Headlines

Prime Minister assures of positive effort for early provision of fund for AMU Kishanganj

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 15 August 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Manzar Imam

New Delhi: Calling the establishment of a center of Aligarh Muslim University at Kishanganj, Bihar inevitable Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Sigh assured to take appropriate steps for early provision of fund for the Centre. The PM was talking to a delegation of Members of Parliament, Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council led by Member of Parliament from Kishanganj Bihar, Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque Qasmi. The PM was apprised of the situation arising out of delay in budgetary allocations. Attention of the PM was drawn to the growing resentment and anger among people of Bihar towards the Central Government because of inordinate delay in granting fund for AMU Centre Kishanganj for which the State Government of Bihar had provided 224.04 acres of land seven months ago.

The delegation warned the PM of mass protest and dharna if fund was provided immediately. He was also reminded of the announcement of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi during their Kishanganj visit that the Central Government would provide fund immediately after Bihar Government provided land to the university. But, even after seven months of land having been provided no budgetary provisions were made causing uneasiness among the people. 

"I will speak to Sibal over the issue of funds release for the Kishanganj centre of AMU," the PM told the delegation which met him in the Parliament on 13 August. The meeting lasted 15 minutes, Congress MP from Kishanganj, Mohammad Asrarul Haque said.

A memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister. It stated that “It is unfortunate that even after seven months following the land given to AMU by the State Government of Bihar, no budget has been allocated for the AMU Centre, Kishanganj by the Central Government.” The memorandum warned that any more delay might cause further resentment and backfire against the Central Government resulting into loss of trust.

The memorandum bearing signatures of the 10 delegate members demanded a) a moderate budget of 25 crore rupees, b) starting of two courses of law and management and c) re-launching a mass movement if the demands were not made.

The delegation led by Maulana Qasmi included Congress MP Husain Dalwai, NCP MP Tariq Anwar, Congress MLAs Ghulam Rabbai and Dr. Md. Jawaid, Forward Block and RJD MLAs Ali Imran Ramz and Akhtarul Imaan respectively, MLCs Ghulam Gaus and Tanweer Hassan and AICC member Dr Shakeel Ahmad Khan. 

It should be remembered that a huge mass dharna was organized in Kishanganj on 12 October 2011 following which the Bihar Government had provided 224.04 acres of land to AMU and an agreement between the State Government administration and AMU authorizes was signed on 30th December. Despite promises made by the Gandhis to get a Central fund for the Kishanganj Centre, no budgetary provisions have been made so far. This is causing resentment among the people of Bihar, especially Purnea Division which does not have a single central or state university and whose literacy rate is half the national literacy rate.

[Manzar Imam, a Delhi-based Journalist, is Special Correspondent of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at manzarkhalil@gmail.com]

London Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Bernard Hogan-Howe, hosted for Iftar

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

IMO News Service

London: The newly opened, Harrow Central Mosque one of the largest Mosques in London, paid host to the Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police Service: Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe. The event was attended by the Lord Mayor of Harrow, the Cultural Attaché of Egyptian Embassy with the Egyptian Olympic team as well as the hundreds of worshippers from different cultural backgrounds.

The Iftar 2012 team with the leadership of the Harrow Central Mosque also had the pleasure of the company of Mr Dal Babu the local Police Borough Commander for Iftar. The Commissioner Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe, met with the community and was warmly received. In his speech to the congregation he said: "Keeping London safe and protecting the community was his top priority and he welcomed the invitation to attend an Iftar and especially in Harrow which had a very diverse religious and cultural mix”

The Chairman of the Harrow Central Mosque Mr Irfan Hussain said: “The Mosque is honoured to host the Commissioner as well as the Egyptian Olympic team during the London 2012 games, the Mosque is becoming a community hub and this is a great way to showcase what we have achieved”

Shaukat Warraich Director of Iftar 2012 said: "The Police have done a magnificent job during the London 2012 games and to have the Commissioner honour us at the Iftar 2012 event at the newly built Harrow Central Mosque, is a testament to the partnership working between the community and Police in London”

'Islamic' Facebook to be launched soon

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

Sydney: An Islamic version of the social site Facebook is set to be launched in Indonesia in November, giving the 240 million people of the country another social media outlet.
'Salamworld', as it has been named, will also have an option that allows users to ensure the content they view is 'Halal', material allowed under Islamic law, and filter out indecent subject matter, such as pornography or illegal drugs.

