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  • 26th August, 2010

    Southall Black Sisters campaign for two victims of acid attack

    by Sunny at 10:37 am    

    SBS - the iconic west London based women’s group - has launched a fund raising appeal to support two women from India who were the victim of a horrific acid attack. I can’t publish the pictures here because they are that horrific.

    Below is a letter they sent out to supporters, and wanted us to publish here:

    * * * * * * * * * *
    Dear Friends,

    I am writing to you in the hope that you will be able to donate generously to finance the medical costs and rehabilitation of Samar (31) and Juwariya (25) Atique whose young lives and hopes were brutally crushed in October 2009 by two men who threw a jug of acid on their faces as the women were returning home from a day’s work in a rickshaw.

    Their crime - Juwariya had turned down a marriage proposal from one of the men!

    They sustained severe burns and injuries to their faces, their eyes and their upper bodies. In acid attack cases, the victims should be hosed down gently with a continuous stream of water immediately to stop the acid continuing to burn into their flesh. But they did not get treatment for five hours after the incident because the woman doctor was threatened with a similar attack by these men and their families.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,India
    28th July, 2010

    Cameron to offer India say on immigration…?

    by Sunny at 12:23 am    

    Huh? I’m finding this somewhat hard to believe.

    David Cameron is to offer India a direct say in drawing up Britain’s new immigration policy as Downing Street responds to fears in New Delhi that a proposed cap will harm trade links.

    In a sign of what the prime minister will today describe as a new “spirit of humility” towards India, Downing Street is making it clear that Britain will consult Delhi over a proposed new cap on non-EU immigration.

    Either it means the Tory free-marketeers have decisively trumped over the little-Englander ‘no immigration’ Tories, or it reflects on the country’s growing economic might and Cameron is just being very pragmatic.

    As India prepares to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of its independence from Britain next month, the prime minister says Europe needs to accept the shift of economic power to Asia. “India’s economy is on an upward trajectory. In Britain, we’re waking up to a new reality.

    I think I can hear the little-Englanders squealing in pain. The pragmatic free-marketeers have won.

    30th June, 2010

    India’s forgotten women - screening tomorrow

    by Sunny at 5:35 pm    

    Leicester Square screening of India’s Forgotten Women
    (a documentary film by Michael Lawson, presented by Anjali Guptara)

    Followed by a Q&A Panel Discussion
    Chaired by Dharshini David (Sky News)
    Panelists include Director Michael Lawson and Lady Kishwar Desai (Chair of “Tongues on Fire”, London’s Asian film festival, and author of “Witness the Night”, a novel that delves into female gendercide in India)

    Thursday 1st July 6.30pm - Doors open 6pm
    VUE West End, Leicester Square
    3 Cranbourn Street, London WC2H 7AL
    Tickets: £10 at the door or in advance

    India’s Forgotten Women explores the outrageous plight of millions of women oppressed in India today because of their caste identity … astonishing, never-seen-before evidence of domestic violence, dowry crime, sex selective abortion, female infanticide, bonded labour, rape, temple prostitution, and human trafficking.
    Clips viewable here
    More info here

    Am going to this tomorrow.

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    19th June, 2010

    Anupam Kher pulls out of Bollywood Hitler film

    by Rumbold at 2:14 pm    

    Anupam Kher, who was due to play Hitler in a Bollywood film showing the dictator’s ‘love for India’, has pulled out of the main role after an adverse public reaction:

    The project drew protests from Jewish groups in India and outside and was condemned by historians.

    “Thanks for your varied reactions to my opting out of Hitler. After 400 films in 26 years I have the right to be wrong and still be happy,” the actor wrote on Twitter.

    In a statement to news agency Reuters, Mr Kher said: “Considering the ill-will that the project is generating among my fans, I wish to withdraw from it as I respect their sentiments.”

    The problem with the film is that it is completely inaccurate historically (even more so than Braveheart), which Anupam Kher doesn’t seem to have understood. What this film has done though is (unintentionally) taught a number of people about Hitler’s attitudes to India, which they might not have been aware of beforehand. To quote Alex von Tunzelmann once again:

    Hitler never supported Indian self-rule. He advised British politicians to shoot Gandhi and hundreds of other leaders of the freedom struggle. Repeatedly, he expressed support for British imperialism. He only regretted that it was not harsh enough. “If we took India,” he once threatened, the Indian people would soon long for “the good old days of English rule”.

