Thursday, August 21, 2014

So...it was Hamas after all

....Arouri told the conference that Hamas "did not have the intention at this time to ignite a large battle".....his group did not believe Israel wanted a war either"...."But Allah has chosen and willed that a large battle would be ignited"....
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One thing we never understand and never will. All revolutionaries claim that in order to achieve their dreams heavy sacrifices will be called for. But why is it (to take the Israel-Gaza war as a template) that while the foot-soldiers (and commanders) are protected deep inside tunnels it is the common civilians who will face the music.

It is almost as if Hamas is just so satisfied with the outcome- they were able to shut down Tel Aviv airport for two days...is that it? A show of force, two thousand martyrs who will help prod the memories of the next generation, and the fight goes on. From the Israeli side...same story...they call it "mowing the lawn." And of course they also have their martyrs.

There is a problem with such continuous, calibrated and calculated cruelties imposed on both sides. When you create martyrs.....you also create monsters. There may come a time in the future when all the people on all sides will be devastated....imagine a Hiroshima on the Mediterranean. An ocean of bad blood...and suddenly not a drop of blood to spare and to share. Think about it.
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A senior Hamas leader has said the group carried out the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June — the first time anyone from the Islamic militant group has said it was behind an attack that helped spark the current war in the Gaza Strip.
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Hussain Haqqani

....Sharif could have handled the protests better...no doubt that Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri have been egged on by the military covertly to clip Sharif’s wings....Pakistan similar to Thailand....urban middle class, gang up with generals and judges to undermine those elected by the majority of the people.....
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The ex-Ambassador and current Professor of International Relations, Boston University speaks his mind.
It is difficult to say what is the truth. HH is obviously biased against the Army which banished him from his homeland. That said, there is not much evidence that Imran Khan has made an impact with the non-stop drama-bazi.

Indeed, just like Arvind Kejriwal in India, IK seems better suited as a protester than a ruler. Kejriwal and the Aam Admi Party should have focused on governing Delhi and gaining the confidence of the people. Large sections of Indians from al backgrounds would have loved to vote for a non-BJP, non-Congress, secular, left-liberal platform (rather than cast a vote against the Dynasty or Hindutva). Even the neo-Gandhian, Irom Sharmila was sympathetic to the cause. She would have guaranteed an AAP seat in Manipur - a 25% increase from the current tally of four.

The key issue is if and when self-confidence (constructive) morphs into hubris (destructive). After having destroyed the seemingly invincible, four-term Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in Delhi, Kejriwal thought he could repeat the magic by defeating Narendra Modi in Varanasi. Admittedly it was a gamble not devoid of merit - the Sunni Muslim vote-share (15%) roughly equals that of the super-caste vote. But it was the Shia Muslims, the non-Yadav OBCs and the non-Jatav Dalits who contributed to a complete annihilation of the "secular" coalition in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere.

Instead of insisting that people do not pay their power bills, Khan should focus on better governance and better access to power, which is the primary reason why the Pakistan economy is suffering so much. It is not power for himself but power to the people that is the need of the hour.
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Nawaz Sharif’s 1999 tenure ended in a military coup – are the protests, led by Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul Qadri, an attempted civilian coup? What will the impact on Pakistan’s democracy be?
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The father of Hamid (Dabholkar)

....Dr. Dabholkar’s greatest victory — a law against superstition and black magic — came posthumously.....One day after he was killed, the Maharashtra government cleared an ordinance, and in December 2013, a law against superstitious practices..... 
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To the untrained ear, Hamid Dhabolkar may sound a bit like Amar Akbar Anthony, an iconic Bollywood movie from 1977 (re-made as Ram Robert Rahim in Telegu and John Jaffer Janardhanan in Malayalam)- a khichdi that symbolizes all that is supposedly secular and syncretic about India.  
In this case however, the reality outpaces fiction in depicting the truth.

Traditionally, for Hindus (especially super-castes) it was the gotra (not surname) that was the principal identifier. We are not fully informed on Maharashtrian practices but here is an interesting factoid: If the surname has a -kar suffix, the prefix usually suggests the ancestral village or locality of origin.

Thus for example, Revan-kar - a title from the Daivajna family with common ancestry in Goa (hence termed Gomantak, after the ancient name of Goa). The ancestral village for Revankars is Rivona (probably a name change during Portugese rule). Other titles from the Gomantak Daivajna family include Karekar (Karai), Pednekar (Pedne), Haldonkar (Haldona)....

