GUEST EDITORIAL: Are Muslim Journalists Cut-off from mainstream Media?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 June 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

Reading India's mainstream English language newspapers and magazines, and viewing the electronic media one realizes that news reports and columns by Muslim journalists are rare. If we go by our population, the authors of about 10 percent or more of reports and columns should be Muslims. But in reality only about 1 % of reports and columns are authored by Muslims. At the national level there are just about half a dozen English language Muslim journalists whose reports appear in the national dailies. 

In the whole of India, 65 years after independence there are only two small English language biweekly newspaper (Milli Gazette, Madhyam) and three online electronic websites (Two Circles News, Indian Muslim Observer, Ummid.com) that are operated by the Muslim community. 

There are quite a few Urdu language newspapers that are operated by the Muslim community. But their readership is limited entirely to Muslims and generally they confine themselves to happenings in the Muslim community. Thus whatever is published in Urdu newspapers has hardly any chance of reaching mainstream India that comprises of a large number of secular Hindus.

That brings us to the question as to why there are so few English language Muslim journalists in India and why Muslim journalists are not writing for mainstream Indian media (Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Hindu, India Today, Sunday, IBN, NDTV etc).

A review of the few English language Muslim outlets that exist, indicates that these outlets spend most of their space in writing about Muslim community's complaints of injustice from the Indian government authorities, complaints against injustice to Muslims from Western governments, the rabid pronouncements of the extremist Hindu groups and coverage of personalities and events in other Muslim countries. Thus their readability for secular Hindus who may want to feel the pulse of India's Muslims, is very small; and there is very little material of national interest there that non-Muslims want to read in a newspaper, whether print or electronic.

The Urdu media aside from being in a language that Hindus can not read is also full of the internal politics of Muslim groups and individuals and the internecine conflicts of various Muslim religious leaders and sects. All in all their utility in communicating the community's issues and situation to mainstream India is almost non-existent.

The Indian mainstream media writes about the Muslim community only when major events happen, eg the recent UP and west Bengal elections where Muslim votes swung the election, or if a major Hindu-Muslim congflagration takes place, eg Gujarat genocide. That news too lasts just a few days. The coverage of the Muslim community's recent vociferous and continuing demands for implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations and reservation has received only infrequent coverage in the mainstream media. The reports on the Batla House conflagration and the plight of Azamgarh's Muslim youth lasted a few days and then disappeared.

A few Indian Muslim journalists write in some Arab newspapers like Arab News, Khaleej Times etc. But those reports almost always appear to be either about the social events of the NRI Muslims in those countries, or about the oil-rich Muslim countries, or about the past glory of Muslim nations in the centuries gone by, or writeups on global Muslim politics. Again, not much for non-Muslims who are looking to learn about the present state of affairs of the Muslims of India.

The question remains that if the Indian Muslim community has to bring improvement in its very backward condition, it has to influence the large number of secular Hindus and together with them the major political parties and the government. Journalists and media - print and electronic - are some of the major weapons in today's public relations war to change the policies of the Indian state. The first step is to change the perceptions of secular Hindus who are the majority of India's Hindu population about Muslims. If Muslims remain cutoff from mainstream Indian media, and remain preoccupied in our narrow world of complaints, internal politics, other Muslim countries, mutual appreciation etal; and if Muslim journalists' reports about the community's ground realities are not being published in adequate numbers in mainstream media, then we are missing a golden opportunity. We simply can not be happy talking about the past glory of Muslims, or the glory of oil-rich Muslim countries or complaining that the world is against us. Because communicating with and influencing India’s secular Hindus in a democracy and a country where Hindus are 80% of the population, is an essential need of our community’s national strategy. Indian Muslim journalists can fill this essential need of the community.

Thus it is incumbent for Muslim journalists in India to redouble their efforts to find a place in the mainstream English media more frequently. Only a handful of successful mainsteeam Muslim journalists like MJ Akbar, Saeed Naqvi, Seema Mustafa cannot do the job. Of course there is a big need for more quality English language Indian Muslim journalists who are in very short supply.

[Kaleem Kawaja is a community activist based at Washington DC. He can be contacted at: kaleemkawaja@gmail.com]

Doctors' Day : A Time To Remember Their Service

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

By Dr. Vivek Sharma

The first Doctors' Day observance was held on March 30, 1993 in Winder, Georgia, The idea came from Eduora Brown Almond wife of Dr. Cha Almond, and the date was the anniversary of the first use of general anaesthetic in surgery. On March 30, 1842, Dr. Crawlord Long of Barrow County, Georgia, used ether to remove a tumour from a patient's neck.

The Barrow County Medical Society Auxiliary proclaimed the day as 'Doctors' Day', which was celebrated by mailing cards to physicians and their wives, and placing flowers on the graves of deceased doctors.

The US House of Representatives adopted a resolution commemorating Doctors' Day on March 30, 1958. In 1990, legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate to establish a national Doctors' Day. Then President George Bush designated March 30 as National Doctors' Day.

In India, National Doctors' Day is celebrates on the birth anniversary of Dr. B.C. Roy who was born on July 1. He was a highly respected physician and renowned for his diagnosis. He was devoted for his patients and contributed significantly for making modern medical facility available to common people.

Dr. Roy's contribution to medical profession and Indian Medical Association are immense. He played a key role in establishing Indian Institute of Mental Health; Infective Disease Hospital and first ever post graduate medical college in Calcutta. He was instrumental in starting Indian Medical Association in the year 1928 and making it the largest professional organisation in the country. Medical Council of India, the governing body of Allopathic Medicine, was his brain child, and he was its first president in 1939, the position he held till 1945.

Besides, being a doyen of medical profession, he was also a great humanitarian, Vice Chancellor of Calcutta, University and Chief Minister of Bengal.

The illustrious life and achievements of Dr. B.C. Roy for the course of medical profession, the society and the country, he was bestowed with India's top civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 1961. Recognizing his services the Govt. of India declared July 1st as Doctors' Day in India.
Doctors' Day is celebrated recognising the tireless effort of physician around the nation. Doctors' Day provide a time for people to show appreciation to the doctors' who care for them or their loved ones.

Dr. Vivek Sharma
Both patients and those who work for or with physicians may recognise, than or show appreciation by giving cards, notes, commemorative tokens of remembrance etc.
Patients who have long term relationships with their doctors, for example a woman during pregnancy, someone with a long term or terminal illness, families who rely on their family doctor', or anyone who wants to thank a physician for the care he or she has provided take the opportunity to single out a doctor, psychologist, dentist, nurse practitioner, or other health care professional.

Those who work in doctors offices, hospitals, or other medical facilities take advantage of a designated time to be able to express thanks and appreciation for monitoring, being easy to work with, being dedicated, or just to recognise an ongoing working relationship.

