MALAYSIA ISLAMIC FINANCE GROWTH: Opportunities abound in emerging markets

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 31 May 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Mushtak Parker

Emerging markets fund guru, Mark Mobius, executive chairman, Templeton Emerging Markets Group, put the business and investment case for emerging markets, especially in Southeast Asia, China and India, and predicted that the Islamic finance industry has a growing role to play and is set to continue on its current growth path.

Mobius, who is based in Singapore, recently gave a special lecture on growth and investment prospects in emerging markets (EM) at the Investors Forum on Opportunities in Malaysia which was organized by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in conjunction with the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) Initiative at the Chambre de Commerce in Luxembourg during the 8th Summit of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB).

Mobius commended the strong government support for the Islamic banking sector in Malaysia. "We see Malaysia as a real hub for Islamic banking. Some 23 percent of the global population is Muslim. As such, over 1.5 billion people are potentially interested in Islamic finance. Indonesia and Pakistan are the two most populous Muslim markets, and Malaysia's proximity to Indonesia presents great opportunities. India has over 150 million Muslims. We think that the global Islamic finance industry will grow at a rapid pace," he maintained.

Bank Negara Malaysia
The current Islamic funds net asset value universe globally totals an estimated $52 billion comprising 750 funds. In terms of performance, emerging markets funds in first quarter 2011 have outperformed the world and US funds. This is also true for one year ending Dec. 31, 2010 and over a 5-year period. This performance will continue and Malaysia, he stressed, is part of this scenario.

Templeton has had a presence in Malaysia since 1988 and received an Islamic Fund Management license from the Securities Commission in January 2010. Going forward, Mobius suggested that because of its ethical requirements "Islamic funds do better and Islamic banks do better." He urged some markets such as Saudi Arabia and others to open up so as to allow direct Shariah-compliant investments; greater standardization regarding structures and documentation; greater articulation of the Islamic investment proposition especially the notion that Islamic finance is for anybody regardless of religion; and creating greater market awareness of the industry.

He also stressed the potential synergies between the Islamic finance industry and the global socially responsible investment (SRI) industry because of some overlapping ethical and marketing aspects. "The Islamic funds sector could have great appeal to the global socially responsible investment market. The SRI industry can tap into the Shariah-compliant market, but it is important for the Islamic finance industry to get its message out and across."

He added that Luxembourg is a very acceptable fund registration domicile and that the Islamic funds industry was a great opportunity for Luxembourg, as funds domiciled in the Grand Duchy could be distributed throughout the region through the EU passport, and beyond to other markets in the Middle East and Asia. He confirmed that 90 percent of Franklin Templeton funds were domiciled in Luxembourg.

Economic growth, he stressed, is the key because stocks are bound to do better and therefore the economy is also doing better. The average GDP growth for emerging countries led by China and India, is between 5 percent to 9 percent. This compared to less than 1 percent for the developed countries. Similarly the foreign reserves of developing countries has surpassed that of developed countries and total in excess of $2.4 trillion of which China accounts for a substantial portion followed by Saudi Arabia (with $500 billion). The debt/GDP ratio of developed countries is going up whereas for emerging countries it is coming down. The sources of investment funds will come from ordinary individuals, high net worth persons, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and endowments. Indeed the emerging markets are in a bull phase currently.

Emerging markets in Southeast Asia have evolved tremendously in recent years. "We have seen an increase in the number of new issues and the number of investors in new markets. We like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. We think there are good opportunities for investing in these countries." The major risks in these countries are inflation and rising interest rates which will put upward pressure on commodity prices, which in turn would impact on ordinary citizens.

(Courtesy: Arab News)

180-yr-old shrine in Singapore restored by Indian Muslim community

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

Singapore: Nagore Dargah, over 180-year-old shrine in Singapore, has been reopened after it was restored by the Indian Muslim community in the country.

President SR Nathan opened the shrine - the Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre - in the Central Business District yesterday, The Straits Times reported.

The restoration project was undertaken by the Indian Muslim community and facilitated by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.

The shrine, built in 1827-1830 in memory of Shahul Hameed of Nagore, houses more than 300 heirlooms donated by the local Indian Muslim community. Other donations include a 60-year-old family wedding sari, spatulas and a betel nut container.

Restoration work on the shrine cost SGD 1.3 million. The shrine was historically a point of reverence and thanksgiving for Muslims arriving from India more than century ago.

The shrine was closed since the 1990s as it was in a state of disrepair.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Business bent deflates the sails of India's left

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Gautaman Bhaskaran

Chennai: A common joke used to make the rounds in Kolkata, where I grew up and found my footing in journalism. The joke was that West Bengal, whose capital city is Kolkata, was more Marxist than China — this in the heyday of communism. While China retained its Marxist model of governance, it was shrewd enough to open its market along capitalist lines.