    Filed under: Culture,History,India
    13th June, 2010

    Hitler goes to Bollywood

    by Rumbold at 4:16 pm    

    Alex von Tunzelmann reports on the news that an Indian film director is planning to make a film about Hitler, with Anupam Kher (best known to Western audiences as the dad from ‘Bend it Like Beckham’) as Adolf. It is billed as a serious film (which, given the possibilities of song and dance numbers, is quite a shame), and is titled ‘Dear Friend Hitler’. The director chose the title because of Hitler’s alleged fondness for India and his role in helping to end British rule of India. That Hitler was a friend of India is historically illiterate. As Alex points out:

    Hitler never supported Indian self-rule. He advised British politicians to shoot Gandhi and hundreds of other leaders of the freedom struggle. Repeatedly, he expressed support for British imperialism. He only regretted that it was not harsh enough. “If we took India,” he once threatened, the Indian people would soon long for “the good old days of English rule”.

    The second world war did fatally weaken Britain’s grip on her empire, but it was America who pressed the moral case for it to be dismembered, not Germany. The director was also swayed by Hitler’s alliance with Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, which worked with the Japanese forces in an attempt to invade the then British-ruled India:

    In fact, the Nazi regime’s disgust when Bose became romantically involved with a German woman revealed its true feelings. Hitler was happy to let Bose’s recruits die fighting the British. But he never stopped believing that Indian people were racially inferior to white Europeans, and that any attempt at Indian independence would inevitably lead to reconquest by a “superior” race.

    (Hat-Tip: KJB)

    Filed under: Culture,History,India
    15th March, 2010

    Modi not off the hook yet

    by Rumbold at 4:54 pm    

    Narenda Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, has been summoned to yet another investigation into the 2002 massacres in the state which he rules. Mr. Modi, who is a member of the BJP, has long escaped any criminal charges for his widely alleged role in the 2002 massacres, where Gujarati authorities were thought to have helped Hindu mobs massacre thousands of Muslims after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims accidently caught on fire, killing fifty of them:

    Last year, the court ordered that the role of Mr Modi, a leading member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), should be investigated, particularly in connection with the murder of Mr Jafri and nine other specific cases.

    The court was acting on a petition filed by Mr Jafri’s widow. Narendra Modi is one of more than 60 people who have been named as co-accused. In the past the Supreme Court has criticised the government of Gujarat for failing to protect its Muslim citizens.

    Given the lamentable record of bringing important figures to justice for the 1984 massacres of Sikhs to justice however, it seems likely that those involved in co-ordinating the massacre of Muslims in 2002 will continue to remain at large.

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    11th March, 2010

    Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah

    by Rumbold at 9:47 am    

    On Tuesday evening I attended the UK book launch of Jaswant Singh’s biography of Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. The buzz around the book had been created by the reaction to it in India. One state banned it (no prizes for guessing who runs that state) and Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP as a result of writing it, despite being a former defence minister and a current MP.

    Mr. Singh’s crime? To have absolved Jinnah from some of the blame for partition and instead criticised Nehru and Vallabhai Patel. Not that this was a one-sided book, as the British, Jinnah, and Congress rightly all come in for plenty of criticism. Mr Singh bemoans the failure of all sides to step back from the detail and take in the bigger picture, which is fair to a certain extent, but fails to take into account that at this point the devil really was in the detail.

    The book was well sourced and contained some material I hadn’t come across before. It calls for both India and Pakistan to have a greater understanding of one another’s ‘growing pains’ in the immediate aftermath of partition. It is written in a nice style, but I was disappointed with his reluctance to only briefly touch on the impact Jinnah has had on India’s psyche today. As we have seen with the treatment of minorities in India (such as the Sikh massacres of 1984), India in some senses still hasn’t come to terms with minorities who are aggressively or confidently pushing for reform or more autonomy. Somewhat of a generalisation perhaps, but with ongoing conflict in areas like Kashmir and the Naxalite heartlands, it is still an important topic.

