country's north last
year. The disease severely disables or kills its
victims, many of whom are children infected by
Polio was close to joining smallpox in being
eradicated until it struck back with a vengeance
in two of India's poorest states. They accounted
for 71% of the world's 1,920 confirmed polio
cases in 2002, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The
World Health Organization blamed the Indian
epidemic on a drop in the number of vaccinations.
An intensified polio eradication program in India
will cost more than $94 million next year, and
campaign organizers are still looking for foreign
donors to pledge more than half that amount,
India has reported only 160 polio cases so far
this year, and the target date for preventing the
transmission of polio anywhere on Earth is the
end of next year, Calivis added.
Tuberculosis kills more than 50,000 Pakistanis a
year and infects 250,000. The infectious lung
disease is easily prevented with vaccination, or
treated with relatively cheap drugs.
More than a third of India and Pakistan's people
live in desperate poverty. Their governments'
dismal records on public health, education and
aiding the poor have kept them in the bottom
third of nations on the United Nations' human
development index. India ranks 127th, while
Pakistan is 144th on the U.N.'s ranking of 175
countries, which looks at child mortality,
literacy and other factors. Norway is first on
the list and the U.S. seventh.
The arms race between India and Pakistan has
intensified since the Sept. 11 attacks on the
United States. While Russia remains India's
biggest arms supplier, and China is Pakistan's,
the U.S. is aggressively pursuing stronger
defense ties on the subcontinent.
Eleven days after the Sept. 11 strikes, President
Bush lifted a ban on weapons sales to India and
Pakistan that had been imposed mainly as
punishment for their nuclear arms programs and
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's 1999
Last month, the Pentagon agreed to refurbish
Pakistan's 40 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets and to
allow North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally
Belgium to sell more F-16s to the country,
Defense Secretary Hamid Nawaz Khan told reporters
in Islamabad, the capital.
He said Pentagon officials had assured him that
Congress would approve the sales, which would be
made under a $3-billion aid package Bush pledged
after a June meeting with Musharraf at Camp
David. Half of the grant was allocated for
Last year, the U.S. publication Defense News
reported that India planned to spend $95 billion
on arms and equipment over 15 years, with almost
a third of it going to the air force to buy
combat aircraft, missiles and radar systems.
India increased its defense spending by at least
14% this year to more than $13 billion, according
to the federal budget, which some experts say
does not disclose the full cost of defense. By
the official figures, the military consumed about
15% of Indian government money.
India's budget totaled $91.2 billion this year,
and 7% of it went to social services such as
schools and health care programs.
Pakistan's much smaller and weaker economy is
more vulnerable to the costs of an arms race. Its
budget figures show that Musharraf, who is still
commanding general of the armed forces, hasn't
been able to keep up with the Indian military's
spending increases. But defense is still claiming
a huge portion of government money.
Pakistan says it spent more than $2.5 billion on
defense this year, which is roughly the same as
last year's amount, according to the government.
Roughly 14% of what the Pakistani government
spends this year will go to the military.
Measured as a percentage of the economy, defense
spending is a much bigger drain on Pakistan than
India. New Delhi spends about 2.5% of its gross
domestic product on the military, while
Pakistan's military costs amount to 4.5% of GDP,
the Stockholm institute says.
U.S. defense spending, which soared in reaction
to the Sept. 11 attacks, is expected to exceed 4%
of GDP next year.
The U.S. Agency for International Development
gave more than $70 million in development
assistance to India last year for projects such
as child disease prevention, environmental
protection and support for women and girls.
The agency's development assistance budget for
Pakistan last year was $50 million. It funded
projects such as primary education and literacy
programs, basic health services and support for
The figures don't include hundreds of millions of
dollars in U.S. government loans and other
nonmilitary support to India and Pakistan, or
money sent by private donors such as church
India and Pakistan almost went to war last year
over India's claims that Pakistan was launching
cross-border terrorist attacks, but intense U.S.
and European pressure helped avert a conflict.
Although both countries insist they want peace,
they have made only limited steps toward direct
negotiations, and India says it continues to
suffer attacks by militants it says are supported
by Pakistan. Islamabad recently accused India of
training militants in Afghanistan to launch
attacks in Pakistan.
Last month's deal between India and Israel for
the Phalcon airborne early-warning radar system
has put pressure on Musharraf to go shopping for
something similar. Because Pakistan's
conventional military is much weaker than
India's, it relies more heavily on nuclear
weapons as a deterrent.
