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Elections In Pakistan: What Can, What If, What’s Up?

March 31, 2013 2 comments

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues. How will the rural voter respond?

Phuttt, phutt, phut ...! This is a make or break election for Pakistan. Probably the best organized  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 30, 2013; image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk

Phuttt, phutt, phut …! This is a make or break election for Pakistan. Probably the best organized | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 30, 2013; image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk

Pakistan attracts stereotypes to the mind like a swarm of flies.

Inviting Images

Among others, civil war, terrorism, bomb blasts, fundamentalist Islam are common stereotypes about Pakistan. Some of these stereotypes are valid – and some are downright irrelevant.

For instance, more people die in the US due to gun-related violence compared to Pakistan. For another, it is worthwhile to remember and understand that Pakistan has never (in its limited election history) elected a fundamentalist party.

The different sides of Pakistani Polity  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on August 25, 2008; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

The different sides of Pakistani Polity | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on August 25, 2008; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

This will be the first time in Pakistan’s troubled history that an election will pave the way for transfer of power – and not a coup or martial law. For the first time in nearly seventy years, Pakistan has evaded the ritualized murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army.

The short-shrift given by Pakistan’s power centres to orderly elections and transfer of power is not a stereotype.

This Sauce is Different

The three most significant differences in this election, compared to previous elections are in the manner that Pakistan’s polity has acted to protect the poll outcome. It seems unlikely that there will be any significant post-poll dissonance due to three measures.

Who will do the electioneering for PPP - with Bilawal out of the country?  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 28, 2013; image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk

Who will do the electioneering for PPP – with Bilawal out of the country? | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 28, 2013; image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk

It does seem like this will be an election that Pakistan will be proud of.

One – is the appointment of a non-competitive caretaker administration at national level – headed by retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, and at the provincial level in Punjab with the appointment of Najam Sethi.

Two – Voter lists have been rigorously updated. Some 3.5 crore voter records were found invalid and deleted – and some 3.9 crore new voters added.

Three – The centre of debate is Pakistan’s economy. Nawaz Sharif is talking of an economic explosion – unlike the nuclear explosion last time. PPP is depending on an income-support scheme for the poor that they have implemented. Imran Khan’s 6-promises are all about bringing peace back to the nation. It has been speculated that the Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline agreement signed by the ruling-PPParty, is to reassure restive voters that it has a solution for electricity shortages plaguing Pakistan.

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues.  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on February 03, 2010; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues. | Cartoon by Zahoor on February 03, 2010; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Is Popularity Enough?

Imran Khan is by far ahead of all other leaders in Pakistan in terms of personal popularity. His first rally after elections were notified, attracted 1-lakh people – closer to 1.5-lakh people according to some other estimates.

Will Imran Khan’s popularity convert into votes?

In India, for decades, election rallies by Nehru-Gandhi family, starting with Indira Gandhi could attract voters for election rallies – but after 1989 elections has not been able to convert voter turnout into votes.

Is Imran facing a similar challenge? Equally, many popular leaders have converted their personal popularity to votes – especially in South India.

Look Who’s Talking

Radio Pakistan seems to be giving good coverage to Imran Khan going by these tweets.

Print media and Pakistan’s huge satire ‘industry’ however is quite dismissive of Imran Khan. Including the like of MajorlyProfound (now probably under the handle of majorlyp).

https://twitter.com/InvincibleHeart/status/317651280866721792

Many from the English-media are quite dismissive of Imran Khan

Apparently, Musharraf has lived up to his earlier threats. He has returned - to what? A nation that cannot imagine a role for him?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on August 15, 2009; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Apparently, Musharraf has lived up to his earlier threats. He has returned – to what? A nation that cannot imagine a role for him? | Cartoon by Zahoor on August 15, 2009; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Gear Ratios In A Democracy

PPP may get more women’s votes due to BISP income support scheme. Imran Khan has connected to Pakistan’s youth. Nawaz Sharif is appealing the mature male voter who wants the Pakistan economy to do better. None of these constituencies form a majority.

Finally, the winner may be the party that can get its constituents to come and vote at the polling booth.

The Players

Ex-general Musharraf seems to be n0n-starter and non-entity in Pakistan.

Pakistanis sought to drive home the point that Indians held the former Army chief in greater esteem that his own fellow nationals.

The kind of media coverage his return got in India, and the frequency with which he appears on Indian television channels and gets invited to conclaves organised by the media across the border has raised eyebrows here often enough

via Proud of Kargil operation, says Musharraf – The Hindu.

Which political unit is connecting to this Pakistani?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on March 03, 2006; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Which political unit is connecting to this Pakistani? | Cartoon by Zahoor on March 03, 2006; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Interestingly, Imran Khan’s campaign is well-funded according to some reports.

They were drawn from all over the country through a well-financed and heavily advertised campaign. But they were also drawn, they said, by a simple yet nebulous message. “We want change,”

via Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com.

Imran  Khan’s acceptance by Pashtuns, FATA, Pakhtunkhwa makes him a rare leader with acceptance across various segments.

