Hasnul Banna Khan: Unsung Child Hero

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 29 July 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Wakeel Ahmad
Hasnul Banna Khan is the rarest of rare whiz kid, hailing from the district of Gaya in the state of Bihar, who has displayed his extraordinary caliber and daring approach among physically challenged children in India. Call him a daredevil or child wizard – Hasnul Banna Khan has proved his mettle by clinching medals and certificates of merit in sports for the handicapped organized at national as well as international levels. He hardly loses any opportunity in participating at athlete meet for the handicapped organized anywhere in the country.

Khan’s joy knew no bound when he was conferred the Certificate of Merit in his debut performance “First International Sports and Talent Meet for the Handicapped”RYLA 2008 organized by the Rotary International at Chennai. Right from the very inception he left no stone unturned in making extraordinary endeavors in making his presence felt in almost all sports meet for the handicapped. However, long distances it might be, he kept negotiating a long distance from Gaya to Bangalore, Chennai, Haryana, Delhi, MP and Orissa to quench his athletic thirst. On myriad occasions, he was short of money to get even his ticket booked to reach the destination, but he hardly bothered it. His passion and killing instincts kept everything at bay. By dint of hard work and patience he achieved spectacular result in all the athlete meets.

The areas in which he has performed and received honored are such as Shotput, 400 meter Race and Soccer etc...He comes from a middle class family of the Gaya town. Initially, he used to be in utter mental trauma and agony because of financial problem. He received a severe shock when he could not continue his studies in Shatabdi Public School, Gaya, for his father was not able to afford his fee in English Medium School. While speaking to this scribe he became speechless the moment he started relating all about his school, where he had been receiving education. He had to leave his school when he was only in Std. 6th due to steep fee hike in English medium School. No one came out to help him under such circumstances .Even as he tried his level best to get his fees waived off, he failed in doing so. Both the Secretary and the Manager of the school did not take him in to account in accommodating him under such circumstances. In consequence of it, he had to drop his studies. However, he kept running from pillar to post for getting his demand redressed, but to no avail. His dream of receiving education in English Medium School shattered. Unfazed and invincible, he did not lose his heart and kept trying his luck in athletic. Despite many odds and vicissitudes, he never looked back and kept making extraordinary endeavor to carve out a niche for his name to bring fame for his state and the country. He deserves much appreciation when he himself has scripted his own success story. He was even honored various certificates of merit by different dignitaries of the sport, besides possessing certificate of merit from the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi for bagging many awards and medals in the Athlete Meet for the handicapped from different states

“I was immensely guided and inspired by Gurda Sir,” said Banna. But the bitter experience that I got from my Alma Mater –Shatabdi Public School, Gaya ever keeps me nostalgic.

Even as he has bagged many medals and received many awards at the different Athlete Meet among handicapped across the country, he has not yet been provided any monetary help or concession of fee in his studies by the government. “What will become of a dozen awards and certificates of merit from the president of Paralympics Committee or other reputed organizations?” asks Hasnul Banna quite saddeningly. To mention a few awards from where he has received are such as Paralympics committee Of Bihar in 2008 and again in 2009. The 12th All India Open Handicapped Sports Meet, organized by Rajiv Sports Foundation, Nagpur and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Delhi (December 9, 2007).

He is due to attend the award ceremony to be organized at the Krishna Memorial Bhawan in Patna in the month of August in which Bihar Chief Miister Nitish Kumar will award him the Certificate of Merit for performing excellently in Paralympics Committee of India.. He told his inscribe that he is committed to get his name enrolled in the Guinness Book of Records.

[Wakeel Ahmad is a Journalist based at Gaya, Bihar. He can be reached at wakeeldel@gmail.com]

Politics of NATO Fascists and Libyan Terrorists

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

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

As the top terrocracy promoting terror networks in Libya and elsewhere, US shields state criminals in some countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, while protecting and feeding the non-state terrorists in others like Libya. White House has, thus, been a sanctuary of terror specialists advising the rulers to use the military to pursue US hidden agendas. Bulks of American politicians are corrupt people having got illegal nexus with oil-arms merchants.

Sept-11 has not benefited any single Muslim or Muslim nation in the world, but on the contrary has helped the NATO fascists to murder Muslims already in millions but has also ruined many Muslim nations, starting from Islamizing Afghanistan.

Right from the Sept-11, the CIA has been actively creating subversive terror networks in Muslim nations, especially in oil rich Mideast in order to advance its goals and ensure energy security by talking about “threat to security”. NATO Fascists and the terrorists propped up in Libya by the same NATO led by USA-UK terror twins to destabilize Libya for shipping its oil resources and steal its foreign bank deposits and gold reserves are allies against Muslims and for illegal resources, jointly attacking Libyan people and properties. NATO air forces have bombed food godowns threatening food security of Libya.

The rebel terrorists consider themselves as US patriots and betray Libya. They shamelessly call themselves defenders of so-called democracy. After creating these rebel betrayers, the NATO rogues have also "recognized" them to advance US interests- farce recognition of terrorist organizations is also illegal.

It is an irony of civilization that the rebel terrorists in Libya, trained by the CIA-NATO fascist terror gangs, are talking in terms of giving permission to Libyan President Col. Moammar Qaddafi to say on in his country. It is not just a crude joke on part of the Obama regime for instigating the anti-Libyan betrayers to destabilize their nation and help CIA to loot Libyan oil resources and steal Libya’s bank deposits abroad. Obama is eager to take away major chunk of Libyan deposits and gold reserves to cushion an ailing US finances and economy.