On the other hand, West Bengal, the eastern Indian state, stubbornly refused to industrialize, scaring away potential investors, both from home and abroad.

The story of the southwestern state of Kerala has not been very different either. In 1957, it voted communists into power, the first parliamentary state (apart from San Marino) anywhere in the world to have taken this extraordinarily bold step in a global scenario where the Reds were treated like outcasts and viewed with deep suspicion.

Now with important legislative elections in West Bengal and Kerala over, their Marxist governments have gone. The red flags and the placards of hammers and sickles that have been an integral part of these two extremely literate and culturally vibrant regions have disappeared once the poll results were out in May. Even those who have been loyal to the philosophies of Karl Marx had seriously doubted that the communists would be back in office in either West Bengal or Kerala.

This mood was apparent at one such election meeting in Kerala that was reported in the media. Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India, struggled to keep the attention of the audience during an election rally he addressed. Those gathered there to listen to his speech appeared bored with what he was saying. His comments on food inflation, corruption and the other misdemeanors of the Congress in particular — whose coalition at the federal level in New Delhi not long ago included Karat's party — produced a big yawn.

The people of Kerala have been benefiting from globalization. It is commonly believed that one of every four households in the state has at least one member working in the Persian Gulf, though with the region's recent economic crash (especially Dubai, which has a large number of expatriates from Kerala), the picture may not be as rosy right now.

It was, therefore, quite likely that the communists would be shown the door. For, in the April elections, Kerala's Christians and Muslims, who form roughly half of the state's population, had reportedly discarded the Marxists. The people were angry about, among other issues, the attempt to cap fees at privately run religious schools, and Keralites are very sensitive about education.

The question of whether the ruling Marxist government would be defeated in Kerala appeared as a foregone conclusion. It had administered the state for 28 years out of the 54 that Kerala had been in existence. The state, which was part of the Madras presidency till 1957, has been otherwise run by the Congress for the remaining 26 years.

What may be all the more distressing for the communists was their defeat in West Bengal. The state is larger than Germany with 91 million people, and the Marxists had been at the helm of affairs there since 1977 — a whopping unbroken 34-year stint in which the Communist Party of India leader, the late Jyoti Basu, served as the chief minister for 23 years, the longest such record in India.

The communists in West Bengal must have by now understood that the electorate was thirsting for change. Admittedly, the Marxists, while neglecting cities and towns, took good care of villages. Farmers were delighted at the radical land reforms the government implemented in the late 1970s. But neglect of the urban areas, marked by an official apathy and hostility to business that led to the flight of capital from the state and collapse of textile mills, angered the elite, job-seekers and industrial houses.

In 2008, Tata's small-car factory could not operate in West Bengal because that might have displaced many from their farms. The Tatas were willing to handsomely compensate the affected, and it is a fact that the farmers were more than happy to take the money and move on.

When the Tatas shifted to the western state of Gujarat, where the chief minister, Narendra Modi, infamous for spearheading riots in early 2000 that left, according to one estimate, some 10,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead — quickly grabbed his chance. He wanted to be seen as a suave executive doing every bit to make Gujarat the epitome of prosperity.

Such follies ruined the Marxists' prospects in West Bengal, and an electoral pact between the Congress and the Trinamul Congress (whose leader, Mamata Banerjee, is now the chief minister of the state) looked strong enough to end Red rule in the state.

All said and done, the communists have probably been the only politicians with no money in Swiss banks. But their thinking has been somewhat dated.

[Gautaman Bhaskaran is a freelance Journalist in Chennai, India.]

(Courtesy: The Japan Times)

Communal Violence Bill – Let the Dogs Bark as the Caravan goes

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The Union Cabinet has approved the draft of Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill. The Bill is now ready to be introduced in the Parliament. The measure is expected to fulfill a major commitment of the UPA that it had announced in its National Common Minimum Programme. 

The Bill was first announced by the UPA government soon after coming to power in May 2004. The Bill, then introduced in the Rajya Sabha, 2006 faced serious opposition by the Civil rights groups and was referred to Parliament's Standing Committee for scrutiny.

Now the draft of the Bill has been prepared by the Home Ministry in consultation with the Law and Justice Ministry. It has thoroughly revised the previous draft and has approval of the Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council (NAC).

The Bill draft has been designed to address not just victims of communal riots, but also dalits, tribals, linguistic minorities – indeed, any community that is in a minority in a particular region – who are vulnerable to attack by more powerful members of society. Some of the salient feature of the bill is as follows:

The Bill envisages prevention of communal violence, ensure speedy investigation and dispensation of justice and impose enhanced punishment on persons involved in such offences.

