SACW - 4 April 2012 | Sri Lanka intimidates dissidents / Pakistan: Karachi Bleeds / India: Peter Heehs in Hume's footsteps ; Divorce law / UK: domestic violence / Turkey: Pushes religion into school / US: religious capitalism / Libya's armed militias
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Tue Apr 3 18:45:43 EDT 2012
South Asia Citizens Wire - 4 April 2012 - No. 2738
1. Sri Lanka: Smear campaign against dissident voices (statement by The Alliance of Media Organizations)
2. Pakistan: Why Karachi Bleeds (Dr Farrukh Saleem)
+ Religion and State (Omar Mirza)
3. Pakistan - India: Set a menu that goes beyond the lunch (Humayun Khan and Salman Haidar)
4. India: In Hume's footsteps (Ramachandra Guha)
5. All India Secular Forum condemns Saudi Grand Mufti’s call for destruction of churches in West Asia
6. India: Hindu right VHP complains and Modern Satire on Mahabharata cant be staged
7. India: A Secular divorce law for all is coming and the Muslim Right is flexing muscles to oppose it
Books & Papers:
8. Anna Hazare Upsurge: A Critical Appraisal (Asghar Ali Engineer and Ram Puniyani)
9. Book review: On Secularism and Space for Religion in Politics in South and South-East Asia (Ajay K Mehra)
10. Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India (Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi)
11. Histories of Belonging(s): Narrating Territory, Possession, and Dispossession at the India-Bangladesh Border (Jason Cons)
12. Secularism, Racism and the Politics of Belonging Edited by Nira Yuval-Davis and Philip Marfleet
13. UK: We are still failing non-British victims of domestic violence (Rahila Gupta)
14. Turkish secularists oppose new education bill that will push Islam into schools
15. Beware Of The Politicostals! The Catastrophic Threat of Religious Capitalism In The U.S. (Sarah O'Leary)
16. Libya [A Dictatorship of Armed Thugs]: Libyan militias turn to politics (David D. Kirkpatrick)
1. SRI LANKA: SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST DISSIDENT VOICES
April 2, 2012
The Alliance of Media Organizations is disturbed by the recent wave of hate speeches and slanderous personal attacks directed against media personnel and human rights activists in the country, in the aftermath of the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on Sri Lanka.
Last week, Minister Mervyn Silva, addressing a public rally, threatened to ‘break the limbs’ of government critics Sunanda Deshapriya, Nimalka Fernando and Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu ‘in public’. He also gloated that he was responsible for an earlier attack on the former president of the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association (SLWJA), exiled journalist Poddala Jayantha, who was abducted and had both his legs broken by his abductors.
On 27 March, Minister Silva reiterated his threat and suggested that ‘traitors be executed’.
In a climate of increasing intolerance and jingoism, state media are conducting a malicious smear campaign against critics of the current regime, including media activists. SLWJA President Gnanasiri Koththigoda, for instance, has been targeted in a sinister character assassination campaign by the government controlled television channel, ITN.
On its news telecast on 22 March, ITN stated it would soon be exposing a ‘traitor’, while showing pictures of Koththigoda in the background. The news anchor noted that a group of ‘media traitors’ had earlier fled the country, and added that the government controlled news channel would soon be exposing another ‘traitor’ who had been aiding and abetting the Tamil Diaspora through his news reporting from Colombo.
On 23 March, Koththigoda complained to Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene about the malicious personal attack levelled against him by ITN. Minister Abeywardene contacted Sudarman Raddeligida, the disgraced news director of the ITN who had previously unsuccessfully contested to be elected to Parliament on the ruling party ticket. After a conversation with Raddeligoda, the Minister assured Kottegoda that all personal attacks would cease forthwith. However, in spite of such assurances, ITN has been continuing with its smear campaign against Koththigoda.
The ITN programme is part of a government orchestrated campaign of discrediting dissenting voices. Given the degree of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of attacks against media, as evidenced by Minister Mervyn Silva’s crowing about of the attack on our colleague Poddala Jayantha, the Alliance of Media Organizations is deeply concerned about the recent personal attacks directed against media personnel and rights activists including our colleague Gnanasiri Koththigoda. We are worried such attempts at character assassinations could well be a precursor to something far more ghastly.
We call on the government to end the manifold threats directed against its critics, including media personnel. We believe it would be in the interest of Sri Lanka, should the government direct its energies to foster a more tolerant and pluralistic society.
On behalf of the Alliance of Media Organizations
2. PAKISTAN: WHY KARACHI BLEEDS
by Dr Farrukh Saleem
(The News, April 01, 2012)
Q: What type of conflict is taking place in Karachi?
A: The classification is “Ethno-political” – ethnicity, identity, politics and crime are all in conflict with each other.
Q: Who are the primary actors in the conflict?
A: MQM, ANP and PPP.
Q: Who are the secondary actors in the conflict?
A: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), organised criminal gangs, sectarian entities and foreign intelligence agencies.
Q: What is at stake for Pakistan?
A: Karachi produces more than $40 billion worth of goods and services every year, close to 25 percent of Pakistan’s GDP. This translates into Rs10 billion a day every day of the year.
Q: What are the motivations of the primary actors in the conflict?