    Continue Reading...
    3rd February, 2010

    Dr. Mitu Khurana: an update

    by Rumbold at 7:54 pm    

    Dr. Mitu Khurana’s final court date for custody of her children is approaching. Some of you may remember Mitu’s story, but for those who don’t, I have added in background detail.

    Dr. Mitu Khurana is a brave woman. She struggled against her husband and her in-laws years ago when she was pregnant. They slipped eggs into her food, knowing she was allergic to them. Other times they denied her food and water. Her crime? To have become pregnant with two daughters and refused to abort them. In August 2005 she gave birth, but the pressure did not stop. It was suggested that she give her children up for adoption, while her mother-in-law once shoved her then four month old daughter down the stairs.

    In March 2008 Dr. Mitu was thrown out of her house by her husband, who is also a doctor. The next month she went back to their home only to discover that while ill (and in hospital), doctors had illegally performed a test to determine the sex of the foetus. Sex determination tests are illegal in India, as a response to the major imbalance between the sexes. There are 107 men for every 100 women in India, which translates to a gap of tens of millions. This is largely the result of abortion and the killing of female children. Many women go along with these tests, or even instigate them, but Dr. Mitu did not stay silent. She spoke out and filed a complaint with the Women’s Commission and various NGOs, and became the first woman to file a complaint under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act in Delhi.

    Continue Reading...
    23rd January, 2010

    Drug addiction and trafficking in Punjab

    by Sunny at 5:02 am    

    Interesting report from Al-Jazeera. I’ve been to Amritsar a few times and didn’t realise the incidents of drug abuse were that high. Really? I’m somewhat doubtful without official figures. Nevertheless - she’s got some excellent footage and interviews.

    via The Langar Hall

    PS: TLH also says a local Sikh charity in the US, focusing on victims of domestic violence, needs your help to get a big pot of cash to carry on!

    How? You just need to log on to Facebook and vote for it! If you need more info, it’s here.

    22nd January, 2010

    Pakistan and the IPL

    by Rumbold at 2:26 am    

    Indo-Pak relations have soured once again after the Indian Premier League’s auction of cricket players failed to produce a single bid for a Pakistani cricketer. This was in spite of the fact that Pakistan can boast some of the world’s top cricketers. One IPL grandee claimed it was because they were unsure whether or not they could get visas for Pakistan players. Yet surely the Indian government could have confirmed or denied this before the auction? More plausible was the reason given by an unnamed source:

    But another franchise official – who said there had been no formal ban by the Indian authorities – told the Hindustan Times: “The IPL is a commercial proposition, owned by businessmen and no one wanted to risk upsetting the government.”

    Is if this true, then it is wrong-headed on a number of levels. Apart from the sporting angle, diplomatically it is also foolish, as it has antagonised Pakistan for no reason. Sport can be a divider (see Egypt and Algeria), but more often than not it brings them a bit closer (‘soft diplomacy’). I can’t see the rationale behind it.

    Filed under: India,Pakistan,Sports
    14th January, 2010

    Indian season on Channel Four

    by Rumbold at 5:22 pm    

    Channel Four’s ‘Indian season’ has come into for plently of criticism, as Sunny and others have pointed out the focus on the Mumbai slums. This does seem to be excessive, and does smack to a certain extent of ‘poverty porn’. It clearly does not show the whole of India.

    Yet could an ‘Indian season’ ever be created which is representative of India as a whole? Take Britain, a country with around 6% of India’s population. Could a ‘British season’ be made which reflects Britain? Would it involve binge drinking and chips, the X-Factor and Facebook, the Queen and Churchill? There are always going to be problems with trying to do such a series, as choices will inevitably involve some sort of stereotyping, or else be so eclectic as to not be representative at all. Channel Four made mistakes by focusing too much on slums, and in the way it advertised the series (with stereotypical Indian images), but it never would have been perfect.