The Bill moots providing relief and rehabilitation facilities to victims, creating institutional arrangement for speedy investigation, disposal of cases and empowering state and central authorities to discharge their duties in assisting victims.

The Bill seeks to provide special procedures of investigation, the establishment of special courts with powers of summary trials and day-to-day hearings as a means to deal sternly with perpetrators of sectarian violence.

The bill makes it mandatory for police to establish centres to record FIRs in riot-hit localities and at relief camps. The most sensitive issue in is the clause that calls the declaration of an area as ‘‘communally disturbed.’ The Bill says that if a state government fails to take appropriate action to prevent and control communal violence, the Centre may declare any area within a state as "communally disturbed" and deploy armed forces.

At the face of it this clause looks very attractive to the minorities who have been victim of systematic genocide in India for than sixty years or so.  But the Civil rights groups had objected to this clause because it gives the Union government sweeping powers like shoot-at-sight. To this the Central government maintains that it cannot intervene in a situation of communal violence without such provision.

The proposed draft bill faces opposition from national party the BJP and its spokesperson Arun Jaitley lambasted the bill on two counts. One, the bill protects the minorities and accuses the majority of being the culprit and second the sweeping powers to the Union government that impinges upon the centre state relations.

The first argument is very silly and can be countered on the ground that laws are framed to protect the oppressed and the minorities. In order to put the record straight, the official reports of riots after riots in India from 1947 onwards can be produced as evidence of the butchering of the minority community by the majority community in collusion of the state government. There is not a single instance where majority community can be cited as victims.

This argument of Arun Jaitley seems motivated by his ideological orientation and meant for the consumption of the Hindutva whom he represents. There is no substance in such argument.

In the second argument Arun Jaitley champions the cause the powers of the states saying that the proposed bill run over independence of the state and establishes the superiority of central government in the federal structure of the country. 

This argument is totally opposed to the BJPs ideology that vouches for a strong Indian Union. Can Mr. Jaitley make similar appeal championing the cause of J&K and northeast states of India? Will Mr. Jaitley plead the case of these states to have loose federal hold and be given autonomous character?

If the answer is no, then why Mr. Arun Jaitley is opposing the proposed communal violence bill? The contradictory nature of the statement made by Mr. Jaitley comes out of the sheer biases towards the minority community as his arguments do not pass the test of reasons.

The proposed bill neither should nor get deterred by such naïve arguments and the old adage that let the dog bark as the caravan goes applies in this case.   

The bill serves as an effective deterrent to potential perpetrators of such crimes and removes the false sense of comfort of impunity that they seem to enjoy by hatching the conspiracy of riots after riots.

It’s high time that this bill is passed in all its sincerity of purpose and do not gets diluted with the objections raised by the opposition leaders. India for long is witnessing periodic communal carnage and it is urgent to put to rest such genocides once and for all.

Therefore it’s prudent that such legislative measure like Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill should be passed immediately and made into a law.

If the bill passes into law, it will fundamentally alter criminal jurisprudence on communal violence, bringing it in line with the international convention on genocide.

A previous Article by the author can be accessed through the link to have better perspective on this issue.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

USA-Israel also Terror Twins!

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Is Israel America's most favored nation in Mideast? US behavior suggests it is. American diplomats use Israel as a gainful bargain chip for advancing oil-arms trade in Mideast. In the name of peace talks, US presidents invariably invite the Israeli fanatic leaders for special dinners and liquor parties even as USA talks about Mideast peace as a time pass matter. These top rogues in neat looking democracy suits do not even take note of crimes by Israeli state terrorists in Palestine.

An artful speaker, US president B. Obama bluffs too much. Art of hypocrisy is part of Obama rhetoric which ignores Zionist crimes against humanity since it illegal birth in Mideast. Does Obama really not think Israel would freeze illegal settlements at least to improve the Obama ratings?  The so-called “peace process” promoted once again by Obama is a two-decades-old diplomatic charade aimed at justifying Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and facilitating Washington’s foreign policy machinations throughout the Middle East.

It is not strange that global media are genuinely against humanity and they are basically anti-Islamic by intent. But is strange that USA which is a half part of USA-UK terror twins, is also the major part of Israel-USA terror twins. This code mixing is strange and genetically dangerous.

America pursues pro-Zionist policy in Mideast only to promote its economic-oil-arms trade interests in the region and has got nothing new to offer to actualization of Mideast peace. Inequality in Israel is higher than in most of the Middle Eastern countries and ruling parasitic illegal settlers’ elite has been in the grip of a perpetual fear of instability and political crisis in Israel in the face of “uprisings” in Mideast. In Palestine, Fatah party which represents the rich classes has the natural blessing of western terrocracies. The chief aim of all the corporate sections both in Mideast and West is to sustain capitalism without letting the protestors to dismantle the roots of colonialism.

