Stories about diversity

Muslims in India today are revisiting the same fears as they did in 1947

The strength of a democracy is measured by the way it protects its weak, marginalised and minorities. After Partition in 1947, one big challenge before India was how to assuage the fears of the Muslim minority about their well-being in India. Bridging religious faultlines was part of the nation-building process. The government, civil society, film industry, media, and even on an individual level, a large section of the society created an ecosystem where secularism and liberalism were promoted unabashedly. This ecosystem and way of life have been largely sustaining India for the last seven decades. Three generations later, Muslims in India are ...

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Coke Studio: New season, new talent, new genres – but is that enough?

Coke Studio launched season 11 with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge, and let’s just say our expectations were sky high due to this beautiful rendition. We were thrilled that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was represented on such a prominent platform, like any other artist. They showcased inclusiveness by involving various cultural backgrounds, along with certain renowned and raw talent, leaving us eager for more. However, perhaps we spoke too soon. Let’s take a look at all the tracks that have been released so far, starting from the best to the worst, based on my preference. Episode one: Shikwa/Jawab-e-Shikwa It is courageous in itself that Coke ...

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Racism overshadowed Ozil in Germany, but at Arsenal, a season of magic awaits

In the summer of 2010, Mesut Ozil burst onto the scene of international football. Already making waves at Werder Bremen, the then 21-year-old playmaker became the fuel for the German machine. His creativity and pace went on to define German football for the next six years, with Ozil being a vital part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad. It was also that summer that my obsession began with Ozil. His creativity and pace defined German football but his relentlessness and commitment defined why I fell in love with the sport. The five-time German Player of the Year, who has earned ...

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Coke Studio season 11 shows how beautifully diverse Pakistan is

In the midst of an agonising election season, and after the incredible success of Coke Studio Explorer, we just witnessed the release of the Coke Studio season 11 trailer. Leaving us utterly speechless with its ravishing and inclusive rendition of ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the song previewed many of the artists who will make their Coke Studio debut this season. Coke Studio has perhaps finally caught on to showcasing new artists that needed mainstream public attention for so long. These new artists are not only well-versed in their melodic symphonies, but also carry a cultural reminder, exemplifying what Pakistan’s ...

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I was not just a Pakistani visiting India; I was travelling back in history

Several years ago, I chanced to visit India for a conference. Our immediate destination after crossing the Wagah-Attari border was the Jallianwala Bagh, followed by the Golden Temple – the two famous destinations that appear when you Google “sites to visit in Punjab”. For those living in Lahore today, touring these sites, which are located at a mere 50-kilometre distance, is next to impossible given the visa restrictions. Crossing the border I was excited of course, but at the same time, I was lost in my thoughts. In their teen years, my grandparents had made the decision of ...

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A Wrinkle in Time: A sweet-less sugar cream pie you never want to taste again

Middle of Nowhere (2012), Selma (2014) and 13th (2016) famed Ava DuVernay is the first African-American director whose work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Golden Globes Award. This year, she is back with a $100 million live-action, sci-fi fantasy film, A Wrinkle in Time. Based on the fiction writer Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 classic novel of the same name, A Wrinkle in Time is a heartless and clumsy film that covers a tussle between the virtuous and the corrupt. L’Engle in her novel adroitly epitomised the immoral and sinful entities with black objects and dark phenomenon. Her book’s evil characters ...

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By labelling Muslims as Pakistanis and their localities as mini-Pakistan, BJP is fracturing India’s social fabric

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, poured scorn on the Congress party, blaming its flawed policies and self-indulgence for the Partition of the subcontinent. His over an hour-long speech, amid rising slogans from the opposition, was punctuated with gesticulations and anti-Gandhi family barbs. There was no reference to the contentious Rafale deal, the details of which Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to divulge, for they were “classified”. The prime minister, almost two months after accusing the Congress of conniving with Pakistan “to influence Gujarat elections”, once again attempted to divert the attention. Though still a very popular figure, Modi’s ...

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Silly, zany and utterly delightful, Paddington 2 is a masterclass of children films

It has been over half a century – 61 years to be precise – since Michael Bond found a lone teddy bear on a shelf in a store near Paddington Station on Christmas Eve. The lovable stuffed toy went on to inspire one of the most celebrated children’s book series of all time (starting with a volume in 1958 and ending in 2017 with the author’s death). His stories have now led to a delightful film series that proves Paddington’s adventures remain as relevant as ever. The latest big screen instalment in the series, Paddington 2 – the sequel to ...

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Dear NADRA, your failure to recognise Pakistan’s undervalued regional languages is not surprising

I recently came across a disheartening news article which stated that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) failed to recognise a degree attained in a regional language. This applied to all the areas and provinces of Pakistan and not just Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Now, let us take in the severity of this statement. In effect, this means that those who have done their Bachelors or Masters in Pashto or any other regional language cannot enter their education data for their national identity cards (NIC) at NADRA. The premier regulatory authority’s online forms only contain and recognise a master’s degree or Doctorate in English, Urdu and Persian. But ...

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I am a Muslim parent in the US and I chose to send my children to a Catholic school

My wonderful nani (maternal grandmother), Jamila Khatoon, was an advocate for missionary schools and hospitals in Pakistan. She would famously say, “Schools and hospitals are best run by the mission.” Resultantly, my mother and her siblings went to missionary schools in Karachi, as did my siblings and I. Why is it that parents, belonging to other faiths, sometimes consciously make a choice to send their kids to a Catholic school? Is it because they feel that faith-based education, regardless of what faith the school believes in, imparts spirituality at a young age that leaves an impact through adult life? I remember putting the ...

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