SACW | May 2-4, 2009 / Afghan Women Who Defy /Nepal Crisis / India Ajmer Blasts Hindutva hand
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Sun May 3 23:27:40 CDT 2009
South Asia Citizens Wire | May 2-4, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2621 - Year
 Bangladesh: Seizure of posters betrays intolerance to criticism
(Editorial, New Age)
 Sri Lanka: Island of blood (Meenakshi Ganguly)
 Nepal: Constitutional crisis (Kanak Mani Dixit)
- A Pak-US game (M.B. Naqvi)
- In Islamabad, a Sense of Foreboding (Pamela Constable)
 Afghanistan: Defying threats, fighting oppression - the woman
leading protests (Tom Coghlan)
 India - Pakistan: Resurrecting peace process
 India: The politics of the ethical (Harsh Mander)
 India: Supreme Court's Fast Track Courts on Gujarat Riots of
2002 - Commentary
- Gujarat Carnage-Role of Narendra Modi (Ram Puniyani)
- Where silence prevails, justice will not (Siddharth Varadarajan)
- Poor Sense Of Timing (Rajeev Dhavan)
 India: Ajmer Blasts - Revisiting Hindutva Terror (Subhash Gatade)
+ A Rising Anger in India's Streets - Hindu Extremists Lash Out
Against Symbols of Change (Emily Wax)
+ Exploring Gender, Hindutva and Seva (Swati Dyahadroy)
- Condolence Meeting for Ahilya Rangnekar (Bombay, 5 May 2009)
May 3, 2009
SEIZURE OF POSTERS BETRAYS INTOLERANCE TO CRITICISM
THE freedom of thought and conscience is a constitutionally ordained
fundamental right, and so is the freedom of speech and expression.
Just as the people reserve the right to praise a government, so do
they reserve the right to criticise the government in a manner they
deem fit. When the elected government of the Awami League-led
political combine took over from the military-controlled interim
government, which kept the fundamental rights of the people under a
state of emergency through its tenure of nearly two years, the people
expected the new administration to protect and promote their rights
as enshrined in the constitution. However, if the confiscation on
April 29 by a law enforcement agency of the state of posters
reportedly criticising the government’s performance in its first 100
days were to be taken as the government’s attitude towards dissenting
views, there are valid reasons to be concerned.
As reported in the national media, officials of the detective
police, acting on a tip-off, raided a printing press at Fakirerpool
in the capital Dhaka on the night of April 29 and seized 20,000
posters which, the claimed, were anti-government. The police said the
posters were inscribed with the words ‘the failure of the government
during its first 100 days in office’. While no one was arrested
immediately, the police were on the lookout for a designer who had
allegedly ordered for the posters to be printed.
In our view, at this point in time, it is more pertinent to find
out under which law the law enforcers confiscated the posters than
who ordered for the posters to be printed. The constitution says the
right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression is
guaranteed ‘[s]ubject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law
in the interests of the security of the State, friendly relations
with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in
contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence’. The
authorities need to explain why and how criticism of the government’s
failure in its first 100 days, which is what the posters were
apparently about according to the police statement, necessitated
invocation of the constitutional caveats.
Otherwise, it would seem that the law enforcement agency in
question may have been in violation of the constitutional decree for
the people’s rights to freedom of thought and conscience, and of
speech and expression. Worrying still, it would cast the current
government in poor light and could be construed as the government’s
intolerance to any critical appraisals of its words and deeds. The
ruling Awami League-led political alliance has come to power on its
pre-election promise for change in politics and governance for the
better. The April 29 incident hardly indicates any breakaway from the
practices of the past.
 Sri Lanka:
ISLAND OF BLOOD
by Meenakshi Ganguly
April 30, 2009
If there were a chessboard to demonstrate the war between Sri Lankan
forces and the LTTE, the pawns would be wearing sarongs and saris.
These individuals — civilians, not soldiers — are the war’s
‘collateral damage’. Human rights groups are despised by both for
they don’t understand this mathematics and mourn over the increasing
number of corpses.
The LTTE is responsible for human rights abuses — forcibly recruiting
people, turning schoolchildren into combatants, indiscriminate
killings, using landmines and human bombs. Successive Sri Lankan
governments, in order to appease the Sinhalese population, have
failed to address the grievances of the Tamils, thus, building
support for the Tigers.
To ensure its success, the government has chosen to silence the
dissidents. Those who criticise its actions or policies are accused
of being closet LTTE supporters; they are either shot down by unknown
gunmen or men in vans prowling the streets of Colombo makes them
‘disappear’. Journalists and human rights defenders live in constant
The military has made gains in reclaiming virtually all of northern
Sri Lanka previously under the LTTE. The withdrawing Tigers have
taken with them civilians to be used as combatants, provide labour to
build trenches or serve as human shields. These are the people that
the LTTE claims to represent and protect, and yet, it is deliberately
putting them in danger.
For over two years, the Sri Lankan government knew that civilians
were being forced to accompany the retreating Tigers, yet it did
nothing about their safety. Instead, the detention camps house around
60,000 of those who managed to escape the
LTTE’s writ. They now feel that they will be persecuted when the war
Even with reports of civilian casualties pouring in, the government
has denied that it is targeting civilians. Credible reports, however,
prove it’s a lie. The military says that those killed are not
necessarily civilians. A senior Sri Lankan diplomat has reportedly
said, “A fighter doesn’t become a civilian when he dons a sarong.”
Health Secretary Athula Kahandaliyanage had stated, “It’s been found
that terrorists fight in civil clothes and when they get wounded they
can be mistakenly considered as civilians”. He added that there could
be accidental injuries to non-combatants if they were in the line of
While some information is available, it’s still impossible to know
what’s going on in the combat zones. The government has booted out
almost all humanitarian agencies and has kept independent journalists
away from the war zone. With both parties engrossed in their
mathematics of disaster, it is up to India, with its historical
engagement in the conflict, to take decisive steps to ensure the
safety of war victims. It should work with other governments that
oppose the LTTE. It should also encourage those members of the Tamil
diaspora who have backed the Tigers to speak up for the safety of
The LTTE must end its policy of risking civilians’ lives and should
allow them to flee the combat zone. The Sri Lankan government should
make efforts to rescue and protect civilians. Both sides should work
towards an emergency evacuation plan for civilians before more die or
are maimed. For each passing day is a stain on the consciences of
those who could have saved new victims.