    Filed under: India,Media
    13th December, 2009

    Trouble in Ludhiana

    by Rumbold at 6:48 pm    

    For much of December, the city of Ludhiana in the Punjab has been racked by religious and state conflict. It began with an event by Ashutosh Maharaj, a self-proclaimed ‘perfect master’ who held a samagam (a gathering), just after one had been held by Sant Baba Jaswant Singh, a notable Sikh religious figure. Mr. Maharaj claims to be a reincarnation of various religious leaders (such as Jesus and Guru Gobind Singh), and had offended Sikhs by telling them they should consider him as their guru, rather than the Guru Granth Sahib. Sadly, a number of people took this individual seriously, and some Sikhs began to protest in the streets.

    The police were called out in order to keep the demonstrators away from the samagam, but instead the situation descended into violence. The police allegedly fired on the protestors with live ammunition (they certainly fired into the air). Official reports claim that one protestor was killed and over a dozen injured, whilst others report at least seven dead and dozens injured. The Sikh Channel showed footage of police brutally beating protestors, while police claim they were forced to fight back. Regional politics also seems to be playing a part, with the BJP (an ally of the Akali Dal party, which rules the state) backing Ashutosh Maharaj.

    Ludhiana has also been suffering from unrelated violence due to tensions between migrant workers and the police, who torched police cars after complaining that not enough had been done to protect them from robbers who were targeting them.

    8th December, 2009

    Afghanistan, Sikhs and 1984

    by Sunny at 2:16 pm    

    Two feminist cases for staying in Afghanistan: Why Feminists Love the Surge and also - A Feminist Case for War?

    Meanwhile, Parvinder informs us that the National Union of Journalists has backed the Justice for (Sikh victims of) 1984 campaign.

    Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) will support a campaign to seek justice for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India. The union passed a motion at the annual delegate meeting in Southport, proposed by Parvinder Singh of the Book Branch, expressing ‘alarm’ that after 25 years, “none of the key perpetrators have been brought to justice”.

    Well done!

    2nd December, 2009

    Why Obama made the right decision on Afghanistan

    by Sunny at 9:21 am    

    Obama has finally announced his plans with regards to Afghanistan. His plans are outlined here.

    Why I like it:
    1. He didn’t blindly heed General McChrystal’s view that chucking troops at Afghanistan will solve the problem.

    2. Announced July 2011 as the date when U.S. forces in Afghanistan will begin handing over security responsibilities to Afghan soldiers and policemen. It’s good he recognises the importance of training up Afghanis to deal with the Taliban - but I feel that’s too early. We’ll have to see, as so far it’s only a tentative goal.

    3. He recognises that the Hamid Karzai govt has become deeply corrupt and unless that is addressed - chucking money and troops won’t work.

    4. It’s enough time for Pakistan to work on and sort out its own Taliban problem - which really is the main issue here. Without Pakistan, the Taliban cannot survive. If Pakistan manages to completely pulverise the Taliban then they won’t be as much of a menace in Afghanistan.

    5. Civilian aid to Afghanistan will be restructured to epmhasise agricultural development instead of big reconstruction projects to revitalise its economy.

    The criticisms:
    1. The problem is Pakistan too. I don’t think they’ve quite given up the idea of controlling Afghanistan, or at least preventing it from having Indian influence. So the tendency to use the Taliban to control Afghanistan continues unless it is offered some incentive not to.

    To that extent - my main criticism is that India and Pakistan should have been brought closer into the equation. Unless they both also worth to strengthen the current Afghani government against the Taliban - this surge won’t work for very long.

    These documents, which illustrate that the Soviets faced the same problems in the 80s, make the same point: that the Soviets failed because they couldn’t bring in an international coalition. My fear is that Obama will fail at that unless he is planning to actively work that angle once signalling his own commitment.

    2. Even then, the commitment still doesn’t go far enough. In 5 years time Afghanistan may revert back into Taliban hands, in which case the whole area will become destabilised again and al-Qaeda will once again use it as a base for activity.

    3. There is the danger that by adopting Bush’s war as his own - he ends up owning it and ultimately falling with it. But Obama has made the choice to make a sensiblle, principled decision instead of one that benefits him only politically.

    4. It will cost a lot. Around $1million a soldier - money that may have been better off spent somewhere else.

    But to the honest, this was probably the best decision out of the bad choices available to him. At this point I’m more hopeful than optimistic.