There are concerns among some of Khan’s supporters about his attitude to the Pakistani Taliban – wanting to negotiate with them – and the decision to work with the Jamaat-e-Islami, a hard-line religious party. But the mere fact that he represents a political force that hasn’t been compromised by power works in his favor — as does Khan’s celebrity. “He won us the Cricket World Cup,” says Shah, “he built us a cancer hospital, and he’s really good looking.”

via Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com.

Will this man get taken in shiny projects?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on November 22, 2005; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Will this man get taken in shiny projects? | Cartoon by Zahoor on November 22, 2005; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Numbers talk you know …

After 2ndlook called the 2009 Indian election correctly, among many other correct calls, encourages 2ndlook make an attempt at reading Pakistan’s election.

Sixty and seven months ago, when Musharraf was on rampage in Pakistan and Imran Khan was no one in Pakistan’s politics, 2ndlook examined the idea of Imran Khan’s rise in Pakistan.

  1. It is worthwhile to remember and understand that Pakistan has never (in its limited election history) elected a fundamentalist party – unlike say, Egypt.
  2. Since none of the three main players are making a fundamentalist Islamic pitch, this factor will affect no one – except some fringe parties.
  3. What if Imran-PTI consolidate the fringe-parties vote banks – and eat into PPP+PMLN? To me this model of voter behaviour, seems more likely than the static vote bank of PPP+PMLN theory.
  4. In this election, the main contenders, as per opinion polls in descending order are Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN (32%), Imran Khan’s PTI (18%) and Zardari’s PPP (14%).
  5. Not many have tried to make a model for opinion polls in Pakistan – which remain unreliable and have limited value. With this caveat made, raw data seems to suggest that PMLN-Nawaz Sharif are in a pole position for this election.
  6. Most of election analysis stops at Pakistan’s urban centres – while 60% of Pakistani voters are rural. Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore Metro Bus implementation in 11-months has made many political parties nervous. But will the rural Pakistani be impressed?
  7. Will PPP’s BISP attract more rural voters than Imran’s tsunami? Remember, how Chandrababu Naidu paid a price for ignoring the rural voter.
  8. After the fresh voter enrollment, nearly half of Pakistani voters now listed, have not voted before. Since most of these young voters are young, they are likely to be drawn towards Imran-PTI.
  9. Will the Lahore Metro make a difference to Nawaz Sharif? Outside Lahore? Seems unlikely.

Keeping the above factors in mind, what are the likely outcomes.

In the name of the poor and dispossessed ... |  Cartoon by Zahoor on September 02, 2008; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

In the name of the poor and dispossessed … | Cartoon by Zahoor on September 02, 2008; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Scenario-1

Imran-PTI emerge as the single-largest party, with a thin majority – or miss becoming the single largest party by a few seats. Imran dithers. Announces that he will sit in the opposition, as he does not have a clear mandate. PTI MPs defect or PTI splits. Most likely PPP wins over the defector faction. Makes a claim to form government. Zardari agrees. Protests engulf Pakistan.

Scenario-2

As per opinion polls, PMLN emerges as the single largest party. Wins over MPs from PTI-Imran and others. Forms government.

Scenario-3

Opposite of opinion polls, PPP emerges as the single largest party – riding on women’s vote. Wins over MPs from PTI-Imran, PMLN and others. Forms government.

Senario-4

One of the three main parties gets a parliamentary majority – and forms the government. Seems like the most unlikely scenario.

Seemingly, Imran is preparing for a narrow victory. Most importantly, is Imran preparing for a narrow loss?


China:The Limits of Central Control

Chinese Govt drives a consensus with regional govts – using mostly persuasion, sometimes post-facto ratification, rarely central diktat..

China lifts Uncle Sam; cartoon by rodrigo; on September 02, 2009  Published at www.expresso.pt on August 25th, 2009; source & courtesy - toonpool.com

China lifts Uncle Sam; cartoon by rodrigo; on September 02, 2009 Published at http://www.expresso.pt on August 25th, 2009; source & courtesy – toonpool.com

China’s governance, in reality is contrary to the image widely projected or popularly understood.

Instead of a monolithic, unitary, autocratic dictatorship the Chinese central Government drives a consensus with regional governments – using mostly persuasion, sometimes by post-facto ratification, rarely by central diktat.

Smoke On Water

Probably the worst example of Chinese governance is production and promotion of tobacco smoking by regional governments. As cigarettes are a large part of the revenue for regional governments, cigarette smoking has been passively encouraged. Sometimes even actively.

China’s expenditure on internal policing and law & order is larger than China’s defense expenditure. If the control of the China’s central government was so strong, why is its expenditure on internal security so high?

There are many other elements to the Chinese puzzle.

Bit by bit

Earlier posts had examined the Chinese economy that thrived on exports for the last nearly twenty years aided by and supported with a cheap yuan. Will China go the Japan way?

The mysterious manner in which the Buddhist monk has disappeared from Chinese movies is an ominous feature. Especially when the Buddhist monk has been replaced by gangsters. To this add, how Tibetan protests in the form of self-immolation by priests and nuns have unnerved the Chinese administration.