An angry Musharraf vowed to take steps to
neutralize any Indian advantage. "We will
maintain that no-win situation, come what may,"
Musharraf said. "This the world should know and
India should know. They have reached an agreement
and we will counter it. That has to be very
It was only the latest in a long line of
accusations, threats and counter-threats between
India and Pakistan. The sparring reached an
ominous new level in January when Indian Defense
Minister George Fernandes warned Pakistan that it
would be obliterated in a nuclear war.
"We have been saying all through that the person
who heads Pakistan today, who is also the whole
and sole in charge of that country, has been
talking about using dangerous weapons, including
the nukes," Fernandes told a radio call-in show.
"Well, I would reply by saying that if Pakistan
has decided that it wants to get itself destroyed
and erased from the world map, then it may take
this step of madness, but if it wants to survive,
then it would not do so."
Special correspondent Mubashir Zaidi in Islamabad contributed to this report.
The Daily Star [Dhaka]
November 18, 2003
Khoda Hafez versus Allah Hafez: A critical inquiry
On a trip from Dhaka to north Bangladesh during
my recent visit to the country, I was struck by
two phenomena. First, there was something unusual
about some of the mileposts along the highway. In
many places, as we headed for the Jamuna, they
would often have a painted-over strip, a blank.
The name of a particular destination has been
systematically erased. You guessed right. The
blank space, staring ever so briefly as you sped
past it, once spelled out Bangabandhu Setu. The
sign was gone, moved and painted over, almost
certainly at state expense. How amazing, though,
that a dumb, blank milepost could still speak
It is, however, a second phenomenon that I have
chosen as the theme of the following paragraphs:
many signboards, especially those at the
boundaries of local administrative districts,
that not so long ago wished Khoda Hafez to the
exiting travellers, now say Allah Hafez instead.
I, of course, never doubted the sincerity of
those who put up the slogans invoking God's
protection on roads infested with unsafe
automobiles and marauding drivers. I am also sure
the Supreme Being now being called upon, in fresh
paint, to protect the lives of the users of those
thoroughfares is the same One whose name used to
be invoked on the old signs. Why then the change?
Is there something of significance in the
changeover, also made at considerable cost, from
Khoda Hafez to Allah Hafez, just as there is
meaning, albeit of a different nature, to the
erased milepost sings? Or is this another
exercise in triviality in which we as a nation
seem to excel? I am not sure, but let us explore.
A great wave of Allah Hafez is sweeping Khoda
Hafez not merely off roadside signs and hoardings
but from its niches of every description. Say
Khoda Hafez as a parting wish to a friend whom
you may have met in the course of normal business
of life, and you can now be sure to receive an
Allah Hafez in return. My brother, cousins,
brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, almost one and
all, reel off an Allah Hafez hot on the heel of
my Khoda Hafez. If my departure after the meeting
is somehow delayed by a few moments -- that is,
after I have already said Khoda Hafez, and they
Allah Hafez -- they are likely to take the
opportunity to say Allah Hafez for a second time.
This, I suspect, is to nullify my Khoda Hafez.
But wait. There is more to come. A close relative
of mine, fully grown though still a bit short of
my advanced years, glared at me the other day and
solemnly proclaimed: "to say Khoda Hafez is act
of gunah". Five- year olds have returned my Khoda
Hafez with a defiant Allah Hafez.
And, yes, television newscasters now end their
news bulletin with Allah Hafez, invariably on the
state-owned TV channel but also on other
channels. So do radio broadcasters. Ministers in
the present government of the country, as well as
other political leaders, never fail to end their
speeches with Allah Hafez. (This, by the way,
does not mean my endorsement of Khoda Hafez
either in the public domain.)
Inquisitive as ever, I asked all and sundry how
did such a sweeping change come about. This was
met, for the most part, with a shrug and a
this-is-the-proper-thing-to-do reply. A senior
friend of mine told me that this was entirely a
political matter. And he was not joking.
Astonished, I asked for an elaboration. "Arey
bhai", he proceeded to explain, "the Awami
Leagers say Khoda Hafez; the BNP- wallas say
Allah Hafez. Satisfied?"
Of course I was not satisfied with the answer,
even though the politics of the situation did
seem to ring a bell. But surely the matter cannot
be entirely as trivial as that. I soon promised
myself, as well as a few others, that I would go
to the bottom of it all. I now proceed to redeem
I believe even the most ardent exponent of Allah
Hafez will concede that whether a Muslim says
Allah or utter Khoda, he or she means one and the
same Supreme Being. This concession is, in fact,
not a matter of magnanimity on the part of the
Allah Hafezites. It has the force of logic behind
it: if by uttering Khoda Hafez one can lose his
Faith, then all the countless millions who must
have uttered it in the historical past would have
to be considered non-Muslim. A dreadful thought
indeed! My ancestors, bless their souls, many of
them devout Muslims, were all attuned to Khoda
Hafez. They certainly did not belong to aiyyam-e
jahelia. There can be little doubt therefore that
Muslims mean the same Supreme Being -- I shall be
using the term quite often for the sake of
neutrality between "Allah" and "Khoda" in the
present context -- no matter what name is used
for Him. There must therefore be some compelling
reason for the rush to abandon Khoda Hafez in
favour of Allah Hafez. What is it? To start with,
is the latter expression more Islamic?
