Stories published in May, 2014

Is the BJP good news for India?

Notorious for being involved in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi’s victory appears to be a foreshadowing of the dark days ahead for anyone in India that isn’t part of the country’s overwhelming Hindu majority. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unlike the Nehru-dynasty run Indian National Congress (INC), is a devoutly Hindu party that wants Hinduism enshrined in India’s secular constitution. This is something that not only frightens India’s significant Muslim minority but also the liberals of Delhi and Mumbai. This hype surrounding BJP is completely justified; in the early 1990s, a campaign by the newly formed party pushed for the demolition of a 16th-century mosque built by ...

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A letter to the prime minister: My neighbour was killed, Sir, will I be killed too?

Dear Mr Prime Minister, My neighbour was shot yesterday. I heard cries erupt all over the house, when the news of his death was conveyed to his loved ones. He was a simple man, taking care of a family of four. One wonders why anyone would want to kill someone so harmless. People say he was shot because of his sect. But, I guess that is not so important to you. Why would my neighbour or I be important? Millions of harmless men, such as these, die each day and it breaks my heart to see this harmless man’s family in pain. But that is not ...

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From pederasty to paedophilia and Freudian slips

A long time ago, a gay Pakistani I know asked me once whether the relationship between Rumi and Shams of Tabriz qualifies as paedophilia. I didn’t understand his question or the context of it because he is well-read, intelligent, knows his religious history and psychology. The question confused me because there was very little I knew about them compared to Madho Lal Hussain. Nevertheless, to avoid hurting my own ego, I referenced my mental notes on the romantic relationship between Madho Lal and Shah Hussain, and immediately tried to correct him. “The feelings Rumi had fall under what we know as pederasty, ...

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The end of a drought for an Arsenal fan

When I was 11-years-old, many kids my age in my country did not know much about football. Their knowledge of football consisted of a sport where you have to kick a ball, score goals and that the goalkeeper has the privilege of using his hands. At the same age, I bought my first football video game. Like any other sports game, the first task was choosing your team, and while I knew that Brazil was the best team and Ronaldo Lima was the best player in the world, FIFA 99 featured a list of teams I had never heard of before as ...

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The curse of the green passport

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently recommended travel restrictions on Pakistanis travelling abroad to prevent the spread of the polio virus, as Pakistan continues to be one of the few remaining countries where polio is still considered a threat. This aforementioned restrictions seem to be a last ditch effort by the public health agency to curb the spread of the virus from a country that has been unable to run a sustained inoculation campaign due to a variety of reasons which are better left unsaid. However, what I am concerned about more is the effect that these travel restrictions will have on Pakistani travellers who are already ...

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Terrorism ‘Bounces Back’: Apology not accepted!

We were all 14-years-old once and we remember those days with fond memories. All of us remember our carefree attitude towards life where the biggest worry in the world would be the result of our math test. I, like most 14-year-olds, would wake up for school, get ready and would be shovelling breakfast down my throat while the driver waited in the driveway. Take a moment to remember those memories. Turn the same page to October 2012, but in the life of Malala Yousafzai. She was just a student on her way to school in the battle ridden valleys of the ...

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Preparing for Ramazan with potato stuffed samosas and a spoonful of green mango chutney

Like the rest of the world, few foods are associated with certain events and seasons and in Pakistan, it is no different. Like Kashmiri Chai, which is an integral part of the food menu during wedding festivities in the winter season, gulab jamuns and ladoos are served to celebrate joyous occasions, samosay and pakoray are served with fiery chutneys when the monsoons open up the heavens above to give us a little reprieve from the hellish summers in Pakistan. Our love for samosas, however, doesn’t end with the monsoon season. In fact, samosas take centre stage during the month of fasting – Ramazan. No iftar table is complete without vegetable or minced meat samosay, served with various types of chutneys. While ...

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Secular India: An obituary

Dear Friends, With a broken and shattered heart, I have to bring to your notice that the secular India we all loved and admired is no more. It was 67-years-old. Just like secular India’s birth in 1947, its demise was also a tragic one. Verily, it came under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s car and got crushed on May 16, 2014. As expected, Modi felt bad about the incident and expressed his regret by saying, “I feel bad even when a puppy comes under the car. After all, I am also a human being.” Even as I listened to Prime Minister Modi’s magnanimous and heartrending expression of ...

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Learning from the Indian elections, despite Modi’s win

Despite being upset about Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Modi Sarkar claiming undisputed victory in the Lok Sabha, I could not help but notice the immaculate election process that is being conducted by the Election Commission of India (ECI). To hold an election process for an estimated 814 million voters over the span of five weeks is not only a daunting process but one that is easily subjected to chaos and anarchy. However, having followed the election process diligently, I was convinced that the election process was as peaceful as it could get, even with the BJP rally fiasco in Varanasi. BJP’s ...

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IPL: Cheap Bollywood extravaganza, not a sport

Every year, from around April to the beginning of June, I go on a hiatus from cricket. This includes shunning every cricket website and sports channel with the zeal of a politician shunning honest work and disabling the Cricinfo app on my phone and tablet. At social gatherings and at work I religiously avoid conversations pertaining to cricket and if someone directs a cricket-related comment at me, I start to extol the virtues of the insect rather than the sport. This leaves the company rather befuddled considering that for the rest of the 46 weeks in the year, cricket is ...

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