Coming to foreign policy, Indian media paints a unreal picture of the Chinese threat. Even in the past, in the 1965 and the 1971 India-Pakistan Wars, China  maintained a distant attitude towards Pakistan, providing little more than verbal support to Pakistan. Indian Navy in the South China Sea, in alliance with Vietnam, is a significant counter-measure to aggressive posturing by China in the Indian North East.

Catching on and catching up with the emerging China picture.

The reality is that power in China is much less concentrated than it was in the days of Mao and Deng.

Far from being the all-powerful behemoth that some in the west admire for its omnipotence, the central government can often be oddly ineffectual and powerless.

A slightly frivolous but nonetheless instructive example is the government’s complete ban on the construction of golf courses that has been in place since 2004.

Since then the number of golf courses in China has nearly quadrupled. The point is that Beijing produces many well-intentioned laws and regulations that are often not implemented or enforced unless they directly align with the interests of cadres at the lower levels of state power.

The central government can impose its will and mobilise the nation when it absolutely has to but it uses up an enormous chunk of political capital every time it does that.

Because of this, China’s leaders tend to spend a lot of time giving positive speeches but they only really swing into action when faced with a serious crisis.

A good example was the Sars epidemic that emerged from southern China almost exactly 10 years ago and presented the now outgoing administration of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao with their first big test at the outset of their time in office.

After trying first to cover it up they finally responded by mobilising the entire country and eventually brought the disease under control. Mr Xi and his team have not yet been tested with their equivalent of a Sars moment but when they are it will provide more of an insight into their ability to govern the world’s most populous nation

via Xi’s task exposes limits of central control – FT.com.


Does The State Have A Right To Decide Children Names?

February 17, 2013 2 comments

Talking of names, in parts of the Free World, names are State policy. Progressive, liberal and modern West.

M

any years ago, on a visit to Odisha, I met a gentleman named Duryodhana Nayak. At that time, to me Mahabharata was not itihaas but mythology. I could not imagine or fathom why any parents would name their child after Duryodhana.

The reason I found later, was that Duryodhana married a princess, the daughter of Chitrangadha, the Kalinga king. Kalinga part of the five eastern kingdoms, that included: Anga (east, central Bihar), Vanga (southern West Bengal and Bangladesh), Kalinga (Sea shore of Odisha), Pundra (western Bangladesh and West Bengal, India), Suhma (north-western Bangladesh and West Bengal).

Subsequent search showed that Odisha has many more Duryodhanas. I could find Duryodhana Rout, Duryodhana Kuanr, Duryodhana Singh, Duryodhana Bisoi, Duryodhana Mangaraj, Duryodhana Biswal, a minister named Duryodhana Majhi, Duryodhana Pradhan, Duryodhana Dehury, Duryodhana Mahapatra, Duryodhana Kanhar, Duryodhana Das, Duryodhana Jena, Duryodhana Roy, Duryodhana Samanata, Duryodhana Behera, Duryodhana Satapathy, Duryodhana Das – and Duryodhana Nayak who I met.

Talking of names, in parts of the Free World, names are State policy. In the Progressive, liberal and modern West.

A 15-year-old is suing the Icelandic state for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother. The problem? Blaer, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic, is not on a list approved by the government.

Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. In a country comfortable with a firm state role, most people don’t question the Personal Names Register, a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules and that officials maintain will protect children from embarrassment. Parents can take from the list or apply to a special committee that has the power to say yea or nay.

In Blaer’s case, her mother said she learned the name wasn’t on the register only after the priest who baptized the child later informed her he had mistakenly allowed it.”I had no idea that the name wasn’t on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from,” said Bjork Eidsdottir, adding she knew a Blaer whose name was accepted in 1973. This time, the panel turned it down on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland’s revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness.

Given names are even more significant in tiny Iceland that in many other countries: Everyone is listed in the phone book by their first names. Surnames are based on a parent’s given name. Even the president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is addressed simply as Olafur.

Blaer is identified as “Stulka” — or “girl” — on all her official documents, which has led to years of frustration as she has had to explain the whole story at the bank, renewing her passport and dealing with the country’s bureaucracy.

Her mother is hoping that will change with her suit, the first time someone has challenged a names committee decision in court.Though the law has become more relaxed in recent years — with the name Elvis permitted, inspired by the charismatic rock and roll icon whose name fits Icelandic guidelines — choices like Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected outright because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet.

The board also has veto power over people who want to change their names later in life, rejecting, for instance, middle names like Zeppelin and X.

via Icelandic girl fights for right to her own name.


 

Mother Teresa’s Legacy: Under a Cloud

January 31, 2013 5 comments

Why this strange acceptance towards Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India?

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud  |  Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud | Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Mother Teresa raised millions, if not billions in the name of Kolkatta’s poorest – and India’s poor.

From this exhibition of India’s poor and poverty, less than 7% of the total ‘take’ was spent on people in whose name this money was raised.

If any Muslim ‘missionary’ had done this, wonder what level of outrage this country would have felt.

But Indians have developed a strange acceptance towards this kind of Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India.