[Dr. Vivek Sharma is consultant Paediatrician based in Jaipur. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Health Editor. He can be contacted at drvivek_sharma@rediffmail.com]

M. A. Muid Khan – Best Human Rights Lawyer 2012, UK

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

IMO News Service

London: Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer M. A. Muid Khan has been selected as the Best Human Rights Lawyer of the England & Wales for 2012 by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX).

This is the first time a lawyer from British-Bangladeshi origin achieved such prestigious National Legal Award “CILEX Pro Bono Award 2011” from CILEX.

On Thursday, 31st May 2012, a Special Presidential Luncheon Party was organised by CLIEX to honour Mr. Khan with this award, where he received this award from Keith Edgar of The Peverel Group, who sponsored the medal, in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Chancellor, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Justice Minister, Attorney General, Master of the Rolls, High Court Judges, District Judges, Chief Executive of ILEX, ILEX President; the President of the Law Society, the Chair of the Bar Council, and other leading 130 lawyers of UK.

(Left to Right) Philip Warford, Barrister Muid Khan, Philip Partridge and Keith Edger
The Presidential Luncheon took place at The Landmark Hotel, 222 Marylebone Road, Regent Park, London, NW1 6JQ.

The honourable judges chosen Mr. Khan for this prestigious award in recognition of his outstanding commitment to promote pro bono work, his significant contribution in the field of human rights and fundamental freedom.

In October 2011; Law Society selected Mr. M. A. Muid Khan as one of the top seven best Legal Executive Lawyers of England & Wales 2011 for their prestigious national legal award “Excellence Award 2011”.

In April 2011, Mr. M. A. Muid Khan was jointly honoured by the Law Society, Bar Council & Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) in recognition of his significant achievement in the field of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedom with another prestigious national legal award “Advocacy in the face of Adversity 2011”.

Barrister M. A. Muid Khan is the second son of late Prof. A. N. M. Abdul Mannan Khan, Ex-chairman and Senior Professor of the Department of Arabic, University of Dhaka.
Mr. Khan regularly contributes articles in the Barristers Magazine, UK Border Agency’s publication, Lexis-Nexis, Daily Star, the Independent, the Financial Times, Bangla Mirror, the New Nations, Islamic Digest, Dhaka Courier etc.

“Muid is a shining example of what all lawyers should aspire to be and I for one am very proud to call him a Legal Executive Lawyer” Susan Silver, CILEX President said at the Presidential LuncheonParty, “He is an absolute credit to the legal Profession and we wish him well for the future." He seeks duaa’ from all.

[Press Release received on June 30, 2012 byJohn Adams, Head of Press & Diversity Affairs, EU Migration Services, 43-45, Portman Square, London, W1H 6HN.Email: johnadamseu@yahoo.co.uk]

Guinness World Record comes to Aligarh Muslim University

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

Aligarh: The students of Aligarh Muslim University have secured a place into the Guinness Book of World Records for their alma mater by creating the world’s largest paper envelope. The Guinness World Records has issued a certificate to the Aligarh Muslim University to this effect.

The 36ft x 24ft envelop was made by a group of more than two dozen students from different faculties. It also carried a message of world peace and brotherhood signed by more than ten thousand students and faculty members of the University. It was addressed to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping and had a beautiful stamp of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan on it.

The messages urged the people to make the world a corruption free and peaceful place. “Let there be no oppression, we want peace, equality, and brotherhood in the world”, read the tagline mentioned on envelop.

The official witnesses of the event, Prof. Mukhtar Ahmad, Prof. Razaullah Khan and Dr. F.S. Sheerani have congratulated the students on the first ever entry of the historical
university into the Guinness World Records. The students’ team leader, Syed Nabeel Mehdi said, “Credit goes to our team that worked really hard and put their sincere efforts. It required extreme care, neatness and delicacy to manufacture such a massive envelope with paper, which we would recycle soon”. He said it was just a beginning and in a new direction.

AMU Public Relations Officer, Dr. Rahat Abrar said, "The students have sent a sincere message to the world. This is what Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of this university,dreamt of – a peaceful and united world."

Educational empowernment blossoms: A success story of minority school in remote Gujarat

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

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani 

Ahmedabad: Hanifa School mostly caters to Muslim students coming from the low socio-economic background. Many of them are studying on scholarship. Most of these students are first generation learners and have no academic support from their families. In spite of these odds, the students of the first batch of class X to appear for CBSE Board Exams have stood out in their results and have written a success story that is commendable and fills all concerned with pride.

Hanifa School, situated at Borsad-Dhuvaran Road, Borsad, Anand, Gujarat, is a co-educational school with 600 plus students and a team of 40 dedicated teachers. The school is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and is awaiting its Minority Status.

The school is a dream child of Late Mr. Yunus Fazlani, a famous & successful businessman from Borsad. The school came into being in the year 2005 when Mr. Fazlani was driven with the need of educating the people of his community with the aim of increasing the literacy rate of his community and creating honest and competent citizens that take up their responsibilities in the world tomorrow, with ease.

Working towards this goal, he built the school with all the latest facilities required to achieve the target. The school has a number of first generation learners who are getting educated with the some of the best facilities like – a lush green 4 acres campus, airy, bright & colourful classrooms with technology aided smart class, technology aided Audio-Visual rooms, fully fledged Computer lab, Chemistry Lab, Biology Lab, Physics Lab, Math Lab, a Cricket Academy & a number of Sports facilities.

Though Yunus Fazlani did not live to see his dream bearing fruit, his efforts are very ably being carried forward by his uncle Kader Fazlani, his son Faisal Fazlani, his very dear friend Zuber Gopalani and all the other dedicated members of his family. The school is run under the agies of Aishabai & Haji Abdul Latif Charitable Trust with the motto of “Fostering the spirit of joyful learning.”

The Principal Mrs. Harinder Dhillon is from Vadodara and has been in the field of education since the last 30 years. Teachers are picked from Anand, Borsad, Vadodara and the other states of India as well. The school organises constant workshops for the professional development of its teachers and for the betterment of children and parents. Children are exposed to many co-curricular activities for their all-round development. These activities relate to academics (debates, elocution, recitation, handwriting, various national level Olympiads etc.), sports (kho kho, kabbadi, kushti, martial arts, cricket etc.), fine arts (drawing, colouring, painting etc.) and performing arts (dance & drama). 

The children participate in inter-school competitions at District, State and National levels as well. For the last two years they have been leaving their mark in the Khel Mahakumbh organised by the State. The school also organises inter-school competitions in various fields every year and invites eminent personalities as their Chief Guest.

