Monday, February 2, 2015
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Cultivating Treacherous Fields
By Gulzar Bhat
"All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." These opening lines of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina sits well with the scores of refugee families ghettoized in the border villages of Sai Sector in R.S Pura Jammu. Fifty five year old Bimla Devi lying on the floor of her single storied withered house with a chequered sheet of cloth spread over legs could never walk freely or even crouch as under the sheet lies her half amputated limb fitted with prosthesis. Bimla Devi, a west Pakistani refugee settled in the border village of Bule Chek in Sai sector of Jammu recounts the day with tears misting her eyes when she walked last time without the support of a cane. "On the fateful day of October 13, 2004, I went to manure my nearby...
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Talking about India's Missing Girls
By Savita Verma
Imagine a world without women. It's impossible, isn't it? Then why is it that as a society we'd rather welcome the birth of a son than a daughter? And if there is a choice, we'd pick a boy over a girl? India is in the midst of a serious crisis - for every 1000 boys there are just 918 girls in this country, a number that has not just been falling consistently but is, at present, the lowest since Independence. Alarmed yet? The issue of declining child sex ratio (CSR) that till now had only seemed to worry demographers, rights activists, health experts and sociologists, is now permeating the public sphere and inspiring critical reflection by individuals from different walks of life. Views shared by a cross-section of people, from domestic workers to students and office-goers, who participate...
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Palestine loses millions of dollars a year to Israel
By Kanaga Raja
The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) is losing at least $306 million annually in fiscal leakage to Israel resulting from direct and indirect importing from or through the Israeli market and the evasion of customs duties, a new study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said. The study, titled "Palestinian Fiscal Revenue Leakage to Israel under the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations", finds that the estimated costs to the OPT of this annual lost revenue which is not transferred to the Palestinian treasury by Israel is equivalent to 17% of total tax revenue, in addition to 4% in lost GDP and about 10,000 jobs per year. According to UNCTAD, the study is the first analytical attempt to address this topic by using a statistical methodology based on a s...
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Asia-Pacific Geopolitics
Obama needs India more
By Ashok B Sharma
It is abundantly clear that the United States needs India more than the latter needs the former. The US has forged strategic partnership with India in the region of its particular geopolitical interest - the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean. One of the main intentions of Washington is the checkmate the Chinese ambition in the region. The document - US-India Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region - inked during the visit of President Barack Obama has spelt out the ambition for partnering support in the region extending "from Africa to East Asia." Further, the document talks of infrastructure connectivity and economic development linking South Asia, South-East Asia and Central Asia. It calls for "safeguarding maritime security" and ensuring freedom of navigation a...
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Obama: He came, he saw, he gave advice
By Badri Raina
Obama spent three whole days in India. He was welcomed like one of our own, complete with huggy hugs and the intimacy of first naming, even if one-sided, the erudite Indian Chief Executive going even to the extent of telling him the meaning of his first name, Barack, which now we know means "the one who is blessed." The 1894 triumph was mentioned-that telling moment when our Vivekananda took the Parliament of Religions at Chicago by storm and taught the world a thing or two about the pre-eminence of our Vedas. Coming as he does from the very same Chicago, Obama had had the wit to present to the visiting Indian Prime Minister a year or so ago a compilation of the speeches made at that watershed event in Chicago a century and a quarter back where Vivekananda "proved" to the semitic wor...
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Gandhiji's Martyrdom Anniversary
Sardar Patel held RSS and Hindu Mahasabha responsible for his murder
By Shamsul Islam
After the murder of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, the RSS was banned on February 4, 1948. It was banned for anti-national activities and the government communiqué (issued by the Home Ministry headed by Sardar Patel) banning the RSS was self-explanatory: "In their resolution of February 2, 1948 the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the RSS." [Cited in Justice on Trial, RSS, Bangalore, 1962, p. 64.] The communiqué went on to disclose that the ban on the RSS was imposed because, "Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by me...
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My quest for Islam!