(Meenakshi Ganguly works with Human Rights Watch, South Asia)
4 May 2009
The Maoist ouster of the army chief has endangered the peace process
by Kanak Mani Dixit
For two weeks, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had sought to oust
the Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal. On Sunday morning, the
Maoists Chairman moved to unilaterally show him the door, at a
boycotted by all his coalition partners. The prime minister's action
ignited exhilaration among the Maoist cadre while inviting a
constitutional crisis that embroils him in a confrontation not only
with all the other major parties, but also President Ram Baran Yadav.
On 20 April, the Prime Minister had sought an explanation from
Katawal for alleged insubordination on several counts, clearly with
the intent of sacking him regardless of the answers furnished. Even
as his own party leadership clamoured for Katawal's sacking,
President Yadav advised that the prime minister only act in
accordance with the interim constitution, which decisions to be taken
by consensus of all political players in the context of the ongoing
Even as the Maoists sought to steamroll the issue, the two main
coalition partners - the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and the
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum - came to the conclusion that there was not
enough reason to sack
the CoAS. They felt that the action would break with the tradition of
succession in the Nepal Army and affect morale of an important
institution of state that had remained out of the complete grasp of
Apparently concerned about the political instability that the sacking
would invite in the neighbouring country, the Indian Foreign Office
went into overdrive to get the Maoists to pull back. Ambassador
Rakesh Sood met Prime Minister Dahal half a dozen times over the last
two weeks, warning of New Delhi's displeasure with the threatened
move. In between, Mr. Sood made a dash for Delhi for consultations in
CoAS Katawal is a haughty soldier who had deep links to the royal
regime of the past, and was given to ronouncements that verged on the
political.He wrote articles under a nom de plume that supported the
adventurism after February 2005. Yet Gen. Katawal is also credited by
some for having played a role in convincing King Gyanendra to bow
before the force of the People's Movement of April 2006. Under his
watch, the army
did remain true to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2007, and
watched the peaceful declaration of republic from the sidelines.
Since Gen Katawal had only four months to go before retirement, what
was the hurry for the Maoists to see his departure through an ouster.
As best as one can make out, the rush had to do with the
combatants into the national army. The earlier gentleman's
understanding with the other parties was of individual entry of
combatants into the army according to the regular recruitment standards.
Energised by their electoral win in April 2008, the Maoists moved the
goalpost, demanding a full merger of the two forces to make up a true
national army. They see CoAS Katawal as implacably opposed to the
move, and seem to have bargained with some of his associates to be
As the crisis grew over the last two weeks, the Maoist leadership
sought to label this as a battle for 'civilian supremacy' over the
army. It is of course true that the lack of civilian control over the
military has invited many accidents for Nepali democracy since as far
back as 1959. However, civilian supremacy in the current context does
not mean submitting to the Maoist definition of the term and principle.
Under the interim constitution during a time of transition to peace,
civilian supremacy refers not merely to the elected government but
also the other political forces with whom it is duty-bound to seek
consensus. This means not only the UML and MJF, but also the Nepali
Congress in opposition. The argument for civilian supremacy as
proposed fails the
credibility test also because the peace process is still not ended,
and the political party which leads the government and invokes the
principle has its own combatant force of 19,000 plus, in cantonments
around the country.
The procedures used on Sunday by Prime Minister Dahal was to take a
unilateral decision that has been disavowed by his partners in
government, and sending a note 'for information' to President Yadav.
The constitutional President is also the supreme commander of the
Nepal Army, who clearly has to be taken into confidence as it is his
constitutional duty to formally apoint the CoAS.
After insisting many times over the last week that the Prime Minister
move on the Army chief only through consensus, the President on
Sunday responded to the government's decision by suggesting that it
due process. This is where matters stood on Sunday evening. The
Maoist move has created a constitutional crisis in Nepal, their
cadres are in a triumphant mood, while the rest of the polity wonders
what is the way out of the danger zone.
The Daily Star
May 4, 2009
A PAK-US GAME
by M.B. Naqvi
SERIOUS talks are going on between the US and Pakistan. The two,
allies for 55 years, have complaints against each other. It looks
like a scene from a film in which two middle aged lovers are doing a
tango and letting out their heartfelt complaints on one side and
reassurances on the other.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to a Congressional
committee recently. She conceded that America was wrong to have left
Pakistan alone to clean up the mess that the Americans had left
behind in Afghanistan since 1989 when the Russians withdrew. True,
Pakistan has now made it a major complaint, though this writer's
assessment at the time was that Pakistanis were pleased as punch at
having inherited Afghanistan all to themselves.
Pakistanis had their own mini imperial dreams of utilising the
Mujahideen elsewhere (in Kashmir). They did it successfully after the
Indians initially accepted the doctrine of mutual deterrence;
Pakistan was able to inflict a thousand cuts on India without the
latter being able to fight back properly. Clinton also admitted that
the US was wrong then and, by implication it, has to do right now.
Which means giving Pakistan more aid and accommodating some of its
The US is really panic-stricken. Pakistanis have, whether by design
or by sheer inability to prevent, shown that American supplies
through Pakistan from Karachi to Torkhum and Bagram in Afghanistan
are no longer safer. There is word that the other supply line from
Karachi to Chaman and Kandhar may also not remain safe for long. The
Americans have seen this as Pakistani blackmail. Will it succeed, if
it is contrived? No one can predict accurately.
The Americans have no real alternative to Pakistan. In theory, there
are two possible routes to Afghanistan; one is through Russian
territory, and of many other former Soviet republics, on to
Afghanistan. It is negotiating separate deals with the countries
involved, but they are under Russian influence and Russians cannot be
relied upon to be as a faithful to today's commitments as Americans
might want. It is a more expensive and time-consuming route.
Additionally, they may not permit war equipment to pass through their
The second alternative is through Iran. It would mean swallowing a
huge amount of wordage emitted by the US to demonise Iran. It would
mean humiliation in the US at one end and possibly anger in the most
trusted ally of Americans in the Middle East, Israel. Can the
American administration carry it through? America recognises that
Iran is vital to many problems in the ME, particularly in Iraq. Even
in Afghanistan the Iranians can be useful in other ways.
But Pakistan remains a riveting subject for the US. It is certainly
the epicentre of Islamic extremism. The ideas and political trends
that emanate from here go far and wide. America had developed a
logical strategy to meet the situation. Noting that Pakistan's
political class and its army have to hang on to the coattails of
Uncle Sam, the Pakistani political class needs only plenty of dollars
for the mismanaged country and the economy as also for personal
America's strategy now is to give plenty of money to Pakistan and
other supplies to the army. Make them happy. Maybe they will
cooperate. They have no other real option, just as America has no
other choice. This is the stern logic of geography.