The first batch of class X (2011-12) had 13 students – 3 girls and 10 boys who appeared for the Board Examinations and passed with flying colours. The 100% Board result is a source of pride & joy for all concerned with the school. It is also a morale booster for the students and teachers to scale even greater heights. The school also has permission to start class XI. We can truly say that well begun is half done. Though there are miles to go before we can sleep – we are very happy to be a successful part of Mr. Yunus Fazlani’s dream.

[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]

The Army: Missing Muslim India

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

By Ali Ahmed

This article begins with a set of statistics and thereafter proceeds to discuss these. The Platinum Jubilee issue of the magazine of the Indian Military Academy, published in 2007, has some revealing tidbits of information. From the lists of various officer alumni who have done the Academy proud, it is obvious that Muslims are few and far between. Only six Muslim officers, who have passed out of the IMA, have made the supreme sacrifice for the country since the 1971 War. Only one, late Captain Haneefuddin of Kargil fame, has been awarded a higher gallan-try medal, a Vir Chakra, ever since then. Only one Muslim Gentleman Cadet has won the Academy’s Sword of Honour post-independence, with the award being won way back in 1973.

These achievements appear somewhat meagre in the light of the Indian Muslims forming the country’s largest minority numbering over 175 million. It naturally raises the question: Why?
An answer can seen in a further set of statistics gleaned from the biannual magazines of the Indian Military Academy, published at the end of the Spring and the Autumn terms respectively. In the magazines a one-line pen-portrait is given of each Gentleman Cadet (GC) passing out, below the course photo of each company (equivalent of a House in schools). From the two magazine issues in 2005, it is evident that only eight Muslims passed out of the portals of the institution to become commissioned officers. In the Spring Term 2006, there were eight Muslims commissioned. In the Spring Term 2007, nine Muslims took the ‘Antim Pag’ or ‘Last Step’ as GCs but their first step as commissioned officers out of the 555 taking commission that term. The following Spring Term, 11 Muslim GCs passed out of 611. In the Autumn Term 2011, the latest one for which the magazine is available, 14 Muslims passed out. However, this last figure includes those from friendly foreign countries such as Afghanistan, the numbers for which have gone up since the strategic agreement with that country.

In other words, of the six magazines perused for ascertaining the numbers of Muslims gaining the officer commission from the IMA, 45 have made the grade. Assuming some were from foreign countries, less than 40 Indian Muslims have made it over two-and-a-half years into the Army from the IMA, that commissions more than 1200 officers a year. This compares somewhat poorly with the civil services yearly list on which 30 Muslims figured this year amongst about 900 who ‘made it’. Admittedly, there are other routes for officer commission these days into the Army, such as through the Officers Training Academy and through the Technical Officer 12th class entry stream. This means that the numbers making it into the Army are marginally higher and must be viewed against the total getting commissioned in a year, which a back-of-the-envelope calculation puts at 1800 plus a year.

Clearly, the overall number can only be as abysmal as the statistics accessed here reveal. While reckonings elsewhere place the percentage of Muslims at three per cent of the overall total of Muslims in the Army, the statistics in regard to officer numbers have been uninformed guesses at best. It is perhaps for the first time here that a figure of about 1.1 per cent of officer commissions being of Indian Muslims has been arrived at. The numbers of Muslim women officers can easily be imagined, with the OTA magazine being the right place to look for exact numbers in the absence of the government owing up to a problem.

The absence of information suggests that the statistics that are no doubt known to the government are somewhat embarrassing to reveal from the point of view of India’s and its Army’s secular credentials. It is no wonder then that a former Chief, General J.J. Singh, had put his foot down in revealing the details of Muslim representation in the Army when approached by the Sachar Committee for its report. The laconic answer given then was that the Army, being a secular institution, does not maintain such records. This explanation begged the question of how the mortal remains of dead soldiers were to be disposed-off in a war if the community to which a dead soldier belonged was not known?!

The intake being so limited into the commissioned ranks, it is no wonder then that the martial achievements of Muslim officers can be covered in less than a paragraph as in the first paragraph here. The Autumn Term 2011 issue can be mined for more telling statistics. For instance, not a single Muslim name occurs in the list of names below the group photos of the Academy faculty, the administrative staff, the training team and, worse, even the academic department. This is the same case in the Spring Term 2008. Among the non-officer instructor staff in the drill, physical training, weapons training and equitation sections, there are nine Muslim instructors. Incidentally, even at this non-officer level there are no Muslims in the consequential Training section. The relative absence of Muslims is of a piece with the fact given in the Platinum Number that the IMA has had only one Muslim Commandant and one Muslim Subedar Major post-independence. (For the record the National Defence Academy, a feeder institution to the IMA, has had two Muslim Commandants.)

While the numbers are few, the performance of Muslims at the Academy is also revealing. All six magazines carry photos and write-ups of the 34 top GC appointments, no doubt as incentive. Of the 136 appointments scanned only one was Muslim. Beginning with this leadership deficit, it is easy to reckon as to why there were no officer instructors in the two terms examined, 2008 and 2011. Not tenanting such prestigious appointments early on, the problem persists with very few making it to the higher ranks. This is accentuated by the steep pyramidal structure that the Army has. In other words, there is a cascading effect of the deficit of Muslim youth making it to the Indian Military Academy and beyond. The Army’s stock answer to this can be anticipated. The Army merely selects from those self-selecting to it as a profession. The onus is on India’s various communities to offer up their best youth for the noble profession of arms. This could easily have been accepted but for two facts. One is that General V.K. Singh’s exertions over the past year suggest that ‘community’ is a consequential factor, at least in the higher ranks. The second is that, given this under-representation, it is clear that this is compensated by over-representation of some other communities. What are the effects of such under/over-representation?

In case the answer to this question is found to be negative and consequential, then there is a case for correction. This is a controversial point to make since it is suggestive of affirmative action. This is not how this article recommends corrective action. But, first, it is necessary to ascertain whether a diverse country such as India is better off with its Army reflecting its diversity. The reflexive answer of a traditionalist would be, ‘Why fix what ain’t broke?’ In other words, if the Army is working as an apolitical and secular organisation, there is no need to tinker with it. The answer offered here is an impressionistic one to the contrary. It is that the internal health of the Army does not give ground for comp-lacence. The Army officer corps is from the lower middle class and confined geographically to North India and more narrowly to a certain set of communities traditionally advantaged by the recruitment patterns over at least a century-and-a-half. The officer corps will therefore reflect the opinions and attitudes of the social class to which it belongs. It is no secret that there has been a churning in Indian society over the past two decades, brought about by liberalisation and the ascendance of cultural nationalism. This influence has been in the face of the Army’s involvement in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism in J&K. While, as is the wont of armies universally, the Indian Army can be expected to exhibit a conservative-realist bias, this is accentuated by the social origin of the officer class. The discourse in this social space has the Muslim ‘Other’ taking on greater dimensions, the proportions of which have been enhanced by the global security discourse centred on Muslim extremism. A terror-based ‘inside-outside’ linkage between the Muslim Indian and Pakistani intelligence, sought to be established by the media and some political formations, has greater play than otherwise would be the case. A content analysis of in-service publications can prove this to an extent. (That is not gone in here for want of space.) The absence of Muslims from an officer’s social space as colleagues and peers does little to dispel misinterpretations. The problem that occurs is in the perception of the social class in which the officer corps is anchored being elevated to the institutional threat perception and at one remove that of the state.