    25th November, 2009

    BJP leaders implicated in mosque’s destruction

    by Rumbold at 12:29 pm    

    Two senior figures in the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party that forms the main opposition in India, have been condemned in a leaked report over the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque in 1992. The mosque was said to have been on the site of the birthplace of Lord Ram, and the destruction of the mosque helped raise the profile of the BJP and increase communal tensions.

    L. K. Advani, the current parliamentary BJP leader, and Atal Behari Vajpayee, the former leader and prime minister, are the two most senior BJP figures named in the report. Yet given the lamentable record of the Indian courts at charging politicians with starting/aiding communal violence, I doubt that anything will happen to them. Both BJP (Modi) and Congress (1984) politicians have avoided any sanction over their past behaviour, and this report too is likely to have little legal impact.

    23rd November, 2009

    A mother’s plea: Dr. Mitu Khurana

    by Rumbold at 11:16 am    

    Dr Mitu Khurana is a doctor in India who fears for her children’s lives after repeated attempts by her husband and her in-laws to abort and then kill her daughters (he wanted a son). Dr. Kamal Khurana denies the allegations, but an NGO and other groups have taken up Dr. Mitu’s case. Her case has been extensively covered in the India media, but it has still not brought her justice or the safety of her daughters. Here is her story in her own words:

    I, Mitu Khurana, a pediatrician and mother of twin girls, would like to share my experience in saving my girls from being killed by my husband and in laws while they were in my womb and subsequently after their birth.

    I got married to Dr Kamal Khurana in November 2004. Initially, there was a lot of dowry harassment. In January 2005 I became pregnant. An ultrasound showed that I was carrying twins. Then my mother-in-law started demanding that I undergo a sex determination test. I was even tortured to get it done. My husband and in-laws would deny me food and water and fight with me every day to undergo the sex determination tests. I, with full support from my parents, tried resisting it

    So my in-laws and husband got it done by deception. Knowing that I was allergic to eggs, they fed me cake made with eggs, all the while assuring me it was eggless. I developed allergic manifestations — stomachache, loose motions and vomiting. I was taken to the hospital.

    My mother-in-law asked me many times to at least get one child killed in-utero. I was kept without food and water. My husband who began ignoring me even turned me out of the house at 10:00 one night and asked me to go to my father’s house. When I asked him to let me take my mobile and car keys as I did not want to be stranded at night at this stage of pregnancy, he said “is ghar se kisi cheez ko haath lagaya to thapar parega (if you take anything from this house, I will slap you)”. My father-in-law intervened and asked my husband to let me stay the night, and in the morning I could be sent to my parents.

    Continue Reading...
    1st November, 2009

    1984 massacre: still waiting for justice

    by Rumbold at 1:10 pm    

    Twenty five years ago around 4,000 Sikhs were murdered in Delhi after the death of Indira Gandhi, then prime minister of India. The prime minister had been assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards in revenge for the dispatch of troops into the Harminder Sahib (Golden Temple), the holiest site in Sikhism. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of that conflict, what followed was quite simply a massacre. Mobs began to roam the streets in morning after the assassination looking for Sikhs, who were all too readily identifiable.

    In some ways, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots followed a depressingly similar pattern to other, older religious riots. While the exact extent of state control is unclear, the killers were enacting out what Natalie Zemon Davis called ‘The Rites of Violence’ (pdf). Professor Davis, taking the sixteenth century St. Bartholomew’s massacres as her example (and writing in the 1970s), argued that many religious riots were not characterised by random acts of violence, but rather followed certain patterns in which the violence is “aimed at defined targets and selected from a repertory of traditional punishment and forms of destruction.” Under Professor Davis’ formulation, the rioters, while not officially authorised, thought that they were acting for the good of the country, and had some supporters/leaders in a government.

    Religious massacres were often triggered by a fear that if they (the rioters) didn’t take action, they themselves would be attacked by ‘the other side’. Thus the Catholic killers on St. Bartholomew’s Day expected the Protestant troops outside Paris to attack them. In Delhi rumours began to spread that the Sikhs were poisoning the water supply and that trains full of dead Hindus were coming into Delhi from the Punjab (where Indian troops were battling Sikh separatists). Neither rumour was true, and the rumour about Sikhs celebrating Mrs. Gandhi’s death was never substantiated, but under those conditions rumour became fact, especially as police drove round the city advising residents not to drink the water and telling them about the trains.