There is another qualification of Pakistan. As Kissinger put it the
other day, Pakistan has so many nukes but "no government." The state
seems to be unravelling to every outside observer, and it is
vulnerable in so many ways. It is as inefficient and corrupt as
Chiang Kaishek's Kuomintang government was in 1939. Pakistan is
inherently more so because of its political trends.
The Taliban are displacing the Pakistan state at a faster pace than
people had thought only a few months ago. The US has got to save it
for the sake of India and Bangladesh also. Pakistan cannot be allowed
to fail. It is only the US and the west that have got to prevent
South Asia going haywire.
The problem is Pakistan's implied threat of cutting the supply lines
from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The Taliban have interdicted the supply
line near Peshawar many times, which could possibly be the state
strategy to remind the Americans how vulnerable they are. And it can
also be an indicator of the failure of the Pakistan state to
safeguard these supply lines.
The real trouble between Pakistan and America is the American desire
to include India, with its Kashmir problem, in a comprehensive
solution to the regional problems. Deep down, the US wants Pakistan
to make up with India, and not compete as a rival.
This runs contrary to the rationale for Pakistan. It is the basis of
today's foreign policy, and it is nationalism that was meant to keep
Pakistan united and moving forward in an anti-Indian direction.
Friendship with India might rock Pakistan in the eyes of its
political class and security establishment. It has reason to be
worried. This is a major hurdle.
For Americans, deep philosophical problems do not stand in the way of
political solutions. Should Pakistan go its way for a variety of
reasons, either as a result of its failure or for a purpose, the
Americans can turn to alternatives. One is, as noted, Russia and
Central Asian states that were once part of Russia. This is a time
consuming and problem-ridden route, and is probably available to the
US. But it requires continued Russian goodwill, which might pose a
The second alternative is via Iran. This is doubtless the cheapest,
safest and perhaps speediest route. But the US has demonised Iran for
30 years. To approach now, would involve considerable humiliation on
its part. Israel can become angry and put difficulties in the way. In
contrast, Pakistan has given some bases for the US military and a lot
of its air space has been reserved for Americans.
The question is: Will Pakistan's perceived blackmail, as the
Americans actually put it, succeed? Probably it can. US will have to
dole out more dollars and some aircraft to keep the Pakistani
political class happy. It will also have to continue to supply the
Pakistan army's needs.
But India has bigger prizes to offer. India is bigger, richer, more
developed and more influential than Pakistan. The US can depend on
India much more than on Pakistan, whose utility from longer-term
viewpoint is questionable.
This tango with Pakistan has to end soon. Who will get away with what
they are trying to do is not clear. But neither can Pakistan's
political class have its wishes nor can the US do without Pakistan's
cooperation. When and how will they make up is the issue.
M.B. Naqvi is a leading Pakistani columnist.
o o o
IN ISLAMABAD, A SENSE OF FOREBODING
Pakistanis Nervously Look to Northwest, Where Taliban Fighters Are
Shoppers examine goods at Islamabad's Jinnah Market, which has seen a
dip in business because of terrorism fears. (Pamela Constable - The
(Photos By Pamela Constable -- The Washington Post)
By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, April 27, 2009
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 26 -- Every spring, the Margalla Hills
overlooking this capital city burst into life. Evening thunderstorms
send torrents of water down the slopes, scenic paths attract hikers
and picnickers, and bands of monkeys scramble down from the trees to
watch the weekend visitors.
But this season, the forested ridges have taken on a new, ominous
significance for jittery residents. Suddenly, the hills are being
depicted as the last barrier to hordes of Islamist insurgents
sweeping south from the Afghan border and as perfect places for
suicide bombers to lurk.
"If the Taliban continue to move at this pace, they will soon be
knocking at the doors of Islamabad. The Margalla Hills seem to be the
only hurdle in their march toward the federal capital," Maulana
Fazlur Rehman, a religious party leader, warned last week in a speech
to Parliament. He was exaggerating for effect, but the image struck
Islamabad, a placid, park-filled city of 1.5 million people, was
built in the 1960s as a symbol of Pakistan's modern and democratic
aspirations. Its boulevards are lined with grandiose federal
buildings, and its shady side streets are home to an elite class of
politicians and professionals. Until several years ago, the orderly
capital seemed immune to the religious violence that bedeviled the
country's wilder rural fringes.
But now, a psychosis of fear has gripped the Pakistani capital,
driven partly by recent televised images of turbaned Taliban fighters
occupying town after town in the northwest districts of Swat, Shangla
and Buner -- as close as 60 miles from Islamabad -- and partly by a
rash of bombings and threats in the quiet, heavily policed federal
Private schools that cater to international and wealthy families have
installed security cameras and gun turrets; many are losing foreign
students as embassies and agencies send families home. The local
World Bank office just moved into the heavily guarded Serena Hotel.
Police barricades, detours and checkpoints are sprouting so fast that
drivers barely have time to learn the new traffic patterns. Without a
foreign passport or a VIP license plate, it is almost impossible to
enter the federal district that includes the Supreme Court, the
Parliament and the diplomatic enclave.
"We're not going to let anyone come and capture Islamabad, but we
have too few resources to secure the city," said Nasir Aftab, the
superintendent of police, his eyes red after a night of little sleep.
"We need more weapons and men. We need explosive detectors and
vehicle scanners on the highway entrances. If a mullah tells a boy of
15 to blow himself up, how do you stop him? This is the capital, and
we don't even have a sniffer dog."
It is the insidiousness of suicide bombers, more than the bravado of
gun-toting Taliban troops, that keeps officials such as Aftab up at
night. The biggest bombing yet here was in September, when a truck
full of explosives rammed into the luxury Marriott Hotel, killing 52
The hotel has since reopened, and the lobby has been restored to its
former elegance. But the inviting scene is hidden behind blast walls,
and the doormen who once swept open wide glass portals guard a narrow
opening with a huge metal detector.
"Sometimes I think we've overdone it. The hotel looks like a
fortress, but security has to be our top priority," said Zulfikar
Ahmed, the Marriott's general manager. He said hotel occupancy had
plunged to 40 percent of what it once was. "We maintain a calm
atmosphere, but if something happens tomorrow, it will drop again,"
A less spectacular but equally worrisome attack occurred last month,
when a young man approached an open camp for off-duty paramilitary
guards, located in a small park in an upper-class residential area.