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy - http://www.chrysalis.com.au)

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy – http://www.chrysalis.com.au)

For years now, there has been a malignant growth of Christian-Western NGO funding – known and documented for the last 8 years – at least.

Coming back to Mother Teresa.

Social workers all around the world have drawn inspiration from her work and commitment to her cause. Yet, today in her centennial year, her legacy has lost its shine and is in disrepair. Located in one of the lanes of Taltala, home to lower class workers in west Kolkata, it is calm and pious, a world away from the cacophony outside on the busy A.J.C. Bose road.

But the cacophony is threatening to spill inside the Missionaries. Followers and volunteers are questioning the quality of service given in the care centres. They feel the Missionaries’ care centres are allergic to using modern-day therapy and technology to care for the inhabitants. Often untrained volunteers are given tasks that would normally require one to be trained in medicine and therapy. Missionaries has always kept change at bay. But in a world where it is very difficult to hide behind secrecy, the number of disillusioned followers is increasing. Missionaries doesn’t keep a tab on the financial transactions that take place. No one other than the sisters knows where the money that is donated is spent. Donations continue to pour in but people are asking for transparency on how the money is used.

The discord is most pronounced in the first home that Mother Teresa set up in 1952 — Nirmal Hriday, the Home for Dying Destitutes. A former rest house for followers from the nearby temple of Goddess Kali, the Home is a perfect picture for the work that Missionaries is known for. Disabled, disfigured and homeless men and women, many of whom are living their last days, find shelter here. It presently has 99 inmates, served by six sisters and dozens of volunteers, mostly young foreigners. The poor are bathed, clothed and fed until they recover and leave, or die. “Over the years, 86,170 people have been admitted. Of which 34,815 died,” says Sister Glenda, the head of Nirmal Hriday. It was Mother’s favourite home.

It is the kind of work that inspired Hemley Gonzalez, who lived on the other side of the world in Miami, United States. A migrant from Cuba, Gonzalez had grown up in a poor neighbourhood and was inspired after reading a biography of Mother Teresa. Gonzales, who runs a real estate business in Miami, reached Kolkata in December 2008 and stayed for two months.

“I was shocked to see the negligence. Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had chance to live if given proper care,” says Hemley. He narrates incidents of an untrained volunteer wrongly feeding a paralysed inmate, who choked to his death; and another where an infected toe of an inmate was cut without anesthesia. “I have decided to go back to Kolkata to start a charity that will be called ‘Responsible Charity.’ Each donation will be made public and professional medical help will be given,” says Hemley, who now runs a campaign on Facebook called ‘Stop Missionaries of Charity,’ and has over 2,000 members.

“We should remember that Mother Teresa was clear that Missionaries of Charity was not operating a hospital. The homes are to serve the poor and give them the basic needs,” says Sunita Kumar, wife of former India Davis Cup coach Naresh Kumar and one who has been working with Missionaries’ sisters for over four decades.

But this reasoning that has evoked harsh reactions. “What stops them from starting a hospital? Surely, money is not a problem,” asks Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based critic of Missionaries of Charity. Chatterjee wrote a controversial book Mother Teresa – The Final Verdict in 2002 and collaborated with British writer and well known Mother Teresa-critic Christopher Hitchens to produce a documentary called Hell’s Angel for Channel 4.
Apart from the hospital, volunteers also cite the need for a well-planned rehabilitation for the sick who go back to the streets once they recover. “Some were sent back to the streets of their own will, but some against it,” says a European volunteer who has been coming to Nirmal Hriday since 2006. She cites the example of an “old lady” suffering from diabetes and incapable of walking. “We were told she was sent to another centre outside Kolkata but just few days later someone saw her on the street close to our centre… We were worried but could not do much.”
Sister Glenda clarifies that professional help is never avoided. “Look at Buddhni Bakshi,” she says pointing to a bald teenage girl sleeping on a stretcher. “She was abandoned by her parents because the wound in her head used to stink badly. When she came here, we did tests at a local hospital that showed a tumour in her head. We spent Rs. 4 lakh for the surgery and now she is fine,” adds Sister Glenda. The initiative to get professional help, say former volunteers, is a change.
Gonzalez questions why money can’t be used to improve the service at the homes run by the sisters. “Even the inmates soiled and infected clothes are washed by hands. Why can’t they buy a washing machine?” he asks.
It has become a sensitive issue since 2005 when a British television crew filmed children at Daya Dan, a care centre, tied to their beds. Questions arouse about the “primitive practices and lack of using modern methods of teaching.” The incident forced Mother House to release a statement saying, “We value constructive criticism and admit that there is always room for improvement.” Volunteers, who come in dozens from countries like Spain and Italy, have separately narrated incidents about sisters resorting to “shaking violently” or “beating” to discipline the challenged children.
Recent developments though indicate a fresh thinking. “Hygiene has been an issue but has improved as sisters opened to better standard through volunteers from Western countries,” says Father Robin Gomes who has been working with the Missionaries of Charity for more than 20 years. At Daya Dan, which also runs a dispensary for the poor twice a week, sisters in apron and gloves (a change from earlier days) go about like trained nurses.
A bigger change at the centre is in the way the 60 mentally and physically challenged children are taken care of. “We now have speech therapists and physiotherapists coming in regularly who look after the children,” says Sister Karina, a Mexican nun who has been heading Daya Dan for one year. The therapists also help train sisters and volunteers and a few of them are sent to training institutes for week-long classes.
It is good news about some of the changes. Unfortunately, we are still in the dark when it comes to their financial records,” says Gonzalez. The donation issue first came up in the early 1990s when it was revealed that Charles Keating, an American banker known for the infamous “saving and loan scandal,” had donated up to $1.25 million to Missionaries of Charity. Amidst calls to return the money, Mother Teresa controversially chose to remain silent, an incident that is still sited by her critics who demand transparency.
In early 2000, Susan Shields, a former Missionaries sister who left the organisation “unhappy”, created a furore by saying she herself had “written receipts of $50,000” in donation but there was no sign of the “flood of money.” Forbes India talked to a volunteer in the Los Angeles office of Missionaries of Charity who admitted that “even when bread was over at the soup kitchens, none was bought unless donated.” A report in German magazine Stern, revealed that in 1991 only seven percent of the donation received at Missionaries of Charity was used for charity.
Former volunteers and people close to the Mother House revealed that the Vatican, home to the Pope, has control over the “monetary matters” ever since Missionaries of Charity came under its fold in 1965. The control got stronger after Mother Teresa died in 1997.  When asked about how much money the Charity gets annually, the then superior general Sister Nirmala in a rare media interview a few years ago remarked “Countless.” When asked how much it was, she answered, “God knows. He is our banker.” Forbes India’s request for details was turned down at the Mother House. Sister Mary Prema, the present superior general, did not agree to a meeting.