The disadvantage for under-represented communities is that they are unable to take advantage of the expansion in the security sector, incidentally the only sector growing in neoliberal climes. The Sixth Ppay Commission bonanza thus gets channelled narrowly to those advantaged, reinforcing the inequity. Given that Muslims have been shown up as under-represented here and knowing that most are from the equivalent of backward classes, it can be surmised that the problem afflicts the backward classes in general as well as SC/STs, given that the military does not have reservations (and rightly so). This means that the only government sector that is expanding caters for a certain section of society. (The Army has expanded by two divisions over the past three years and is set to add 86,000 men as part of a mountain strike corps over the next five year plan.) Continuing with the present intake pattern can deepen divides.

It is therefore with a view to correcting this perceptual and attitudinal bias that it is recommended here that the telling statistic of a mere one-to-two per cent of officers being Muslim be taken seriously by both the state and Muslim community. As a first step, the pattern of intake must be ascertained in-house to find out if what is surmised here carries water. Its implications, as discussed, can also be thought through. The Army, if the reasoning given in the previous paragraph is persuasive, must for its own reasons carry out a campaign to make itself attractive to a whole host of communities that are under-represented. These include those from the North-East and South India, leave alone Muslims. Civil-military liaison conferences in these States must be geared to energising the State administration to take corrective measures. This could include establishing Sainik Schools, increasing the representativeness of Sainik and Military school intake etc.

Additionally, communities, such as India’s various Muslim communities across the country, can rig up swotting classes to help its youth qualify and clear the induction hurdles. This is how States over-represented in the officer cadre prepare the youth. The Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia and the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim Universities, coincidentally being military men, can guide the community’s reaction. Affirmative action is not being suggested here, only targeted advertisement campaigns being followed up suitably by state and civil society action.

[Ali Ahmad, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor, Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.]

(Courtesy: Mainstream, VOL L No 27, June 23, 2012)

Nitish-Modi Spat: Debating Secularism

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

By Ram Puniyani

Nitish Kumar in an obvious reference to opposition to Modi’s possible projection as the Prime-ministerial candidate of NDA, in the next parliamentary elections said that NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate should be one with secular credentials. His aide went on to say that Vajpayee had the intention of sacking in the wake of Gujarat carnage and the NDA lost 2004 Parliamentary elections due to the Gujarat carnage and role of Modi in the same (June 19, 2012). In response Lalu Yadav questioned Nitish as to how he Nitish continued to be part of NDA after Gujarat happened? The BJP spokesmen talked at various levels. One of them said that ideologically Vajpayee, Advani and Modi are all the same. Another one said that Hindutva is truly secular and liberal so why Modi cannot be the PM candidate. RSS Supremo Bhagwat buttressed the point by saying as to why the nation cannot have a Hindutvawadi prime minister?

With this the ever continuing debate about secularism and the nature of Hindutva is in the social space once again. One concedes that Kumar is no secular angel. When BJP came to become the largest single party in Lok Sabha in 1996, no one dared to ally with it that time as it’s communal face was starkly obvious due to its role in Babri demolition and consequent violence, which was too fresh in people’s memory. By 1998 in a similar situation many parities including Kumar’s JD (U) could not resist the temptation of power and struck some minimum common program to share power with the BJP. Though his JD (U) had a common minimum understanding with BJP, right under Kumar’s nose BJP during NDA regime communalized the polity to no end. Saffronization of text books was done and introduction of courses like Paurihitya and Hindu Rituals in the Universities being just few examples of the Hindutva agenda, were starkly visible. When the carnage broke out in 2002, Kumar was the minister for railways and in that capacity he ignored the investigation of Godhra train burning, which was mandatory as per the rules. Due to this Modi’s concoction that train burning was a preplanned act by Muslims went unchallenged for a long time. Kumar could have called Modi’s bluff that the train burning was a planned act by Muslims.

Nitish was part of the cabinet. What did he tell Vajpayee at that time one does not know, but as a secular person, his threat of pulling out from the Government would have set the house in order to a great extent. Even today, right under his nose his ally; the BJP of Bihar, is communalizing the polity. Communalism is not just communal violence. Communal violence is just the superficially visible part of the process of communalization, which aims to abolish secular space and liberal values.

Some of the statements of BJP spokepersons are partly true also. The claim that Vajpayee, Advani, and Modi (one can add even people like Praveen Togadia, Promod Mutallik, Vinay Katiyar and the likes) are similar, is true to a great extent. They are all ideologically committed swaymsevaks, (RSS trained Cadres) working for the agenda of Hindu Rashta, the goal of RSS politics. There are dissimilarities amongst them also; there is a division of labor amongst them also. Since BJP is not hoping for coming to majority on its own strength, it has to keep a liberal façade. Precisely for this reason Vajpayee was the prime Minister, while prime mover of the chariot of communalism through Ram Temple campaign, Advani, was forced to play the second fiddle. When Vajpayee withdrew from the scene, Advani decided for the image change over and he suddenly realized the secular worth of Jinnah. It is another matter that he overplayed the game and their patriarch, RSS, decided to clip his wings and demote him. All the top brass of BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and many other RSS outfits are primarily the RSS swayamasevaks, which is too well known by now.
When the previous avatar of BJP, Jan Sangh, merged in Janata Party in the wake of lifting of emergency, the other components of Janata party, socialists in particular, demanded that the Jan Sangh members should give up their membership-affiliation with RSS. For Jan Sanghis breaking link with RSS was unthinkable and they decided to pull out from Janata Party and then they regrouped as Bharatiya Janata Party, as it is known at present. Vajpayee, in his famous address to NRI Indians in Staten Island, US, asserted that he is Swayamsevak first and anything else, PM, later.