USA, UK, France, Italy and others have already offered terror goods to Libyan terrorists in exchange for oil and future booty. As US policy, CIA operates through the rebel terrorists to weaken Libyan government. Semi-Islamic Qatar has also stepped up the flow of military aid to rebels in recent days. Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Sunni nations, whose brains are controlled by Washington, are promoting terrorists and CIA in Libya and region.

CIA and its terrorist agents in Libya try to dictate terms to Libyan people. CIA sponsored Libyan terrorist leader Mustafa A. Jalil said that Col. Qaddafi and his family could remain in Libya as part of a political solution to the five-month-old conflict, provided they give up power and rebel leaders can determine where in Libya and under what conditions they remain. This shift of approach appears to be a significant reversal for the Libyan opposition leader, who is the chief betrayer and chairman of the rebels' illegal Transitional National Council, based in Benghazi. He also has stipulated that President Qaddafi can stay will have conditions in Libya and the rebel terrorists would decide where he and his family would stay and who watches him.

Libyan terrorist rebels are promoting US interests in Libya, they eat, drink and also think American stuff. This is another CIA fun. Jalil eats American stuff and he spoke over a lunch of lamb, garbonzo beans and Pepsi, served in imported cans adorned with pink paper umbrellas, at a private home in the western mountain city of Zintan, where rebel terrorist leaders have established their regional headquarters. Jalil appeared to be softening his position, and backing up comments made by US, Italian and French regimes in recent days to the same effect. NATO terror leaders target sovereign Libya, its leaders, oil zones and installations. The dictatorial US and Italy have said recently that Col. Qaddafi must be removed from power, but have said his fate after that is up to the Libyan people, leaving open the possibility that he remain in Libya. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that Col. Qaddafi could remain in Libya as long as he gives up power completely.

Libyan betrayer Jalil made his first visit to the region since he was tapped as the rebel terror leader to help the NATO destabilize Libya shortly after the uprising began on Feb. 17. Jalil and his entourage flew into the western mountains after a short visit in Tunisia where the CIA uprisings first hit and now remains destabilized.

CIA mischief is discernible from Jalil’s gimmicks. Latest Jalil's or CIA’s position toward Col. Qaddafi and his family comes as rebels say they are stepping up military preparations for a resumed push on Libyan forces along multiple fronts. A critical piece of those preparations has been an uptick in military aide from Qatar, a pro US rogue state in Mideast, in recent days. 
Qatar has sent military trainers to the western mountains to train rebel terrorists and has built and equipped a rebel-terror operational command center with the latest equipment. Indeed, Qatari military personnel were accompanying Jalil during his visit to the western mountains. Qatar has been sending rebels anti-tank weapons, small arms, ammunitions, and bullet proof vests, among other such items for months.

The top anti-Libyan Jalil said rebel terrorists would continue their offensive on all fronts even during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins early next month as they in the western mountains are the closest to Tripoli and rebels' best chance of piercing Col. Qaddafi’s defenses and reaching the capital to destroy it or hand over to NATO rogues. In recent days, days Qatar has stepped up both the quantity and type of military aid it is shipping to the rebels, these officials said. The recent shipments have for the first time included new four-wheel-drive vehicles and armored mine clearers to ruin Libya.

Terrorist rebel leader Jalil supports Israeli fascism against the besieged Palestinians and didn't elaborate on where or under what conditions rebels would demand Col. Qaddafi live, but presumably it could mean anything from comfortable house arrest among his tribesmen, to a dark cell in solitary confinement. Since his approach is likely to prove unpopular among the rebel terror rank and file, Jalil quickly issued a quick denial after protests erupted in the streets of Benghazi.

CIA says and Jalil repeats that the anti-Libya terror war by NATO-rebel gang war would end in one of three ways: Col. Qaddafi would surrender or flee Libya or he will be killed or captured by one of his bodyguards or by rebel forces with NATO assistance. However, none of these would happen but the Libyan betrayers would be hanged in public. Obviously, on request from USA and Saudi Arabia, a Qatari team of terror trainers arrived in the western mountains 20 days ago to train rebels to use certain light weapons and teach them small-unit tactics. Why?

A Word

The NATO madness and rebel terrorist crimes in sovereign Libya have exposed the Sunni nations in Mideast as being as much the real culprits of genocides of Muslims since Sept-11 as the NATO terror syndicate forces are. These Arab countries have supported all crimes perpetrated by US-UK, the Arab partners in arms-oil trade, since Sept-11. This also explains why Israel keeps killing Palestinians and slaughtering of Muslims in Kashmir. Global fascist media and their NATO political bosses are becoming exceedingly dangerous to humanity, even as the NATO terrorists go on rampage in Muslim nations, slaughtering Muslims.

So, the NATO fascists have not entirely given up hopes of getting rid of people’s leader Col. Qaddafi, the king of African kings. Obama wants Col. Qaddafi dead or alive for a dinner an hence he continues to terror attack Col. Qaddafi and his people. .

The rebel terrorists have not yet run away from Libya after killing so many innocent Libyans with their CIA uprisings and Libyan army has not taken them to task either, so far.
Both NATO terrorists and Libyan rebel terrorists should be held accountable for his actions in Libya.

The rebel terrorists deserve the cruelest punishment for their crimes against Libyans and betrayal of sovereign Libya.