A: For the MQM, Karachi is the lone source of some two-dozen National Assembly seats and 51 Provincial Assembly seats. For the MQM Karachi enables the MQM to capture more than its fair share of clout in Islamabad as well as in Karachi. For the MQM, its entire electoral base is up in flames.
For the ANP, the party claims to represent some 25 percent of Karachi’s population but only has two seats in a 168-seat Sindh Assembly. For the ANP Karachi is a Rs10 billion pie in which it feels that the party is not getting its fair share.
For the PPP, Karachi only produces half-a-dozen seats of the 93 that the PPP won in Sindh. In essence, 95 percent of the PPP’s political stakes in Sindh are outside of Karachi. The PPP views the MQM-ANP bloodbath as being to the PPP’s political advantage.
For the TTP, Karachi is a godsend, a golden opportunity to squeeze Pakistan’s financial hub and create even more chaos, anarchy and discord. The TTP’s ultimate objective being not just the capture of Karachi but of the state itself.
For organised crime, sectarian outfits and foreign intelligence agencies Karachi has become an intersection where militant wings of political parties and organised criminal mafias meet and bleed each other.
Q: What is really driving the Karachi bloodshed?
A: Karachi is home to two things: an extremely dysfunctional state machinery and an extremely opportunistic political elite. To be sure, the interests of the masses and the interests of the Karachi elite are not the same. The MQM elite are fearful of losing their monopoly over their lone source of power. The ANP elite are bent upon capturing what they say is their fair share of power-and money.
This is what I wrote a few months ago: “The political elite – for their own interests – manipulate the security concerns of the masses through intentional incitements of ethnic animosities. Neither MQM nor ANP trust that the government has either the ability or the will to protect them against an attack. Then there is a spiralling cycle in which members of Group A mobilise and arm themselves to deter an attack from Group B. Group B, in turn, views the mobilisation threatening and arms itself to deter an attack. Fear leads to bloody conflict.”
Q: How do the primary actors justify this politics of murder?
A: The MQM justifies the use of extreme violence because the ANP is doing the same, and vice versa.
Q: When and how would the conflict end?
A: An end is not in sight because there hasn’t even been any formalised, structured attempt in conflict management.
The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.
o o o
RELIGION AND STATE
April 02, 2012
Pakistan has reached the absolute rock bottom. Suicide bombers are blowing themselves up in public places and even in mosques. This is because of religious fanaticism nurtured by laws that belong in the 10th century. Europe fought many wars in the name of religion for a very long time and burnt religious dissenters at the stake for blasphemy before it was realised that the church and the state must be separated so that both could survive independently without constant religious conflict and dissension.
Their experience is invaluable in understanding why Pakistan is in a shambles today. The Quaid clearly stated that Pakistan was not going to be a theocracy to be ruled by priests. He must be turning over in his grave at the havoc mixing politics and religion has wrought on the state he founded. In order to take the bull by its horns, a de-Ziaul-Haqification of the constitution must be done immediately.
3. PAKISTAN - INDIA: SET A MENU THAT GOES BEYOND THE LUNCH
by Humayun Khan and Salman Haidar
(The Hindu, April 3, 2012)
India and Pakistan must ready themselves to take bold initiatives so that their relationship can rest on stable and permanent foundations.
Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India on April 8 — including a luncheon meeting with Manmohan Singh — may be an essentially private trip, yet the detour brings hope of a new phase in India-Pakistan relations. The expectation is that President Zardari will renew his invitation to the Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan, and that the latter will accept, setting the stage for the bold initiatives that are now needed to take matters forward.
South Asia is home to one fourth of the human race and has the largest middle class anywhere in the world. But the region also accounts for the majority of the world's poor, is hamstrung by sectarian and caste beliefs and spends a disproportionate share of its resources to meet non-productive ends. Most significantly, South Asia has not been able to forge a cooperative framework to match the European Union or the Association of South East Asian Nations. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, now more than 25 years old, remains dormant.
Situation not dismal
Relations within the region, particularly between India and Pakistan, have always been troubled, with three open conflicts and repeated near-war situations resulting in frequent breaks in bilateral engagement. Both countries are also conscious of the fact that they are now nuclear powers. And yet the situation is not as dismal as it might appear from the outside. Saner elements in both countries have consistently worked for better relations. There have been serious discussions on a No-War Pact and a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. A Joint Commission was set up in 1983 and a framework for composite dialogue devised. The first big break came in 1999 with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee boarding a bus to Lahore where he publicly acknowledged the reality of Pakistan and assured the nation-state that it had nothing to fear from India. Mr. Vajpayee's initiative showed that an imaginative leadership can push the envelope on India-Pakistan relations.
What followed Lahore is too well known to bear repetition. Suffice it to say that reconciliatory efforts resumed in 2001 with Pervez Musharraf agreeing to meet Mr. Vajpayee in Agra. Predictably the talks ended in failure. Peace efforts restarted in January 2004: Mr. Vajpayee signalled his willingness to hold a composite dialogue on all issues, including on Kashmir and Gen. Musharraf promised not to allow terrorism and cross-border incursions from Pakistani territory. The process suffered a jolt four years later following the November 2008 terrorist strike on Mumbai. India broke off the composite dialogue.