In that sense they are on the same ideological wavelength but playing different roles at any point of time. They are communal to the core, with the agenda to work for religion based nationalism. To say that Hindutva is secular and liberal is like putting the reality on its head. Hindutva is not Hinduism. Hinduism is an umbrella of various religious streams, which flowered and existed in this part of the world. Hindutva as a concept and political ideology started emerging during colonial period and was later popularized by Savarkar. He defined it as ‘Whole of Hinduness’, a combination of Aryan race, culture and language. In particular Hindutva is based on the Brahmanical stream of Hinduism, subtly promoting caste and gender hierarchy, reviving the feudal hierarchical system in the modern idioms.
When the whole nation was coming together on the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the upholders of Hindutva, coming from the sections of Rajas, Jamindars and section of upper caste Hindus kept aloof from the struggle against British. They came together as Hindu Mahasabha and later founded and supported RSS. Their politics was parallel and opposite of the politics of Muslim League, which was arguing on the similar line for an Islamic state, Pakistan. Muslim League also had base amongst the landed aristocracy, Nawabas, Jagirdars and later joined by educated elite. Hindutva stream, Hindu Mahasabha-RSS projected the glorious Hindu past and asserted we are a Hindu Nation from times immemorial. Muslim League identified with the rule of Muslim kings and traced their lineage to the first invasion of Muslim King in this part of the world. The National movement under Gandhi was for throwing away the yoke of colonial rule and for social change of caste and gender relations. It articulated that we are a Nation in the making.

Here one can see the instrumentalist use of religion by a section of society, elite, who wanted to preserve their privileges in the changing social dynamics. The sharpest articulation of Hindutva politics came from M.S. Golwalkar, who in his ‘We or our Nationhood Defined’, eulogized fascism and asked for a second class citizenship for Muslims and Christians. Today the RSS cadres unable to swallow the blunt formulation of their politics by Golwalkar deny the existence of this book. The dilemma of RSS and its progeny is to keep the democratic face till they come to a majority when they can unleash their full scale agenda. Currently also their trained swayamsevaks are infiltrating in different wings of the state, media and education apart from forming the organizations like BJP etc. So who is secular in BJP? They claim that they believe in justice for all and appeasement of none. This is a very cleverly worded sentence to hide their intention of continuing the discrimination of those suffering in the present scheme of things.

How does one understand the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva? One has to take recourse to the example of the ‘father of the nation’ to avoid the heavy academic debates. Gandhi was a Hindu but not a follower of Hindutva. Godse and the RSS tribe are the practitioners of ‘Hindutva politics’. For this politics a Hindu like Gandhi is unacceptable ideologically as he could reach the zenith of secular ethos while being the best of the Hindus! We do realize that while the statement by Nitish Kumar is a symbol of shadow boxing it also presents one of the aspects of the political reality being witnessed by the nation.

[Ram Puniyani is based in Mumbai and is a strong advocate of human rights. He can be contacted at ram.puniyani@gmail.com]

IDB scholarship forms for Muslims available in Companion School in Bhopal

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The poor Muslim students who have passed out 12th Board examinations in 2012 and have secured admissions in professional courses such as engineering, medical, MBA etc. can apply for Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, (IDB), scholarships.

According to Dr. Maulana Arif Junaid Nadwi, the local coordinator, the application forms of IDB scholarships for the professional courses are available in Companion School in Ginnori locality of the old city on all working days from 11 am to 1 pm. The Companion School is situated at A-24/1 Inside Captan Saheb ki Bagia, opposite Masjid Roshan (Dhobiyaan), behind Hamidia School (Boys).

The interviews for awarding scholarship shall be held all over India in the month of September 2012. The final selection result shall be declared by 1st week of November. The completed application forms with relevant required documents must be submitted to Muslim Education Trust, (MET), New Delhi (and not directly to the IDB Headquarters in Jeddah), by July 31, 2012.

To qualify for the IDB Scholarships, Students should meet the following requirements: (i) Must have secured minimum 60 per cent marks in English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology/Mathematics in SSC (10+2) examination; (ii) Applicants for bachelor courses in Business Administration (BBA) and Law must have scored minimum 60 per cent marks in English and optional/elective subjects in SSC (10+2); Age not over 24 years and not in receipt of any other scholarship.

Only if the students or their parents are financially weak and unable to pay for his/her education. Students opting for payment seats need not apply. Students benefiting from this scholarship must undertake to serve their community and country on completion of their studies.

The approved areas of study Under the Program include: Bachelor's Degree Courses in Medicine (including Ayurveda, Unani & Homeopathy) Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Physiotherapy, Nursing, Lab Technician, Bio-Technology and Microbiology, Engineering(all branches) Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Food Technology, Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Law.

It may be mentioned here that the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, introduced its scholarship program in many countries including India in the year of 1983 with a view to promote professional education among Muslim community. The IDB Scholarship Program is more than just a scholarship program in the traditional sense, i.e. as a straight financial assistance to needy and qualified students. It is also a tool for the improvement of the social and economic conditions of the Muslim community as a whole. It is a scholarship program and a community development program at the same time, since the scholarship is given as an interest-free loan (Qardh-e-Hasna) to the students but as a grant to the community to which they belong to in the shape of its refunds.

Besides, the students are also required to take part in the development of their community through their respective profession. The repaid fund is recycled, to provide scholarships for other deserving students, to complement the IDB Scholarship Program and to ensure continuity of the Program in the long run, while the community development services rendered by the students will contribute to the overall development of the community and the country.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Madhya Pradesh achieves 12 pc economic growth rate, claims government

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The year 2011-12 is going to be a watershed vis-à-vis economic growth of Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Madhya Pradesh with revised estimates of that period having put the economic growth rate of the Heartland State at 12 percent.

Having agrarian economy Madhya Pradesh has also posted an exceptionally high 18 percent agricultural growth rate. This is, undeniably attributable to the well contemplated and committed efforts made by the state government to make agriculture a lucrative proposition, an official spokesman claimed.

Besides, Madhya Pradesh clocked close to 17 percent in manufacturing and 8 percent in industrial growth. In Madhya Pradesh the contribution of industrial sector to GDP has increased to 29 percent. This has opened up new vistas of development in the state. The prospects of augmenting job opportunities and higher capital investment have also been brightened.

It may be mentioned here that in last four years Madhya Pradesh has stood third in terms of growth in comparison to other states of the country. Besides, during last four years, the state’s growth rate has been above the All India average growth rate.

In a contrast, Madhya Pradesh witnessed negative growth two times in years preceding 2004-05. In year 2000-01 state had -7 percent and in year 2002-03 -4 percent. The state’s growth rate in year 2004-05 was mere 3 percent.