US-Israel relations began with the illegal creation of Zionist Israel in Mideast in 1948 on Palestinian lands by evicting and killing the Palestine inhabitants. This is indeed a show of US-UK terror prowess against Muslims and Muslim nations. These USA-UK-Israeli terrocracies believe that joint military attacks and western arrogance are the core of democracy that the Arab nations are expected to imbibe.

Israel is effectively a part of United States as its 51st state and Washington shields the fascist regime and Zionist crimes as its fundamental duty.  In fact many nations even wonder why the USA officially does not incorporate Israel into USA. The reasons are both American and Israeli and extra alarming: Jews in Israel and elsewhere including USA think they should exist independently so that Israel can bully USA and Arabs and by being a part of USA Israel won’t be able to directly attack Palestine and other Arab nations. More importantly, Americans, including the top leaders, are in fact afraid of constitutionally annexing a dangerously fanatic Israel for fear of backlash from Jews as a major “union” ramification.

The catastrophe is that Israel has the extra capacity to expand, implode and destroy even the USA which even the mighty Soviet Union could not. This was the key consideration for the Western powers in the post-WW-II era to push the Jews into the Mideast and impose Zionist regime in Palestine.

By correctly gauging US weaknesses, Israel keeps snubbing Obama but he is still willing to shield the Zionist crimes against humanity. In spite of the US unconditional defense of terrorist Israel, Israeli hawkish leader Netanyahu publicly rebuffed Obama, declaring at the White House that any return to 1967 “lines” would leave Israel “indefensible.” The Republican extremists and other opponents accused Obama of “throwing Israelis under the bus”. Obama spoke to AIPAC—a lobby which, despite its financial clout, represents the views of illegal settlers and criminals constituting a right-wing minority within Israel.

Like India and Pakistan, Israel also wants to be seen as an equal partner of USA, the global dictator, in terror operations against Muslims. But the crude truth is Americans do not consider even the Britishers, their former colonizers and joint terror partners under NATO terror syndicate, as their equals. Still, USA keeps the most poisonously monstrous beast called Israel for its own purposes in Mideast and elsewhere!

Over decades of terror collaborative operations around the world, destabilizing many nations, including another super power Russia, Jews have gained a strong position in American nations and it system. All US dictatorial presidents have shielded this fascist regime by providing all necessary military and economic support. So much as, now America is infested by Jewish agents pursuing Zionist goals. Plenty of Jews work for US foreign policy formulations and practices, including state terror operations and they have infiltrated into CIA and other secret agencies. Further, US regime apparatus is infested with all sorts of Israeli agents.

Like  Bush Jr, B. Obama also thinks it is more than enough if he could offer some promises to besieged hapless Palestinians while appeasing the Jewish criminal gangs and does not need to force Israel to do more as he shamelessly asks Pakistan and Libya for "more" and "more". Even Israeli hawkish premier B. Netanyahu has said that  Israel “wants and needs” peace and also has pledged 24th May to make “painful compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, for the first time explicitly saying that some West Bank settlements would find themselves outside Israel’s final borders. But he once again attached a list of often-stated conditions that have been unacceptable to the Palestinians. Netanyahu's gimmick, Netanyahu repeated his flat rejection of a return to what he called the “indefensible” borders that Israel had before the 1967 Middle East war.

A terror expert, Netanyahu insisted that Israel would maintain a long-term military presence in Jerusalem- obviously against Arabs - reiterated that Jerusalem could not be shared with the Palestinians, who want the eastern sector of the holy city as capital of their hoped-for state. He flatly refused to repatriate millions of Palestinian refugees and their families to homes in Israel that they lost in fighting over the Jewish state’s 1948 creation.

Israel has rejected the Palestinian claims of Jerusalem and the fate of refugees.  Peace gimmicks being pursued by Washington, therefore, are an old known story for Tel-Aviv that it does not take them seriously at all; after all, pro-peace rhetoric automatically makes Israel the chief beneficiary of US special aids in terror goods and cash.  That is the contemporary history of ugly US diplomacy in Mideast.

Speeches of US president B. Obama, like those of his predecessors, also suggest that USA cannot remain the sole super power without Israel and prolonged  protection of this illegal entity in Mideast is of paramount importance to his regime as well.  The double-speak specialist Obama deliberately confuses the defenseless Palestinians with his mischievous rhetoric though he is fully bound by CIA dictates. A good peace maker would not glorify Zionist crimes, but Obama does it as his policy.  Then how can he also talk about Mideast peace?

Emboldened by the continued military-terror collaboration between USA and Israel, and  taking cue from Obama's own drone crimes in Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Netanyahu has effectively challenged the weak US president’s position repeatedly, ignoring Obama’s assertion that the territorial markers could be adjusted through agreed land swaps. This is an Israeli escalation for proliferation and unfortunately, it received a standing ovation in America. Israeli terrorists will control the region. So no peace! What Obama is talking about?