The man blew himself up, killing himself and five guards.
The blast sent shoppers fleeing in panic from the exclusive Jinnah
Market a few blocks away. Now, the market is half-empty, waiters
stand idle and merchants sit behind sale racks on the sidewalk.
"The future looks very bleak. Fear chases us everywhere, from the
moment we leave home to the moment we return at night," said Mohammed
Ismael, 46, who sells fabric for party dresses. "These blasts and
attacks don't hurt the ruling class, but they destroy our
business. . . . The tension is everywhere."
The tension is relatively new to Islamabad, which until 2007 had been
tranquil. But that summer, the calm was shattered by a violent face-
off between the government and radical leaders of the Red Mosque, who
had turned their compound in central Islamabad into an armed camp.
After a standoff, security forces stormed the mosque, killing at
least 100 people, and the leaders vowed revenge.
Since then, terrorist assaults, bombings and kidnappings have become
regular occurrences across the country. The targets included former
prime minister Benazir Bhutto, U.N. officials, NATO supply convoys,
police checkpoints, video shops, mosques of minority sects, an
Italian eatery in Islamabad and a Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.
There was also a growth in the number of religious schools, or
madrassas, some of which espoused radical visions of Islam.
This month, the former chief cleric at the Red Mosque was released
from detention and appeared there, nearly two years after the deadly
siege. More than 5,000 people gathered to hear Maulana Abdul Aziz
urge his excited followers to bring a "true Islamic system" to the
"We know very little about some of these madrassas, and where their
funding comes from is a mystery," said a police intelligence official.
Islamabad is far better known for its top-quality academic schools
and colleges, including private institutions tailored for foreign
students. Several weeks ago, police learned of terrorist threats to
attack such schools and recommended that they take security measures.
The capital also houses a well-regarded national university. The
student body includes thousands of women, and though more of them
wear Islamic garb than before, many make clear they have no sympathy
"We've been discussing what would happen to us if the Taliban come
here. Would I have to wear a burqa?" demanded Fatima Tanvir, 21, in
reference to an all-covering garment. Like several of her classmates,
she said she resented the negative impression many foreigners now
have of her country. "People see the TV images and think we are a
rogue, barbarian society. It makes us really sad," she said.
With extra contingents of paramilitary police being sent to beef up
security, it seems unlikely that militant hordes will swarm down from
the Margalla Hills anytime soon. But the recent attacks, and the
calls to arms ringing from dozens of mosques, suggest there is more
religious violence ahead.
"If they come again, we'll be ready," said an off-duty paramilitary
guard in the camp that was bombed in March. Since then, the survivors
have dug a trench around their tents and piled the earth into a
perimeter wall. On one side are wreaths from well-wishers, and a hand-
lettered sign that says, "Resist or Die."
The Times (UK)
April 30, 2009
DEFYING THREATS, FIGHTING OPPRESSION: THE WOMAN LEADING PROTESTS IN
by Tom Coghlan in Kabul
They were stoned, spat on and assaulted, but when 200 women staged
Afghanistan’s first public women’s rights protest since the 1970s
their voices were heard around the world.
And if centuries-old traditions are to change, it may well be a
petite but pugnacious 28-year-old called Diana Saqeb who is responsible.
One of the organisers of the march, which took place a fortnight ago
in the capital, Kabul, Ms Saqeb was present this week when President
Karzai promised activists that there would be changes to the Shia
Family Law that prompted their protest.
Mr Karzai said that the legislation would be amended and he did not
know that the law he was signing legalised marital rape, child
marriage and a host of Taleban-era restrictions on women, because his
advisers had failed to inform him of its contents.
Sitting in her home in Kabul, where the walls are lined with arthouse
film posters and translations of Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf
and Michel Foucault, Ms Saqeb was unimpressed.
“This excuse is worse than the actual crime,” she said. “It was not
acceptable for a lot of women present at the meeting that the first
person of the country signs a law, which directly affects the lives
of the people, without reading it.”
She said that Mr Karzai should have been more responsible in a
society where, as the UN puts it, women “remain victims of
discrimination and violence” and the concept of human rights means
little to many Afghan women.
“The society we live in is full of intimidation,” said Ms Saqeb.
“Always concealing ideas, beliefs, dressing the way others want, it
is a kind of continuous stress and intimidation; more mental
intimidation than physical.”
Nonetheless, the protesters were taken aback by the fury they
provoked. “We did not expect the wild reaction from them,” Ms Saqeb
said of a mob, several thousand strong, that surrounded the marchers.
“We wanted ours to be a silent protest but then they turned violent
with rocks and stones, saying terrible things to the women, trying to
physically attack the women. I was not frightened but I was shocked.”
Many women did not reach the protest, she said, after being attacked
or intimidated as they tried to approach the area.
“The women who came were from all walks of life. We talked to women
in many parts of the city. All the women who came had seen
difficulties and oppression in their daily lives, and now they were
seeing it legalised.”
Since the protest, she said, she had received threatening messages
and rumours had circulated that she was not a Muslim — the evidence
being that her name sounded foreign.
To describe the country’s women’s rights movement as embryonic is to
overstate its strength. At its heart are a few score visible
activists, including a number of young women MPs such as Sabrina
Saqib, Diana’s sister.
The women politicians owe their seats in most cases to a quota
system, included in the Afghan constitution — to the dismay of
conservatives — which reserves 25 per cent of Parliament for women.
Afghanistan today is a world away from Saqeb’s early life in one of
the few old liberal Kabul families to have returned to the city since
2001. She spent most of her upbringing as a refugee in Iran, finding
in the arts faculty at Tehran University a relative freedom of
thought far from the constraints of home. She is now a film-maker.
The risks attached to attacking the status quo are very clear. A
growing number of women holding public positions have been killed in
the past two years by Taleban militants, whose influence extends to
the outskirts of the capital. Ms Saqeb says she is undaunted.
Among a new generation of supporters is Hamida, 18, who told The
Times: “I think since the day of the demonstration, more and more
girls in our school are speaking against the law and it has become a
big subject for the girls’ discussions. I think rights are something
that you have to always take by struggle. If you sit by, no one will
come to give them to you.”
Ms Saqeb said that the campaign to change the Shia family legislation
was just the start: “We are just confronting people who don’t dare to
doubt what they are told.”