Over last seven-eight years Madhya Pradesh has been able to make these creditable achievements in growth against various odds. Except two years the rainfall had been less than average in all last seven years. In year 2009 it was even 35 and in year 2010 it was 26 percent less than average. The widespread frost in year 2010-11 adversely impacted the farm output in the state. Despite this, Madhya Pradesh registered about 10 per cent growth rate in year 2009-10 and close to 8 percent in year 2010-11. Madhya Pradesh never had less than five per cent growth rate in any year since year 2004-05. A large chunk of state’s population is engaged in agriculture and construction activities. The growth in these sectors would benefit them. Increased income would lead to greater expenditure for better health, education and other sectors besides paving the way for greater capital investment and production.

Agriculture - Creditable Achievements

• Over all crop production increased from 142 lakh MT to 254 MT in last 8 years.
• Farm productivity increased from 831 kg per hectare to 1223 kg per hectare.
• Madhya Pradesh produced a record 127 lakh MT wheat in year 2011-12.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

USA, Russia and Besieged Muslim Nations

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

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Soviet Russia has been hated in Islamic world and as the successor state of the Soviet Union, Russia still risks being isolated in the Islamic world.

Since the WW-III, launched by America and its NATO allies as follow-up of the Sept-11 hoax against Muslim nations, America is hated in Islamic world. 

When Muslims realized the deadly role played by Saudi Arabia and its Arab League were behind the Sept-11 hoax targeting Islam through CIA operative Osama, they now hate Arab world as being secret part of NATO terror gang. This has been proven time and again in NATO war against Afghans, Pakistanis and their illegal war in Iraq searching for illusionary WMD. 

Both top powers USA and Russia can continue to rule the world despite their flawed diplomacy.

Moscow has economic and geopolitical interests in many Arab and non-Arab nations, including former Iraq, Iran, Syria, ranging from business contracts to Russia’s only naval facility on the Mediterranean Sea in Tartus. In August 2008, Bashar al-Assad endorsed Russia’s military actions in Georgia, publicly proclaiming Russia as a guarantor of peace in the South Caucasus. Trade is more important to Moscow than any benefits for Arab nations that buy the terror goods from the Kremlin.

Many Arab states supported Russia’s need for territorial integrity and their positions vis-à-vis Chechnya in 1994, 1999 and 2004 (during the Beslan tragedy) helped Moscow. Besides, many Arab volunteers and mercenaries, who were looking for a “just fight” in the mountains of Chechnya and Dagestan, were persecuted in their own homelands for their planned invasion.

Russia’s interests in Syria should be viewed not solely as superior complexes or legacy of imperial fantasies. They are to a large extent pragmatic and relate to domestic security.
The phenomenon of “great Russia” still haunts many ambitious Russians. The loss of empire syndrome continues to disrupt Russian diplomacy and Russians still unable to clearly articulate the country’s national interests.

This shaky attitude of Arab leaders is yet another reason why Chechnya has not become an independent nation, despite the Moscow’s promise.

This is the cause of endless struggle of Muslims for justice across the globe Palestine, Kashmir, etc, for instance! 

Neither Russia nor USA has made any sincere effort to regain the trust of Muslim nations to mute the popular anger in Islamic world. On the contrary, they continue to harp on fake terrorism dramas. 

These top pwoers with maximum arsenalsof terror goods, nukes inclusive, think there is no need to aither paologize to Msulilm natons nor go slow in nay manner so as not to betray their hideen agendas against Islam and muslims. It is obviously because the attack on Islam and Muslim nations had been preplanned and meticulously executed by anti-Islamic forces guided, obviously, by the CIA-Mossad and allies, through the Sept-11 hoax. 

The ongoing illegal war on terror is indeed the World war- III with maximum human (Muslim in millions) causalities. 

The NATO wild and insane beasts feast on Muslim corpses!!!

[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_jnu@yahoo.com]

Everything in Islam Made Sense: Ultra-Orthodox Jew Accepts Islam

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

By Melech Yacov

I remember hearing my mother talk about Islam, and how Muhammad worshipped the same God as us...

When I was born I was given the Hebrew name Melech Yacov. Today I still live in the area in New York where I was born. We were a semi-religious family; we belonged to a Chasidic congregation to which we went every Saturday, but we did not keep all the strict observances required in Chasidic Judaism.

For those who don't know, Chasidism is known in the mainstream as "Ultra Orthodox" Judaism. They are called so because of their strict observances of Halacha (Jewish Law) and their following of Jewish mysticism (cabala). They are the strange people that you see walking down the street wearing black suits and hats and letting their beards and sideburns grow long.

The Early Years

We were not like that though. My family cooked and used electricity on the Sabbath, and I didn't wear a yarmulke on my head. Moreover I grew up in a secular environment surrounded by non-Jewish schoolmates and friends. For many years I still felt guilty about driving on Saturdays and eating non-kosher food.

Although I did not observe all of the rules, I nevertheless felt a strong sense that this was the way that God wanted me to live, and every time I omitted a rule, I was committing sin in the eyes of God.

From the earliest days, my mother would read to me the stories of the great Rabbis like Eliezar, the Baal Shem Tov, and the legends from the Haggada (part of the Talmud other than the Halacha) and Torah.

All of these stories had the same ethical message which helped me to identify with the Jewish community, and later Israel. The stories showed how Jews were oppressed throughout history, but God always stood by His people until the end. The stories that we Jews were brought up on showed us that miracles always saved the Jews whenever they were in their greatest time of need. The survival of the Jews throughout history, despite all odds, is seen as a miracle in itself.

I began asking questions like: What exactly is a Jew anyway? Is Judaism a culture, a nation, or a religion?

If a person wants to take an objective view on why most Jews have the irrational Zionist stance regarding Israel, then they must understand the way by which we were indoctrinated with these stories as children. That is why the Zionists pretend that they are doing nothing wrong at all. All of the goyim (gentiles) are seen as enemies waiting to attack, and thus they cannot be trusted. The Jewish people have a very strong bond with one another and see each other as the "chosen people" of God. For many years I believed this myself.
Although I had a strong sense of identity as a Jew, I could not stand going to Saturday services (shul). I still remember myself as a little boy being forced to go to shul with my father. I remember how dreadfully boring it was for me and how strange everyone looked with their black hats and beards praying in a foreign language. It was like being thrown into a different world away from my friends and the people I knew. This was what I thought I was supposed to be, but I (and my parents) never adopted the Chasidic life like the rest of my family.

Teen Years

When I turned 13, I was bar-mitzvahed like every other Jewish boy who becomes a man. I also began putting tefilin (Hebrew amulets) on every morning. I was told that it is dangerous to skip putting it on because it was like an omen and bad things might happen to you. The first day I skipped putting on tefilin my mom's car got stolen! That event encouraged me to wear it for a long time.

