India at 70 is an entirely different country as compared to when it started its journey as an independent nation in the summer of 1947. It ranks amongst the leading economies of the world, sent a satellite to the moon, is nuclear-armed, and is a country admired by most. But unfortunately, this progress cannot mask its ugly reality. In 1947, the most pressing challenge, other than economic development, was settling the dust of the Partition. It was an urgent and long-term necessity needed to create societal harmony. An atmosphere where the country’s secular and multicultural temperament would return to normalcy was imperative. Decades of ...Read Full Post
Ironically, the credit for banning triple talaq in India goes to BJP and Narendra Modi, not Congress
The recent decision regarding triple talaq by the Supreme Court (SC) of India has elated many liberal intelligentsias. I also believe that it is a step in the right direction and should be applauded by all those who want better treatment for Muslim women in India. I have written about it earlier as well, that one of the major problems ailing the Muslim societies is the gender imbalance due to the on-going rampant religious orthodoxy. From a political perspective, what is really interesting is that apparently, the party which has actually championed the issue in recent times is not the left-leaning ...Read Full Post
A couple of weeks back, India celebrated the 70th anniversary of its independence from the British colonial rule. For seven decades, India has remained the world’s most populous democracy. It is almost the only country in the developing world that has steadfastly adhered to peaceful transition of power through electoral means. In the past two decades, India has also been seen as a democratic alternative to communist China in the emerging global power configuration. However, after 40 months of Narendra Modi being the prime minister of India, there are now serious doubts over the regular continuation of the democratic arrangement in India. Indian democracy had ...Read Full Post
Why weren’t other religious minorities forced to videotape their Independence Day celebrations in India?
As if ghar wapsi programs and beef lynching was not enough, madrassas in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) have been told to celebrate the Indian Independence Day with great fervour and patriotism. And to prove that their students are very good and patriotic citizens of India, those who manage Indian madrassas will have to submit videos of how they celebrated the patriotic day. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise us, since after the appointment of a rabid anti-Muslim like Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s largest state (with a large Muslim population), killings of Muslims suspected to have eaten beef have increased. Now, ...Read Full Post
Akbar the Great who? – Did BJP just eliminate the Mughals from their textbooks to promote its Hindutva ideology?
The Express Tribune and Indian media reported earlier this week on the extensive changes made to history textbooks for grade seven and 11 by the state government in Maharashtra. As has been the case since it first came to power in 1998, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains committed to a saffron revisioning of history. One of the first things the BJP did on assuming power 19 years ago was to form a National Curriculum Framework which started to revise school syllabi in 2000. The primary changes made in school curricula were those emphasising the Hindutva ideology. A concerted attempt was made to exclude freedom fighters and ...Read Full Post
Is Ram Nath Kovind’s appointment as president expected to wash away the scars inflicted on the Dalit community?
When Ram Nath Kovind and his family were denied entry into the presidential retreat in Shimla, little did he know that fate would end up making this same presidential retreat his summer abode. Fast forward two months down the lane after this incident, the 71-year-old former lawyer and state governor was elected as India’s second Dalit president. Before June 19th, the day the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) elected Kovind as its presidential candidate, nobody really knew the man that was running for the country’s highest constitutional post. His nomination not only surprised political watchers but also surprised the common man. The only time Kovind came into the national ...Read Full Post
The issue of cow slaughter and the consumption of beef has been an issue that many orthodox Hindus have found an affront to their religion. Blasphemous speech, in regards to orthodox Muslims and their reverence for the Prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt), produces a similar sentiment of outrage. This sense of outrage has led to the phenomenon of religious vigilantism. Yet, it seems that this malaise, which was once a rare occurrence in the early history of both India and Pakistan, has transformed and metastasised into a cancer that is permeating the very fabric of each nations’ respective society. Justification through legislation Pakistan In 1986, Pakistan, ...Read Full Post
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chain” This famous line from The Social Contract, a powerful treatise written by the 18th century French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, was an attack on the prevailing monarchical system in Europe. The book played an inspiring role in the French revolution while establishing individuals as a sovereign entity. Today, it is the same sovereignty of the individual which is under siege in democratic India. Currently, the political leadership is trying to contain individual freedom and intrude into the sovereign rights of the citizens in the name of nationalism and patriotism. The latest ruling of the Supreme ...Read Full Post
Last month, a US petition to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism gained serious momentum. Having crossed the 100,000 signature threshold, the issue now awaits addressing by the Obama administration. The question then begs to be answered: is or has Pakistan been a state sponsor of terrorism in its checkered past? With all due respect and within all my patriotic sensibilities, I believe the answer to be possibly – nay, probably – yes. For as long as I can remember covering South Asian politics, Pakistan has been on the hook for spending nights in bed with the Americans with quickie afternoon siestas with home grown extremist groups. ...Read Full Post
It’s not a good sign for democracy when the government and media start speaking the same language and begin complimenting each other. The media has never been as compromised and irresponsible as it is today. It has forgotten its role as a fifth pillar of democracy, which plays a pivotal role in nation building. Today, the larger media in India is a polarised institution, accentuating the existing social and religious fault lines rather than cementing it. The larger blame falls on televised media. In its desperate attempts to attract attention and increase ratings, the media literally plays to the gallery appealing to the baser ...Read Full Post