 India - Pakistan:
May 4 2009
RESURRECTING PEACE PROCESS
It should not remain hostage to terrorism and political convenience
of the ruling elite
The political elite both in India and Pakistan must understand that
the present tension between the two neighbouring countries is not in
the interest of their people suffering from the growing terrorist
menace on the one hand and the lack of mutual trust on the other. The
prolonged conflict has only served the cause of anti-democratic
forces and fundamentalists in the two countries. The ruling
establishments must listen to the voice of reason which is trying to
assert in both India and Pakistan.The peace process should not remain
hostage to terrorism and political convenience of the elite in the
two countries. They need to overcome the trust-deficit which is the
main cause for the slow progress of the composite dialogue earlier
and its coming to a screeching halt in the wake of the terror attack
in Mumbai. The subsequent elections in India, with neither of the
political parties in race for forming the next government, in a mood
to abandon their chauvinistic stance has only weakened the peace
process. To hoodwink the gullible voters and trying to cater to the
popular mood of hostility they are naturally engaged in a kind of one-
upmanship.Unless there is a perceptible change in their perception
and mindset it is doubtful that even after the elections there can be
any radical shift in their stance. With Pakistan facing the growing
threat from Taliban,threatening even its survival as a democratic
country, the hawks in India find it easy to oppose any move for
breaking the logjam.It is in this context that the political elite in
the two countries must listen to the voices of sanity. The political
elite both in Islamabad and New Delhi must heed the advice of the
noted peace activists and members of the civil society in the two
countries for de-escalating the present tensions and resuming the
stalled dialogue process. The civil society activists in Pakistan
while expressing their serious concern over the growing challenge
from Taliban have rightly pointed out that instead of facing this
threat jointly India and Pakistan should not engage themselves in
blame game and finger-pointing. They feel that instead of trying to
take political mileage out of their predicament the Indian state
should not do any thing that can only further isolate the civilian
government and the emerging democratic forces in their country.
Similarly a number of noted Indian intellectuals and peace activists
including the former Prime Minister I.K.Gujral, Aruna Roy, Teesta
Setalvad, Salman Haider and Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Gandhiji,
have urged for resumption of talks with Pakistan, saying the
beleaguered country needed neighbourly support as well as self-help
strategy to overcome its many challenges. As they rightly point out,
in their hour of crisis Indians must express total support to all
Pakistanis striving to preserve normal life in their country.
Instead of having a sadistic pleasure over the Pakistan's
discomfiture and adopting an attitude of hostility and justifying the
disruption of the dialogue process, Indians must release that the
threats to Pakistanis are not only threats to close neighbours ; they
are threats moving towards India, and threats that can easily scale
the international border. As the statement by the peace activists
said " self-interest plus the simplest humanity demands that Indians,
citizens and the government, do all they can to make the challenges
before Pakistanis less arduous." Despite the country's ongoing
elections, and notwithstanding Indian complaints against Pakistani
governments, agencies and non-state groups, India and Indians must
offer every encouragement and support to the people of Pakistan in
the difficult times they face. "Indians cannot and must not remain
mute witnesses of the grave danger that the neighbouring country
faces and of the brave efforts of a large number of Pakistanis to
meet that danger." While the efforts of the people of Pakistan who
are working for reconciliation and strengthening of the democratic
forces in their country need to be appreciated all those who cherish
peace and stability in the region must express their solidarity with
them. Nothing should be done that weakens these forces and make the
task of divisive and anti-democratic forces easier.The present thaw
in the relationship between the two countries is not in the interest
of the people in the two countries. The resumption of composite
dialogue to resolve all outstanding disputes including the major
issue of Kashmir can act as a catalyst for eliminating the menace of
terrorism in the region. Neither the blame game should be allowed to
continue nor the present stalemate in the dialogue process should be
made to prolong. While the Pakistan has to overcome the internal
trust-deficit and emerge stronger as a civilised and democratic
society, India needs to shed its rigidity and take steps for the
resumption of the peace process for ushering into a new era of peace,
cooperation and stability in the region.
Magazine / The Hindu
May 3, 2009
THE POLITICS OF THE ETHICAL
by Harsh Mander
On the campaign trail with Mallika Sarabhai as she tries to put in
practice a cleaner, more ethical and accountable politics…
She is already victorious, because she chose to engage with electoral
politics… with independence, grace, and integrity.
Not pulling her punches: Mallika Sarabhai making a point in Ahmedabad.
Amidst the colour, din, dust and heat that typically mark elections
in this chaotic, flawed but ultimately robust democracy — the largest
in the world — there are always glimmerings of hope. During the
current general elections held in the summer of 2009, one of these is
the unexpected decision of a leading classical dancer, Mallika
Sarabhai, to stand as an independent candidate, against one of the
Prime Ministerial hopefuls, L.K. Advani, from Gandhinagar. This
constituency has consistently returned him with large margins for
many recent elections. Mallika’s battle has captured segments of the
popular and intellectual imagination.
She explained that her decision was to establish the possibilities of
a “politics of the ethical”. Her candidacy was an invitation to a new
mode of politics. It was to challenge and establish ethical processes
of politics: “the means, the culture and aesthetics of politics, (and
for)… raising issues that concern us as citizens. The means have to
be fair, democratic, just, civil, non-violent, and therefore
Her announcement elicited endorsements of support from many corners
of the country, firstly because of her brave, outspoken and ethical
stand against the communal carnage that shamed Gujarat in 2002. It
was her voice which first rang out with the words: I accuse. “I stand
amidst the ruins of civilisation as I knew it… For, they have taken
away my pride at being a human being… They have taken away my joy of
belonging to a land of understanding and compassion.” She lamented
the silence and complicity that enabled the massacre, and spoke of
her own sense of guilt. “For letting myself become part of that
silence. For trusting incorrectly. For letting everyday inanities
dull myself to the genocide being planned and executed”. This earned
her a great amount of credibility and admiration, more so because she
did not waver despite a battery of harassment mounted by the State
For this reason, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, himself one of the most
credible moral voices among living Indians, notes that since Mallika
“waged a spirited and consistent struggle on various fronts —
judicial, social, cultural, political — against the forces of
communalism and majoritarian extremism in the State”, he feels
confident that if elected she will “uphold the secular and democratic
principles as enshrined in our Constitution”.