"Allah" is certainly the preeminent name of the
Supreme Being to Muslims. But this may come as a
surprise to many that the word Allah has
pre-Islamic roots. Some defenders of Allah Hafez
are cagey about the pre-Islamic roots of the word
even though Allah's greatness certainly does not
depend on considerations of etymology of words
used to describe or address Him. There is some
recognition in the Allah Hafez camp of the
historic connection. Take the following
sentences, for example: " The word "Allah" was
not unknown to the Arabs before Muhammad (Sa)
(13: 16, 29: 61-63 etc.) They also had knowledge
that man was a servant of Allah: this is seen in
the name Abd Allah." [Shankhipta Islami
Biswakosh, Brief Islamic Encylopaedia, (in
Bengali). Islamic Foundation Bangladesh. 1982.
Vol. I. p.67. The translation is mine. The
numbers in parentheses are those of Qur'ânic
suras and verses, respectively.] The Biswakosh
also acknowledges that, "According to some
linguists the word Allah was derived by adding
alif and laam to the word ilah."
This acknowledgement is almost grudging and
apologetic. Note the expression "was not
unknown", or "according to some linguists". There
is also omission of the fact that the pre-Islamic
name Abd Allah, quoted above, also happened to be
the name of the father of the Prophet of Islam
himself. The fact is, it is almost certain that
the word "Allah" is of pre-Islamic origin, and
was widely used by the Meccans before the advent
of Islam. The following is from E.J. Brill's
First Encyclopaedia of Islam [ E.J.Brill, New
York, 1987, p.302]: "Before Islam. That the
Arabs, before the time of Muhammed, accepted and
worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called
Allâh, -- "the Ilâh", or the god, if the form is
of genuine Arabic origin; if of Aramaic, from
Alâhâ, "the god" -- seems absolutely certain."
The Meccan's concept of the Supreme Being was of
course, very different from that in Islam. But
the word used to denote Him was the same in both
and we are here concerned with the word, and
there is little disagreement that the two
expressions "Allah" and "Khoda" refer to the same
There are numerous references in the Qur'ân to
the pagan's use of the word "Allah". The
following examples should suffice [The
translations are from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's
well-known Qur'ânic Translation and Commentary.
The 'Allah' in the original Arabic has been
substituted here for 'God' used by Yusuf Ali].
"They [the pagans] swear their strongest Oaths by
Allah..." [VI(An'âm): 109.].Or,
"If indeed thou ask them [the pagans] who has
created the heavens and the earth...they will
certainly reply, 'Allah'....". [ XXIX
"And if indeed thou ask them who it is that sends
down rain from the sky,....they will certainly
reply, 'Allah'..." [XXIX(Ankabut):63].
Very similar are the references to 'Allah' in
verses XXXIX: 25, XXXIX: 38, and XLIII: 87.
The importance given to 'Allah' in earlier
societies was also reflected in a major
historical document: the Treaty of Hudaybiya. As
is well known, in drawing up the treaty document
the Prophet of Islam had instructed the scribe to
begin with " In the name of Allah, the
Compassionate [Rahman], the Merciful [Rahim]. But
Suhayl b. Amr, representing the Quraysh, objected
to Rahman and Rahim and insisted that only "In
the name of Allah" be written instead. This was
agreed to. [ Ibn Ishaq, The life of Muhammad, Tr.
A. Guillaume, Oxford University Press. 1967. P.
It should be evident by now that we are on track
of a question of some importance: what is in a
name? Let us pursue the matter a little further
for more insight from the Qur'â
n itself. But let us also note in passing that
Christian Arabs still use 'Allah' for their
western co-religionist's 'God'. That does not
make them any more Muslim than a Muslim's use of
God makes him Christian.
The Qur'ân strongly suggests that whatever name
one might give the Supreme Being, it is proper,
so long as it is one of asma-al-husna, or 'the
beautiful names' of His. Thus:
"The most beautiful names belong to God: so call
on Him by them; but shun such men as use
profanity in His names.... [VII( Al- A'raf):
180]. Again, " Say: 'Call upon God [Allah] or
call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call Him,
(it is well): for to Him belong the Most
Beautiful Names....'" [ XVII(Bani Isrâ-il): 110]
As one commentator explains: "Allah has not just
two names ["Allah" and "Rahman"] but many more.