Two years were lost because public feeling in India was greatly aroused by Mumbai. The basic reality, however, remained. It was not in the interest of either country to depart from the path of negotiations. Eventually, a limited resumption was agreed by the two Prime Ministers in 2010. At the moment, these talks are proceeding well, though there have been no major breakthroughs.
The two most inflammable issues that could jeopardise the peace process are Kashmir and terrorism. There are hopeful signs that mutually acceptable solutions to both can be found. On Kashmir, the back channel made considerable progress. Unfortunately, the new elected government in Pakistan has, more or less, disowned this process. To move forward courageously on Kashmir and build on the progress already achieved must now be the main objective of both countries.
Settlement on Kashmir
The crucial point in reaching a settlement on Kashmir must remain its acceptance by the Kashmiri people. The settlement must aim to put an end to the violence and the abuse of human rights so that the people can live normally and in peace. The need for cooperation on terrorism cannot be overstated. Regrettably, a number of terrorist incidents in India have been found to have originated in Pakistan which has negatively influenced public opinion in India. Where the culprits can be identified, it is incumbent on Pakistan to satisfy India that it is making genuine efforts to bring them to book. India must do likewise. This a fight that has be fought jointly.
If dialogue is the key to resolving problems, how do we keep dialogue alive and how do we avoid its derailment, especially in the context of the changed circumstances? India's economic progress and political stability, together with its size, have lifted it to the status of a world power. But this will work to its disadvantage unless India earns the confidence of its smaller neighbours and reassures them that it does not seek to be a regional hegemon. Peace within the region is an essential requirement for India to continue on its upward path. It must make renewed efforts to convince its neighbours that it poses no threat to them. It still has to fully convince them that it is ready to honour their independence and separate personality.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is dogged by an unhappy past marked by repeated military interventions that prevented democracy from taking root. Misgovernance and the fear of an aggressive and more powerful neighbour have driven it towards becoming a security State, further ensuring the dominance of its armed forces. The country is going through what many consider the most testing phase in its history and so it needs to be at peace with India to solve its domestic problems.
Given this, it is in the interests of both India and Pakistan to forge a permanent relationship of peace and amity. The time has come for imaginative policies, a change in fundamental attitudes towards each other. The present promising state of their relations seems a propitious moment to adopt a common approach on promoting their permanent interests.
So who takes the first step? It is obvious that Pakistan's need for peace is greater, but the weakness of its civilian government and its internal problems make it unlikely that it can take any bold initiative. India can live with the present state of affairs, yet it stands to benefit greatly from a transformed relationship. It needs to take the initiative and to lay at rest the fears of the military in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made clear his desire for peace and friendship with Pakistan. He has worked hard to improve relations and has revived the stalled dialogue more than once. But we are still some way from the major leap that could permanently transform relations.
What is needed now is direct engagement at the very top. Dr. Manmohan Singh must pay a return visit to Pakistan. It would be an occasion to announce agreement on some specific issues like Siachen and Sir Creek. More importantly, he could launch some major new initiatives, like reviving the offer of a No-War Pact and a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Such formal agreements, duly supported by the international community, would effectively allay the fears of the Pakistan military.
To further allay apprehensions, discussions could be initiated on relocation of forces along the border and on regular meetings between chiefs of the armed forces and of intelligence agencies. The need for better understanding between the two militaries cannot be over-emphasised, because the security syndrome in Pakistan is the major obstacle in the way of progress.
Trade, terrorism, Afghanistan
On the major outstanding issue of Kashmir, a clear decision to resume both back channel and official negotiations is needed. Simultaneously, the Line of Control should be made truly porous for free movement of vehicles and trade. A settlement on Kashmir would be of great value in addressing the vital issue of water on which there has recently been a renewed focus.
The other major issue is terrorism. There remains the very real danger that, if another major terrorist attack in India takes place and its origins are traced to Pakistan, the peace process would again be endangered. The two countries have to address this issue as a top priority and agree that firm action will be taken against the culprits wherever they are found. There are encouraging signs that both sides recognise the need to cooperate.
The Afghan problem has the potential of critically affecting India-Pakistan relations, either in a positive or a negative way, and must be on the agenda. Similarly, the nuclear issue must be meaningfully addressed and the existing areas of agreement expanded. In the critical field of economic development, the decision by Pakistan to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India has been a major advance. It must be implemented in its true spirit. Economic cooperation is the strongest guarantee of peace.
Dr. Manmohan Singh's visit could be a decisive moment for substantive and meaningful progress. The visit needs to take place soon and intensive preparation will be required. Much can be achieved, provided both sides realise the time has come to put their relationship on stable and permanent foundations.
Official efforts will need to be supplemented by people-to- people contacts. The key to any lasting relationship is that the people on both sides should want it. People are South Asia's greatest resource and they are also the surest long-term guarantee of the region's stability and progress.
(Humayun Khan is a former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan; Salman Haidar is a former Foreign Secretary of India.)