"By filtering out harmful content and ensuring that its pages uphold and respect family values, Salamworld can be described as 'Halal Facebook', the new social networking phenomenon," the Herald Sun quoted Salamworld chairman Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, as saying.

The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, is also the second-largest market in the world for Facebook and the third-largest for Twitter, the paper said.

Niyazov has described the site as a "cleaner version of Facebook".

Salamworld, which is currently being tested by some 1000 users worldwide, would be available in eight languages, including English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and Russian, the paper added.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

GUJARAT UPDATE: Keshubhai Patel a threat to Narendra Modi only in Saurashtra region

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 14 August 2012 | Posted in , , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani 

Ahmedabad: Former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who announced a new political front on last Monday, is likely to pose a challenge to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) only in the Saurashtra region in the upcoming state polls.

The region has 54 of the total 182 assembly seats. Patel and other BJP dissidents, who have come together to campaign against chief minister Narendra Modi, could affect the electoral outcome of about 20-25 seats, according to experts.

Whether this move would benefit the Congress was not clear at this point, they said.

The Modi government’s main political opposition in Gujarat is the Congress party, which lost the last 2007 elections to the BJP. Modi has been chief minister for 11 years and has been accused of being high-handed and ruthless with those who don’t agree with his policies. He has been tipped as the one of the party’s strongest prime ministerial candidate.

On Saturday, Keshubhai, 84, who ushered in BJP rule in Gujarat in the nineties, said he has quit the party and would launch a political outfit that would be the “real BJP”. Former union textiles minister Kashiram Rana, who has also quit the BJP, said he would join Keshubhai’s outfit. The new party aims to contest in all the 182 assembly seats. Former home minister Gordhan Zadaphia, who declined a ministerial berth offered by Modi in 2004 and floated the Maha Gujarat Janta Party (MJP) in 2008, is also supporting Keshubhai.

Keshubhai became a pracharak (volunteer) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1945 and rose to become the chief minister in 1995. He soon faced a revolt from party man and RSS member Shankarsinh Vaghela and had to resign before leading the BJP to an electoral victory in 1998. In 2001, Modi replaced him as chief minister.

Keshubhai has won assembly elections from various constituencies in Saurashtra such as Kalavad and Gondal. He also won the Lok Sabha election in 1977 from Rajkot.

Keshubhai Patel is credited with building the BJP’s Patel vote bank in Gujarat. He kick-started his poll campaign last month by addressing meetings at places such as Bhavnagar, Surat, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Junagadh, all of which are key Patel areas.

“Other than Saurashtra, where Keshubhai’s new party could impact about 20-25 seats, I do not see any major political shake-up elsewhere. If you ask me who will stand to lose, I understand that the loss will be the BJP’s. If you look at the other aspect, unlike the tribal population, Patels are scattered in the state and they constitute about 14% of the state’s population. Patels also vote for the Congress in Saurashtra; so there could be dent in Congress’ votes as well. We need to get a clearer picture on Keshubhai’s new party and the candidates it fields,” said Achyut Yagnik, an Ahmedabad-based political expert.

In 2007, Keshubhai asked the Patels not to vote for the BJP. However, Modi scored thumping victories in the region. The story looked a bit different in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when the Lehvua Patel community, to which Keshubhai belongs, had rejected the BJP candidate, resulting in the party’s loss of the crucial parliamentary seat of Rajkot that it won between 1989 and 2009.

“In Gujarat, all castes are divided. So, though it is a contributing factor, caste-based politics is not a determining factor here. The illusion that Patels will vote for Keshubhai is very naïve. Keshubhai and his new party can have an impact only if they build up a strong organization at district, taluka and booth level. This, it does not seem to have done so far,” said Ghanshyam Shah, former professor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “The anti-Modi wave could certainly increase in about two dozen constituencies in Saurashtra with this new third front.”

Another important factor, according to Yagnik, would be the manner in which the state handles the drought in Saurashtra. The rainfall deficit in Saurashtra this year has been 79% of the last 10 years’ average. Gujarat is the country’s largest cotton producing state, and most of its produce comes from Saurashtra. The sowing in the region is down 28%.

“This is the first time in Modi’s tenure that the state is facing a drought-like situation. If he declares a drought, he cannot lavishly spend on media campaigns as it would not be morally right,” said Shah. “Modi’s popularity in the coastal areas in Saurashtra seems to be on the wane. But what better alternative this so-called third front which follows the same ideology as the Sangh Parivar or the BJP follows remains to be seen.”