“To quote the Bible, she was “as cunning as a serpent and as innocent as a dove,’” says Father Gomes. “Like all organisations that were headed by famous people and suffer after they leave, Missionaries of Charity has a void. At the same time, the sisters at Missionaries of Charity continue the work that she had done. Every time you see the blue bordered sari, your remember Mother Teresa,” he adds.The association has worked well for Missionaries of Charity. The number of homes and sisters, despite a drop in those coming from India, has increased since 1997. Realising the importance early, the late Pope John Paul VI made sure that a council of sisters was formed before Mother Teresa died. That council, consisting of senior sisters, now runs the organisation and also recommends amongst itself the next head. This is then cleared by the Vatican. In its last meeting in March 2009, the council elected Sister Mary Prema as the new superior general of Missionaries of Charity. A German native, Sister Prema has been seldom seen publicly and few know her outside the Mother House. This, say observers, while keeping intact Mother Teresa as the face of the organisation even after her death, has also led to the disconnect with the local people. One indicator of this disconnect might be the almost complete absence of Indians among the volunteers.After her beatification, after which she is officially called Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the process is on now in the Vatican to bestow Mother Teresa with sainthood. In a 1989 interview with Time magazine, when asked about the future of the Order, Mother Teresa had replied that it was Jesus’ concern.Now would be the right time for God to take a closer look.

via Forbes India Magazine – Mother Teresa’s Legacy is Under a Cloud.


Akbaruddin Owaisi – Hindus can keep their Ajanata Ellora Nudes

January 20, 2013 13 comments

India probably has the least monuments for each century of history. Most of monuments in India were built by India’s Islamic rulers – and later the British.

On a few things, I agree with Akbaruddin Owaisi.

Indeed, apart from a few monumental temples, what monuments has ‘Hindu’ India built?

Practically none.

India in the Image Of Desert Bloc

Most monuments in India were built by India’s Islamic rulers – and later the British. India probably has the least monuments for each century of history. From 2000-cities of the Saraswati Basin-Indus Valley without monuments – to modern India.

But Islamic and British monuments in India are grandiose, celebrating concentration of wealth. Of diverting attention – away from role that rulers have to play. These monuments are symbols of extortion, of loot and poverty. Of propaganda. Of false prestige.

Probably Pakistan built as many monuments in Pakistan – as India did.

Austere Leaders – Big Actions

‘Hindu’ rulers started monument building in India only in the last 200 years or so. Shivaji had a wooden ‘palace’ – that was burnt down in an accidental fire. Shivaji never built another palace – wooden, or otherwise.

Before Shivaji, was Rana Pratap.

Anyone seen an opulent palace used or built for Rana Pratap?

Owaisi is right

Islamic rulers did build most of Indian monuments. Though I agree with Owaisi, some other Muslims don’t agree with this thinking.

For one there was Chirkan (also spelt as Chirkin), the underground mascot of Hyderabad, a “poet” of dirty ditties.

Chirkan was the irreverent break from the feudal and colonial Indian mindset – before the Indian Republic. His rhymes on Qutub minar (a phallic symbol of feudal /colonial majesty of another era) have been repeated by every school child as his very own.

Chirkan was feted at cultural events – and was a legend in his lifetime. His “sher” on a princess (the Nizam’s daughter) is repeated by adoloscent schoolboys even today.  For his ‘crime’, Chirkan was not persecuted – but banished from Hyderabad.