4. IN HUME'S FOOTSTEPS
by Ramachandra Guha
April 02, 2012
Many Indians know that it was an Englishman, Allan Octavian Hume, who set up the Indian National Congress; and that it was an Englishman, Charles Freer Andrews, who was Mahatma Gandhi's closest friend, in that capacity of lobbying with the British to grant India freedom, while (on his own steam
and following his own conscience) writing a series of stirring pamphlets on the shameful condition of Indian labourers in Fiji, Africa, and the Caribbean. Indians also know that an Irishwoman, Annie Besant, established a 'Home Rule League' promoting self-governance for India, as well as schools for Indian girls in Benares, Madras, and elsewhere.
The line of western fighters for India's freedom is long. There is a perhaps longer (if less well known) list of foreigners who, after the British departed, made signal contributions to the now independent Republic of India. Consider the anthropologist Verrier Elwin, who, in the 1930s and 1940s, wrote a series of very moving studies of the tribals of central India, bringing their predicament to wider attention. In 1954 he became the first foreigner to be granted Indian nationality; moving the same year to Shillong, he was appointed adviser to the Government of the North East Frontier Agency (as Arunachal Pradesh was then known). In that capacity he promoted policies that protected tribal claims to land and forest; that resisted encroachment on their homeland by outsiders; that urged senior officials to be sympathetic to their languages and lifestyles. Partly - some would say largely - as a result of Elwin's policies, Arunachal is the one state in the North-east which has not had a secessionist movement.
In 1957 an Oxford man even more brilliant than Elwin took up Indian nationality. This was JBS Haldane, who is regarded as one of the three or four greatest biologists since Charles Darwin. Haldane set up research schools in Calcutta and Orissa, groomed some fine students, and himself wrote a rivetingly readable newspaper column that made ordinary Indians aware of the wonders and mysteries of science. When Haldane died, in 1964, his body - as per his will - was sent to a nearby medical college, so that his fellow Indians would improve their scientific skills at his expense.
Elwin and Haldane were principally scholars and writers. Two other Europeans who made India their own were principally social activists. The first, called Catherine Mary Heilman by her parents, took the name Sarla Behn after coming to India and becoming a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi. She set up an ashram in rural Kumaun, which still functions, educating young girls and training them in weaving and other crafts. Sarla Behn identified completely with her homeland. She courted arrest during the Quit India Movement of 1942. In the 1950s she groomed a new generation of social workers, among them such remarkable activists as Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Radha Bhatt and Sunderlal Bahuguna. In the 1970s, these activists started the Chipko Movement, while in turn training the next generation of activists, those who led the movement for a state of Uttarakhand.
Another Gandhian of English origin was Laurie Baker. In the 1950s, he helped his Malayali wife run a hospital in a village in Pithoragarh, close to the Nepal border. Later, they moved to Kerala where Baker, who was trained as an architect, resumed his profession, now adapted to Indian conditions. His decentralised and ecologically-oriented approach was in stark contrast to the concrete-and-glass-heavy methods of contemporary architecture. Using local craftsmen and local materials, he built some wonderful homes and offices, among them the campus of the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, where his methods saved so much money that the Centre was able to build a world-class library as well.
Contemporary exemplars of this admirable trend of cross-cultural living (and giving) include the economist Jean Dreze and the sociologist Gail Omvedt. Without Dreze, who was born in Belgium, there might never have been a National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme; without Omvedt, who is of American origin, gender and Dalit studies in India would be far less robust.
It is in this noble tradition that Peter Heehs falls. Heehs was recently in the news, for the fact that after staying in India for nearly 40 years he finds his visa status in peril. In his decades in this country Heehs has won a considerable reputation as a historian and biographer. His books The Bomb in Bengal and The Lives of Sri Aurobindo are superb works of historical scholarship. The latter book, first published to wide acclaim by Columbia University Press, is not yet available in India, owing to a court case filed by motivated (and perhaps ignorant) people. As one who has read the book I can say that it's unlikely ever to be surpassed. It deals with all facets of Aurobindo's life - student, teacher, revolutionary, ascetic, spiritualist, poet, philosopher - with scrupulous sympathy combined with scrupulous honesty.
No one knows more than Heehs about the life of Sri Aurobindo. And no one has done more, either, to preserve Sri Aurobindo's works for posterity. Heehs and his colleagues - some western, some Indian - were instrumental in setting up the archives of the Aurobindo Ashram; and in publishing 16 volumes of Aurobindo's writings, these painstakingly transcribed over very many years of selfless service. Yet this is the man, and scholar, now threatened with deportation from India due to the intrigues of petty and motivated men.
As I write this, news comes that the home ministry is 'reviewing' Heehs' visa extension. One trusts that the review is favourable; that would be the right thing for (and by) Heehs, for Sri Aurobindo, and for India.
Ramachandra Guha is the author of India After Gandhi: The History of The World's Largest Democracy. The views expressed by the author are personal.
5. ALL INDIA SECULAR FORUM CONDEMNS SAUDI GRAND MUFTI’S CALL FOR DESTRUCTION OF CHURCHES IN WEST ASIA
All India Secular Forum
Mumbai, March 30, 2012
All India Secular Forum condemns Saudi Grand Mufti’s call for destruction of churches in West Asia
The All India Secular Forum has condemned the call by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
The Mufti’s controversial statement placed Christian churches throughout the Arabian Peninsula in jeopardy and could have repercussions for religious minorities in other countries. Christianity is already forbidden in Saudi Arabia which has no churches.