It was only a little while after my bar-mitzvah that my family stopped going to synagogue altogether. They could not stand the three-and-a-half hours of prayer and felt that getting me bar-mitzvahed was the most important thing. Later on, my father got into a silly quarrel with some congregation members, and we ended up not going at all to services anymore. Then something strange happened: my father was convinced by a friend to accept Jesus into his heart. God willingly my mother did not divorce my father for his conversion to Christianity, but she has kept a silent hatred of it ever since.

This was also a period in my early-teen years when I sought to find something to identify with. My father's conversion helped me question my own beliefs. I began asking questions like: What exactly is a Jew anyway? Is Judaism a culture, a nation, or a religion? If it is a nation, then how could Jews be citizens of two nations? If Judaism is a religion, then why are the prayers recited in Hebrew, prayers for Eretz Israel, and observance of "Oriental" rituals? If Judaism was just a culture, then would not a person cease to be a Jew if he stopped speaking Hebrew and practicing Jewish customs?

If a Jew was one who observes the commandments of the Torah, then why is Abraham called the first Jew when he lived before the Torah came down to Moses? Incidentally, the Torah doesn't even say he was a Jew; the word Jew comes from the name of one of Jacob's 12 sons, Judah. Jews were not called Jews until the Kingdom of Judah was established after the time of Solomon.

How could any good Jew deny that Palestinians were killed and forced from their land to make way for Jewish settlements?

Tradition holds that a Jew is someone whose mother was Jewish. So you can still be a Jew if you practice Christianity or atheism. More and more I began to move away from Judaism. There were so many laws and mitzvahs (good deeds) to observe. What is the point of all these different rituals, I began to question. To me they were all man-made.

I was fascinated with Native American culture and their bravery in the face of the white settlers who stole their land. The Native Americans had over 250 treaties broken with them, and they were given the worst strips of land that no one wanted. The story of the Native Americans is similar to that of the Palestinians.

The first Palestinians were living in Palestine for thousands of years and suddenly Jews replaced them, and the natives are forced into refugee camps in which they still live. I asked my parents how the Palestinians are different from Native Americans, and the only answer I got was "because they want to kill all Jews and drive them into the sea."

My understanding of the Palestinian people put me above any of the Jews, their leaders, and Rabbis whom I once viewed as wise men. How could any good Jew deny that Palestinians were killed and forced from their land to make way for Jewish settlements? What justifies this act of ethnic cleansing – the fact that many Jews died in the Holocaust! Or is it because the bible says it’s "our" land? Any book that justifies such a thing would be immoral and hence not of God.

Philosophy and the Search for Knowledge

When I reached high school, I became interested in philosophy and read many of the great thinkers of the past. I spent time with good friends who read philosophy and who went along with me through the bumpy paths to Truth.

One of the philosophers who had an impact on me was the Jewish-born Spinoza. Spinoza was a 17th century Talmudic student who questioned everything he was taught such as the belief in life after death, a belief that is found nowhere in the Torah. In fact many of the early Jews didn't have such a belief. Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community for his views. I enjoyed reading his views on the Bible, which he said could not be taken literally without a boat-load of contradictions and problems.

Although I gave up the fight for revolution, I became an active pro-Palestinian organizer.
Then I read two significant books that completely swept away any ounce of sympathy I had left for Judaism. The first book was called "On the Jewish Question" by Abram Leon. Leon was an underground Communist organizer in Belgium during World War II, and later he was caught and died at Aushwitz. His book answered the age-old question: Why did the Jews survive for so long? He gave a superb historical account of the Jews from the age of antiquity to the modern day and shows that their survival was by no means a miracle.
In the words of Karl Marx, "It is not in spite of history that the Jews survive but because of it." First, he shows how much of the Jewish community left Israel on their own accord before the destruction of Jerusalem. Then he explains that the Jews were valuable to the kings and nobles of the middle ages because of their status as middle men. Then he shows how during the process of capitalist accumulation the status of Jew finally took a downward turn and they were subsequently persecuted for their usury.

The second book that affected me greatly was called "Who Wrote the Bible?" by Elliot Freedman. It takes up the historical task of Spinoza. The book proves that the Torah is actually written by 4 different people. Freedman explains to us that there were 2 different traditional accounts from the Kingdom of Israel and Judah, and that a redactor intertwined them together to get the Bible we have today.

Political Activism

Besides reading philosophy with my friends, we also took up many different political causes in our youth. We experimented in everything from Republicanism to Communism. I took up reading all the works of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Trotsky.

I found in Marxism what I felt was missing in my life. I believed that I had found all the answers to everything and hence felt intellectually superior to everyone. The philosophy bandits (as I like to call us) got together and formed our own little Socialist club. We went to different activist events like protests and labor strikes.

After meeting all the different cult groups that surrounded the political left in America we all became disgusted at the way they acted and denied reality. No revolution would be made in a country by this type of people. Fighting for social change cannot win by using methods of the past.

Although I gave up the fight for revolution, I became an active pro-Palestinian organizer. This is the one cause about which I was very passionate. We were very small and attacked by the mainstream which gave me a sense of pride. I wanted the world to know that not all Jews are bad people. It shames me to see people whom I once looked up to support the aggressive regime of Israel. The lies coming from Israel are nothing less than holocaust denial.
I was surprised of how logically consistent the Qur’an was.

Although I gave up Judaism and looked at this world as the ultimate aim of man, I was never really an atheist. However, I had a strong hatred of all religion and believed that it was a tool of the people in charge to use to keep everyone else in check. When you see the way fundamentalist Christians act in America, doing things like denying science and upholding values of old white men, you can understand why I was skeptical of all religions. The way Jews acted toward Palestinians did not help either. Nevertheless, I still believed in God in the very back of my mind. But with religion gone, I had a big emptiness left in me. I sometimes even wished that I was a religious person because I felt that they lived happier lives.

Finding Islam

Honestly I do not remember what got me interested in Islam, especially after many years of strong anti-religious feeling. As a child, I remember hearing my mother talk about Islam, and how Muhammad (peace be upon him) worshipped the same God as us, and also how Jews are related to Arabs through Abraham. So in a way I kind of accepted Islam as just another religion that worships God. I have a faint memory of my cousin (a Chasid) who said to me that if a Jew gives up his life as a Jew and lives like a Muslim, he wouldn't be committing any sin! Looking back I am astonished to have heard such a thing.

When September 11th. happened, there was a surge in anti-Islamic propaganda in the news. From the very beginning, I knew that it was all lies because I already had developed the perspective that everything in the media protects the interests of those who control it. When I saw that the most militant people in attacking Islam were fundamentalist Christians, Islam started looking more attractive to me. I thank God for what I learned in my activist days, because without the knowledge of society and the media, I would have believed all the garbage that I heard about Islam on the television.