By whatever name one calls Him, he is calling the
same Being" [The Holy Qur'an al Karim. Bangla
Translation and Brief Tafsir. Original: Hazrat
Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Translation and
edition: Maulana Muhiuddid Khan. The translation
from Bengali is mine.] In his commentary on LIX:
24, in which the phrase "the beautiful names"
again appears, the same commentator explains:
"Allah has beautiful names. In the Holy Qur'ân
there is no definite indication of the number of
such names". Hadith is mentioned as the source of
the ninety -nine names commonly associated with
the Supreme Being. But the commentator emphasizes
that there are other names of His and these are
numbered in the hundreds.
It is useful to point out here that Rahman is not
only one of the many "attributes" of Allah; there
places in the Qur'ân where "Rahman" is used in
lieu of "Allah". The verse XVII: 110, quoted
above, ["call upon Allah or call upon Rahman..."]
is an important case. But there are other
instances. Thus, sura LV ( Rahman ) starts with
the name "Rahman", not "Allah". Again, in LXVII
(Mulk): 3 one finds: " No want of proportion wilt
thou see in the creation of Rahman....". Here too
"Rahman" has been used in lieu of "Allah".
Having thus established that it is entirely
permissible to call the Supreme Being by any of
His names,( "Allah", "Rahman", or any other
name), so long as it is not profane, and
especially if it is beautiful, let us turn to the
name which is the bone of contention here. As
everyone knows, "Khoda" is a Persian word
(actually Khuda in Persian, and slightly modified
to Khoda in Bangla), not Arabic. With its root
khud or khod, it simply means self-existing.
It is important in the present context to
remember how intertwined has the word "Khoda"
been with Bengali Muslim culture. In terms of its
usage in everyday life, it is at least as common
as "Allah", perhaps more so. The folklore of
Bengal is strewn with it. One finds numerous
invocations of Khoda in the lyrics of the region.
Many Islamic Nazrul songs, for example, invoke
Khoda and these songs are part of our cultural
heritage, as are many devotional folk songs. I
have seen Nazrul lyrics that contain both "Khoda"
and "Allah" in the same composition.
It must also be appropriate to recall here
briefly how prominent a place the word "Khuda"
occupied in the culture of the land of its
origin, Persia. I found it difficult to resist
the quote: "O Jami, the road of guidance to Khuda
is naught but love". This is a line from the
Diwans of the great mystic poet and scholar Jami
. Mulla Nurud-Din Jami, it is important to note,
was an orthodox Muslim and was not enamoured of
pre-Islamic Persian culture. [See Edward G.
Browne, A Literary History of Persia. Cambridge.
1976. (Original publication:1902). I have
introduced "Khuda" from the Persian text, in
place of Browne's translation in which "God" was
used.] His piety did not prevent him from using
"Khuda". Or, look at a line from Rumi, another
great mystic poet: "That Khuda who on Creation's
Primal Day / The first foundation of thy soul did
lay/..." [ibid. Here too I have substituted
"Khuda" from the Persian text for "God" in the
translation by Browne.]
To go back to the question of propriety of the
use of Khoda Hafez, the word "Khoda" is certainly
not profane; it does not disparage the Supreme
Being; it in fact compares rather well with other
accepted names of His in Arabic; and the idea
conveyed by the word finds powerful support from
the Qur'ân itself. That the word is not profane
or even disparaging should be obvious. It is also
an unambiguously beautiful name.
For its lack of ambiguity, compare it with a
couple of Arabic words often used to describe a
particular attribute of the Supreme Being but
which have other meanings as well. Take, for
example, "Jabbar". Its dictionary meaning
includes "a tyrant", "a giant", "someone
pitiless". But when applied to the Supreme Being,
it is taken to mean "the Most Powerful". Or note
that one dictionary meaning of "Mutakabbar" is
"haughty", but is not used in this sense when
applied to the Supreme Being, or that "Quahhar"
also literally means "haughty" but not when
applied to Him. By contrast, there is no double
meaning to the word "Khoda". It unambiguously
Perhaps even more significantly, the meaning
attached to "Khoda" is also exactly the same as
that conveyed by a combination of attributes of
the Supreme Being described in one of the most
important suras of the Qur'an [Sura CXII
(Ikhlas)] The translation of the phrase "Allah
-as- samad: lum yaled wa lum yulud" is : "God,
the Eternal, the Absolute; He begetteth not, nor
is He begotten" [ Translation, Yusuf Ali].