But what has also won her a great deal of support is the idea that a
person of privilege and accomplishment, but also of undoubted
integrity, can choose to leap into what many regard as a cesspool of
electoral politics. She echoes the despair of the majority of Indians
with the state of our electoral politics: the “corruption and
criminalisation everywhere” in mainstream political parties. “They
are forever indulging in horse-trading and it has only become a game
of numbers. The citizen is forgotten in this ‘game’. In the Lok Sabha
of 2004-2009, there were 128 MPs facing criminal charges out of the
total 534. Is that not shameful? We need to change this.”
Being the change
Her decision to contest derives from her realisation that she can
alter the sickness of electoral politics in India only by
participating in it; by attempting to adhere to ethical rules, and
still surviving. “For very long now, politics has become a space for
politicians and not for you and me. I have been waiting for long for
things to change, for good people to come into politics and change
the system. I realised that people with integrity do not want to
enter politics because it has become such a dirty word. I decided to
Mallika believes that independent candidates like her can “bring a
different style, a different sensitivity, a more personal concern to
governance, to the questions of deprivation and exclusion, to the
very idea of suffering”. It is this promise of the possibility of
clean, ethical and sensitive, accountable politics that has generated
much hope and expectation riding on her shoulders. Many like Anu Aga,
herself a voice of conscience in Indian industry, have endorsed her
candidature, declaring, “I am glad that people like you have decided
to join politics. India needs you”. Hundreds of young people from
within and outside Gujarat have volunteered to support her campaign,
and I found them cheerfully braving the heat of Ahmedabad, dancing,
beating drums, distributing pamphlets, urging people in homes and on
the streets to vote for Mallika Sarabhai.
I followed Mallika on her campaign trail for a couple of days, and
was riveted by the ease with which she related with the people in her
constituency. She was assured, energetic, and empathetic: not seeming
a novice greenhorn politician, but one born to the vocation. She
spent eight hours every day on the road, most of it on foot, often
running between settlements, leaving her young volunteers trailing
and breathless. Her campaign team estimated that she has personally
met in the first 25 days of her campaign more than a hundred thousand
voters in 125 villages and city settlements.
Her volunteers lead with the beat of drums, others dance and people
gather. In high-rise housing colonies in Ahmedabad, they collect in
their verandahs, and listen to her from there. Mallika speaks to them
from her hand-held microphone, or individually in small groups. She
dwells on how established political parties have failed them. In 20
years, a small seed grows into a tree, she says, and you can rest in
its shade. But in 60 years of Independence, political parties have
alternately come to power, but have failed to provide you even clean
drinking water, drains, toilets, work, food, schools, hospitals, and
security for women. You deserve better, she declares, and they agree.
If they work together, she promises, change is possible.
A new aesthetics
In announcing her candidature, Mallika had talked not just about
experimenting with new means and a culture of politics, but also a
new aesthetics, and this last was clearly evident in all her public
meetings. The colours of her campaign were carefully chosen, and she
explained them to her audience. White, she said, stood for non-
violence, because she opposes the use of violence, both in public and
domestic spaces. Purple is the international colour of women’s
rights. And red is the colour of blood of all human beings,
regardless of their faith, caste or wealth. She explains the
significance of her election symbol, the harmonium. “Each note of it
is separate, just as we are separated by our caste, religion, gender.
But only when they are in harmony together do they produce music”.
She ends all her campaign meetings by breaking into Gujarati folk
dances, and many in the audience join in. She believes that elections
must also be a celebration.
She tells me that she has seen so much human suffering and
deprivation in this past month of campaigning that it is now
impossible for her to turn her back to her people. At the time I
write, and probably when you read this, we will not know how many
votes have been cast in favour of Mallika Sarabhai. But she is
already victorious, because she chose to engage with electoral
politics against a formidable contestant, and demonstrated that it is
possible to do so, with independence, grace, verve and integrity. And
in trying to walk the path of a politics of the ethical, she has
crafted authentic hope.
 India: Supreme Court's Fast Track Courts on Gujarat Riots of
2002 - Commentary
Gujarat Carnage-Role of Narendra Modi
by Ram Puniyani
Where silence prevails, justice will not
by Siddharth Varadarajan
Poor Sense Of Timing
by Rajeev Dhavan
 India's Hindu Far Right:
sacw.net, 1 May 2009
INDIA: AJMER BLASTS - REVISITING HINDUTVA TERROR
by Subhash Gatade
It has been more than one and half years that the great Sufi shrine
of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti based in Ajmer, Rajasthan, which is
equally revered by the Hindus and Muslims, reached headlines for
unforeseen reasons. On 12 th October 2009 it witnessed a bomb blast
which saw deaths of two innocents and injuries to many. In fact it
was for the first time in its few centuries old history that blood of
innocents lied splattered in those areas where thousands and
thousands of people use to gather daily to offer their prayers.
As was the routine procedure then - when Hindutva terror had not
reached headlines - a few fanatic Islamist groups were blamed for
this ignoble incident. There were interrogations, arrests, quite a
few people were illegally detained supposedly to extract their
confession for this act. Media was not to be left behind, it had
juicy stories about the plans and the execution of this inhuman and
barbaric act, and definite clues about its real ’masterminds’ remote
controlling from across the border. Witchhunting of the community
went on for a while. And as usually happens in such case(s), after
some initial hullaballo Ajmer blasts were relegated to the inner
pages of newspapers in one small corner. People also lost interest.
Perhaps they had more exciting news awaiting them.
Few days back, Ajmer blasts suddenly reappeared in a section of the
press, with Maharashtra ATS alongwith Rajasthan ATS making startling
revealations about the perpetrators of this act. It was worth noting
that the mainstream media largely ignored this news which had
important ramifications for the secular fabric of the country. ’The
Statesman’ carried a front page news on 13 th April, followed by
Asian Age which carried it on inner pages and ’Mail Today’ carried a
three column story on its second page on 19 th April. Apart from NDTV
none of the other channels bothered to report this incident.