[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]

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Eccentricities Personified

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The mercurial West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is once again in spotlight for her eccentricities, when she ordered the arrest of a man who asked her a question of farmer’s welfare in her public meeting. 

Ms Banerjee addressed a public meeting at Belpahari in the once Maoist-dominated district of West Midnapore. After her speech, she asked the public, as she often does, if they had any questions for her.

That's when Shiladitya Chowdhury, a farmer in his 40s, said, "What are you doing for farmers? Farmers are dying because they have no money. Empty promises are not enough."

Surprised by the farmer's question, Ms Banerjee reacted angrily and said the man must be a Maoist. The police immediately nabbed Chowdhry who was let off after initial questioning. Later Chowdhry was arrested again from his home on charges of trying to disrupt the Chief Minister's meeting.

Mamata Banerjee’s dictatorial rule has attracted ire from several quarters. The Press Council of India chief Markendey Katju has described West Bengal Chief Minister as intolerant and whimsical.

Katju said the arrest of Siladitya Chowdhury, amounted to "blatant misuse" of state machinery and "flagrant violation" of constitutional and human rights.

Justice Katju criticized Mamata Banerjee’s action saying, “it was most undemocratic to say the least." He went on to add that the Trinamool Congress chief is totally undeserving to be a political leader in a democratic country like India since she has no respect for constitutional and civil rights of citizens and is totally dictatorial, intolerant, and whimsical in her behavior."

The former Supreme Court judge cautioned the administrative and police authorities against taking "illegal orders", warning that they could suffer the same fate as Nazi criminals did for acting on Hitler's directions.

"At the Nuremburg Trials the Nazi war criminals took the plea that orders were orders and they were only carrying out the orders of Hitler, their superior, but this plea was rejected and they were hanged. The West Bengal officials should take a lesson from the Nuremburg verdict if they do not wish to suffer a similar fate," he said.

Jistice Katju said the Chief Minister has behaved in a high handed and dictatorial manner earlier too. “On May 19, she had branded a college student Taniya Bharadwaj during a TV programme as a Maoist, merely because she questioned about what she was doing about the security of women after the Park Street rape of an Anglo-Indian woman. She had also got one Jadavpur University Professor arrested for drawing a cartoon of her”, Katju said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Nilotpal Basu took potshots at the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) over the farmer's arrest. “There is very little difference today between intolerance and authoritarianism,” said Nilotpal Basu who described the step as reflective of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's dictatorial attitude.

The BJP also slammed Ms Banerjee for her action. The party said politicians should learn to answer such questions at public meetings.

The farmers in West Bengal like elsewhere in the country are a pathetic lot. They at the receiving end especially the marginal farmers because input costs have gone up for agricultural production and they do not get the price of the agricultural products, which they produce. The draught situation in the country has further aggravated their problems.

In such backdrop the farmer’s questions to its elected representative about solving their problem was not undemocratic. On the contrary his arrest doing so was an undemocratic act.
Is Mamata Banerjee driving the peasants of West Bengal to situation in late sixties, when the serious agrarian crisis was silenced by the then Congress regime, through the barrel of the gun? It was that fodder that gave gist to the CPI (M) to rule West Bengal for 35 years.

The arbitrary arrest of the farmer is preparing similar situation. The euphoria on which Mamata Banrjee rode to power is fast getting eroded. People are coming to terms with Trinamool Chief’s eccentricities. If similar highhandedness continues to rule the roost, it’s almost certain that West Bengal is again going into the laps of the opposition for an uncertain period of time. 

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

Violence against Religious Minorities In America

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

Violent attacks on places of worship of minorities and the public places

By Kaleem Kawaja

The violent attack and killings in the Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the burning down of the Muslim mosque in Joplin, Missouri, in one week, the week of August 5, 2012, by extremist anti-minority, anti-colored people, White racist individuals, demonstrates the proliferation and increased volume of the White trash hate groups in US. It should be noted that these two violent attacks are perhaps the very first attacks on places of worship of minorities in US since 1965, when the racial reform laws were enacted and the American society began liberalizing. More than anything it may also demonstrate a reaction from a segment of the White American population to the rapid racial, social, cultural, liberalized changes that have occurred in the American society in the short span of the last 45 years.