"Samad" and "Wa lum yulud" convey a sense that is
identical with the meaning of "Khoda". To top it,
note that the word "Quyyum", used as an attribute
of the Supreme Being also means, in Arabic,
"self-existing", or "self-subsisting", which is
identical with the sense conveyed by "Khoda".
It has often been argued that the name "Allah"
encompasses all conceivable attributes of His.
The Islami Bishwakosh, referred to above,
insists: " The name "Allah" cannot be translated
into any other language. Besides, the nouns and
adjectives used by Allah in the Qur'ân to
describe His own being, attributes, and actions,
are all implicit in the name Allah". But this is
merely an assertion and has no logical foundation
to it. It flies in the face of the quotations
from the Qur'ân given above, suggesting that
Allah can be called by any name, including
"Rahman", for example. Moreover, on a different
plane, if indeed all His attributes were subsumed
in "Allah", there would be no need for the name
"Allah" to be followed by the host of other
names, as in the popular invocation of the names
of Allah, prescribed in the hadith. If "Allah" is
all encompassing, then, by definition, the other
names are superfluous, which is evidently not the
case in the Islamic tradition.
Why, then, is the rush to jettison Khoda Hafez in
favour of Allah Hafez? Could this be because the
word "Khoda" is Persian, that is, non- Arabic or
´Ajami, the term strictly meaning "Persian", but
sometimes taken to mean, generally derogatorily,
all non-Arabs? One suspects that this is indeed
the case, and if so, the detractors of Khoda
Hafez are in considerable trouble.
The Qur'ân dwells, in a number of places, on the
question of the revelation of its text in the
Arabic language and explains why: so that people
(Arabs) would understand it. Thus: [The Qur'â
n is] A Book, whereof the verses are explained in
detail; -- a Qur'ân in Arabic, for people who
understand;..." [XLI( Ha-Mim Sajda):3].
Similarly: "We have made it a Qur'â
n in Arabic, that you may be able to understand." [ XLIII(Zukhruf):3].
One could formulate a thesis, if only for the
sake of argument that what is being suggested is
that the Qur'ân is meant for speakers of Arabic
alone. Those who would insist on saying only
Allah Hafez in all circumstances, and never Khoda
Hafez, simply because the former expression is
Arabic while the latter is not, is in fact in
danger of being too close for comfort to this
thesis. On the other hand, to its proponents, as
well to others, Islam is a universal religion,
meant for all mankind. One cannot, at one and the
same time, accept only what is Arabic and also
see his religion as something universal, cutting
across the huge number of linguistic barriers
that separate the peoples of the world from one
another. The Qur'ân itself can be quoted as
having recognised this diversity: "If God had so
willed, He would have made you a single people.."
[V ( Mâida): 48 ]. The proponents of Allah Hafez,
while offering little substantive reason for
their uncompromising abhorrence of Khoda Hafez,
are also blind to this diversity.
The above analysis is not to suggest that all
those who switched to Allah Hafez, and wanted
others to follow them, have done so for motives
of piety alone or that they are a bunch of
ignoramuses. There is little doubt that a
substantial body of the proponents of the new
orthodoxy has a political agenda of its own,
though not in the trivial sense in which my
interlocutor mentioned above used it. That agenda
is one of "Islamisation" of the society in their
image of the religion, and is all too evident
Still, this essay has primarily been a defence of
reason. It is essential to inquire, to probe, to
see for ourselves rather than see things the way
the establishment, religious or lay, wants us to.
While writing this piece I was reminded of the
well-known fable of the man who, having been told
that a falcon had just flown away with his ears,
pursues the peregrine without bothering to find
out if his two precious organs were really
missing. Nothing is lost by the use of the word
"Khoda", and no sin committed. To the inquiring
mind, --one that refuses to pursue the proverbial
falcon -- I say: Khoda Hafez! It is quite
possible that by abandoning such pursuit he or
she will have time for more productive ones.
Mahfuzur Rahman is a former UN official. He
occasionally contributes to this paper.
The Hindu [Chennai], Nov 18, 2003
Conflict yields dividends only for vested interests: Asma Jehangir
By Kalpana Sharma
MUMBAI Nov. 17. The United Nations Special
Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings is one of
the many hats the fiery and determined human
rights activist from Pakistan, Asma Jehangir,
wears. In Mumbai to attend a closed-door meeting
of jurists from South Asia, Ms. Jehangir, who has
taken on the military establishment and the
religious fundamentalists in Pakistan, was at her
outspoken best at a meeting with a small group of
Asked what she thought about the latest peace
moves between India and Pakistan, she said that
in Pakistan there were different views. "Just as
there are some people in India who don't want
anything to do with Pakistan but to conquer it,
there are people in Pakistan who would like to
see our flag on the Red Fort," she said. "But
this is vicious thinking. A large number of
Pakistanis want peace. Families are separated.