The crux of the revelations was that the Ajmer blasts were the
handiwork of the same Hindutva terrorist group ’Abhinav Bharat’
According to NDTV [’Abhinav Bharat under ATS scanner for ’07 Ajmer
blast’ Rajan Mahan, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, (Jaipur)]
Abhinav Bharat, the Hindu extremist group, involved in the Malegaon
blasts may also be the hidden hand behind the Ajmer blasts. The Anti-
Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Rajasthan police says investigations
into the blasts that shook the Ajmer Dargah in 2007, have led them to
members of the Abhinav Bharat.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, the ATS Chief in Rajasthan, Kapil
Garg, has admitted that Abhinav Bharat is now actively under their
scanner. And a special team of the Rajasthan police had recently
visited Mumbai to collect full statements and reports of the narco-
analysis and brain mapping tests done on the mastermind of the
Malegaon blasts Lt Col S P Purohit and others accused in the Malegaon
Police sources say that in his narco-analysis and brain mapping tests
Lt Col Purohit has revealed that another member Dayanand Pandey, also
an accused in the Malegaon blast, had planned the Ajmer blast that
killed 2 and injured over 20 people in October 2007.
What is Abhinav Bharat? It is a Hindu extremist group of pre-
Independence era that was revived in Pune in 2006 and now has a large
base in Madhya Pradesh. This group, the police say may be involved in
the other attacks on Islamic establishments.
’Mail Today’ carried the story bit further and its report ’Malegaon
accused had role in Ajmer’ (Mailtoday) filed by Krishna Kumar said :
The Maharashtra ATS believes the arrest of three suspected Hindutva
terrorists who had planted bombs at Malegaon is key to solving the
Hyderabad Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer Sharief blasts.
A senior ATS official said on Saturday the Malegaon blast was linked
to these two incidents as the same group of men, belonging to
arrested Hindutva terror suspect Lt. Col Srikant Purohit’s Abhinav
Bharat, executed the other blasts, too.
"We have evidence that the same group of men associated with the
Abhinav Bharat carried out all the three blasts.If we arrest the men
who planted the bombs at Malegaon, the other two cases could easily
be cracked" he said.
The three suspects are Shivnarain Kalsangra, Sameer Dange and Pravin
Mutalik. The ATS is hunting for the trio who, it suspects, has fled
to Nepal or is hiding near the Indo-Nepal border.
The statement of the ATS official is significant as the Jaipur
police, too, are investigating Abhinav Bharat’s links to the Ajmer
blast in October 2007.
The conversation between Purohit and Dayanand Pandey, who were
arrested in connection with ghe Malegaon blast, revealed they were
involved in other blasts, too.
While Pandey claimed the Hyderabad blast was carried out by Hindutva
activists and not the ISI, Purohit boasted how he had carried out two
successful operations like the Malegaon blasts in the past. The ATS
believes the two operations could be the Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer
It need not be forgotten that when Malegaon II investigations were
going on many names had come to the fore but the untimely death of Mr
Hemant Karkare, the ATS chief of Maharashtra, in the terrorist attack
in Bombay created a situation where all such people were allowed to
go scot free. May it be the case of Dr R.P. Singh, a leading
physician working in a hospital in Delhi, or may it be the case of
Himani Savarkar, the president of Abhinav Bharat or for that matter
the old Saffron hand who is contesting elections for the Parliament
from Delhi, none of them were interrogated. Himani Savarkar had given
an important clue to the investigators during initial investigations,
wherein she had divulged that the plan of the attack was hatched in
her presence during the meeting in Indore.
Question naturally arises why did the police acted in a partial
manner ? There were reports that Togadia, the international secretary
of VHP had funded Abhinav Bharat. According to CNN-IBN :
Purohit claims Togadia funded Abhinav Bharat
CNN-IBN Published on Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 11:45, Updated on Mon, Nov
24, 2008 at 12:53 in India section
New Delhi: In a sensational development in the Malegaon blast case
Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit has claimed that Vishwa
Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia was involved in funding Abhinav
Abhinav Bharat is being investigated in connection with blast of
September 29 in Malegaon in which at least six people were killed.
Lt Col Purohit, who has been arrested for masterminding the blast,
reportedly claimed that Togadia provided the organisation with some
funds to start out.
The claims were reportedly made while the Lt Col was being
interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
He revealed that he received a call from a man who called himself the
VHP’s Maharashtra chief to say that Togadia wanted to know who was
investigating the Nanded blasts case.
However, Togadia has denied his involvement with Abhinav Bharat. He
said the allegations are unfounded, criminally defamatory, malafide
and politically motivated.
(With inputs from Sumon K Chakrabarti)
It also need be reminded that a few other bomb blasts before Malegaon
bomb blasts - which clearly showed involvement of Hindutva terrorist
- were not even investigated properly. The bomb blast in Kanpur
( August 2007) which saw deaths of two RSS/Bajrang Dal activists-
Rajeev Mishra and Bhupendra Arora - is a case in point.The Kanpur
police had even claimed that the explosives seized from the site
could have easily destroyed half of Kanpur. Police had also found
maps of Muslimmajority areas of Ferozabad from the house of one of
the victims. How did the whole matter proceed ? Narco test was done
on two acquaitenances of Rajiv and Bhupendra and they were left
untouched. And the police did not even bother to apprehend/
interrogate two vital contacts of the victims/perpetrators whose name
had surfaced during the narco test of the two acquaitenances . One
among them was a Professor in Kanpur IIT and the other one was a
local leader of VHP.
Digvijay Singh, the ex chief minister of M.P. who has been in the
forefront as far as divulging details/conspiracies involving Hindutva
terrorists are concerned, had made an interesting point sometime
back. He posed the question, should it be called mere coincidence
that there are no bomb blasts after the arrests of Masterminds of
Malegaon bomb blast.
o o o
A RISING ANGER IN INDIA'S STREETS - HINDU EXTREMISTS LASH OUT AGAINST
SYMBOLS OF CHANGE
by Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, May 1, 2009
Bangalore, India -- At a trendy pub in this cosmopolitan IT capital,
Hemangini Gupta, 28, and some of her girlfriends were recently
relaxing with cocktails after work. A group of Hindu men later
followed them outside, verbally accosting them for drinking in a
public bar and for wearing jeans.
"These guys went psycho," Gupta said. "This isn't Afghanistan. But
here in Bangalore, as a young woman on the streets, if you are
driving a car or in a pub or dressed a certain way, you just feel
this rising anger."
The incident was mild compared with some of the violent assaults on
women that have taken place here. The attacks are part of what many
see as rising Hindu extremism in much of the country over the past
few years, especially in places such as Bangalore, precisely because
it is a bastion of India's fast-changing culture. Bangalore is home
to an explosion of software companies, a lively heavy-metal rock
music scene and burgeoning gay rights and environmental movements.