    Continue Reading...
    20th October, 2009

    Jat drive against honour killings

    by Rumbold at 9:06 pm    

    Leading Jat organisations (Jats being an ethnic group of around 30 million people who originated in North West India) have banded together in order to try and curtail ‘honour’-based violence amongst Jats:

    To check honour killings and violence among the Jats, the Federation of Jat Institutions, an umbrella body of 12 Jat bodies throughout the country, have called 300 leaders and experts of the community in Chandigarh on November 22 for a seminar.

    The move is considered very timely because Haryana has witnessed a lot of honour killings in recent months, raising question over the role of the the state government due to “it’s soft approach towards wrong decisions of khaps [local councils which are frequently accused of being backward]”…

    Khaps of Jats generally object to love marriages on the basis of gotra, caste and brotherhood and even issue fatwas to kill the couples.

    Given the shocking gender imbalance in the Punjab and Haryana, as well as the prevalence of ‘honour’-based violence, hopefully conferences like this will contribute to a liberalisation of attitudes.

    18th September, 2009

    No more Mayawati statues?

    by Rumbold at 4:48 pm    

    The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati, has been reprimanded by the Indian supreme court for continuing to spend taxpayers’ money on statues of herself throughout Uttar Pradesh. A Dalit (formerly known as ‘untouchables’), Ms. Mayawati commands significant support from many in that group, and her supporters point out the hypocrisy as Congres and other parties build statues of those associated with them. Ms. Mayawati might be labelled a ‘champagne socialist’ were she in this country, as she earnt enough money to pay around 250 million rupees (over three million pounds) in tax for 2007-08.

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    13th September, 2009

    RSS and Shiv Sena: not fans of Mills and Boon

    by Rumbold at 8:48 pm    

    Oh dear:

    “In the socially conservative subcontinent, where kissing in films is censored and couples can be fined for public displays of affection, women are rushing to buy romantic tales of dashing heroes, ravishing beauties and happy outcomes. Last week Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu nationalist party, called for a government investigation into the legality of romantic fiction.

    “This kind of literature should be banned. It is against the cultural values of the country and is likely to have an unhealthy impact on the minds of teenagers,” said Vinod Bansal, a party spokesman. Another Hindu party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, also called for a ban, saying: “We don’t think these vulgar things should be allowed.”"

    They must not have watched any Bollywood films recently. They certainly have too much time on their hands.

    Filed under: India,Moral police
    4th September, 2009

    More reasons why we can’t give up on Afghanistan

    by Sunny at 3:29 pm    

    So I’ve written an article for Guardian CIF on why I think staying in Afghanistan is the right thing to do. As I’ve said before, I’ve taken a very South-Asian-stability-centric view. And I think it reduces terrorism here. Anyway, one commenter writes below my article:

    I live in Pakistan right now.
    What the ‘peace party dont recognize is that the Taliban / al-Qaida really will return to what they were doing pre 2001. That is to say – training camps for would be jihadis, executing people in public, making the lives of women hell etc etc.
    This is not scaremongering – they have done it in Pakistan. The town of Mingora was turned into a charnel house with headless bodies appearing in the central square and on trees in the town.
    Until they threatened Islamabad nobody was willing to do anything about them, despite the begging of the local population. Many Swatis wondered if they were part of Pakistan at all.
    The operation against the Taliban in Swat wasnt exactly a walk in the park – but a battle in Waziristan will be something else. They are entrenched in Waziristan. So too are the training camps and al-qaeda.
    The Afghan Taliban are (at the hardest core) not people who can be negotiated with. Nor is the Pakistan establishment open to the persuasion of reality – that is to say unless it directly threatens their arses they will do nothing about it.
    What has been seen recently is an unwillingness to hold terrorist godfathers like Hafiz Saeed, Sufi Mohammad and Abdul Aziz (of the Red Mosque fame). Rather, they are allowed to go free and live their lives doing what they will.
    The apologists for terrorism are laying low right now, they can hardly do more given what has happened since May. But make no mistake, they are still there.
    Sunny is right. Any vacuum created by the sudden withdrawal of foreign forces in Afghanistan will suck the Taliban into power, just as it did in the 1990s when they appeared (courtesy of Pakistan).
    Afghanistan is not the same as Iraq. Iraq was a smash and grab raid (the biggest in history) under the cover of the so called war on terror.
    Afghanistan is the real thing.