People on both sides have suffered. Peace has its
own dividends for ordinary people. Conflict
yields dividends only for vested interests."
She said people on both sides had a great deal to
gain from peace economically and culturally. "Our
cinema houses are on the verge of closure because
they cannot show Indian films. Why don't you ask
Lata Mangeshkar to apply for a Pakistani visa? If
our government denies it, there will be protests
and riots in Pakistan."
As one of the founder-members of the South Asians
for Human Rights, Ms. Jehangir said they welcomed
India's peace initiative. "First, India and
Pakistan must have a reasonable relationship
where there can be proper dialogue." Eventually,
the Kashmir issue would have to be tackled.
"Kashmir is not about territorial gain at the
cost of people's lives. It is far more important
to have a process that leads to dialogue.
Kashmiris need the space to say what they feel
and by this I include people in `Azad Kashmir'.
Have we heard them? Have you heard them? Just
because `Azad Kashmir' is better off than the
Indian part doesn't mean we can violate their
The Indian Government, Ms Jehangir suggested, had
to "make its own amends to the Kashmiris living
in India. It's time Indians recognised that there
have been excesses. Once you recognise and say
this has happened there, you will create a
situation for Kashmiris to come back into the
On the shape of politics in the future in
Pakistan, Ms. Jehangir, who set up the Pakistan
Human Rights Commission in 1989, said she was
confident that if Pakistan had "fair and free"
elections, religious and fundamentalist parties
and alliances like the Muttahida Majlis Amal
(MMA) would never be elected. "The fact is that
the last election was rigged. The main political
parties had been badly eroded by the
In the absence of other players, she said, a
coalition of religious parties like the MMA did
Ms. Jehangir also questioned the Pakistan
President, Pervez Musharraf's constant assurances
to the rest of the world that the country was
moving towards democracy. "If this was the case,
the first step he should have taken was to set up
an independent election commission as you have
Instead, she said, the same man who had been
around for the referendum that confirmed General
Musharraf's hold on power continued to function
as the sole election commissioner.
The Pakistan human rights lawyer also spoke out
against the United States' policies in the
region. "They speak of `moderate' Islam,
`moderate' Taliban. What does Bush mean by that?"
she asked. "We don't know how they define
moderation. Is the `moderate' democracy that Bush
wants in Afghanistan like what we have in
Pakistan?" she wondered.
Ms. Jehangir said that instability in Afghanistan
would have its impact on Pakistan. "My grouse
against the U.S. is that it has no post-Cold War
policy. How will it pick up the pieces it has
left behind in places like Afghanistan?" The rest
of the world, she pointed out, could not be
expected to clear up the mess left behind by it.
PLEASE CIRCULATE, INFORM OTHERS
WALK FOR PEACE
An appeal to all peace-loving people of Ahmedabad to Join our
Walk for Peace
Walk for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice
For the sake of the next generations lets join
hands and come together for a cause- let the
cause be peace
Date November 18, 2003
Time 2.30- 4.30pm
Route: beginning from Shah Alam Darwaza to Tagore Hall
Youth For Peace
for details contact 079- 7449742- anhad office Ahmedabad
+919811807558- Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
Kamna- 9824376350- Youth For Peace, Ahmedabad
982555029- Manan, Anhad, Ahmedabad
Announcing a new book by Meera Nanda
"Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques
of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India"
by Meera Nanda
Rutgers University Press, 2003.
(Permanent Black will bring out an Indian edition in early 2004).
"Meera Nanda is a unique scholar. She combines
valuable criticism of postmodern science studies
with a close reading of how these idaeas
influence actual political developments in India.
An appealing and powerful read." Martha
Nussbaum, University of Chicago.
"Meera Nanda is that rare insider who knows -and
cared passionately-about the misdirected efforts
at the heart of well-meaning but largely
counter-productive arguments in the field of
science studies. This is a brave and important
book. Daniel Dennett, Tufts University, and
author of Freedom Evolves and Darwin's Dangerous
"This first detailed examination of
postmodernism's politically reactionary
consequences should serve as a wake-up call for
all conscientious leftists." Steve Fuller, author
of Social Epistemology.