In the large and very diverse 300 million US population, where gun control laws are very dilute, some psychologically deranged individual going berserk and shooting people in public did occur occasionally over the years. But in the last three years the occurrence of such public violence is becoming increasingly frequent. The violent attack on Congresswoman Gifford's election rally in Arizona in 2011, the July 2012 shooting inside a movie house in Colorado are some examples of the new upsurge of violence on innocent civilians. Are these incidents driven by the spread of hate emanating from the anger of the extremist White Americans against the growth of unbridled social diversity in US? 

Rapid Expansion of cultural and racial diversity

The conclusion of World War II heralded a complete power shift among the nations of the world. Britain, France and Germany that had been global superpowers and had dominated the political, social and economic affairs on planet earth stopped being so, and in their place we saw the rise of a new giant - United States of America. By late 1940s a large number of individuals with diverse nationalities from European countries had now made US their home. US government and society embraced the social, intellectual and cultural diversity that these folks brought. Together they helped the evolution of a diverse and dynamic American culture. The Soviet Union that rose as an equal challenge to US imploded under its own weight in late 1980s, leaving US as the only global superpower.

In 1965 another significant social revolution occurred in America. The US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and its Affirmative Action program to ensure that the long oppressed Black Americans, the Negroes, were encouraged with equal opportunities in employment, education and social avenues that they had been hitherto restricted from. Also in 1965 the US Congress liberalized the Immigration Act, allowing immigrants from Asian and African countries to migrate to US and get the same social opportunities that were hitherto available to the European émigrés.

The institutionalizing of the above mentioned reforms in the US laws opened a floodgate of opportunities to people from the third world to have a tryst with destiny in America. In a true sense, US, a vast continent size country with big landmass, many resources and not a high population, became the land of opportunity. US population grew from 194 million in 1965 to 311 million in 2011. The US citizens who had been living there for centuries, even though a bit skeptical about the flood of immigrants of diverse colors, ethnic backgrounds and values, did give space to the new immigrants to make their contributions and reap rewards in various avenues of the society. At the same time America continued to be a melting pot where émigrés melted their cultures and mores in the American mainstream, thereby keeping America different and more diverse than other White European countries.

Part of the immigrants from the Asian and African countries were people who were Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists - religious faiths hitherto unknown in America. In due course of time these immigrants prospered, became visible in all walks of life, for example universities, corporations, government, social situarions etc. Muslim mosques, Hindu mandirs, Sikh gurudwaras, Buddhist viharas sprang up all over America. Muslim women wearing hijabs, Hindu women wearing saris and colorful dots on their forehead, Sikh men wearing turbans and beards, and Buddhists in their distinct gowns soon became commonplace in public places in many cities across US. Also many of them moved from big cities and states to smaller cities and states in the interior of America making those societies also diverse. It is worth noting that the number of mosques in US grew from about half a dozen in 1965 to about 2500 in 2012.

Is unbridled diversity a threat?

In recent years the unbridled wave of social and cultural diversity in the public arena that has swept through America’s cities over the last 45 years has started creating some unease and a sense of threat to some of the White Americans of earlier vintage. In some locations in US this diversity has become overtly visible and somewhat "in- your- face" for some White Americans. Some of them feel that it has started affecting their long held ways of life and culture. For instance, if you go to greater New York City, or cities in the state of New Jersey, or greater Chicago, or Los Angeles or San Francisco, you see large concentrations of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Koreans, Chinese, Viet Nameese, Somalis, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Hispanics etal and their shops, restaurants, social outfits etc in certain areas in those cities. Being in those areas one wonders if he is still in America. Also these cities look very different from how they looked in the 1950s. 

Additionally the émigrés from Asian and African countries are now not melting their individual cultures into the American melting pot. Instead they are trying to keep their own cultures and ways of life separate and distinct. Rightly or wrongly, that is making a sizeable number of White Americans uncomfortable about the future of their society. 

The 9/11 watershed

As the American melting pot was experiencing all this turbulence, suddenly the awful 9/11 terrorist attack took place. For all those Americans who were starting to feel uncomfortable with the unbridled diversity, they felt as if someone shoved them in their face. Thus a reaction from a purist segment of the American society grew. In response to the 9/11 terrorist attack many White Americans reacted strongly to the Muslims. Additionally they also reacted strongly to other immigrants from Middle-eastern and South Asian countries. In the process many non-Muslim Asians suffered from the reaction of the White Americans. In the few years following 9/11 many a Hindu and Sikh immigrants were attacked and some even killed. Yet on an individual basis in workplaces and residential neighborhoods White Americans continued to be friendly to Muslims. In workplaces and in public places one could see the increased growth in numbers of "red necks" - the racially conservative White Americans, all over the US. In the bigger cities it may be less so but in the far-suburbs of big cities and in smaller cities and states at a distance from East Coast, California and Chicago, the reaction of the conservative elements of the White Americans to Asian and African immigrants is unmistakable.