    Sorry but I’m not going to be persuaded anytime soon that we must pull out of Afghanistan. The Taliban are among the worst religious fanatics on the planet. They should not be allowed to get back into power by force.

    5th August, 2009

    Racial abuse in Luton and media reporting

    by Rumbold at 9:38 pm    

    Recently a coach carrying dozens of Sikhs caught fire in Luton. Luckily no-one was injured, as everyone got to safety before the fire really spread. As the coach burnt however, the Sikhs were subjected to racist taunting from white youths, who said “you Pakis go back to the burning bus.”

    This is an utter disgrace of course. Yet it is the media reaction that I really want to focus on. The Indian newspapers are reporting it extensively, with the focus on the racist abuse. Apart from Dean Nelson’s Telegraph piece on the other hand, the main British newspapers have ignored it (as far as I can tell).

    This in itself is not unreasonable. A story about a fire in which no one was injured and non-violent racial abuse isn’t a major story. Rather the way in which British media outlets (aside from the Telegraph) have approached the story is strange. The BBC website and Luton Today chronicled the case, but they the odd thing is that they both ignored the racial abuse angle and simply reported on the fire. The BBC website did include a small section on the racial abuse, but it was buried halfway in the accompanying video. Although I can only speak for myself, I suspect that plenty of people read the BBC website without watching the accompanying videos most of the times: one expects to have the entire story in the article itself.

    I have e-mailed the BBC asking for clarification, so we shall see.

    Filed under: EDL,India,Media
    25th July, 2009

    Gujarat massacres probe to go ahead

    by Rumbold at 2:21 pm    

    This is good news:

    “A court in the Indian state of Gujarat has rejected a bid to delay a probe into the role of the chief minister in communal riots in 2002. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the riots which began after 60 Hindus died in a fire on a train.”

    Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat and notorious Muslim-hater, has long been suspected of been involved in the 2002 massacres. He is currently banned from the US and UK.

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    18th July, 2009

    How to get things wrong without even trying

    by guest at 2:28 am    

    This is an extract from London based journalist Salil Tripathi’s new book: ‘Offence - The Hindu Case (Manifestos for the Twenty-first Century)‘

    Near the end of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus tells the reader: “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use—silence, exile and cunning.”

    For the Indian artist Maqbul Fida Husain, these words now carry a special meaning: opposition to him and his work has now travelled beyond India’s borders. In 2006, a group of Hindu activists attacked two of his paintings at an upscale art gallery, asserting that if Muslims could ban cartoons of Prophet Mohammed made by Danish artists, why couldn’t Hindus do the same with Husain’s art?

    What was unusual about this act of vandalism was that the gallery was in central London, at Asia House near Oxford Circus.

    Ironically, even as various police officers in India were issuing arrest warrants against Husain, the then Indian High Commissioner in London, Kamalesh Sharma, was inaugurating the show, where he called Husain India’s ‘greatest modern artist’ and added, ‘Husain’s career and success mirrors closely the meteoric rise of contemporary Indian art on the international stage’.

    Continue Reading...
    5th June, 2009

    India creates quotas for women in politics

    by Sunny at 12:35 am    

    I forgot to mention the other day that India now has the first Indian woman Speaker of the House, as well as a President. Now, the government is introducing quotas:

    India’s new Congress-led coalition government is to press for a radical new law to reserve a third of the elected seats in parliament and in state legislatures for women.

    The government has also pledged to introduce a bill which will set aside half the seats in elected village councils and city municipalities for women. At present only a third of the seats in village councils are kept exclusively for women.

    Brilliant stuff. I am generally in favour of gender quotas when the ratio is too lopsided (in Parliament for example) anyway. Secondly, India has always had a problem with not enough women participating in government and public life. To simply pray that it should be a society run on merit is simply to be naive. So given the huge power-imbalance, these quotas are a good thing.

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