The leading voices in science studies have argued
that modern science reflects dominant social
interests and culturea values of Western
societies. Following this logic, postmodern
scholars have urged non-Western societies to
develop their own "alternative sciences" as a
step toward "mental decolonization." In this
passionate and highly original study, Meera Nanda
reveals how these radical critiques of modern
science are enabling Hindu ideologues to
propagate religious myths in the guise of science
Nanda contends that at the heart of Hindu
supremacist ideology lies a postmodernist
assumption: that each society has its own norms
of reasonableness, logic, rules of evidence and
conception of truth and that there is no
non-arbitrary, culture-independent way to choose
among these alternatives. This logic is enabling
Hindu nationalists to celebrate the most mystical
and obscurantist elements of Hinduism as "Vedic
science." By eroding all distinctions between
modern science and other local sciences, the
postmodernist left has unwittingly aided the
growth of reactionary modernism in India.
Meera Nanda is the author of Postmodernism and
Religious Fundamentalism (Chennai: Navayana,
2003), Breaking the Spell of Dharma and Other
Essays (New Delhi: Three Essays Collective, 2002)
and Planting the Future: A Resource Guide to
Sustainable Agriculture. (Minneapolis:
International Association for Sustainable
Asian Age (New Delhi) November 11, 2003 | Op-ed.
Learning in Saffron: RSS Schools Orissa
In Orissa, over the last five years the Sangh
Parivar's tentacles have spread and thickened.
Minorities, refugees, and the poor -- the social
crevices in which they live narrow from neglect.
The disenfranchised struggle to confront social
violence. The annexation of territory and
resources from the subaltern, the imposition of
virulent ideologies and alienating economies,
have produced diverse identity politics defining
contested practices of citizenship. At the
intersections of globalisation and hyper
nationalism, Hindutva intervenes, unravelling the
fragile fabric of democracy.
The communalisation of education is a serious
concern across India. Sectarian education
campaigns undertaken by Hindu extremist groups
demonize minorities through the teaching of
fundamentalist curricula. Such corruption of
education incites the political and social fires
of communalism. The RSS has spearheaded the
movement, successfully penetrating into the
educational systems of both the grassroots and
centralised regulatory commissions. The Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has fashioned an
institutional umbrella that is having a damaging
impact on education at the grassroots. The RSS
has established Vanvasi Kalyan Parishads,
Vivekananda Kendras, Sewa Bharatis and other
groups to advance the ideological agenda of Hindu
nationalism. The RSS administers 9,300 Ekal
Vidyalayas in adivasi areas. For the diversity of
cultures allied under the rubric of 'adivasi',
the ongoing reality of Hinduisation offers
evidence of their gradual and brutal
incorporation into this caste system.
Created by the RSS in 1978, the Vidya Bharati
Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan network focuses
on moral, extracurricular and physical education
for 'mind, body and spirit'. The Vidya Bharati
system supervises over 18,000 schools across
India, with 1.8 million students and 80,000
teachers. A shared curriculum is used across the
country. The Vidya Bharati operates 60 graduate
institutions. About 5,000 Vidya Bharatis are
endorsed by Education Boards primarily in states
where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power..
Known as Shiksha Vikas Samiti, Vidya Bharati
directs 391 Saraswati Shishu Mandir schools with
111,000 students in Orissa. The RSS has
constructed a network of educational institutions
across the state. Initially the RSS maintained a
public distance between the Sangh and Vidya
Bharati. In recent years, as Hindutva
consolidates its position in Orissa, the RSS has
actively declared its affiliation with these
schools. Rashtra Deepa, the RSS Oriya weekly,
regularly chronicles some of the academic
aspirations of the Sangh Parivar. Most RSS run
schools are affiliated with the State Board of
Education and adhere to the state approved
curricula. As the Sangh infiltrates into
regulatory bodies and actively leads the
rewriting of textbooks and reorganisation of the
curriculum, the classroom transforms into an
agent of Hindutva.
With the increasing impetus on the privatization
of education, the RSS has been actively
inaugurating schools in areas across Orissa where
the government fails to provide public funding.
The vigorous assertion of Sanskrit provides for
the erasure and Hinduisation of minority
languages. History, science, geography,
literature, religious texts are interpreted into
Hindutva. These texts, written in Oriya, are
taught in schools and available in bookstores.
The texts weave disparaging and malevolent
fictions about minority groups, inciting Hindus
to revenge history. The curriculum is censored
and obscurantist, interpreted to legitimate the
sanctity of a 'Hindu worldview' in India and the
assembling of a Hindu state. It enables Hindu
nationalism in advancing 'righteous' violence for
ethnic cleansing. The RSS broadcasts this
education as 'holistic', patriotic and accessible.