Looking elsewhere, we find Aurangabadkar (Aurangabad in Western Maharashtra, was denoted as the capital city of Aurangzeb, then Mughal vice-roy of Deccan, in 1653) and Amalnerkar (Amalner, 200 km due north of Nashik, is located in the north-west corner of Maharashtra where Azim Premji of Wipro spent his childhood, his dad was the founder of a local dalda factory). Finally, we are a fan of the astro-physicist Jayant Vishnu Narlikar and when we looked, sure enough, there is a village named Narli in Sangli district in south-western Maharashtra.
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Which brings us to Dr Narendra Achyut Dabholkar, who died for the cause of rationality one year ago in Pune (1 November 1945 – 20 August 2013). The Dabholkar title is from the Chitpavan family with common ancestry in the Konkan (hence termed Konkan-astha). Dabhol is a sea-side village on the Konkan sea-coast, 250 km south of Mumbai, near Chiplun, Maharashtra.
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Minds trapped in "metal coffins"

The multiple partitions in South Asia makes a powerful case for co-existence (which is, sad to say, lost on the extremists). Tactics which lead to polarization between (and ghettoization of) communities must end, else we will be well on our way to create a Middle East in our midst.

Take one instructive example. EMS Namboodiripad is an all-time great amongst Indian politicians. But even as a man of the left he was not averse to playing communal games. It was in 1969 - only two decades removed from Partition I - that EMS promised and delivered a "muslim district" in Kerala by merging together the Muslim majority areas of Thrissur, Palakkad and Kozhikkode districts. This was done at the behest of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in return for short-term political support for the CPM led Left Front (IUML has long back ditched the CPM and is now partnered with the Congress).

Now the IUML is demanding for a separate Muslim state by bifurcating Kerala and capturing some land from Tamil Nadu (good luck with that). So...the next logical step will be a Muslim country...right? Not to worry, people already refer to Malappuram as mini Pakistan.

All this political skullduggery has predictably led to a considerable backlash and "hindu organizations" have joined forces- for example, the Nairs (NSS) and the Ezhavas (SNDP) who were once separated by bitter caste barriers. Once the Left starts to decay, the BJP will take its place (just like in Bengal).
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Recently Malappuram district secretary of Muslim Youth League demanded the division of Kerala. He demanded a new state named Malabar with Kozhikode as the capital city. It is reported that they want a new state including “7 districts, right from Thrissur, along with the inclusion of Mahi and the Nilagiri district of Tamil Nadu.". The justification for the demand is that "it will be the sole solution" that will "help in the progress of the region." 
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No good comes out of creating divisions within people (usually done for winning political power). Neighbors should not have to meet purity tests. And when one identity (religious) becomes too strong, then people will suffer, minorities for sure, but even people from the dominant faith.  

The stowaways who were just now rescued from a "metal coffin" in England have been identified as Afghan Sikhs. Sikhs and Hindus have been living in Afghanistan for centuries. With the rise of the Taliban (again), these communities face the choice of conversion or death. If and when the Taliban comes back to power (again), only muslims will be left to face the beatings, hand choppings and be-headings, while muslim women will disappear into home-prisons.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thirteen years in exile

Our history-myths (TM) tell us that once upon a time, the darling of the people, Yuv-raj (prince-in-waiting) Rama was ordered by his father Raja Dasharath (actually step-mother Kaikeyi) to leave Ayodhya and spend fourteen years in the forest (van-vaas).

Irom Sharmila Chanu is a commoner but she is equally a darling of her people. She was imprisoned on the grounds that she may commit suicide. Now after thirteen years of time spent in the concrete forest, a court has finally ordered her to be set free. She has promised to continue her fight for justice. Perhaps one day, an epic will be composed in honor of this ordinary woman.

It is people like Sharmila (also Binayak Sen, Baba Amte, Medha Patkar and others) who give us hope that India will, one-day, be ready to give the gift of dignity to people who have no belongings, no land, no water, no rights whatsoever. We have been fortunate enough to meet Sen and Amte and what inspires us so much is how gentle they are, and how firm is their spirit and their stead-fast commitment to (non-violent) action.

To give credit where it is due, the Press has helped to highlight the plight of Sharmila and her fellow travelers. In these times when majority coalitions are firming up all across the country, it is important that the Press continues to play its role as the guardian of minorities (can be Hindu...the wrong type...see the inquisition going on in Telengana, against "thieves and looters" from Andhra), to be able to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Also, now that the Indian left is on its death-bed and the Press is being corrupted by corporate money, we the people will need to stay extra vigilant.
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A Manipur court ruling directing the release of Prisoner of Conscience Irom Sharmila because there were no grounds for charging her with attempted suicide is a legal and moral victory for the activist and her 13 year-long hunger strike, Amnesty International India said on Tuesday.
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