By Nikita Singla
I was in Mysore, the yoga capital of India. In one of the yoga teacher training courses that I was attending with ten different nationalities in the same room, a fellow yogi from the west asked the teacher, "Say I have a Muslim student in my class and he refuses to chant 'Om' in the beginning prayer. As a yoga trainer, what am I supposed to do?" That had never occurred to me before. While that class ended, the question didn't leave me for months. I headed back to Delhi and there began my quest for Islam. As I began discussions and deliberations with my Muslim friends and workmates, I was intrigued even more to learn about the community which is nearly one-fourths of the world's population. It was logical that if I wanted to learn about the faith, I would start by reading its holy text....
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Obama, Manto and Uncle Sam…..
By Humra Quraishi
If you were to see US President Barack Obama's visit to New Delhi in the backdrop of Saadat Hasan Manto's letters to Uncle Sam it would have stirred you to see the backgrounders or ponder on what's in store! Manto wrote those letters decades back, in the early 50s, but even today they hold out …they hit, they make you sit up, they drill into your little head the big expansionist plans on way … And if you are inclined towards reading factual accounts then Noam Chomsky essays could fill in the gaps …Of course, there are volumes after volumes on the current situation but it all depends who has authored them. America inclined opportunists or those with their spine and conscience still intact! Though the nuclear deal is said to be through but it is riddled with relevant questions. No discuss...
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Step by step, these Muslim women break stereotypes
By Mehru Jaffer
Nasreen, 32, does not have a second name. A few years ago she had no income either. All that this purdah-clad mother-of-four had was a little experience in stitching. Like countless other Muslim women from conservative homes in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Nasreen, too, was forbidden to step out of her home. Despite living in crushing poverty she was not allowed to look for work to chip in and make things better. For the longest time she continued to forge on but when it became a matter of life and death, Nasreen decided to take some hard decisions. "My husband was unable to find work and the family was on the verge on starvation. What more could happen? We had nothing. I decided to defy everyone in my family and grabbed on to the first job that was offered to me," she shares. That opportuni...
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Will the Kiran Bedi gamble work?
By Obaid Imtiyaz Mir
Delhi goes to polls in two week's time and the big question on everyone's mind is how different are the results going to be than the last time. Political temperature in the capital has already been rising after Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) dramatically announced Kiran Bedi , a former team Anna member and most importantly a Kejriwal accomplice in India Against Corruption as their Chief Ministerial candidate. With the Congress having already receded in background of political irrelevance, it is set to be a mouth-watering contest between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and BJP especially because of the fact that both parties' chief ministerial candidates are known for their disdain of conventional brand of politics although some accuse Ms Bedi of doing a volte-face by joining a mainstream political ...
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An open letter to prime minister Narendra Modi
By D. Raja
To, Shri Narendra Modi, Hon. Prime Minister of India, New Delhi. Dear Mr. Prime Minister, I am writing to express my deep concern at media reports that the Indian Government has agreed to the demand made by the United States that its companies should be protected from liability for accidents that are caused by design defects in the reactors they supply. As you know, when Parliament passed the liability law in 2010, its intent was clearly to place some liability on the supplier. This was meant to ensure that multinational suppliers would pay adequate attention to safety standards. In fact, studies and the reports of independent commissions have shown that design defects have contributed to all past nuclear accidents, including the ones at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima...
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Ostentation is thy name
Modi's 'style tip' for world leaders: Wear a suit with your name written on it
By Emine Saner
Detail of Narendra Modi's pinstripe suit. In the glamorous and dynamic sphere of world leader fashion, one man rules them all: Narendra Modi. Like a supermodel, the Indian prime minister is said to have changed outfit three times on Sunday but it was his otherwise sedate suit, worn to host a lunch for Barack Obama during the US president's three-day visit, that seems to have made the biggest impact. He appears to be wearing a pinstripe suit, but zoomed-in photographs reveal the stripes are actually letters repeatedly spelling out Modi's name. Sadly for Modi, he can't claim to be the pioneer. The recent trend was set on the political world stage in 2011 by noted style trailblazer, the ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (unfortunately for him, in a sartorial equivalent of the misspe...
