Posts filed under 'South Asia'

Shades of 1975: Nepal Roundup

by Rohin, on 22nd January, 2006

Just a brief summary of the events that have brought Nepal back into the world headlines, much to the embarrassment of many Nepalis.

Almost a year ago, King Gyanendra seized absolute power in Nepal, suspending civil liberties and sacking the government. You may recall that Gyanendra only came to power when the King and Queen were slain along with several others, by their own son. Since last February, the country has been steadily degenerating, but Maoist rebels have been growing in power for several years now. An estimated 12,000 have died in the last decade - a result of the Maoists campaign for a communist state. The rebels abandoned a four month unilateral truce earlier this year. Civil war.

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The sad state of Hindus in Pakistan

by Sunny, on 20th January, 2006

The idea that religious minorities in Pakistan (anyone non-Sunni) get a fair treatment by the government and other institutions has always been a highly suspect claim. But whereas massacres of Shia and Ahmadiyya groups are regularly in the news, much less is known about the roughly 2.6 million Hindus that still live there.

Over the last few months, the issue of Hindu women being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam within Pakistan has been getting increasing coverage, a move that is likely to raise the political temperature until something is done. Last month in London, a demonstration was also organised on the issue.

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Are the women to blame?

by Sunny, on 19th January, 2006

Ten days ago Rohin wrote about India’s 10 million missing girls, a result of India’s problem with female infanticide and foeticide. Talk of educating them is not enough, as the stats pointed out, because the problem was most prevalent amongst India’s relatively wealthy states and a problem with the global Indian diaspora. Who were the women in the pictures protesting against? Themselves maybe?

Shravan from Lucknow had an interesting take on the issue, saying:

I do not even believe that female foeticide is a problem. I believe that it is just a symptom. A symptom of a deeper mindset. A symptom of Dowry. A symptom of under-development to an extent that a child means two hands, and not one good brain. A symptom of the fact that the women always leaves home after marriage and goes to her husbands.
So what could be a way forward? As Rohin also pointed out, the problem is that the women themselves have persuaded themselves that they are less important and should follow the whims of the men. Shravan himself suggests:
Therefore, dear lady-with-the-banner, if you want to make a difference, do not try to fight female foeticide, because its only a symptom. Fight the issues that cause female foeticide. It will take time, but begin at home.

Stop celebrating lavish weddings where the bride’s family pays for all of it. Why, stop attending them. Stop having a silly “bidhai” ceremony where the bride is tearfully sent off to her husbands. Lobby hard for nuclear families. The older generation holds these mindsets, they should be effectively cut off from decisions of which gender of a child to be had.

Do Indian women need to be saved from themselves? And if yes, by who? Feminist men? Or maybe a million versions of Nisha Sharma?

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Faces of Asia

by SajiniW, on 13th January, 2006

The piercing eyes and torn clothes of the girl with the green eyes, convey significantly more than the thousand words colloquially-attributed to a picture. Her face, symbolising the anguish and suffering experienced by those caught in conflict around the world, drew emotions and hope in a manner few textual articles in the very same (1982 National Geographic) managed to accomplish.

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10 million missing girls (updated)

by Rohin, on 9th January, 2006

Asian women have a long, long way to go in the fight for equality. What’s more upsetting is that the perpetrators of crimes against females are often female themselves. Society has managed to convince men and women that females are inferior.

Just yesterday, a PP thread drifted onto the topic of female abortion in Asia. Today The Lancet published an Indian-Canadian study into the horrific practice in India. The Lancet requires a paid subscription for full access to articles, so I thought I’d add to the BBC summary. The study and an accompanying article by Dr Shirish Sheth will go to print next week.

The study, led by Dr Prabhat Jha and Dr Rajesh Kumar (Toronto and Chandigarh respectively), sought to ascertain the reasons for the unequal balance of females to males with specific reference to pre-natal sex determination and abortion. Across India the ratio stands at 933:1000, but is markedly more pronounced in certain areas such as Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. The study estimates that 500,000 female babies are aborted every year, for no other reason than their gender. However the study discovered that gender screening was most likely to be utilised when the family already had a daughter.

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Churchill: Let the fakir die

by Rohin, on 4th January, 2006
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Winston Churchill. The man millions of Britons voted ‘The Greatest Briton of All Time’ at the turn of the millennium, ahead of Newton, Shakespeare, Darwin and Brunel. The man who advocated gassing “recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment”.

The man who described Mahatma Gandhi as “a half-naked fakir” who “ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back” [Link]. The man who is in the news again - although there isn’t too much coverage.

Hitherto unseen government documents have been released, which detail Churchill’s stance on several issues. The notes were recorded by deputy Cabinet secretary, Sir Norman Brook, and give the first detailed glimpse into what was discussed at the War Cabinet between 1942 and 1945. They’re open to the public just down the road from me at the Public Records Office in Kew, so I took a look. The rather difficult to read shorthand revealed some fascinating facts.