ICC and ICJ must bring the illegal NATO terrorist leaders for destabilizing sovereign Libya on fictitious pretexts, killing Libyan Arabs and looting its oil resources.

Whether they like it or not, the western terrocracies would have to face similar “upheavals” within that the CIA has successfully engineered in Mideast, especially in Libya, to destabilize and loot the nations. Peoples of NATO states must revolt to throw the fascist regimes so that Obama, Cameron, Blair, Sarkozy and the other fascist leaders of NATO terror syndicate would flee the nations to forests so that human world is rescued from state terror methods.

Islamic world must keep the western, essentially anti-Islamic terrocracies with hidden agendas at a distance!

[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]

National Cultural Awards of MP Govt. Announced; Gopichand Narang to Get National Iqbal Award

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Government has announced national awards instituted in different disciplines for the years 2008-09 and 2009-10. Though some awards for these years have already been conferred, however the remaining awards have now been announced.
Culture Minister Mr. Laxmikant Sharma informed that well-known painter Jairam Patel of Gujarat will be conferred on national Kalidas award for the year 2008-09 in plastic arts while Guru Kalamandalam Gopi has been selected for honouring with national Kalidas award in classical dance and well-known vocalist Pt. Chhanulal Mishra will be given away national Kalidas award in classical music.

Similarly, national Maithilisharan Gupta award instituted in literature will be given away to well-known writer of Bhopal Ramesh Chandra Shah. Besides, national Tulsi award for male artists in folk-arts will be conferred on Rangaswami Vedar of Chennai. National Iqbal award constituted for Urdu literature will be given away to Gopichand Narang of New Delhi.

National Devi Ahilya award to be given in folk-arts will be conferred on Kalbelia dancer Ms Gulabo of Rajasthan. Well-known satirist K.P. Saxena of Lucknow has been selected for national Sharda Joshi award. National Kumar Gandharva award in classical music for youth artists will be given away to Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar of Pune.

The State Government has also announced national Kalidas award in plastic arts for the year 2009-10. The well-known painter Krishna Kanhai of Mathura has been selected to be honoured with this award.

It may be mentioned here that a sum of Rs. 1 lakh 25 thousand is given under national Kumar Gandharv award while an amount of Rs. two lakh each is given under other remaining awards. Along with this, the awardees are also given a letter of citation, shawl and “shrifal” (coconut) as a mark of honour. Award ceremony programme will be organised in Bhopal.

The awardees are as follows:

Award 2008-09: National Kalidas award (plastic arts)- Jairma Patel; National Kalidas award (classical dance)-Kalamandlam Gopi; National Kalidas award(classical music)- Chhanulal Mishra; National Maithilisharan award(literature)-Ramesh Shah; National Tulsi award (folk-arts,male)-Rangaswami Vedar

National Iqbal Award (Urdu)-Gopichand Narang; National Devi Ahilya award (folk-arts)- Ms Gulabo; National Sharad Joshi Award satirist K.P. Saxena; and
National Kumar Gandharv Award (classical music) - Sanjeev Abhyankar

Award 2009-10: National Kalidas award (plastic art)- Krishna Kanhai.

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

New Jersey gets its first Indian American Judge

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Sunita Sohrabji

The state of New Jersey got its first Indian American Superior Court judge June 30, as Sohail Mohammed, a former engineer from Hyderabad, took his oath of office.

Following contentious confirmation hearings in the New Jersey State Senate, Mohammed, 47, who became interested in law after serving jury duty, began working July 1 in Passaic County Superior Court’s Family Division.

“I am deeply, deeply honored to be representing the two greatest democracies in the world: India and the U.S.,” Mohammed told India-West, adding that he hoped to create a process in his courtroom that left people’s dignity intact, regardless of whether they had won or lost.

Mohammed, who earned his law degree in night school at Seton Hall University while working for GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems, said he has already ruled on a number of adoption cases.

“You see the kids in court, and there are such smiles on their faces. They are already saying, ‘This is my mommy; this is my daddy,’” related Mohammed, who emigrated from India with his parents when he was 10.

“One kid asked to touch the gavel. I lifted him up and he gave the gavel a loud bang. It was such a moving experience,” he said.

Mohammed refused to comment on his combative confirmation hearings, saying only, “It was a process.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had nominated Mohammed for the post Jan. 14, and the attorney had told India-West in an earlier interview that he expected his nomination to be fast-tracked through the confirmation process.

At his confirmation hearing June 29, Mohammed was grilled extensively about his ties to radical Islamist groups, and his opinion of Sharia law. Republican state Senator Gerald Cardinale, asked Mohammed about the organization Hamas - defined by the U.S. as a terrorist group - and also asked him to define the term jihad.

Cardinale also asked Mohammed if he had ever objected to the term “Islamo terrorist.”

Republican state Senator Joseph Kyrillos asked Mohammed why there was not more condemnation from Muslims about terrorism.

In an editorial, local columnist Bruce Lowry likened Mohammed’s confirmation hearings to a “witch hunt.”

Jolsna John, president of the North American South Asian Bar Association, said the accusations levied against Mohammed were ridiculous.

“Just because your name is Mohammed does not mean you’re a terrorist,” she told India-West.

“Sohail has done some really great work for our community,” said John, noting that Mohammed, post 9-11, had worked to build bridges between law enforcement and the Muslim American community.

NASABA reached out to Mohammed during his confirmation process, said John, who encouraged other South Asian Americans to apply for judgeships, adding that her organization could provide help and resources.

Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights manager of the Council on American-Islamic Relations New York chapter, told India-West that the New Jersey state Senate had created a double standard during Mohammed’s confirmation process.

“This tells Muslim Americans that their service, their acts of patriotism, aren’t as valuable as those of other Americans,” stated McGoldrick.

“Muslims are being told on the one hand ‘acculturate within your larger community,’ yet our institutions and our people are being shut out,” he said.

Mohammed is a board member of the American Muslim Union and an executive board member of the New Jersey Bar Association. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammed represented more than 30 undocumented immigrants who were not affiliated with the attacks, but caught up in sweeps by federal agents. The father of three boys has trained the FBI on Islamic culture and arranged a job fair in New Jersey where young Muslims could apply for jobs with law enforcement agencies.

Mohammed, who formerly practiced immigration law in Clifton, New Jersey, told India-West he has disbanded his solo practice, handing his clients off to other attorneys.

“It was really sad for me,” he said. “But there’s a greater good to be done out there.”

(Courtesy: IndiaWest.com)

Honorarium of Contractual Teachers doubled in Madhya Pradesh

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The honorarium of contractual teachers working in Madhya Pradesh will be doubled. The increase will be enforced for both newly appointed and the teachers already working. It will incur an additional burden of Rs. 51 crore on the state's exchequer.

It was decided at a quarterly review meeting of School Education Department chaired by the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan here on Thursday (July 28, 2011). On this occasion, School Education Minister Mrs. Archana Chitnis, Minister of State for the same Nanabhau Mohod, Chief Secretary Avani Vaish were present.

As per new decisions, the honorarium of contractual teachers of cadre-3 will be increased from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000 while honorarium of teachers under cadre-2 will touch Rs. 7,000 from present Rs. 3,500 and contractual teachers of cadre-1 who are presently receiving an honorarium of Rs. 4,500 will now get Rs. 9,000. The Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan has issued directives to comply with the instructions before new recruitment of such teachers.

Mr. Chouhan instructed the officials to produce blue print of the Bill before the commencement of next Vidhan Sabha session in order to legally regulate private schools. At the meeting, the issue of recovering extra money forcefully from the guardians apart from prescribed fee structures in private schools was also raised and need was stressed on controlling such activities.

Expressing concern over delay on central funds for the modernization of Madarsas, the Chief Minister asked the officials to send letter to Central Government requesting it to remit the funds as soon as possible. He also instructed to demand more funds from the Central Government in order to open new schools as per population of cities.

He asked for timely completion of ongoing construction works under the department. It would not affect price rise of construction cost, he added. He said that such Gram Panchayats where no construction has been started so far, an alternate work should be initiated. The works, which have been left uncompleted by the Gram Panchayats, should be completed by the Department itself.

The Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan asked for constant monitoring of "School Chalen Hum Abhiyan". The cooperation of public representatives and MLAs should be sought to check dropout in schools. He reviewed the progress of computer lab installed under public private participation (PPP) mode. He instructed for online arrangements of distributing scholarships.
He expressed concern over depletion in the number of girls in gender ratio of children of 0 to six years of age. The Chief Minister informed that he himself is going to launch an awareness-drive with a view to protecting girls under the "Beti Bachao Abhiyan". He asked the department to be linked with this drive.

It was informed at the meeting that Madhya Pradesh is the first State in the country where lakh 1.11 lakh Parent-Teacher Associations are being transferred funds through generating portal. Efforts have been made to deposit directly the amount in the bank accounts of students from next year. He further informed that for the first time in the State, a special campaign was launched for admission of students to 9th class. Overwhelming results yielded under this campaign. An increase of 52,972 students was registered in the admission of students to the Government schools in the second week of July which is seven per cent more than that of last year.

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

Presenting Islam in Modern Times

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 July 2011 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Our Special Correspondent

Manzar Imam with IDC chairman Mohammad Umar Gautam
With expansion of the modern means of media and communications, it has become vital for all to keep abreast of time and also transform those ideas and ideologies to target audience and intended readers.

It is not as easy though, as it sounds. Gone are the days of lengthy stories and essays that were the characteristic of old British writing. People are hard pressed for time now.

It is a difficult task to make people spare time to read someone else, says Manzar Imam, Editor of Delhi-based Islamic Da'wah Centre Newsletter (IDCN). IDCN was launched by Islamic Da'wah Centre under the supervision of its chairman Mohammad Umar Gautam in March 2011 with the objective of presenting Islam in contemporary world.

So far we have brought out five issues of IDCN and the sixth is in the process of printing, says Mr Imam who has a long experience of writing.

As against the general stereotyping of Muslims to be agents of negativity, IDC believes that Muslims are peace-loving but they are continuously misrepresented.

We believe firmly that Islam has solution to the many social problems and people are looking for peace.

The world today is in search of truth and there are large numbers of people who acknowledge the Truth of Islam but we do not have any systematic arrangement to train and educate the people about the real Truth, Umar Gautam is quoted in the first editorial of IDCN under the title Islamic Da'wah.

The 4-page Newsletter can be easily read in one sitting, says Mr Imam adding that the purpose is to reach out to non-Muslims who are either misguided by people with vested interests or do not find something which could be read in a short time.

The April editorial Justice in Islam tries to explain with the example of a story of Ali, Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law and fourth caliph of Islam that justice should be dispassionate and no personal anger should trigger one to exact revenge. It further says that "Injustice not only leads to disturbance, it also creates imbalance and widens the inequality gap between the rich and the poor, mighty and the meek."

