Stories about Mahatma Gandhi

Rangoon is an example of how a gifted director is wasting his talent

There’s a line in the film where Saif Ali Khan tells a British officer, “We’re actors; we know how to convince people.” I am sorry to burst your bubble here Chote Nawab, but regrettably your statement falls completely flat on its face if the said performers are asked to work with a wearingly long and complicatedly patchy screenplay. Saif Ali Khan in Rangoon (2017)Photo: IMDb At 167 minutes, Vishal Bharadwaj’s Rangoon isn’t just a drag but also tediously stuffed with a hotchpotch of multiple storylines. Rangoon takes us back to 1940s Hindustan, against the backdrop of contrasting independence ideologies of dovish Mahatma Gandhi and hawkish Subhash Chandra ...

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Why has non-violent India become so violent?

India carries somewhat of a reputation globally as the home of spirituality and a champion of non-violence. The combined legacies of Emperor Ashoka, Gautam Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and many other renowned gurus and sages have left an imprint on the way India seeks to carry itself on the world stage and also to an extent how the rest of the world perceives it. Many seekers of wisdom and inner peace make their way to India, hoping to find a path to spirituality and enlightenment. Some succeed in finding what they were looking for, while others return with disappointment, disillusionment, and ...

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Religion and feminism: Why women in India are fighting for a place in temples

It’s time we remove the decadent practices that discriminate against people belonging to marginalised sections of society, especially women, from entering religious places of worship. On January 26, while most Indians celebrated the participation of an all-women’s contingent during India’s Republic Day Parade, 400 strong women activists did what has never been done before: they forcefully tried to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra to break an age old custom that prevents women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The attempt was a symbolic act to assert women’s rights and fight patriarchy. Indian women have for long struggled to attain gender equality, and ...

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Pakistan and India don’t need Trump to manage their affairs!

Adolf Hitler had forewarned the world about his wicked intentions in Mein Kampf in 1925, years before he implemented his satanic plans of exterminating the Jews from the world. He wrote in the book: “Hence, today, I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: ‘By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” Yet, the international community did not pay heed to Hitler and the Germans went on to democratically elect him with a thumping majority. The rest is history. Imagine someone like Hitler heading the most powerful country in the world. It ...

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Beef is to India what blasphemy is to Pakistan

Date: November 4, 2014 Place: Pakistan A Christian couple, Shahzad Masih (26) and his five month-pregnant wife, Shama Bibi (24), accused of allegedly burning pages of the Holy Quran were locked inside a room in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab, by an angry mob. At the same time, one could hear announcements being made from mosque loudspeakers in nearby villages that “a Christian woman had desecrated the Quran”. Residents of the village and the couple’s brick kiln co-workers gathered people from five surrounding villages. Before long, a frenzied mob, comprising thousands of people armed with clubs, hatchets and axes, dragged the hapless couple out of ...

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An open letter to Hema Malini: You could have saved Sonam’s life

Dear Hema Malini ji, You may be a superstar but your tweets blaming the dead girl’s father for the unfortunate car mishap reeks of nothing but obnoxious arrogance of stardom on the silver screen, exposing the callous indifference of your ilk from Bollywood to the suffering of others. I beg your pardon for my harsh words, but by my troth, I am hurt. Fie on thee for your remarks. On Wednesday, you finally broke your silence on the fatal car crash in Rajasthan with your tweet: (Contd) How I wish the girl's father had followed the traffic rules – thn this accident could have been averted & the lil one's life ...

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What are you trying to prove by denying Geelani a passport, India?

Ignorant of their own history and overlooking how leaders like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Subhash Chandra Bose visited countries like South Africa, England and Germany to further their political ideologies, a certain ultra-jingoist Indian media channel recently aired a provocative debate titled Fly Pak Flag, Seek Indian Passport. This was done on Kashmir’s octogenarian resistance leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s request for a passport, as he wanted to visit his ailing daughter, Farhat Jabeen Geelani, in Saudi Arabia. Did Gandhi, Savarkar and Bose visit European countries as Indian citizens and on Indian passports? Did they surrender their political ideology and abandon their struggle for freedom in exchange of ...

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Iqbal’s relevance as explained by Saadat Hasan Manto

I first came to translating Saadat Hasan Manto about two years ago, 2012 being celebrated as the birth centenary year of this literary lion. Partly intrigued by the Kashmiri roots I share with him, and partly disgusted by the neat pigeonholing done by literary critics, Manto could apparently only either be a realist of sex or partition. I sought to bring the joy of his satirical and prescient nonfictional pieces about postcolonial Pakistan to an audience – not necessarily a younger one – that had been brought up on the comfortable fiction that Manto was not a political animal with a far-reaching ...

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Karbala and universal truths

There comes a moment in our lives when we realise the ‘Great Truths’ around us and this happened to me a decade back in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, India. I was taking part in a Muharram procession when I stopped to talk to a Sikh cloth seller. His shop’s porch was being used as a pulpit to read a eulogy of Imam Hussain (RA) and when it finished, I asked him why he allows the mourners to block his store’s entrance. “Syed Sahib, it is because of Hussain that we earn our living. If it was up to me I would ...

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Value their lives, honour their deaths, Pakistan

The day after the legendary Mehdi Hassan died, I was at a restaurant where live ghazals were being sung by a budding singer. He was entertaining requests and invariably all the requests being made were of the ghazals sung by Mehdi Hassan. It was as if the people could not think of a better singer. I sat pleased for a moment that the star has truly been recognised. But then it ached deep down, wasn’t it too late? For weeks Mehdi Hassan had laid bedridden and yet, there had been no calls for prayer, no fans thronging his premises and no government officials ensuring ...

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