Constantly under Israeli aggression and genocides, Palestine has been weakening for years now – unconcerned by the notorious UNSC. Notorious Israeli Mossad agents have infiltrated in the rank and file of Palestine causing rifts and civil war killing thousands of innocent Palestinians.

So, the terrorized Palestinians have called Netanyahu’s speech another declaration of war against the Palestinians. UNSC promotes Zionist fascism as part of Western colonialist imperialism. The Palestinians, being slowly united against fascist odds, are now rightly campaigning to obtain UN recognition of Palestinian statehood when the General Assembly meets in September.

By standing behind the Zionist crimes, Obama has, in large part, staked his reputation in the Muslim world on finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Obama should be seen as a real peace maker and for this he must stop using terrible Bushdom yardsticks to measure CIA-Pentagon crimes as well as his own against humanity!

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism. He is Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA). He is former university Teacher, Analyst in International Affairs and an Expert on Middle East. He can be contacted at abdulruff@gmail.com or on his Mobile # +91-9961868309]

Over eight lakh bicycles to be distributed to school students in Madhya Pradesh

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The bicycle industry that has suffered a slowdown over the years has now got a boost following implementation of Madhya Pradesh government’s scheme for free distribution of cycles to school students.

This year over eight lakh cycles would be distributed in the state, following Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s announcement to cover the boy students also under the scheme. So far, over 15 lakh bicycles have already been distributed to the students in the state.

As part of measures to promote girls' education the state government had announced in the year 2004-05 the scheme for distribution of bicycles free of cost to the girl students who get admission in Std. IX and had to go to other village to attend the school. This greatly helped in bringing down the number of girl students who had to abandon further studies after passing Std. VIII, only because there existed no high school in their villages.

Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan extended this scheme for providing free bicycles to those girls also who get admission in Std. VI. This benefited over four lakh such girls.

Now, the Chief Minister has announced that like girl students the boy students would also get bicycles free of cost.

Meanwhile, under another scheme of the state government free cycles are provided to the Kotwars posted at gram panchayat level. So far, about 35,000 kotwars have been provided bicycles. This scheme has also gone a long way in reviving the cycle industry.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

INTERVIEW: Anna Hazare displeased to see the development in Gujarat at the cost of people

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 May 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani  

Ahmedabad: Anna Hazare – the people's cynosure, was in Ahmedabad, Gujarat recently. He was very displeased to see the development at the cost of people. Here some quick free wheeling talk that IndianMuslimObserver.com had with him.

How do you see the development and so called vibarant Gujarat?

I am not against development. It must not be at the cost of poor and weak sections of the society.The government must give some options to the people so that they can live happily.

When were you last in Ahmedabad?

That was long back, during the earthquake in 2001.

How much has Gandhian philosophy influenced you?

Very little! There were so many things that Gandhiji spoke of. I have been able to put into practice only a few of them. One thing I know is, Delhi’s parliament is not the parliament Gandhiji dreamed of. We need to replicate a model of the village parliament (Gram Sabha) in every state. Only when the village parliament is strong, will there be democracy in true sense of the term.

Central and state legislatures are secondary. It is Gram Sabhas that should be empowered. Today, after 63 years of independence, no one talks about gram sabhas, which are the smallest units of governance. We cannot curb corruption until gram sabhas are given decision-making powers. The country cannot develop if villages are not developed.

What is the root cause of corruption?

Corruption is the outcome of centralisation. The parliament feels that it owns the land for the mines. The state parliament feels the same. We ask for a legal framework that decentralises power on the lines of gram sabha. Village parliament’s opinion needs to be sought on whether a mine should be set up in their village or not. Why are the locals not involved? Involve them and you’ll see a corruption-free country.

With the increasing number of land grabbing issues in Gujarat, the state has remained ‘vibrant’ for only a select few. If you were called to be their voice, how will you react?

Arrey! How can one Anna Hazare be everywhere? Just like the entire country has come together for the Lokpal Bill, people will have to unite if they want to fight a corrupt system. Government does not fear demonstrations or rallies. It fears being out of power.