The Newsletter also covers the activities of IDC which include get together of reverts, speeches organized for Da'wah and social reform of Muslims and also English language courses conducted from time to time for products of madrasas.

For a Da'ee, writes Manzar Imam "language is learnt and spoken with the noble aim of reaching out to people to convey them the message of the Lord and to remind them that they all have been created with a purpose".

Islam is a universal religion and language should not hold Muslims back in delivering their duty as the ummah of Da'wah, observes the May issue of IDC.

We have planned to increase the number of pages after sometime. We are also making it a point that every issue carries a special theme so that some of its significant aspects are covered to a satisfactory level, says Manzar Imam, adding that the June issue dealt with the topic of Quran.

Da'wah is obligatory for Muslims and it can be done by various means, says Umar Gautam, who is also the executive editor of the Newsletter. Our aim is to bring people of different faiths to a single platform so that people understand each other and respect each others opinion. Apart from it, providing simple and easy literature is also in the scheme of our things. The publication of IDC Newsletter is just a beginning towards this end, says Mr Gautam who embraced Islam some 20 years ago.

In an era to fast growing communications, will IDC catch with the modern day demands?
"That's not our aim", says he. We do not measure success on those parameters, our effort is our success. We hope that Allah enables us to convey his message to all people because His message is for all.

With this pessimism IDC seems to be trekking the right track.

SPECIAL REPORT: Kashmiri Youths march towards better careers, opportunities

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

Information Technology - the new draw among youths in valley

By Bismah Malik

Photo Courtesy: Ali Imran
They are engineers, students, businessmen from everywhere in Kashmir. They meet after a fortnight or so and the venue is one of the basements of a suburb Srinagar building. This is no political gathering but a classroom which promises big things in life.

A classroom which makes them forget the adversities associated with growing up in Kashmir and take a leap forward into a successful career.People who have already been here and have passed out are working in big IT firms in UAE and US living a life, normally one does not even dream of in Kashmir.

In front of them is a man who is easily their role model.

This man only knows winning. He entered into the IT arena of Kashmir a year back and Khawar Butt is a brand name already among Itpreneurs all over the world. Having worked in places like Google, Yahoo, NASA, IBM, Khawar and his IT institute Netmetric Solutions has footprints in Dubai, Spain, UK, US, Sri Lanka, Banagalore, Delhi and in Kashmir.

Having imparted exquisite IT skills to the enthusiasts all over the world, Khawar still finds Kashmiri youths the most avid learners.Even though his venture in Kashmir is only one year old, but the kind of lucrative jobs it promises is a refreshing welcome.

The courses offered here are not high tech, high paying but high charging as well. But that is fine, since the valleyites are economically better off than people living in many other states of India. Literacy is fast spreading here among boys and girls, so spending on education has never been that big an issue.

Turmoil has affected many families, but economically even the affected families have been able to pull through.

“It is once in a lifetime opportunity. We are being taught by the best IT professionals of the world.In front of us is a brand new career and a whole lot of opportunities. So spending a bit too much for this course that I am doing does not matter,” Bakir , a Netmetrics Student pursuing his CCIE (Cisco Certified Networking Engineering) course for which he paid a sum of 2.5 lakhs says.

Interestingly, Bakir's class comprises of 15 students all of who aspire for clearing their CCIE examinations and land in hot shot IT jobs in India and abroad . There are just 29,000 CCIEs in the whole world.

The course became popular only in 90s when internet camer into the homes and the need for CCIE professionals grew. While today, mostly Americans, Indianns are CCIE professionals, Kashmir is playing its part too.

Photo Courtesy: Ali Imran
Thanks to Khawar Butt, Kashmir is also being seen in the elite world map of CCIEs and his students could not ask for anything more. In hostile and turbulent atmosphere, establishing a platform for youths is challenging but for people like Khawar challenges mean success too.

“In my 20 year long career, I have trained IT professionals in US, Europe, Middle East and most of India but Kashmir was untouched. Two years since I set up my centre here,I realised that we need to start many such ventures in the valley , looking at the way Kashmiri youths are untouched by quality education and promising careers. I was always apprehensive of whether people here would be receptive of any new idea like the course which I introduced here but it is all going smoothly untill now. Like everywhere else, it is the older generation which is reluctant to changes as compared to youths,” Khawar asserts.

Khawar does not rule out the fact that violence and other conflict related tragedies that struck the valley for two decades now have had their repercussions on education sector too.

“Of course there are implications.Every now and then, the strikes , the risks involved have certainly prevented the education sector in Kashmir from developing to an extent it should have. But now that the situation is seeing fair degree of improvement , we should not hold back and contribute in whatever form we can,” Khawar feels.

Ever since turmoil hit this part of the world in late 1980s, the quality of education went downhill forcing many students and professionals move outside the state to explore better career opportunities. But with ventures like the one which Khwar has set up and peace returning to the valley, hopes among career aspirants have also been raised.

“Initiatives like these need to be set up here. There is a lot of potential and enthusiasm among the youths but at the very same time the risks involved and the fear factor have not diminished totally. In a violence torn state like Jammu and Kashmir, the government needs to play a lot more responsible role and aid the private initiatives,” opines Dr. Maqbool, a young medico.

"With whatever the people of Kashmir have been facing, especially since last twenty years has not let their hopes die down and dream of a better future. Problems arising due to a two decadal conflict are inevitable but that should not stop us from marching towards better careers and opportunities," Arif Khan, a young IT aspirant says.