The All India Secular Forum calls upon Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United
Arab Emirates to rebuff the Wahabi Imam’s bigoted statement, and assure the safety and security of
churches in their respective countries. West Asian media had reported the controversial statement in the context of another statement by a Kuwaiti member of parliament who reportedly called for the ‘removal’ of churches in his country.
Legislation was also recently introduced in Kuwait’s parliament that would mandate the removal of Christian churches from the country and impose strict Shariah laws. Kuwait has later clarified the
legislation would not remove the churches, but prohibit further construction of Christian churches and non-Muslim places of worship in the country. The Saudi Grand Mufti emphasized that because Kuwait is part of the Arabian Peninsula, it would be necessary to destroy all churches in the country.
There are a large number of Christians living in Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Arabian gulf, many of them from India and the Philippines, with their population estimated at over 3.5 million, over 800,000 of them in Saudi Arabia alone.
The All India Secular Forum has been following developments in the region with growing alarm and concern as Christians continue to be coerced and harassed at various times. It is particularly disturbing because India has a large number of its citizens, mostly labour but also businessmen, engineers and medical personnel, in the region. A large number of migrant from the states of South India are Christians.
The All India Secular Forum said the Mufti’s statement flew in the face of the United Nations Charter and the UN Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief.
Released for Publication by Irfan Engineer.
Director, Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution,
603, New Silver Star, Prabhat Colony Road, Nr. Railway Bridge,
Santacruz (East), Mumbai, India
6. HINDU RIGHT VHP COMPLAINS AND MODERN SATIRE ON MAHABHARATA CANT BE STAGED
GUWAHATI: The much-awaited play "Mahabharator Bhool' (Mistakes of Mahabharata), a modern-day stage adaptation of the The Mahabharata, which was slated to be staged on March 31 at Ravindra Bhawan, will not be enacted on Saturday.
Nagaon-based theatre production house Rangmahal and Nagaon Anatyam Natya Sangathan, who were all set to give theatre-lovers a different angle to the epic, have decided to drop the play after the Vishwa Hindu Parish (VHP)'s Northeast Chapter lodged a complaint.
7. INDIA: A SECULAR DIVORCE LAW FOR ALL IS COMING AND THE MUSLIM RIGHT IS FLEXING MUSCLES TO OPPOSE IT
(I) MAKING QUICK WORK OF WHAT ISN’T WORKING
by Namrata Joshi
Some folks won’t suffer bad marriages—even for a few months
(II) I SINGE THE BODY ELECTRIC
In a house of slamming doors and broken dreams, there are no kisses. Only the confidence of silent curtains.
by Meena Kandasamy
(III) DRAFT DIVORCE BILL IS A DIRECT ATTACK ON SHARIAH: BADRUDDIN AJMAL
(Twocircles.net, 26 March 2012)
Mumbai: The Draft Divorce Bill, prepared ostensibly to make the divorce process easier, is a direct attack on the Shariah and against the personal law of Indian Muslims, said Maulana Badruddin Ajmal on Sunday in Mumbai. Maulana Ajmal is the Member of Parliament from Dhubri, Assam and national President of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). He is also a member of Majlis-e Shura of Darul Uloom Deoband and president of Assam State Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind.
He decried the attempt to amend divorce laws as contrary to the marriage and personal laws of the Indian Muslims.
BOOKS & PAPERS:
8. ANNA HAZARE UPSURGE: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL
Editors: Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer & Ram Puniyani
Price: Rs. 160.00 (Paper Back)
Rs. 320.00 (Hard Bound)
List of Contributors
Zoya Hasan * Neena Vyas & Vidya Subrahmaniam * Yoginder Sikand * A. Faizur Rahman * Uday Mehta * Rohini Hensman * Anand Teltumbde * Mukul Sharma * Shekhar Gupta * Asghar Ali Engineer * Praful Bidwai * J. Sri Raman * K. N. Panikkar * Sagarika Ghose * Akhtarul Wasey * Sadiq Naqvi * Prabhat Patnaik * Harsh Mander * Sukhadeo Thorat * Kanti Bajpai * Govind Talwalkar * Soumitro Das * Ram Puniyani * Amita Baviskar * Kancha Ilaiah * John Dayal * Happymon Jacob * Nilottpal Basu * Arvind Rajagopal * Sashi Kumar * Jyotirmaya Sharma * Bhanwar Megwanshi * Akash Bisht * Hartosh Singh Bal * Arvind Kejriwal * Medha Patkar * Prashant Bhushan * Anna Hazare * Aruna Roy
E mail : sahitya_upkram at yahoo.co.in
Phone : 09654732174, 09350809192
9. ON SECULARISM AND SPACE FOR RELIGION IN POLITICS IN SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ASIA
by Ajay K. Mehra
The Politics of Religion in South and Southeast Asia, edited by Ishtiaq Ahmed; London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group; pp. 268.
Mahatma Gandhi, who by no stretch of imagination could be called communal in his views or practice of politics, strongly believed that religion in politics had a space to guide practioners of politics towards truth and God. Obviously, the Mahtma was not referring to the mobilisational aspect of religion used by most parties and politicians, neither was he alluding to the use of religion as statecraft or state policy. He was emphasising the moral aspect of religion in politics, which is rarely, if ever, talked about or practised. The book under review too brings out that the Gandhian view of religion in politics that does not appear to exist in any of the countries discussed, including in India.
10. Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India
In 2002, after an altercation between Muslim vendors and Hindu travelers at a railway station in the Indian state of Gujarat, fifty-nine Hindu pilgrims were burned to death. The ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party blamed Gujarat's entire Muslim minority for the tragedy and incited fellow Hindus to exact revenge. The resulting violence left more than one thousand people dead--most of them Muslims--and tens of thousands more displaced from their homes. Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi witnessed the bloodshed up close. In Pogrom in Gujarat, he provides a riveting ethnographic account of collective violence in which the doctrine of ahimsa--or nonviolence--and the closely associated practices of vegetarianism became implicated by legitimating what they formally disavow.
Paper | 2012 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691151779
Cloth | 2012 | $75.00 / £52.00 | ISBN: 9780691151762
352 pp. | 6 x 9 | 20 halftones.
11. HISTORIES OF BELONGING(S): NARRATING TERRITORY, POSSESSION, AND DISPOSSESSION AT THE INDIA-BANGLADESH BORDER
by Jason Cons
Modern Asian Studies, Volume 46, Issue 03, May 2012, pp 527 - 558
doi:10.1017/S0026749X11000722 Published online by Cambridge University
Press 25 Nov 2011
Link to abstract:
12. SECULARISM, RACISM AND THE POLITICS OF BELONGING
Edited by Nira Yuval-Davis and Philip Marfleet
This publication is a collection of papers that were presented at conferences in 2010 and 2011 co-organized by the Runnymede Trust and CMRB - the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London. The contributors address issues of migration, racism and religion.
They come from different ethnic, national and religious perspectives: some work as part of religious institutions, some in NGOs, some in academia. They do not always agree on the issues under debate – but all share a strong commitment to social justice, against racism and sexism and in support of migrants who have come to live in Britain. The publication contains papers in sections on: Historical perspectives; Secularism, religion and social cohesion; The gendered debate on secularism; and Faith communities and anti-racism.
13. UK: WE ARE STILL FAILING NON-BRITISH VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
by Rahila Gupta
Changes to spousal visa rules will help some domestic violence survivors – but many on other visas will continue to suffer
2 April 2012
At last, the government will partially honour its pledge to support all women facing domestic violence. Until now, non-British women escaping violence had no right to access refuges or benefits if they were on spousal visas – and so were faced with destitution if they chose to leave their husbands, or were thrown out by them. But the destitute domestic violence (DDV) concession now allows women to apply for three months' leave, giving them access to benefits while they apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). It has taken 20 years of hard campaigning and dogged pursuit by Southall Black Sisters (SBS), and since 2007 a coalition of 27 women and human rights groups including Amnesty International, Women's Aid, Eaves Housing and Women's Resource Centre, to bring about a significant change to a small area of immigration law.
A little-known immigration rule, the two-year rule, stipulates a probationary period for all marriages to non-British spouses; if the marriage breaks down before then, the partner will be deported, unless she can prove that she faced violence under the domestic violence concession. This concession, introduced in 1999, was itself the result of a long campaign fought by SBS. Roughly 500 women a year find themselves in this position.
One such woman was Anita (not her real name), who was only 24 when she came to Britain from India to get married, and was thrown out by her mother-in-law, on to the streets of Southall, after eight months of an abusive marriage. She was given shelter by a series of strangers for a few nights at a time until she was advised by the Gurudwara to go to SBS for help. No refuge would have taken her because she had no right to public funds – an appalling situation for a woman new to this country with no family and no friends. As it happened, SBS had raised funds for women like her and were able to put her up in a B&B until she was housed by the Sojourner Project, which gave her time to regularise her immigration status.
The Sojourner Project (run by Eaves Housing) is a pilot scheme that provides accommodation and subsistence costs for 50 working days, while women wait to hear from the UK Border Agency. It was set up by the Labour government and continued by the coalition as a result of intense lobbying by the campaign. Since 2009, the project has handled nearly 2,000 cases, of which 12 were men. Nearly 70% were successful in getting leave to remain here. The rest were refused mainly because they were not on spousal visas. And this is where the limitations of the new concession become obvious. Women in the UK on other visas, overstayers and overseas domestic workers with abusive employers will remain trapped.
No wonder that Hannana Siddiqui, chair of the campaign, welcomed this concession only tentatively: "It will help to save many lives. We hope that the government will now act urgently to extend this safety net to other victims." The government's response to anti-immigration hysteria was to promise to cut immigration to tens of thousands, but its international obligations and economic needs didn't leave much room for manoeuvre. It is now watering down its commitment to human rights where possible; it has put forward a draconian proposal to increase the probationary period for marriage to a "foreigner" from two years to five years, which will affect a much larger number of people. It will also trap women in violent marriages for longer, with greater likelihood of children being involved. We do not know the number of women who, out of sheer ignorance of their rights, do not leave such marriages for fear of deportation and destitution.
It is therefore particularly important to publicise this concession. It is a sad state of affairs that anti-immigrant feeling (which never seems to go away) combined with widespread cuts have encouraged the Home Office to slip this out quietly rather than trumpet it as evidence of its commitment to women's rights, limited though it is.