Till we do not accumulate such power that can bring down a government, it will not be scared of us. We have to create that fear. Why did they have to agree to Lokpal Bill when initially they did not? It is people’s power that scared them.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

OPINION: Are Muslims ready to throw away the Political Begging Bowl?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

MUSLIM MLAs   2011/2006

WEST BENGAL (294)    59/2011   46/2006   Increase:  28%, Muslims/'Total 2011:  20%
KERALA (140) 36/2011   25/2006    Increase:  44%, Muslims/Total 2011:  26%
ASSAM (126)   32/2011   25/2006   Increase: 28%, Muslims/Total 2011:  23%
TAMILNADU (234) 5/2011   7/2006    Decrease: 7%, Muslims/Total 2011: 2%

The above table compares the number of Muslim MLAs in the Assemblies in four states where elections were held recently, and compares it with their numbers five years ago.  The increases in the number of Muslim MLAs in 3 of the 4 states are remarkable indeed.  The population of Muslims in Assam, Bengal, Kerala has not increased much in the last five years, yet the number of their MLAs has increased very substantially.  This change in the political strength of Muslims in Eastern and Southern India is very significant for the entire Muslim qaum in India.

Sizeable Muslim populations exist in the following states in India:

East:  Assam (30%), Bengal (25%)
North: UP (18%), Bihar (15%)
South: Kerala (30%), Karnatak (15%)
West: Numbers are small. Gujarat (9%), Maharashtra (12%)

Thus if Muslim activists develop clever strategies, organize themselves cleverly and negotiate skillfully with other parties they can have good number of MLAs in several states.  The caucuses of Muslim MLAs (from different parties) can bring pressure on the major parties to substantially improve development of infrastructure, education, social services, housing, employment for the very depressed Muslim community in these states.

Not only BJP has deprived Muslims of socioeconomic development, the secular parties (Congress, Communists, SP, BSP, RJD etc)  have played the same game and have only given lip service and promises to Muslims.  For 50 years all of them won elections with the vote support of the Muslims; but all they gave us were empty promises.  The Sachar Committee report layed it bare and showed us how we have been fooled and tricked as a community for half a century.

Another problem was that the leaders of Muslims in these parties were beseeching (begging) the top leaders of the parties (Sonia, Mayawati, Mulayam, Laloo, Communists) thinking that there was no other option.  Over the last 35 years these parties never allowed any Muslim leaders to become among the top leaders in these parties and thus they could not hyelp the development of Muslim localities, employment, education etc.  Look at how Azam Khan, Abu Asim Azmi, Shahid Siddiqi, Arif Mohd Khan were treated by the bosses in their parties.

Starting a few of years ago Muslims in Bihar, Bengal, Assam, Kerala  strengthened their groups, negotiating with secular parties and warning them that not living up to promises will be fatal for them.  And they demonstrated that first in Bihar last year in bringing Nitish kumar to the front.  That strategy got much boost in the state Assembly elections this year.  And the result is there for all to see.

Obviously for Muslims to play this strategy they have to make sure that their formations (parties) that they control are secular and do not become religion-based, because that will give big boost to anti-Muslim parties like BJP.  And they should give some space in their parties to Hindus also.  The examples of AIUDF (Assam) and IUML (Kerala) are good examples of successful strategies.

Let us hope that MIM in AP and nascent Muslim political groups in UP are watching the Assam and Kerala model. 

One thing is for sure.  the begging to bosses in secular parties did not help.  What seems to finally work is a strategic negotiation and forming our own political groups.  So are the Muslims finally ready to throw away the political begging bowl and start developing innovative strategies to stand on their own feet?  Let us hope so.

Let us remember that if Sikhs can do it, if Dalits can do it, why can the Muslims not do it?

[Kaleem Kawaja is President of Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC. He can be reached on kaleemkawaja@gmail.com]

Islamic Fiqh Academy holds Seminar on “Relevance of Islamic Law in the contemporary world”

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

“Guidance of Qur’an is for whole of humanity” Justice J.S.Verma

By Salar M. Khan

New Delhi: “Guidance of Holy Qur’an is for the whole of humanity and Sura Al Fatiha, the opening chapter of Holy Qur’an or ummul Qur’an, itself makes it obvious when the prayer in this Sura uses expression Rabbul Alameen and not  Rabbul Muslimeen,” said Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of India. He was delivering valedictory address on Sunday (May 29, 2011) at a seminar on “Relevance of Islamic Law in the contemporary world” organized by the Islamic Fiqh Academy (India) here.

Justice Verma said that the basic essence of right human conduct was righteousness, which was also called Dharma. He said that his understanding of Islamic law provisions got further enriched and his conviction about the rationale of Islamic law provisions and their harmony with overall scheme of human life got further strengthened by interacting with the Ulema in the seminar.

In his address, Justice Verma stressed, “We must continue to perform our duties and should promote pluralism in this country.”

He urged the Islamic Fiqh Academy to promote better understanding about Islam and Islamic law that would usher in an era of harmony, justice and equity in the country.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, General Secretary, Islamic Fiqh Academy (India) explained the rationale behind the various provisions of Islamic law pertaining to some of the most misunderstood concepts of Islamic Family laws.

Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani also pointed that the Islamic system was basically a system wherein weak persons felt empowered. He said that this system of law was an integrated whole and taking one provision out of context and criticizing it for some supposed inadequacies was not fair. “Islamic law provisions must be seen in the context of the values that Islam seeks to promote for welfare of humanity,” he said.

A host of Ulema, Muftis, lawyers, legal scholars and other prominent intellectuals from all over the country participated in deliberations of this two day seminar. More than 20 papers were presented. The Seminar unanimously adopted following resolutions:

1.     Islamic Shariah is a system of law which is not only in harmony with human nature but has its basis in justice and equity. It covers whole aspects of human life and guarantees justice to every section of society, thereby ensuring peace and harmony in the society. This law has also proven itself in practice. As such, this Seminar appeals to the academicians and intellectuals to study provisions of Islamic Shariah pertaining to various aspects of contemporary life, not as a religious system but as a system of law which is balanced, and is for the benefit of whole of humanity. We believe that there cannot be any law more beneficial than the law defined by the Creator.

2.     Islamic Shariah is one of the most misunderstood systems of law. There is an urgent need to remove such misunderstandings. It is, therefore, necessary that Ulema, Muftis, Muslim lawyers and Muslim legal scholars must pay special attention to the addressing such misunderstandings by explaining the underlying wisdom of the provisions of Islamic Shariah. Islamic Shariah not only ensure reward in the hereafter but also ensure well being in this world.

3.     There is a need to encourage such students of Deeni Madarsas who specialize in Islamic fiqh to study contemporary law. This seminar appeals to the Madaris to take steps to encourage their students to study law in the contemporary law schools so that they may enter the judicial system of the country and may represent correct Islamic Shariah positions before the courts, whenever required.

4.     It is equally essential that Muslim lawyers should also be introduced to the original sources of Islamic Shariah. This seminar appeals to the Islamic Fiqh Academy (India) to prepare a distance learning programme in Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) and also organize workshops so that such lawyers acquaint themselves with Islamic Shariah provisions and may present them truly and diligently in the matters pending before courts.

5.     It is necessary that the Muftis and Qazis should study contemporary man-made law so that they may be able to present beneficial aspects of Islamic Shariah in a better manner.

6.     This seminar appeals to the institutions under the management or control of Muslims to introduce Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence), specially the family law of Islam as a subject. This seminar especially appeals to Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Integral University, and such other institutions taken appropriate steps in this regard.

7.     This seminar appeals to the judiciary to consult the experts of Islamic Shariah whenever any issue concerning the same are raised before it, and abstain from resorting to interpretation of Islamic Shariah by relying upon the translations of its sources.

[Salar M. Khan is a renowned Advocate based at New Delhi. He is a prominent social activist. He can be reached at salarnews@gmail.com]

Rafah Gate – Symbol of Palestine Statehood

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Everything with Israeli regime is illegal right from the beginning of its illegal infiltration into Palestine. Palestinians have been under virtual siege not only by the Zionist terror forces now for decades occupying the Palestine, but by illegal blockades around Palestine by both Israel. Engineered by CIA-Mossad gang, fascist Israel and Egypt under pro-West & pro-Zionist Mubarak closed borders with Gaza when Hamas party swept to power in 2007 against the wishes of Israel and western terrocracies harboring infighting in Palestinian factions- Fatah and Hamas.

It was a festive atmosphere on 28th May when the Rafah crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was re-opened by Egyptian authorities after being closed for 4 years. The blockade had been imposed by Israel. Egyptian cooperation under ousted President Hosni Mubarak was a sore point in relations with the Palestinians and with the Arab world, but American administrations argued, like the Israelis, that an open border was dangerous emboldening the  Jewish criminals to go on rampage  in Palestine. . Notwithstanding many human interest stories relating to individuals crossing into Egypt on Saturday, the Israelis fear that the new situation will make it impossible to stem the flow of sophisticated weapons to Hamas government wants the blockade terror intact.

Palestine is growing weaker and Israel tries all strategies to cripple Palestine economy and security. On the other hand, Israel wants Palestine a non-military nation incapable of defending their people from Israeli terror attacks.  In attempting to make people in Gaza indefensible from Zionist crimes, Israel projects the ruing Hamas government as a terrorist entity and USA promptly endorses Israeli crimes and fanaticism. Both USA and Israel have refused to recognize an elected Hamas government but they insist that Palestinians must recognize a fascist regime in Mideast for talks.

As a direct disastrous consequence of interference of Mossad-CIA agents in Palestine affairs, now Fatah forcefully runs the West Bank, while the elected Hamas governs only Gaza. Israel is deadly against Fatah-Hamas unity and the opening of Rafa crossing making people of Gaza breathe fresh air. The latest move comes a month after Egypt pushed through a unity deal between the two main Palestinian factions - Fatah and Hamas - something Israel also opposed.