[Bismah Malik is a Journalist based at Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. She can be reached at bismah.malik4@gmail.com]

Islamic Finance: Separating myth from reality

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

By Oluwatosin Lawal

Over the past decade, Islamic Finance has become a burning and topical issue around the world (Europe, Middle East and Asia) and has most recently reached Nigeria, over the introduction of the Islamic Banking model to the financial industry by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This has generated outcry from some quarters and a not so unexpected media frenzy.

A lot of scepticism and public opinion has been garnered about the motive behind the introduction of this alternative system of banking in Nigeria. However before this alternative mode of financing is dispelled by the general public or the government, the concept needs to be explored and understood in order to clarify its purpose and subsequent effect on the country.

What is Islamic finance?

Islamic Finance is a form of Finance that is in accordance with Islamic Law (which is also known as the Shariah Law). Islamic Law provides for the rulings and guidance on the Islamic way of life. One of the objectives of Islamic Law is the preservation of good for humanity. Hence it believes in the universal principles of equity, justice, fairness and accountability on the one hand and the preservation and distribution of wealth for the common good on the other. How is this achieved? This is by the prohibition of interest, otherwise known as „Riba (Quran 2:275). Riba is regarded as an unjustified increase in capital which is used to oppress the poor in the capitalist-driven conventional system of finance. It is worthy to note that the prohibition of interest as outlined in Islam is also endorsed by other religions such as Christianity (Deuteronomy 23:19) and Judaism. In summary, the Shariah provides a framework that can help strengthen the conscience and integrity in the market place.

Features of Islamic finance

Prohibition of the earning/charging of interests: Islamic law prohibits „usury’ which is defined as any unjustified increase between the value of goods given and the counter value of goods received – including charging interest on a loan. This is one of the main features of Islamic Finance and its main difference from Conventional Finance. Interest is considered as an unjustified increase in capital without any effort made to earn it. For instance a loan given to a borrower in the conventional banks will attract a percentage of interest and regardless of the outcome of the borrowers business transaction (profit or loss) he is obliged to pay back the loan with the agreed interest.

Profit and Loss Sharing

Structure: Islamic Finance is based on a Profit and Loss sharing structure rather than the earning of interest. In other words, financial institutions are required to invest with a client in order to finance their needs, rather than lending money to their clients. This is because in Islamic Law, money is strictly seen as a medium of exchange which in itself does not have any inherent value and should not derive an increment in itself. Therefore there must be some human effort, initiative, and risk involved in a productive venture or asset before money can be invested. Thus, by investing with or in a client’s business venture, the financial institution partakes in the risks of the business and shares in the profit and loss (if any) of the business.

Prohibition of Uncertainty and Gambling:

Islamic Finance prohibits any form of uncertainty or ambiguity in any business or contract. These include uncertainty as to the terms of a contract, its price or a mere speculative risk (gambling) which can result in unpredictable or unanticipated circumstances. Islamic Finance upholds the principle of fair dealing and transparency in any business and ensures that all parties in a business transaction understand the terms of the contract and any associated risk that comes with it.

Prohibition of investment in unethical business activities:

Islamic Finance prohibits dealings in business activities forbidden by Islamic Law. These include dealings in alcohol, gambling, pork, adult entertainment, prostitution, tobacco, ammunitions and any other economic activity that is deemed morally or socially harmful to humanity. Islamic Finance is developmental in nature and as such only promotes businesses which aid in the development of the society by appealing to people’s moral conscience..

It is however note worthy that despite these distinguishing features of Islamic Finance it is still based on similar business objectives with conventional finance which is to make profit, although the manner in which it is made is what differentiates them. In addition, apart from the Shariah laws which apply, Islamic Finance Institutions are also governed by the same laws and regulated by the same authorities as other financial institutions in the various categories e.g.

Capital market Operators (Securities & Exchange Commission), Banks (Central Bank of Nigeria), Insurance Companies (National Insurance Commission).

Structures of Islamic finance

Islamic Finance has various structured finance products tailored to meet the peculiar needs of its clients. The main forms of Islamic Finance practice is categorised into sale, leasing and partnership contracts.

Equity-based Products

Musharakah: This can be referred to as a joint venture/partnership arrangement, through an equity participation contract. Ownership is distributed according to each partners share in the financing, and profit is shared at an agreed profit sharing ratio while loss is shared according to each partners capital contribution towards the business. Such contracts are often used in connection with large project finance and private equity funds.

Mudarabah: This is an investment whereby one party („rab al maal/investor) provides the entire capital while the other party („Mudarib/entrepreneur) provides the management. The entrepreneur with the management expertise is usually a bank or a financial institution. Profit sharing is pre-agreed by both parties while the loss is borne by the provider of the funds alone. However, a Mudarabah can be reversed whereby the bank is the investor providing the capital for the investment.

Products for financing working capital and liquidity management

Murabaha: This is literarily a form of sale at a mutually agreed profit. Unlike lending money as in conventional loan, this mode of financing involves an actual purchase of a commodity by a bank (thereby taking in part of the risk) upon the request of a customer and sells it to the customer at the agreed mark-up price. The customer thereafter pays the bank at an agreed tenure in order to manage its liquidity.

Istisnaa: This is used for the acquisition of goods by specification or order, where the price is paid in advance for future delivery or paid in future for future delivery. It is usually aimed at long-term construction projects and is frequently used to finance the construction of real estate developments, roads, bridges and large assets such as ships and power plants.