These schools are financed by individual
donations and contributions from various
charitable organisations such as the Mumbai based
Bhansali Trust. These schools also offer income
generation and computer skills. They serve as
gathering places for Sangh organisations
providing youth contact with Hindutva leaders.
Parents say they are drawn to RSS run schools
because they are affordable and profess to
educate children in culture and religion, history
Students receive ideological training through
extra-curricular activity as well. They
participate in development work and disaster
relief, politicising education and linking it to
social service. An RSS worker in Bhubaneswar
speaks with pride. "We ask people to devote one
hour a day for their country, in the name of the
motherland. To gather in a field and play Indian
games; with sticks, swords, other exercises,
teach youth to march, some musical instruments.
And then we workers discuss the ideology of the
RSS -- what Hinduism is, how Hindu culture was
great and how it is fading, how the youth must
become involved to revive and purify it."
Through regular educational camps, he continues,
the RSS recruits teachers and campaigners. Their
task is to draw people to the Sangh. "To convince
people that the country is in danger, the
motherland is in danger. To tell people that no
matter who they are, if they return to Hinduism
there is place for them in the nation." After
training, RSS state and district units send
campaigners to serve within the different wings
of the Sangh Parivar, and to the rural areas to
recruit and organise the Sangh cadre.
The RSS holds month long training sessions across
Orissa during summer vacations to attract
students and young children. From these sessions,
the RSS recruits for the Officers Training Camps
(OTC). Held twice a year, the OTC provides
schooling in self-defense and leadership. Around
500 people attend each year. On completion,
approximately100 join the organisation as
campaigners. Graduates take an oath, "I will
devote my body, mind, and money (tana, mana,
bhana) to the motherland." For about 10 recruits,
this develops into a lifelong, intense and full
time commitment. Each December, the RSS organises
the Sita Shibir, a 7-10 day winter camp. The
families of attendees finance the camps. The
growth of the RSS testifies to the success of
these camps. The RSS boasts of 50,000 shakhas in
India, 2500 in Orissa with a 100,000 strong cadre.
In Orissa, the RSS charges that aggressive
Hinduisation is a 'rational' and warranted
response to, among other factors, the growth of
missionary activity leading to an increase in the
Christian population. In fact, Christians
constitute less than 3 percent of the population
in the state, with a 1 percent increase since
1981. The Christian population in India does not
record any appreciable increase from 2.6 percent
in 1971, to 2.43 in 1981, 2.34 in 1991, and 2.6
History is animated through extra curricular
activities, seminars and workshops. New heroes,
timelines, events emerge to construct India's
antiquity, to naturalize her geo-political
borders, to define her heritage as Hindu. History
is rewritten to determine belonging and
unbelonging. Difference is represented as
'other', a threat to the integrity of India as a
Hindu nation, unless manipulated and
straitjacketed. A whole new generation is being
grown indoctrinated in Hindutva. It is a devious
strategy to teach hate to the young.
Note: Information used in this article is derived
from multiple sources, including interviews with
persons affiliated with Sangh organisations.
Angana Chatterji is a professor of Social and
Cultural Anthropology at the California Institute
of Integral Studies.
New book [From]
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
Communal Riots After Independence
A Comprehensive Account
This book has documented the riots, which took
place in India after independence. There is
hardly any other credible work of this kind.
Communal violence occurs very frequently in this
country and yet much documentation has not been
This is virtually the first book and is an
outcome of real hard work and immense patience to
find the data. It gives a comprehensive account
of communal riots for a period of more than half
a century with analytical tables, graphs and
It may be found useful for scholars studying or
researching in this field and the policy makers.
List of Tables
List of Graph
A Commentary on Communal Violence
Communal Riots: 1952-2002 - An Account
Communal Riots: Statistics at a Glance
Total Pages - 253
115-A, Vikas Marg, Shakarpur,
Delhi:- 110 092, India.
Tel. 91-11-22458662, 22500954, Fax: 91-11-22458662
E-mail:- <mailto:info at shiprapublications.com>info at shiprapublications.com
Eqbal Ahmed Essays (3 volumes)
Compiled by Rana Mansur Amin
Self-published from Street # 3, Daswandi Pura,
Sargodha Road, Gujrat [Pakistan]
Tel:  + 0433-511960.
Email: mansur-amin at yahoo.co.uk
(for 3 volumes)
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
Asia Citizens Web http://www.sacw.net/.
The complete SACW archive is available at:
[The earlier URL for SACW web site
<www.mnet.fr/aiindex>, is now longer valid, you
can search google cache for materials on the old
South Asia Counter Information Project a sister
initiative, provides a partial back -up and
archive for SACW. http://perso.wanadoo.fr/sacw/
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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