Hate Mongering and violence by the Extremists

In the later part of the 20th century the Ku Klux Klan racist White American hate group that had been active in earlier decades against Black Americans, had subsided, assisted by US government laws that banned the group. In the decade since 9/11/2001 a few of the White Trash hate people who are not well educated, do not have professional jobs, have formed small groups of likeminded White people who basically despise the colored people, the immigrants from Asia and Africa, and the unbridled diversity that is spreading in America. In their own convoluted mindset they want to protect the America that existed before World War II. They do not want to see proliferation of Muslim mosques, Hindu and Sikh temples and Buddhist viharas and the diverse customs, dresses and lifestyles that emanate from them. In addition to being White culture excluvists, these folks love possessing and glorifying guns. The media calls these groups that are from the blue collar working class, White Trash because of their lower socioeconomic, educational and intellectual prowess and narrow mindset.

Many of these White extremist groups have formed musical bands and other social groups. They congregate typically in either the far suburbs of big cities or in smaller cities. Their music is racist against the colored people, the immigrants and the non-Christians. They have their own publishing and distribution organizations that distribute their music CDs and literature. They hold conventions and jamborees among themselves. Thus their message of hate against social diversity, the colored people, the immigrants, the non-Christians has slowly spread across US, even as most White Americans continue to be free of bias against the minorities.

Political Impact

Over the last five years some of the white culture extremists have formed their own political party called Tea Party. The Tea Party made its debut in the 2008 American election and their influence on the political and electoral scene, the US Congress and White House in the 2012 US election is very pronounced. Additionally, under their pressure the Republican Party, one of two major political parties in US, the party of Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves, has been transformed into an ultra-conservative party. The US Presidential and Congress elections of 2012 have become tense and acrimonious as never before. Daily exchange of verbal brickbats among the political rivals, the Republicans and Democrats, that never happened before is common fare now. In the Republican Party Primary elections throughout last two years to nominate candidates for the November 2012 general election for a variety of positions, the consistently heard charge against middle of the road candidates has been that they are not conservative enough. That is forcing many Republican candidates to move more to the right.

What can be done? 

Obviously the power structure and the people in the global super power land of opportunity that America continues to be, has to come to grips with this phenomenon. Government has to put its money where its mouth is; conduct a wide surveillance of the White racist groups at grassroots level, apprehend the domestic terrorists in the making and disband their groups that give them a color of legitimacy by calling themselves musical or social groups. The immigrant and minority population in US too need to take some steps. Firstly, they should become more mindful of the fact that living in America they should be more respectful of the mainstream American culture and values and adopt them where they can, and not isolate themselves from it, that makes them appear aliens in the land where they live as citizens and invites reaction. American culture is not bad per se; there are good elements in it and bad elements in it. Adopt the good elements. 

Secondly, when choosing where to live and where to have our business outlets, we should not concentrate our homes and stores in close proximity of each other, thereby making a ghetto of it that leads to reaction and alienation. Thirdly, instead of forcing the culture and customs from our mother countries on the youth in our daily lives, we should let them import the harmless customs of the American culture that they imbibe in schools and colleges and let them make more friends with the mainstream American youth. 

What can Muslims do?

The Asians and Africans who live outside US should realize that condemning US wholesale for these social issues will be counterproductive. Introspect and you will find that despite the ills in US, it is by far the most tolerant, liberal and diverse country that is willing to give upward mobility opportunities to all regardless of the color of their skin or their religious faith or ethnic origin or other factors. For Muslims it is Islam's farthest and most western frontier on planet earth. America offers Islam an opportunity to adapt to this land and utilize the many positive American elements to cleanse the undesirable negative elements. Just as five hundred years ago Islam spread to far corners of Asia and Africa by integrating itself with their local culture and customs, today it can form strong roots in US and become an integral part of mainstream America by presenting the soft and tolerant image of Islam and adapting to the many positive elements of America.