One day I remember hearing someone talk about scientific facts in the Bible so I wondered if the Qur’an had scientific facts in it. I did an Internet search and I discovered a lot of amazing stuff. I subsequently spent a great deal of time consuming articles on various aspects of Islam. I was surprised of how logically consistent the Qur’an was.

As I read the Qur’an, I would compare its moral message to that of what I learned from the Bible and understood how much better it was. Also the Qur’an was not nearly as boring as reading the Bible. It's fun to read. After about 5 months of intense study I said my shahadah and officially became Muslim.

Unlike my old religion, everything in Islam made sense. All the practices like prayer and Ramadan I understood already. Although I imagined Islam to be like Judaism in which one follows a series of different rules dogmatically, I was wrong. My understanding of the world also matched what Islam taught me – that all religions are basically the same but have been corrupted by man over time. God didn't make a name called Judaism and Christianity and tell people to worship Him. God taught the people only Islam; that is submission to Him alone. It is as clear and simple as that.

(Courtesy: OnIslam.net)

Dr. Mujeebur Rahman Khan conferred with Fellowship of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 29 June 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Aligarh: The National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) has awarded its prestigious life-time Fellowship to Dr. Mujeebur Rahman Khan, Plant Protection (Plant Pathology & Nematology), Aligarh Muslim University. In order to recognize contributions of researchers and scientists from India and abroad in the field of agriculture and Allied Sciences every year and to develop a strong base of highly specialized research, the academy selects 15-20 Indian and foreign scientists to award its prestigious fellowship on its Foundation Day.

Dr. Khan was awarded by Dr. R. B. Singh, President, NAAS and Dr. S. Ayyappan, DG-ICAR in a glittering function at New Delhi. He is the seventh nematologist of the country to receive the honour since inception of NAAS.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Khan emphasized the need of using environmentally safe materials in crop production system, and highlighted the benefits of organic farming and integrated pest management. He further emphasized that the countries like India where average farm size is very small, low input sustainable agriculture (LISA) suited well.

He said that the farmers should incorporate biofertilizers and biopesticides to improve the crop productivity and market value of the produce. He also highlighted the damages to crops due to air pollution emanating from coal fired industries, and suggested that crop plants having soft and expanded leaves like cucurbits and brassicas should not be grown in an area of 5-10 km radius of such industries. These industries also add CO2, which has its own implications in greenhouse related consequences. Elevated levels of CO2 and SO2 can aggravate the plant diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, nematodes etc, he added.

Dr. Mujeebur Rahman Khan has over 250 research publications and review articles and two patents (USA & India) to his credit. Further, he has contributed 7 authored/edited books published from USA, Germany and India. He has attended over 50 national and international conferences. He is a recipient of Prof. Hira Lal Chakravarty Award and Outstanding Scientist Award. Dr. Khan has spcialization in biological control of plant diseases, effect of environmental pollutants on the development of plant diseases, industrial waste utilization in crop protection and molecular characterization of species/races of pathogens.

India: Muslims worried over slowing economy

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

Will efforts to boost prospects for India's Muslims survive a downturn in growth?

By Udayan Namboodiri

New Delhi: Signs that India's economic engine is slowing have made for unwelcome news across the country. For Muslims, however, the trend is particularly worrisome, as their community has been lagging behind even in prosperous times.

India's Muslim population is the world's second-largest, after Indonesia, and accounts for around 13% of all citizens. But a landmark 2006 report, released by the government-appointed Rajinder Sachar Committee, found they have significantly lower educational levels, incomes and job prospects.

Sharp disparities remained even as India enjoyed several consecutive years of robust growth over the past decade. But the global economic downturn stalled the momentum, and this month Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao acknowledged publicly that the "potential for India's economic growth has come down".

Last month, the government confirmed that the growth rate had slumped to just 6.5% between April 2011 and March 2012, compared to 8.4% year-over-year for the same time period.

Between January and March, the economy stagnated at just 5.3% compared to 9.4% for the same period last year. What's worse the industrial sector, regarded as the biggest job generator, reported negative growth.

"Mr Subbarao's statement, read in conjunction with those coming from the finance ministry, reflects the serious setback that India has received in its dream of being a global economic power," the government's chief economic adviser, Kaushik Basu, told Khabar South Asia.

Belt-tightening puts affirmative action at risk

With the prospect of austerity measures looming for India as a whole, Muslims are bracing for the impact. According to a political leader whose party swept into power in Uttar Pradesh two months ago with wide support from the Muslim community, there is a growing sense of vulnerability.

"Austerity always hits the poorest of the poor, and repeated government-sponsored studies have shown that India's Muslims belong to that bracket," Shahid Siddiqui, a senior Samajwadi Party leader, told Khabar.

"Even without austerity they suffered poor representation in organised sector jobs, and their traditional occupations were hit hard by competition from Chinese imports," he said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) leader and eight-term member of Parliament Hannan Mollah said programmes to lift the community out of poverty are at risk.

"The slowdown is sure to lead to cutbacks in government projects, especially those attuned to minority needs," Mollah said. Improving minority prospects, he said, depends on grants, microfinance programmes and "soft loans", that is, low-interest loans provided by the government at low interest rates.

"In an austerity situation, these may be hit," he said.

Asaduddin Owaisi, a prominent Muslim leader from the southern city of Hyderabad, sees a "dwindling share of Muslims in the Indian economy".

"The global economic slowdown, compounded by the eurozone crisis, will hit India's export sector hard," Owaisi told Khabar. "Muslims make up a sizeable chunk of the export sector's workforce, and if these firms lose markets abroad, Muslims will lose jobs."

Government committed to moving forward

The administration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insists it is still committed to closing the gap. It points to concrete steps taken during its tenure, starting with the Sachar report.
Singh was in his second year of power when he asked former Judge Rajinder Sachar to lead a committee tasked with providing empirical evidence of the economic deprivation of Muslims.

When the committee's report found that Muslims hold a disproportionately low share (5%) of public sector jobs, the government decided to take urgent action, introducing quotas and other measures.

Salman Khursheed, Minister for Minorities Welfare, is proud of the work the government has done.

"The last three years saw a significant rise in government recruitment of minorities," he told Khabar. "Our intervention led to a steady increase in the number of Muslims in government jobs. From less than 5% in 2005, it went up to 8.3% in 2008 and 9.24% in 2010."

Whether the Singh administration's track record will be enough to reassure Muslim voters in turbulent times is in doubt, however. During the Uttar Pradesh election Singh's Congress Party pulled out all the stops in an effort to gain support from this key constituency, accounting for 22% of the state population.

Instead, Muslims largely deserted Congress for the Samajwadi Party, which says it will do a better job of safeguarding their interests.

(Courtesy: Khabar South Asia)

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