Forgotten today by the mainstream, Chirkan’s books circulate in the underground. Chirkan’s rhymes and jokes spread to all of India. 75 years later, every teenager makes his rites of passage with Chirkan’s jokes. Most of Mumbai film industry’s dirty jokes are a take-off on Chirkan.

The other memorable anti-monument tirade was composed by Sahir Ludhianvi. A Muslim poet who migrated from a Muslim Pakistan to a ‘secular’ Hindu-majoity India, Sahir’s dismissal of the Taj Mahal (complete work at the bottom) is remembered more than 50-years later.

With Such ‘leaders’ …

An acolyte of Owaisi, Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri went further.

Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri’s for his remarks about Mahatma Gandhi‘s statue inside the state assembly.

“The Nizams built the state assembly building in Hyderabad, but see what has happened. They have installed a statue of Mahatma Gandhi there. Who constructed it and who has been installed there,” Quadri, who represents Charminar in the assembly, told a gathering in Karimanagar district’s Jagityal town on Thursday.

He said “we” have built all significant structures in India. “What have you done?” he asked. “We constructed Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Mecca Masjid and Charminar. What have you constructed in Hindustan?”

Analysts said Quadri’s speech was planned and designed to revive memories of Nizam’s rule and the old Hyderabad state that is bound strike a chord with the region’s Muslims. “But his ‘us and them’ rhetoric is dangerous,” an analyst said.

via MIM leader in trouble over remarks on Mahatma Gandhi – The Times of India.

What is Gandhiji’s statue doing in a Nizam Palace, implies Quadri.

An austere saint in a brothel?

Further Quadri went and asked (reports The Indian Express)

“Today whatever there is in India are our signs, you tell us what your achievements are.”

Then again in the midst of slogan shouting he continued his ‘us’ and ‘they’ rhetoric saying, “The colour of Red Fort has been given by us, the height of Qutub given by us, the beauty of Taj Mahal also given by us, historic monuments like Mecca Masjid and Charminar are presented by us… what have you done in Hindustan?”

via BJP furious as Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA says ‘we built Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, what have you done?’ – Indian Express.

भैंस  के सामने बीन!

Many years ago, Owaisi’s predecessors had made similar claims – and demanded Pakistan. Making extravagant claims, Jinnah & Co., demanded and got Pakistan. We all know what is happening in Pakistan.

MIM has been running Hyderabad for more than 5-years now. If at all, Hyderabad has sunk deeper into a quicksand of bureaucracy, stagnation, public-sector sloth.

After Chandrababu Naidu reinvented Hyderabad.

But, I am sure, millions of Indians will join me in taking apart Qutub Minar, Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Charminar, Mecca Masjid – and send it with Akbaruddin Owaisi and Co., to wherever in the world, they want to go.

Free shipping. For now. Limited period offer.

The offer may soon be changed to compulsory shipping.

*  *  *  *

Sahir Ludhianvi, better captures the Indian attitude to slavery, pomp and grandiose designs.

ताज तेरे लीए एक मजहर-ऐ-उल्फत ही सही, तुझको इस वादी-ऐ-रंगीन से अकीदत ही सही

मेरे महबूब कहीं और मीला कर मुझसे, बज्म-ऐ-शाही में गरीबों का गुज़र क्या माने?

सब्त जीस राह पे हो सतावत-ऐ-शाही के नीशान, उस पे उल्फत भरी रूहों का सफर क्या माने?

मेरे महबूब पास-ऐ-परदा-ऐ-ताश हीर-ऐ-वफ़ा, तूने सतावत के निशानों को तो देखा होता

मुर्दा शाहों के मकाबिर से बहलने वाली, अपने तारीक मकानों को तो देखा होता

अन-गिनत लोगों ने दुनिया में मोहब्बत की हैं, कौन कहता है के सादिक न थे जज्बे उनके

लेकिन उनके लीए ताश हीर का समान नहीं, क्योंकि वोह लोग भी अपनी ही तरह मुफ्लीस थे

यह ईमारत-ओ-मकाबिर यह फसीले यह हिसार, मुतल-कुल-हुक्म शाहेंशाहों की अजमत के सुतून

दामन-ऐ-दहर पे उस रंग की गुलकारी है, जिसमे शामिल है तेरे और मेरे अजदाद का खून

मेरे महबूब! उन्हें भी तो मोहब्बत होगी, जीनकी सन्नी ने बक्शी है इसे शक्ल-ऐ-जमील

उनके प्यारों के मकाबिर रहे बे-नाम-ओ-नमूद, आज तक उन पे जलाई न किसी ने कंदील

यह चमनज़ार, यह जमना का किनारा, यह महल, यह मुनाक्काश डर-ओ-दीवार, यह मेहराब, यह ताक

एक शहेंशाह ने दौलत का सहारा लेकर, हम गरीबों के मोहब्बत का ऊडाए है मजाक

मेरे महबूब कहीं और मिला कर मुझसे.