Products for asset acquisition

Ijara: Ijara is essentially an Islamic lease whereby there is a transfer of the usufruct (use) of an asset in exchange for a consideration which is the rent. In an Ijara the investor (lessor), upon the request of a prospective borrower (lessee), purchases an asset and immediately leases it to the lessee for an agreed term and fee. Ownership of the asset remains of the lessor while the lessee is only entitled to the right to use the asset during the agreed duration. Ijara is frequently used to finance the acquisition of equipment, vehicles and real estate.

Diminishing Musharakah: Diminishing Musharakah is another form of partnership where a financier and its client participate in the joint ownership of a property, equipment or any fixed asset. However, the share of the financier is thereafter divided into a number of units and it is mutually agreed that the client will purchase the units of the share of the financier on agreed instalments, thus increasing the clients share in the investment and reducing that of the financier until all the units of the financier are purchased by him so as to make him the sole owner of the property or the business venture. Diminishing Musharakah in recent times has become a mode of financing Islamic mortgages.

Fixed income investment Product

Sukuk: This is an investment certificate (bond) that represents a proportionate interest in a well-defined pool of assets that yield income and capital returns. This differs from the typical corporate bond, which pays a fixed rate of interest to investors. It is usually set up with a special purpose vehicle acquiring the assets and whereby the returns from the assets are passed to Sukuk holders (investors). The most common asset classes used to float a Sukuk have included real estate. Sukuk has become a popular way for many governments to raise funds for infrastructure, and accounts for the largest portion of Islamic finance.

Common misconceptions about Islamic finance

Islamic Finance is only for Muslims

Islamic Finance is an alternative means of making money through wealth creation and distribution and it is available to both Muslims and non-Muslims. There is nothing prohibiting a non-Muslim from using Islamic Financial services or owning an Islamic Finance institution. Although Islamic Finance is based on the principles of Islamic law, its features grant social justice to mankind, which actually appeals to both Muslims and non-Muslims. It is worthy to note that among the largest institutions offering Islamic financial services are conventional banking groups such as Citigroup, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and BNP Paribas. This is to prove that the values of Islamic Finance are not exclusive to Muslims. This is also evidenced by the staggering percentage of non-Muslim investors benefiting from Islamic Finance services through these banks mainly because of its competitive returns. In Malaysia, for instance about 40% of the customers in its Islamic Banks are non-Muslims.

Islamic Finance is a camouflage for terrorism financing

An Islamic financial institution is strictly prohibited by the Shariah from knowingly assisting, let alone actively participating, in terror-related activities. This is because the Shariah does not condone violence against innocent victims and hence categorically condemns terrorism. Quite unfortunately, the effect of the 9/11 attack on the United States and other similar activities in other parts of the world (and recently in Nigeria) has skewed the general perception of Islam, thereby raising undue fear and scepticism to anything branded “Islamic” or “Shariah”. Hence, the misconception that Islamic Finance is a front for terrorism financing. However, the reality is, Islamic Finance does not operate in a vacuum and is no different from other financial institutions which are subject to and bound by the strict laws and regulations within its jurisdiction of operation. For instance, there are provisions of the law on anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering and there is no financial institution that is immune to these laws. Therefore, regardless of whether an institution is providing Islamic Finance or not, if it is proven to be involved in or is supporting terrorist activities, it would be held accountable and face the consequences.

Islamic Finance is only charitable

Islamic Finance is about wealth creation and just like any other business, is profit oriented. Islamic Financial Institutions are accountable to their shareholders and investors who have invested their funds in the business with the aim of making reasonable returns on their investment which the institution is to ensure that it delivers in line with the principles of the Shariah. However, as is already evident above, Islamic Finance is not a capitalist driven system of finance. There are inherent mechanisms to encourage Islamic Financial Institutions to undertake corporate social responsibility in Islam such as the mandatory Zakat (alms giving) and voluntary Sadaqah (donations) which can be used to contribute to societal development.

Islamic Finance is aimed at paving the way towards Islams World Domination –“Islamization”
Islamic Finance accounts for less than 1% of the global financial system. Furthermore there are more than 1.5billion Muslims spread around the world and therefore are too heterogonous to have such a common agenda. Muslims around the world belong to different races and are of diverse cultures. It is almost improbable that such diversity can create a single government with a common goal to dominate the world. As historical evidence has illustrated, Islamic Finance should be viewed in the same vein as halal foods which has been around for centuries and is available everywhere around the world including non-Muslim countries and consumed by both Muslims and non-Muslims. In view of the fact that the presence of halal food has not resulted in the demise of non-halal foods or instigated world domination, Islamic Finance should not be viewed differently.

Islamic finance - global perspective and the growth of the industry

Islamic Finance is the worlds fastest growing financial sector recording a growth rate of about 15-20% per annum with assets exceeding $300bn. In the past decade it has grown from its niche market to a global financial industry, with over 280 Islamic Financial Institutions in about 75 countries around the world, including mainstream conventional banks operating windows where Islamic products and services are offered to their discerning customers. A few of these western banks, such as HSBC, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered and Citigroup, have been offering Islamic banking windows for almost a decade while a few others such as Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank have also bought into its unique value proposition in recent times. Although, its development started in the Middle East, it has since spread to other non-Muslim countries that have begun to embrace Islamic Finance and its investment philosophy.

The United Kingdom, a non-Muslim country with a minority population of Muslims, has introduced laws and amended its regulations to cater for Islamic Finance. This was not done specifically for religious purposes, but as an alternaative form of financial solution creating a choice for customers, irrespective of their faith and at the same time, meeting the needs of those who indeed prefer access to financial products in line with their faith.