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Kashmir beyond emotional issues
By Adfar Shah
Obviously a new hope for the return of normalcy seems there in Kashmir but not before the government is formed. Although until 2005 the peace deficit valley witnessed a slow decline in the culture of violence, it picked up later and by the time 2014 ended, the magnitude of support from Pakistan, the intensity of cross border infiltration, the presence of uncertainty in valley, the number of violent attacks and even the type of targets that extremists usually executed, has softened to a great extent minus the growing radicalization of vulnerable youth. In between the years 2008 to 2010, there were many aberrations in the march towards peace; however, when the disturbances are seen from the democratic prism, political defiance or intifada are very well justified. Had it not been for the ...
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With allies like these...
By Gwynne Dyer
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in London last week, telling the Western media how helpful Ankara was being in the struggle against the terrorist "Islamic State" that has emerged in northern Syria and Iraq. Turkey is doing everything it can, he said - although, of course, "We cannot put troops everywhere on the border." Turkey's open border has become a sore point with its Western allies, who suspect that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is deliberately allowing a steady flow of recruits and supplies to "Islamic State" because he still wants the Sunni rebels, most of whom are jihadi extremists, to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, Syria's Shia ruler. (Erdogan is no jihadi, but he is a devout and militant Sunni Islamist.) But Erdogan's motives are irrelevant, because Turkey simply can...
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Charlie Hebdo Attack
A meta-narrative
By Ghulam Mohammad Khan
Charlie Hebdo, the controversial satirical magazine is creating such an ambiguous but powerful discourse that the human capacity to think and understand is slowly undergoing the installation of this new powerful discourse around the globe. The event, let me not call it unfortunate, is not so uncommon in the history of the world as tragedies even more gruesome and brutal than this occur every day. The world should not be surprised by this as a tragedy of some epic proportion, but it should learn how horrible could be the cultural hegemony and the media belonging to an imperial civilization and the formulation of certain discourses which represent the fragments (like Charlie Hebdo attack) of the powerful and later form a hyper-real meta-narrative, called the history. This is not the time wh...
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Keeping up with the Joneses
By Tajamul Hussain
Once in a coon's age when calamities, like the one that visited the capital city of Srinagar in September 2014, happen, they create stories and histories. For the flood victims what's been the most upsetting is that they're not only homeless but are/were forced to live life of destitute.... displaced and at the mercy of relief and support from government, NGOs, as also relatives and friends whom in their normal life they would hesitate to ask for help. The loss of shelter is traumatic as rehabilitation and reconstruction works are not only tiresome but call for arranging and diverting scarce time and capital resources at the cost of other priorities of life. For those that own heaps of money and gold what has been the most shocking is that their palatial houses that invited envy of neighb...
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Dispatch from Chicago
Is U.S. media covering Obama's India visit?
By Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada
President Barack Obama has already landed in Mumbai and will be attending the Republic Day parade in New Delhi as a part of 3 days official visit. He will also co-host radio talk "Man ki baat" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There are many firsts to Obama's visit. It is indeed very rare for an American President to visit a country twice during his tenure. Secondly, Obama will be the first ever American head to attend a Republic Day function in India. The fact that an American President is visiting India within less than 6 months of an Indian Prime Minister's US visit carries a lot of symbolic significance! There is a visible excitement in Indian media about Obama's trip. Prominent TV channels and newspapers are doing policy analysis and debating possible outcome of this visit. Ho...
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Open Letter to Omar Abdullah
By Shafiq Mir
Dear Mr Omar Abdullah… Asalaam -u-Alikum, Hoping that you will be fine now as you have been relieved of the burden you were not capable of holding. It was really injustice done to you by the Kashmiri people who had loaded such a burden on your shoulders without knowing your carriage capacity. Perhaps it was some sort of punishment they wanted to give you and they did so. Any way, it is good that you have completed the punishment period of six years as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. And now you are free to enjoy your life. But I don't think you have still learnt any lesson. You have again started provoking people and I am of the full belief that if you continue to do so, the people may punish you again by making you the chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. I mean, to...
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