– Abdul Hayee ‘Sahir’ Ludhianvi.

Translation by gyanputra

Even if the Taj for you is a symbol of great love, even though you prefer its pretty colorful setting
My dear, meet me somewhere else, what truck can the poor have with kingly courts?
The paths on which are seared the grandest Royal Arms, how can love-filled hearts journey on them?
My dear, behind the veil of this advertisement of love, had you seen the trappings of royal power and wealth
Instead of being beguiled by the tombs of dead kings, had you seen our dark homes
Uncounted peoples in this world have loved, who says their love was not true
But they did not have the means for advertising love, they were poor like us
This mausoleum, these decorations, these fort parapets, that the arrogance of kings considers symbols of Greatness
On the face of the world this is a decoration of floral vines, that has flowing in it your ancestors’ blood, and mine
My dear! they must have had loves too, those whose art granted this monument its acclaimed form
But those loves’ tombs are unnamed, untraced, no one has ever lit on them even a candle
This garden, this Jamna riverbank, this palace, these picturesque walls and doors, these pulpits, these arabesques
A king of kings aided by all his wealth, has mocked the love of us poor
My dear, meet me somewhere else.


Most Popular Christmas Present: Children Want Brothers, Sisters & A Dad

December 26, 2012 1 comment

Across Desert Bloc societies, marriages and families are feature among the rich and powerful. The poor have to manage with one-night stands and casual encounters. The West may soon see single-mother homes in a majority.

Less things - and more 'feelings'.  |  Cartoon on Dec 23 2012 by Marian Kamensky; source & courtesy - cagle.com

Less things – and more ‘feelings’. | Cartoon on Dec 23 2012 by Marian Kamensky; source & courtesy – cagle.com

Bollywood films have raised motherhood to a rarefied level – with no other competitive construct in competition.

Father Figure

My own evolving view is that father’s are probably as important – especially for children after 10 years of age. This thought was triggered in my mind many years ago, after a survey revealed that many hard-core criminals come from fatherless families. Presumably, this value of a father or a father figure to any growing child comes in making career decisions, professional choices – instead of getting disinterested, random ideas.

A few days ago, a survey of UK consumers at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City was revealing.

even Santa may struggle to make dreams come true for Britain’s children.

That’s because the nation’s childrens’ Christmas wish-lists contain a number of items not always readily available.

Father Christmas has therefore been put in a tricky position, as according to a survey of children’s wishlists the tenth most asked for present this year was for a dad, while top of the list was for a baby brother or sister.

The survey of 2,000 parents, conducted by Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City also revealed children aged three to 12 were hoping for expensive presents including a car, at number four, and a house, at number seven.But there was a couple of other gifts in the top ten which were more easily provided, including chocolates at number six and, bizarrely, a rock at number nine.

The UK’s mums may be a little upset to hear that while ‘Dad’ came in at number 10, ‘Mum’ only made it in as the 23rd most requested present on their little one’s lists.

via A ‘dad’ is the tenth most popular Christmas present for children, survey reveals | Mail Online.

The importance of this data may get diluted by specifics of UK.

Across Desert Bloc societies, marriages and families are feature among the rich and powerful. The poor have to manage with one-night stands and casual encounters. The West may soon see single-mother homes in a majority.

But, something to think about.

Single-mothers are raising nearly a quarter of America’s children.

Every story is different, but when you examine the figures, actual single parent statistics may surprise you. According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007, released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November, 2009, there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 21.8 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today). (via Single Parent Statistics – Number of Kids With One Parent).

Without families, the few children that are born, will grow up in aging and shrinking societies. These societies will need to import labour – and that is what happened in Greece, Rome, and West for most of the last 500 years.

Labour was imported mostly as slaves – but lately, it is immi-grunts.


A Fart Tax and a Pink Revolution can “Save the World.”

December 6, 2012 3 comments

A satire on the study that cows are a leading generator of green house gases.

Holy cows are 'criminal' animals  |  Creative credits not available at source.

Holy cows are ‘criminal’ animals | Creative credits not available at source.

I

ndia, the world’s largest livestock owner, recently balked at the farming gas curbs at the UN climate talks in Doha.

India is also the fourth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, and has not done enough of its share of saving the planet.  To make matters worse India industrial economy and a hunger for cars, could sound the earth’s death knell.

India’s unholy environmental infractions are not limited to its industrial economy.  As the talks in Doha indicate, India environmental infractions have now taken a holy turn, by its unwillingness to pay taxes agricultural emissions that come from cows – also known as the fart tax.

For example, there are thousands of villages in India who adopt old cows, and let them live until their old age to die.  These unproductive cows do nothing but eat, burp and fart.  They consume valuable green resources, provide no milk, and then create the deadly GHG’s that will bring the world to an end.  These old cows are therefore a double whammy on poor earth.