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Why Bangalore?

by Rohin, on 30th December, 2005

Pickled Politics was one of the first blogs to react to the Delhi blasts, but I thought I’d wait a little before talking about the Bangalore shooting, which took place on Wednesday, so that I might be able to collect some more information.

A college professor was killed by a gunman (gunmen?) who has escaped capture; four were injured. Bangalore has not been targetted in this manner before and the Indian Institute of Science, the location of the shooting, and the city have been taken by surprise. But warning signs were there.

Initial thoughts to explain the target of Bangalore centred around Lashkar-e-Toiba group, responsible for numerous previous attacks or less well known Bangladesh-based terror groups. Some thought the fact that notorious gangster Abu Salem’s arrival in BLR to face polygraph tests and questioning about his involvement in the 1993 Bombay blasts may be related, but authorities soon denied this.

Yesterday Karnataka’s chief minister, N. Dharam Singh, confirmed that the attacks were the work of terrorists, chiefly due to the discovery of sophisticated munitions found; an AK-57, AK-47 casings, an empty automatic magazine and four unexploded grenades were recovered from the scene.

It was subsequently revealed that the government of Karnataka received a warning of a terrorist attack, from the Intelligence Bureau, which had been monitoring LeT operatives in New Delhi. They also considered Jamat-e-Mujaheeddin a threat. However, no information obtained would have been useful in preventing the attack.

But why Bangalore and why the IISc?

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The Politics of the Wave

by Rohin, on 26th December, 2005

TWELVE months have passed since the sea claimed 250,000 lives in south Asia and east Africa. Services have been held across the world, including many returning to the coastline where their loved ones were lost. As they look out at the peaceful Indian Ocean (left), it is hard to believe a year has already passed.

DesiPundit points visitors to the The World Wide Help Blog which is observing Disaster Remembrance Week to mark a year when nature’s fury wrought havoc around the world. Famine across Africa, Katrina, the Kashmir Quake and the aftermath of the tsunami led to what became known as ‘donor fatigue’. It is also worth bearing in mind today marks the second anniversary of the Bam quake in Iran, which claimed 30,000 and soon slipped from the world’s news.

Many have suggested that we can show our thanks for being safe in our homes by ending this traumatic year with a donation. I shan’t advise you what to do with your money as there are many good causes out there in need of support. However, a brief mention for Tim Worstall, who is running a smart campaign at his blog. Check it out - NO money is needed, just clicks. Google does the rest.

Over the course of this week, I shall be running a series of tsunami-related articles on my personal blog, most of which fall outside PP’s remit. However I thought I’d start by discussing the role of politics since the great wave.

When I worked in tsunami-hit areas around Sri Lanka’s coastline earlier this year, I quickly learnt the politics of the tsunami. Sri Lanka and Banda Aceh in Indonesia represent the two worst-affected regions of Asia and both have been marred by civil conflict for many years. In the past, lax government efforts in the face of natural disaster have precipitated major turning points in the histories of several countries. For example, when East Pakistan was ravaged by a cyclone in 1970, the appalling response of the Pakistani government contributed significantly to the death of 300,000. Some estimates put it as high as 500,000. Either way, the chapter galvanised East Pakistani politics and brought Independence for Bangladesh soon after.

Inside, I take a closer look at how the political climates of Indonesia and Sri Lanka have affected rebuilding lives.

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Being a romeo is risky business in India

by Sunny, on 22nd December, 2005

I have a short and slightly embarassing incident to relate. About ten years ago I was on holiday in India, enthusiastically exchanging saliva with my then girlfriend at a secluded area of a park. The ideal place of choice for a new generation.

A bloody policeman spotted us and decided that arresting us was the best course of action under the pretence of ’soliciting sex’. Wtf! I was persuaded by my gf that paying him off was a more sensible path of action than trying to use his stick to beat him. Anyway, we both escaped unscathed, though I was a bit poorer.

So why I am I relating this silly story? Well it happens all over India, but now the young populace has decided to protest courtesy of a TV sting that caught some unsavoury action in practice…

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Tiger Taliban

by Rohin, on 21st December, 2005

I’ve linked the Asia Times in my next post. When I was perusing the site, their top story caught my attention. As of now, I can’t find a great deal more to substantiate these claims.

Apparently the Taliban-led anti-US resistance, who now reside between Pakistan and Afghanistan, have grown close to the LTTE, or Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. The article claims that al-Qaeda (wait a second, I thought we were talking about the Taliban?) deemed the US Cole attack a failure and as a direct result, sent a team to enjoy the Jaffna gin and Colombo casinos and pick up maritime expertise from those salty sea dogs, the LTTE. More inside.