Now, Egyptian Rafah crossing is now open for Palestinians begin to live like free citizens. The decision to ease the border controls is symbolically important. Almost permanently, Egypt has relaxed restrictions at its border with the Gaza Strip, allowing many Palestinians to cross freely for the first time in four years. Women, children and men over 40 are now allowed to pass freely. Men aged between 18 and 40 will still require a permit, and trade is still prohibited. Egypt says the crossing will now be open from 0900 to 2100 every day except Fridays and holidays. Up to 400 Palestinians were estimated to have gathered at the crossing as it opened on Saturday. By contrast, only about 300 Palestinians were previously allowed out of Gaza every day. People leaving Gaza will also need to be carrying Palestinian ID cards, which are issued by Israel.

Egyptian public is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. So, Egypt's co-operation in blockading Gaza was one of President Mubarak's most unpopular policies. The new leadership in Egypt is clearly shifting the dynamics of the Middle East, making the illegal Israeli regime feel the pinch unnecessarily.  Watching all developments in Mideast like a wild owl, like a monstrous, blood thirsty beast, Israel has quickly criticised the border move, saying it raised security concerns.

Although Mubarak in his last days in power had warned Israel against continued occupation and aggression of Palestine, in the post-Mubarak era Egyptian approach, if not a classified policy, towards Palestinians, especially the Gazans – the cruelly targeted people of USA-Israeli terror strategist and Zionist forces –  trying to ease the  burden of defenseless Palestinians. The military regime in Cairo, supported by major political parties, has intermittently opened he boarders with Palestine.

Palestinians have warmly welcomed the Egyptian gesture as the first step of the regime in the right direction for years. The opening of the Rafah crossing is expected to provide a major economic boost to Gaza. A resident of besieged Gaza said: "We feel that we live in a big jail in Gaza so now we feel a little bit more comfortable and life is easier now. My kids are willing to travel to see other places other than Gaza." With elections looming in Egypt the new policy is likely be popular with a public largely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Tel-Aviv generates fake concerns about security of a heavily militarized and illegally nuclearized Israel disrupts import weapons into Gaza through the Egyptian frontier and coerces Egypt not to let Palestinians live with a semblance of human dignity and keep them locked inside Gaza so that Israeli military terrorists could easily corner and kill them. Denied the security of Palestinians by the occupying Israeli regime, Palestinians, like Medieval slaves, seem to have created tunnels under the Egyptian border with Gaza for bring the needy goods of the well being of Palestinians.  Israeli military keeps bombarding the tunnels as well killing people at will.

The blockade around Palestine is a clear violation of international humanitarian law but Israel rejects any law other than its own controlled by the Zionist regime. In opposition to Zionist crimes against humanity, Islamist groups are rapidly gaining in strength in both Egypt and Palestine. A larger question the re-opening begs is whether secret security cooperation between Israel and Egypt against Palestine will survive growing Egypt-Palestine cooperation and steeply deteriorating Turkey-Israeli ties. Since Mubarak’s ouster, there has been frequent talk of challenging the historic 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

The Egyptian move - strongly opposed by Israel - comes some three months after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak lost power. Egypt is not bound by Israeli instructions about borders, but still Egypt thus far obliged Zionism and now insists it will conduct thorough searches of all those crossings. As Israel is planning to disrupt the both Fatah-Hamas unity and Rafah Open moves, Egypt must completely move away from the practices of Mubarak regime in relation to Palestine.

Rafah Crossing has become the powerful symbol of Palestine statehood and Mideast Peace.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism. He is Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs (CIA). He is former university Teacher, Analyst in International Affairs and an Expert on Middle East. He can be contacted at abdulruff@gmail.com or on his Mobile # +91-9961868309]

CAG gives clean chit to Aligarh Muslim University

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has given a clean chit to the audit account of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for the year 2009-2010 as it has not found any discrepancy in the accounts submitted by the University for final clearance by the agency. The report of the CAG has thus negated the allegations of financial irregularities leveled by some vested interest.

According to Dr. Rahat Abrar, Public Relations Officer of AMU, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India observed in his audit report that proper books of accounts and other relevant records have been maintained by the University as required under Section 35(1) of the AMU Act 1920 in so far it appears from our examination of such books.

The report also specifically mentioned that the Balance Sheet and Income and Expenditure Account dealt with in this report are in the agreement with the books of account, Dr. Abrar said in a statement.

During 2009-2010, AMU received Grants/subsidies of Rs. 449.64 crores. In addition to this, the University earned income from sales/services, Fees/subscription, investments, Publications, interest and other income to the tune of Rs. 17.68 crores.

The CAG conducted audit in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in India. An audit includes examining on a test basis, evidences supporting the amounts and disclosure in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by the management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of financial statement, the statement said.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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