The growing extremism has sparked a national debate -- especially
with national elections this month -- over what has become known by
the Indian media and analysts as the "Talibanization of India." It
features a rise of moral policing and an increasingly active
constellation of Hindu right-wing groups that believe in a
politicized form of religion known as Hindutva.
In Bangalore, recent street protests by Hindu extremist groups have
targeted the emblems of globalization. The demonstrators have thrown
rocks at the glass office buildings of call centers and software
companies. They have shut down clubs that feature dancing and live
music. They have hurled verbal and physical abuse at women in jeans
or skirts. They have vandalized Christian churches, which are
regarded as foreign trespassers.
Political experts predict that the rise of Hindu extremism will spur
greater participation during India's marathon, month-long elections
by the secular middle class and by those who support traditional values.
Some Indians see the growing number of attacks as a national
embarrassment. The issue has resonated among young urban voters,
frustrated that politicians and police have turned a blind eye or
have themselves taken on the task of moral policing.
For India's young, the debate goes to the heart of India's new
identity. In this fast-changing society, long-held religious
sentiments about public behavior are still being negotiated in Indian
homes and on the streets. The discussion is complicated by the fact
that India's economic growth has been lopsided: Well-paid urban youth
tend to embrace Western values, while the country's poor appear more
eager than ever to stick to traditions that have been shaped by Hindu
"Before the IT culture, things were very peaceful. Our youth enjoyed
their own Indian culture," said Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, 32, president
of Bangalore's branch of Sri Ram Sene, a right-wing Hindu group
involved in a string of attacks on women. "Now it's been spoiled by
all these outsiders flowing in, and it's all because of this IT
sector. They need to be taught a lesson."
His lesson plan apparently includes violence. In January, his
followers -- 40 men wearing saffron-colored headbands -- barged into
a pub called Amnesia in the southern city of Mangalore as television
cameras rolled. They pulled down the skirts of several young female
patrons in an effort to embarrass them and kicked others, accusing
them of being prostitutes. Since the stunt, which was billed by the
group as an effort to "preserve Indian culture," nearly a dozen cases
of attacks on women have been reported in Bangalore.
"What they did was correct in some ways and wrong in others," Bhavani
said. "When something is wrong, you have to respond. Sometimes the
reaction is too much. But you must respond."
On a recent afternoon, he sipped coffee at a hotel garden in
Bangalore, as his buff bodyguard hovered nearby, and said he sees his
group as a custodian of Indian culture. It will soon be launching
social outreach programs: visiting with tech companies and putting on
street plays that preach traditional values. It will also provide
Bhavani said he was concerned about the opening of more retirement
homes in Bangalore, which he said indicated that young people were
abandoning their parents and grandparents instead of caring for them
in their homes, as is India's family tradition. "These IT youths are
partying at pubs after work instead of spending time and their new
salaries on their parents, who gave them everything," Bhavani said.
Bhavani is also at the forefront of crackdowns on the closing time of
discos -- known here as Cinderella laws -- and protests against
Valentine's Day, which Bhavani and his followers say gives young
people the wrong ideas about love and romance. Combined, the efforts
have given Bangalore a new nickname in the Indian media: Bans-Galore.
In response, a group of artists and writers that calls itself the
Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women mailed his group a
Valentine: hundreds of pink panties. "We felt enough is enough. You
suddenly see a state that is going berserk," said Nisha Susan, 29,
who organized the protest and started the consortium. "The attacks
are just spreading like crazy along with Hindutva. We didn't want the
protest to be wishy-washy. We wanted to thumb our noses at these
Few places symbolize a changing and youthful India more than
Bangalore. It is a destination for young people from across the
country who come here for well-paid outsourcing jobs or to escape the
pressures of family.
It's common to see young women wearing saris with jasmine strung to
their long braided hair walking alongside girls in miniskirts with
pixie haircuts and bright purple highlights.
"It's a clash of cultures, for sure. But the heart of the issue is
that in India, globalization has left many more people alienated from
development and confused. That frustration has been converted into
hatred," said Arvind Narrain, 33, a lawyer with the Alternative Law
Forum in Bangalore who wrote a report on the state's rise of cultural
policing. "So many young men can't afford a drink at those pubs,
can't afford Western clothes, can't speak English. The girls they are
attacking wouldn't look twice at them."
Narrain pointed out that every place where the Hindu nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing parties have
whipped up communal strife, they have been able to remain in power
and have become even more popular. In the Western state of Gujarat,
controversial Chief Minister Narendra Modi is accused of complicity
in the 2002 violence against Muslims. But he was overwhelmingly
elected last year.
Both sides of the debate have been moved to political action in
Bangalore, where the BJP was elected to the state government last
year. Elections for the national government here are dominated by
debate over cultural policing.
"They call us Hindu Taliban. But we are not against modernization,"
said P.M. Girdhara Upadhyaya, 36, of the Hindu Awareness Forum. "This
country has its own heritage and way of living. If you ask the common
man if he wants his daughter going to a pub, he will of course say no."
Sitting at a fusion restaurant that serves Belgian beer along with
pomegranate mojitos, several generations of women recently had lunch
to the sounds of blaring Bob Marley music.
"India is going through a very confused phase. There are many
cultures coming at us. But at the end of the day, we are a secular
democracy. That means we don't all have to wear a sari every minute
of the day," said Lakshmi Khanna, 26, an Indian classical dancer who
was dressed in a sexy, low-cut Western dress.
Her grandmother, Sarla Seth, 76, was wearing a sari and gently
smiled, agreeing. But she also joked with her granddaughter to put on
"Women have progressed so much in India," she said. "Still, there are
o o o
Exploring Gender, Hindutva and Seva
by Swati Dyahadroy
AKHIL BHARATIYA JANWADI MAHILA SANGHATANA
(ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION)
Maharashtra State Committee
E 5 Ensa Hutments (Next to Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh), Mahapalika
Marg, Mumbai 1.
Freedom fighter, doyen of the women's movement and a fighter for the
rights of the working class and poor citizens, Comrade AHILYA
RANGNEKAR passed away on 19th April 2009. We are organizing a
condolence meeting on Tuesday, 5th May 2009 at the Ruia College ,
Matunga (E), at 5 pm. We request you to attend the meeting and join
us in paying tribute to a veteran leader.
Date: Tuesday, 5th May 2009
Time: 5 pm
Venue: Ramnarain Ruia College , G 12 Hall (Ground Floor), Main Gate
Matunga (E), Mumbai.
South Asia Citizens Wire
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. An offshoot of South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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