For example, the Islamic Bank of Britain offers Shariah compliant products and services to both its Muslim and non-Muslim customers. The UK has been positioned at the centre stage of developments in Islamic Finance, seizing opportunities for growth through the industry. The London Stock Exchange has listed 33 Sukuks (Islamic Bonds) on the exchange since its launch in 2009 including two of the largest Sukuks issued this year thus far. Islamic Finance has also been present in South Africa as far back as 1989 with the existence of the Al Baraka Islamic Bank (AIB) with a few other private financial institutions providing Islamic products and services to its customers. Other countries such as France, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Kenya and a host of others across Europe, Africa and Asia (which are predominantly secular States) have established or are considering establishing Islamic Finance as an alternative system of financial management as its merits are evidenced by the minimal impact the global financial crisis had on the industry in comparison to the market-based conventional system.

Islamic finance - an alternative system of financial management in Nigeria

The purpose of the introduction of Islamic Finance in many countries has been to serve as an alternative financial solution to meet the needs of the people. Nigeria is a country with a population of over 150 million with about 50% as Muslims. There has always been a demand among Muslims for financial products and services that conform with their beliefs and the development of viable alternatives to conventional finance would create a level playing field in which Muslims can also access a vast range of financial services without compromising their religious beliefs. Furthermore, Islamic Finance can create cross border trade and investments as foreign investors seeking to invest in Islamic products and services will find investment outlets to meet their needs thereby creating access to foreign exchange and positioning Nigeria on the map as an international financial centre. Customers (Institutional Investors and foreign investors) with an investment appetite can also benefit from Shariah-compliant funds as well as Sukuks, which are increasingly becoming common in global markets as a result of their impressive growth rates. Islamic Finance will undoubtedly create job opportunities as a lot of specialised skills will be needed to develop the industry and expand its growth thereby contributing significantly to the reduction of unemployment rate in the country.

The innovation brought about by the structuring of Islamic products will also contribute to the creation of a new asset class which will be available to customers of all faiths. The introduction of Islamic Finance models such as the Mudarabah, Murabaha, Sukuk, and Istisnaa which have been tried and tested in other countries will further strengthen the financial system and create risk diversification against future financial crisis. Furthermore, the introduction of a new asset class will create competition within the financial system and competition will drive the market and the economy.

Finally, Islamic Finance will contribute significantly to financial stability. This is because the principle of Islamic Finance negates all the factors which led to the global financial meltdown. Some of its inherent features identified by the IDB-IFSB (Islamic Development Bank – Islamic Finance Services Board) Task Force on Islamic Finance and Global Financial Stability provide key potentials in contributing to the global financial and economic stability:

The fact that investments or financing can only be extended to real assets such as projects, trade, economic and commercial transactions ensures that there is growth in real economic activities which reduces the possibility of excessive leveraging.

The principle of ownership being very pertinent makes it impossible to sell what you dont have, which also restricts the possibility of unhealthy and excessive speculation as found in derivatives instruments used in conventional finance.

Participation of risks provides a strong incentive for Islamic financial institutions to ensure the success of the projects and activities that they finance.

Its emphasis on certainty and transparency ensures that there is full disclosure and documentation of contracts which avoids unpredictable and unanticipated circumstances resulting in one partys undue advantage over the other.

Stability and sustainable development have become the watchword in global business and governance and Nigeria as a developing country stands to gain immensely from this alternative means of financial management, not only for its foundation in religious principles but for its potential to contribute to the development of the countrys economy and the society at large. *

[Oluwatosin Lawal is in the commercial law firm of Perchstone & Graeys Lagos.]

(Courtesy: BusinessDayOnline.com)

Cleanliness drive campaign in Okhla by Vision 2016 program

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

IMO News Service

New Delhi: Vision 2016 program is campaigning for cleanliness drive in Okhla on eve of Ramazan. This NGO which has some 50 affiliated NGOs across the nation and working on over 150 projects has taken a step further for taking a cleanliness drive and to make aware people about living hygienically and to live healthy.

For making people of Okhla aware, this NGO has prepared a number of volunteers who will take initiative and do some practical demonstration on July 30, 2011 for providing awareness and stressing the importance of cleanliness in Islamic perspective. “First of all the people of this area will be healthy when they will give sometime to clean outside area of their houses,” said Habeebur Rahman, a professor of social work in Jamia Millia Islamia.

The task of making the outside of homes clean becomes more important at the time of Ramazan. It will look nice at the time of Ramazan when both the inside and outside of the houses of the residents of Okhla will be clean and attractive,” said Zaheer, a local person.

Habeebur Rahman wants full cooperation of the residents of Okhla in this cleanliness drive. Besides, he also wants support of government agencies, local MP, MLA and councilors in the cleanliness endeavor. He also requested the Vision 2016 program authorities for taking the cleanliness drive seriously. He further said that the areas during Ramazan are mostly overcrowded, streets are very narrow, and there is lack of dustbins and lack of garbage collector which make this area not attractive. He said that things can be improved only when the locals can be aware and make this locality attractive and clean.

On garbage collection, he said it is a big issue in the area and it can only be sorted out when big organizations or residents donate land for garbage dumping. According to him, garbage and dirty water are major issues of the area that need to be tackled immediately and some land should be allotted and dumping box should be installed by government agencies for making this locality more attractive.

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