14. TURKISH SECULARISTS OPPOSE NEW EDUCATION BILL THAT WILL PUSH ISLAM INTO SCHOOLS
TURKEY PASSES SCHOOL REFORM LAW CRITICS VIEW AS ISLAMIC
by Simon Cameron-Moore
ISTANBUL | Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:27pm BST
(Reuters) - Turkey's ruling party pushed through a school reform act on Friday that provoked brawls among parliamentarians and mass protests by secular Turks and teachers, who said the law was pushing an Islamic agenda and would lower education standards.
o o o
Reuters, 27/03 15:53 CET
SECULARIST TURKS PROTEST “DYNAMITE” EDUCATION BILL
By Umit Bektas
ANKARA (Reuters) – Thousands of Turkish opposition supporters demonstrated in the capital Ankara on Tuesday against a government attempt to railroad a new education bill through parliament which secular parties say is designed to promote Islamic schooling.
The government wants to overturn a 1997 law imposed with the backing of the military which extended compulsory education from five to eight years, but also stopped under-15s attending religious “imam hatip” schools.
That led to a sharp decrease in the numbers at the schools which were originally set up to train Muslim clerics. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and nearly half his cabinet attended imam hatip schools.
The main secular opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) agrees on the need for education reform, but says Erdogan is seeking revenge for the 1997 law and attempting to bring about his stated desire to raise a “religious youth”.
A 2010 World Bank study showed only 16 percent of 15-year-olds in Turkey attend schools with average reading, maths or science test scores comparable to or above an OECD average.
Relying on its large parliamentary majority, Erdogan’s AK party is to introduce the education bill to the assembly later on Tuesday and plans to complete voting on it by Friday, or if that is not possible keep parliament open over the weekend until it is passed.
In response, the CHP decided to hold its weekly meeting of parliamentary deputies in an Ankara public square, the first time this has happened in the history of the republic since it was formed in 1923. The AK Party called it unconstitutional.
“The people and the CHP are claiming their rights in this national struggle,” CHP deputy leader Erdogan Toprak told reporters at the square, accusing the AK Party’ of bulldozing the bill through the committee stage where it packed the room so that no one from the opposition could get in.
“According to what constitution can you pass 19 articles in 20 minutes?” Toprak asked. “Despite all our efforts in the committee, neither were our contributions accepted, nor was any tolerance shown.”
Faced with government efforts to rush it through parliament, Toprak said the CHP would do its best to hold up the bill, calling it “dynamite planted under the Turkish youth”.
While the AK Party has won three elections since 2002 and remains popular, there is a large minority of urbanised Turks who are wary of its roots in political Islam and suspect it has plans to overturn, piece-by-piece, the secular republic.
At least 5,000 people filled Ankara’s Tandogan Square, waving Turkish flags and carrying placards against the “4+4+4” education bill, so-called because it extends compulsory education to 12 years – four years primary, four years middle school, followed by four years of secondary school or vocational training.
Imam hatip schools would count as vocational training, allowing a boost to the numbers attending.
“4+4+4+Erdogan = 0,” read one of the banners.
“I am a child of the republic. I am thinking of the future of my grandchildren,” said 55-year-old Naciye Sahin. “This law will open the way to more headscarves and imam hatip schools. We don’t want to be a part of that. We are children of the republic and we want to stay that way.”
(Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
15. BEWARE OF THE POLITICOSTALS! THE CATASTROPHIC THREAT OF RELIGIOUS CAPITALISM IN THE U.S.
by Sarah O'Leary
U.S. Religious Capitalism, humbly defined, is the buying and selling of American souls for the purposes of gaining political and economic power.
16. LIBYAN MILITIAS TURN TO POLITICS, A VOLATILE MIX
By David D. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times, April 2, 2012
TRIPOLI, Libya The militia leaders who have turned post-Qaddafi Libya into a patchwork of semiautonomous fiefs are now plunging into politics, raising fears that their armed brigades could undermine elections intended to lay the foundation of a new democracy.
The militia leader from Zintan who controls the airport here in the capital has exchanged his uniform for a suit and tie and now talks about running for office - with his 1,200 armed men at his back. The head of Tripoli's military council is starting a political party, and the military council in Benghazi is preparing its own slate of
candidates for local office.
Regional militias and the ruling Transitional National Council have already blocked the city of Bani Walid, once a bastion of support for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, from choosing its local government. Other militia leaders are volunteering their armed support as the military wings of newly formed parties.
Five months after Colonel Qaddafi's death, Libyans are counting on the ritual of the ballot box to end four decades of rule by brute force. The brigades formed to fight Colonel Qaddafi, and many others that sprang up after the fact, have thwarted the consolidation of a new central authority and become a menace to security, trading deadly gunfire in the streets of the capital, detaining and torturing suspected Qaddafi loyalists, and last week even kidnapping two members of the Transitional National Council for two days.
Libya's interim leaders say they hope an elected government will have the legitimacy to rein in those militias, and the country is rushing to hold votes. The two largest cities, Benghazi and Tripoli, plan to hold local elections by May, while the Transitional National Council has promised elections in June for an assembly that will govern as it writes a new constitution.