In other news, the latest issue of Britain’s leading Asian fashion magazine, Asiana, has just come out. Now just take a look at what sits atop their hot-or-not column. That’s right baby, Pickled Politics is HOT. The issue promises its readers the 50 hottest eligible brown bachelors in the UK, but has committed a grave judgement error in the selection of one particularly geeky, malnourished PP staff writer ;)

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Bangladesh celebrates independence

by Al-Hack, on 20th December, 2005

A bit belatedly we cast an eye towards Bangladesh which celebrated its 34th year of liberation this week.

On December 16, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered to the joint command of Indian Army and Bangladeshi freedom fighters in Dhaka after a nine-month bloody war for independence of the country. Bangladesh boldly said no to Pakistan, which was formed on the basis of religion and still married to it. Bangladeshis gave their blood to the cause of democracy and secularism, to be free from oppression and to have a separate identity for the Bengali culture that is thousands of years old.

But the victory against the Pakistanis did come with a price. The Bangladeshis will not forget that between March 25 and December 16, 1971 estimated 3 million Bengalees were killed by Pakistani Army and their collaborators, 200,000 women raped and 10 million were displaced. This was the worst genocide after the second world war.

A short history lesson there by Rezwan, rounding up what Bangladeshi bloggers are saying about it now. Read it dammit.

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When family become the enemy

by Al-Hack, on 15th December, 2005

It isn’t well known enough that most rape and sexual abuse of women happens by people they know, usually family members. What we do know is that most South Asian families would rather sweep it under the carpet than confront rape.

It is worse if the parents are not around to protect their children, as it increasingly looks to be the case in Sri Lanka, where about 600,000 women work abroad as maids.

That is a phenomenal number and the money they send home is worth a lot to the Sri Lankan govt. Sunny posted an article on ‘sending money home‘ before. But it sometimes has disastrous consequences for their children, the BBC’s Dumeetha Luthra reports.

Children left at home can be vulnerable to child abuse, incest and other exploitation.

“The mother leaves the children, sometimes with the father. Sometimes, when the father feels lonely, he will try and make use of the children to satisfy his needs,” warns Neeta Ariayaratna.

She works for a local NGO Sarvodya, which runs a home for young unmarried mothers.

The Sri Lankan government should be doing more to recognise the problem and put provisions in place, but this may be one of those cases where mothers would still rather trust families than a govt run home to take care of their children. Some efforts would not go amiss though, right?

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Rupees for questions, blogger shtyle

by Rohin, on 13th December, 2005

Sunny has chosen a great time to piss jet off as I’m working silly hours (hint hint other writers!) I briefly wanted to mention some hilarity in the Brown Blogosphere. I realise some of the gags may be a bit too obscure for those who aren’t followers of the main desi blogs, but it’s pretty amusing nevertheless.

A joint sting operation (great phrase) set by CobraPost and Aaj Tak has ensnared eleven Indian MPs. They were bribed by a phantom group, comprised of Indian journos-cum-bloggers. I shan’t write too much as it’s a bit off beat for most of our readers, but the reason I bring it to your attention is one of the questions posed, which cracked me right up:

“Is it true that while NRI firms such as India Uncut of USA, Sepia Mutiny of Britain and AnarCap Lib of Netherlands have been allowed to invest in Indian SSIs, the reputed German investment firm Desipundit has been denied permission? If so, the reasons thereof? Is the Union Government of India planning to make automatic the long procedure of permission for SSIs to import new technologies such as Trackbacks, Pingbacks, Blogrolls, Splogs and Hitcounters?” [Link]

Whilst you may not recognise the ‘NRI firms’ (all blogging colleagues of PP), the thought of an Indian MP asking about importing pingbacks and blogrolls is hilarious! Neil Hamilton never made me laugh this much.

And Anna, Sepia Mutiny’s resident looker, takes the blame for her American site being labelled British:

it’s my fault…all my “s/z” and “o/ou” substitutions…they thought we were even closer to pickled politics than we are. ;)

Lastly - following up on our Imperial College piece, the uni have cracked under surprisingly-vocal-for-Imperial student pressure and caved on the hoodie/face cover ban. I wasn’t challenged once when I wore a hoodie there, although I never launched my main plan of sporting a bulky rucksack and beard. What’s odd is that they’ve also recanted their call for ID cards to be shown. What the hell? How is that unreasonable?

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Is this too hot for you to handle?

by Sunny, on 9th December, 2005

“Oh, rosy faced one, are you the personified numen of Respect, Renown or Resplendence, or the Felicitous Lakshmi herself, or oh, curvaceous one, are you a nymphal Apsara, or the numen of Benefactress, or a self-motivated woman, or Rati Devi, the consort of Manmatha, the Love God.