India should learn from the US who does not let their cows get old.  Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, both critics of India’s industrial ambitions and agricultural obsessions, love a nice piece of steak. If it is veal, that comes from a calf, that’s considered even better.  The logic is, why let a cow live longer than needs to be?  In fact, as veal aficionados point out, the fetus of an unborn cow, not only makes for the most tender veal, but also contributes in saving the planet.  As these men so deliciously demonstrate, it is only rational that a cow, a calf or a fetus, is better dead and eaten, than living, eating, burping and gawd* forbid, farting (to be fair, a fetus is not known to fart, but a pregnant cow does emit more dangerous GHGs).  Additionally, eating beef is greener than eating beans,  because beans make humans emit more gases, thereby causing more environmental damage and hastening the end of the world.  India is not only a dangerous source of GHGs from the cows, but also people whose high fiber, vegetarian diet is a major threat to the environment through emission of these GHGs.

Pseudo-scientific 'studies' for political & propaganda purposes  |  Source: fatknowledge.blogspot.in; creative credits not available.

Pseudo-scientific ‘studies’ for political & propaganda purposes | Source: fatknowledge.blogspot.in; creative credits not available.

Far too many Indians do not eat beef because of silly religious dogmas and this orthodoxy is bringing the entire planet to a brink.

The recent talks in Doha are missing some critical out of the box thinking.  Al Gore has generously contributed to this planet by starting a Carbon credit trading firm; however, these carbon credits do not extend to agricultural GHGs.  India’s methane emissions have grown from 18.85 million metric tons in 1985 to 20.56 million in 2008 – largely from “emissions” from livestock.  There is talk of trading “cow emissions” where India can purchase the credits from American cows, who not only live a shorter life, they are also given special fodder to reduce their emissions.  The villages who adopt these cows, can also purchase these “emission” credits from farmers in the US.  While Al Gore is mulling making money from these credits, or what is known as a “fart tax,”  India can provide some creative alternative solutions to avoid the “fart tax” and also prevent doomsday.

All India needs is some leadership to solve this problem.  Thankfully, it can look up to its progressivist leadership from the civil society to start another colorful revolution.  After celebrating the success of the green and the white revolutions, Indians should team up with the UN, NGOs and Magsaysay award winners, and actor turned TV hosts, to start a Pink Revolution.  This revolution should start with a simple pledge:

For every car that is sold in India, Indians must pledge to cull two cows.

Do humans have the right to decide which life-life-form will exist? In what numbers? Where?  |  Cartoon by Mark Lester

Do humans have the right to decide which life-life-form will exist? In what numbers? Where? | Cartoon by Mark Lester

While this transition is taking place, instead of wasting all the meat from the culled cows – people should participate in this Pink Revolution, and join in for a “national beef eating feast” to celebrate the saving of the planet.  Some orthodox Indians might resist, but the English speaking Indian media, with the help of environmentalists and NGOs can urge the ignorant and backward  people of India, to break the chains of their decadent past.  Hillary Clinton, in addition to saving India’s burning brides and children involved in labor, can save Indians and teach them Obama’s and her husband’s excellent culinary and environmentally friendly gourmet beef recipes, by inaugurating an international “steak eating day.”  The younger, the rarer and the juicier the steak, the better for the planet. (Younger – why emit more gas by living longer? Rarer – why cook more and waste precious energy? Juicer – well it just tastes bloody awesome!)

Once all the cows are eliminated, meat hungry Indians could turn their attention to poultry.  These poultry farms with millions of chickens are a major source of Nitrous Oxide and Methane (N20 and Ch4), both deadly greenhouse gases, that will guarantee misery for our grandchildren as the world comes to an end.

It is time that Indians do their share and save the earth from disaster.  While Obama, Hillary  and Gore show the rest of the world the righteous path, India should follow their lead.  It is time India looks forward to this progressive undertaking, rather than be stuck in its ancient and decadent obsession of protecting cows.

Such issues arise from too much engagement with the West. India should work on more South-South trade, agreements, cooperation.  |  Cartoon by Peter Nicholson dated February 24th 2009; source & credit - nicholsoncartoons.com.au

Such issues arise from too much engagement with the West. India should work on more South-South trade, agreements, cooperation. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson dated February 24th 2009; source & credit – nicholsoncartoons.com.au

A Gary Larson cartoon showed a flea in crowded “city” in the hair of a dog’s back saying: “THE END OF THE DOG IS NEAR…”

Human beings, especially Indians with their obsessions with their cars and their cows are like fleas, killing the poor dog.  India should follow the exemplary leadership shown by team Obama to help save the planet.  They really know what is right for all us and the funding they provide to thousands of scientists have earned them a consensus on these progressive ideas.

Obama and his missionaries of progress, patiently recognize that Indians know not what they do to the poor earth.  They know not that the end of days are near and their sins are the cause for this end.

Indians need to be saved so that the earth can be too.  This gawd needs sacrifices. As Indians, we must now recognize that we must sacrifice our holy cows and our vegetarian brethren for the sake of our grandchildren.

The sacrifices must begin today, before it is too late!

*GaWD = Global Warming Deity, the gawd that the climate change doomsday cultists worship

The author resides in the US, where cows are given a special diet and a short life, thus lowering the implicit fart tax and contributing towards saving the planet.  This allows him to stay vegetarian as India embraces this Pink Revolution.


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