Without a national army or police force, though, many civilians worry that the militias could bully voters, suppress votes or otherwise dominate the process, leaving Libya mired in internecine violence, torn by regional tensions or - as a recent poll suggests many Libyans may now expect - vulnerable to the rise of a new strongman.
Even civilian politicians alarmed by the interplay of guns and politics say they may be powerless to resist it. 'We are very clearly saying we don't want to be part of that,' said Ali Tarhuni, a former interim oil minister and deputy prime minister now starting one of the new parties. 'But down the road, what can we do?'
Mr. Tarhuni and others say they fear that Libya could repeat the experience of Lebanon, where armed militias formed during its civil war became a permanent part of the political landscape. Already some brigades around the country, including the one at the airport, led by Mokhtar al-Akhdar, have developed independent sources of revenue, primarily from providing security services. 'Protection,' Mr. Tarhuni said.
Others say Libya may yet confound the expectations of chaos on the various election days. The relatively homogeneous city of Misurata recently held peaceful elections. Here in the more divided capital and across the country, Libyan officials admit that they are banking on intangibles, like Libya?s tribal traditions, the unifying spirit of the revolution and the patriotism of its young militiamen, to maintain a degree of order. Nevertheless, Mustafa Abu Shagour, deputy prime minister of the interim government, said he expected to see guns in the streets.
'I am very worried,' he said.
After 42 years of a through-the-looking-glass dictatorship that billed itself as a participatory ?rule of the masses,? Libyans appear to distrust democracy. In a poll of Libyans conducted in December and January by a research arm of Oxford University, only 15 percent of the more than 2,000 respondents said they wanted some form of democracy within the next 12 months, while 42 percent said they hoped Libya would be governed by a new strongman. Perhaps most worrisome: a significant minority, about 16 percent, said they were ready to use violence for political ends.
The leaders of the regional militias insist that they are the guardians of democracy, compensating for the leadership failures of the Transitional National Council. But they often continue to rely on armed might outside any legal or political process.
When a peaceful demonstration in Benghazi urged federalism, the interior minister - a militia leader from Misurata - publicly
threatened to lead an armed force from his hometown to fight what he called a threat to national unity.
Fawzi Bukatief, commander of an alliance of 40 eastern brigades based in Benghazi, said he was close to announcing a national union of militias, independent of the Defense and Interior Ministries. He said the union could use its firepower to crack down on other armed groups still operating in Tripoli.
'We will stop them, or imprison them,' he said. 'We know the fighters. We will decide who is a revolutionary and who is not.'
'The militias are the problem,' he added, 'but also the solution.'
In a tweed jacket instead of camouflage, he said he was considering running for office in Benghazi. Doing so while his fighters oversee the vote 'can be a conflict,' he said with a shrug, acknowledging that he 'will have to step out' of his militia role.
The interim government has been powerless to stop attacks on tribes or neighborhoods suspected of supporting Colonel Qaddafi, much less to guarantee them a right to vote.
In the Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli, a militia brigade still operates from a heavily fortified bunker, with roof-mounted machine guns pointing down into the streets. Residents - especially those with dark skin, often suspected of belonging to tribes that fought for Colonel Qaddafi - said they were afraid to walk past the bunker. Inside the bunker, prisoners were banging on the metal doors of small cells.
Abdul Salem el-Massoudi, 42, the neighborhood military council's chief of 'interrogations,' said the militia was still hunting down the suspected perpetrators of a massacre by Qaddafi forces. But as for the dark-skinned Libyans from the city of Tawarga, he suggested that they had themselves to blame.
'Their sons got them into this trouble' by fighting for Qaddafi, he said. 'Now, they are refugees everywhere.'
Interim government officials still insist that they plan to control the militias by the election day in June, in part by hiring the militia fighters to create a national guard. It is unclear, however, how much loyalty the money is buying.
Flush with oil money, the interim government has started handing out pay to thousands of militiamen for the work of securing the capital -
the equivalent of about $2,000 for each fighter who is single and about $3,300 for each one with a family.
Last month, local brigades began lining up by turns to collect their pay at an old police academy, which happened to be in Hadhba, another neighborhood known for its loyalty to the former dictator. But then a group of fighters from the more rebellious neighborhood of Souk el-Juma decided that they were not getting paid fast enough and, besides that, did not like collecting their cash in a loyalist
So a truckload of a few dozen fighters attacked the academy. In a hail of gunfire - many were armed with Kalashnikovs, a few with knives, and they were backed by three machine guns ? they broke down the iron gates, tore off some of its pointed spikes as weapons and smashed the windows of the gatehouse.
'Run away! We will kill you!' one fighter shouted to the fleeing neighbors. Another declared: 'This is ours right now. We are the owners here.'
Two days later, the Souk el-Juma brigade leaders were distributing the payments to their members at their own headquarters, undercutting any hope of transferring the fighters' loyalty to a central authority.
Former Qaddafi officials, who are also talking about forming a political party, say they hear an echo of the past. 'They are speaking the same language we did,' said one former Qaddafi adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity for his safety. 'We used force. They are using force. Nothing has changed but the flag and the national anthem.'
Suliman Ali Alzway contributed reporting.
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