“Your teeth are evenly, smooth and their tips are like jasmine buds, and your whitish broad eyes are spotless, reddish at ends, and pupils are black.

“Your hips are beamy, thighs burly akin to elephant’s trunks, and these two breasts of yours that are ornamented with best jewellery are rotund, rubbing and bumping each other, and they are swinging up and up, their nipples are brawny and jutting out, and they are smoothish like palm-fruits, thus they are covetable for they are beautiful.”

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Girl power, India-Gates and French Sikhs

by Rohin, on 6th December, 2005

Just wanted to bring your attention to some interesting stories briefly.

Vani is the Pakistani custom of paying off debts by marrying off your daughters. Three Punjabi Pakistani girls have dared to say no to what they consider a death sentence.

Bill and Melinda Gates leave Bangladesh having pledged to nurture their fledgling IT industry and arrive in neighbouring computing powerhouse, India. AIDS is at the forefront of his mind.

The French High Court, the Conseil d’Etat, ruled today that a French Sikh has a right to wear his Turban for his driver’s licence photo. The court ordered that Shingara Singh Mann be given his driver’s licence within a month.

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Bangladesh bombs evoke backlash

by Al-Hack, on 2nd December, 2005

On Tuesday 9 people died and over 40 injured when more bombs went off in Bangladesh, only two weeks before two judges were also killed by terrorists. Bloggers such as Addabaj were in anguish.

Families are in pain. Whole Bangladesh is in the state of shock. The whole world is looking at us. Bangladesh is not Afghanistan and it will never be.
Yesterday, another bomb went off, claimed by the banned group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. This time, Rewan from Dhaka is furious at the government’s inability to crack down on extremists who want to turn the country into an Islamic state.
The government should act now before these menaces cripple the country. Otherwise, soon the people will give their ruling and there will be no return.
He chronicles more reaction here. Global Voices also catches bloggers reacting in anger. Update: Siddhartha also has more coverage.

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A weekly round-up of blog chatter

by Sunny, on 27th November, 2005

Ok, so I haven’t actually done a blogosphere round up for three weeks, but I’m trying to make amends dammit. This is by no means comprehensive coverage. Simply mentions of blog entries (and two articles) I’ve found interesting recently.

  • The Renegade of Junk is furious that the Indian Supreme Court is making it worse for rape victims with their use of language.
  • Sakshi finds it bizarre that Jackie Chan wants the Asian (Chinese and Indian) film industry to “unite” against the Americans.
  • Riz has launched a new blog on market trading called Always Bet on Black.
  • Sepia Mutiny points to a Daily Show clip that satirises religious outrage.
  • Rezwan refers to a conference set up to deal with racism in Saudi Arabia.
  • Sonia Faleiro has written another great article, this time on Mumbai’s top transexual actor Bobby Darling.
  • Neha says that Global Voices, who she contributes to, is having a London meet. One for the diary folks.
  • 360 East reports on how the Amman bombings put Jordanian bloggers on the map.
  • Lenin points out the lies during Hurricane Katrina of people supposedly shooting at rescue helicopters.
  • Away from the blogosphere, The Register says there is one man to save the internet. And he is the Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador.
  • And finally, Maniac Muslim has written a funny article on Muslims at Hogwarts university trying to convert everyone.
  • Update: Philobiblion has this week’s Brit-blog roundup. Two entries stand out: Tim Ireland’s flash film for Tony Blair’s son Leo, and The Religious Policeman on executions in Saudi Arabia.
Feel free to add your links in the comments section. As ever, contact me to put forward your entries for next week.

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Coming to terms with AIDS in South Asia

by Rohin, on 23rd November, 2005

A UN report, published yesterday, revealed some shocking statistics about AIDS in 2005.

The number of people living with HIV worldwide has doubled in a decade to top 40 million for the first time. 3.1 million people will die from HIV/AIDS this year and over half a million of them will be children. Over 1 in 100 of pregnant women across Asia are HIV positive.

Here is a brief round-up of the latest from India, Pakistan and China.

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Sex! Scandal! Balls! Sania Mirza serves up more controversy

by Rohin, on 19th November, 2005

In a fascinating update to studious Sunny’s previous post on the south Indian sex scandal, it looks like Indian tennis star Sania Mirza has comprehensively joined the fracas.

Sania Mirza, heroine to the masses and at least one of PP’s stalwart staff, has come out in support of Khushboo, the south Indian film star harassed by local politicians for her views on sex. You may remember, Sania (who turned 19 on Tuesday) has been no stranger to controversy throughout her fledgling career.

At a recent conference she not only defended her short skirt but also the south Indian film star on her views on safe sex. Except that only triggered more protests, effigy burning and condemnations…

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The End of a Dynasty - Sri Lankan Election Results

by SajiniW, on 18th November, 2005

Rajapakse Victorious In Sri Lankan Presidential Elections

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