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

ISLAMIC FINANCE: Commitment and belief

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

INSIGHTS: Mushtak Parker on what makes a successful Islamic banker and institution

By Rushdi Siddiqui

Will the "truth" set Islamic banking free from the "cheer-leading reins" that may be holding it back from authenticity-cum-innovation?

Today, Mushtak Parker provides his insights on a successful Islamic banker and institution and some of the milestones of the industry.

Question: You have been in Islamic finance (IF) for more than three decades and you have seen people come and go. What are the attributes of a successful Islamic banker?

Mushtak: True. I have seen many top Islamic bankers come and go in 37 years, but I have yet to see a complete Islamic finance industry banker. Some of them have been better than others, having two or more of the attributes that make a good Islamic banker. The foremost one is a commitment and belief in Islamic finance and its efficacy especially in the pursuit of Maqasid Al-syariah (objectives of the syariah). It is no use being an Islamic banker and not believe in the ethos of the system.

In fact, I have known two Islamic bankers inter alia, who were CEOs of their institutions - one who admitted to me that he did not believe in this "Islamic banking lark" and was just in it for the money, and the other one who is on record revealing that he knew nothing of Islamic banking and was "learning on the job". So much so for the caliber of the shareholders and the board of directors appointing them.

It also follows that a good Islamic banker is one who has a sound knowledge of banking and financial principles per se and a reasonable knowledge of Islamic financial principles, contracts and of Fiqh Al Muamalat (Islamic law relating to financial transactions). In this way, the Islamic banker can engage on a fairly level playing field with his syariah advisories and his banking colleagues.

Very often the bankers put the syariah scholars on a pedestal because of their limited knowledge of the principles of Islamic finance, which means the engagement is one-sided and limited. A good Islamic banker is also one who has good leadership skills and who is a good people manager. He should also be able to navigate between the various stakeholders - from the regulators to the shareholders to the staff and the customers.

Perhaps, above all he or she has to have a vision for the institution and the industry; and a sound strategy and business plan for the short, medium and long terms for the institution. This incorporates accessibility to stakeholders; continuous education; and an appreciation of the ever changing regulatory, market and social landscape of the banking and finance industry. In an ideal world, it would be great if the Islamic banker, like any other banker, realises that banking and finance should serve the economy and society, and not vice versa as we have seen over the last few decades.

I know CEOs of Islamic banks, who insist that their first priority (and loyalty) is to their shareholders in the pursuit of EVA (shareholder value) and of course profits. The rest, including syariah governance and compliance, is secondary. Maybe the attributes I suggest are too lofty, but I would like to think that they should be the ones to which Islamic bankers, especially the current and next generation should strive for.

Question: The same question for Islamic finance institutions and industry bodies?

Mushtak: The basic requirement of any financial institution is its status of incorporation. This must be through authorisation by the relevant banking regulator and under the provisions of the banking law. For an Islamic financial institution (IFI), it is imperative that the enabling legislation should be a dedicated separate standalone law, which could be a segment of the general banking law.

The law, however, should recognise the specificities of Islamic banking and finance. Unfortunately, there are still many Islamic banks that are not authorised or licenced under a dedicated Islamic law including notably all the Islamic banks in Saudi Arabia and more recently in Oman. The erstwhile governor of SAMA (the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency), Muhammed Al-Jasser, used to dismiss the requirement of a dedicated Islamic banking law as he did for the importance of a full sovereign Saudi sukuk to set the true benchmark for Saudi risk and therefore pricing.

I can appreciate the political and religious sensitivities regarding Islamic banking in the Kingdom, but for a regulator, to stress merely the risk characteristics of financial products and their mitigation and live in denial about the specificities of Islamic finance, reveals how far Saudi Arabia still needs to go in terms of refining their Islamic banking legal and regulatory framework and architecture.

Abdicating Responsibility?

Unfortunately, multilateral industry bodies such as the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) have abdicated their responsibility to push this vital agenda by hiding behind the fact that its mandate is only to issue prudential and supervisory standards for the industry. Surely the core standard should be an "authorisation standard" for IFIs which would be the basis for the concomitant prudential and supervisory standards.

Ironically, IFSB guidelines does stress the need for a dedicated standalone enabling legislation that incorporates the special characteristics of Islamic banking. In many ways the quality of an IFI reflects the quality of the enabling legislation and its regulator.

A note on ownership of IFIs. Sometimes government ownership of IFIs through golden shares may be justified, but there has to be a recognition that this is unsustainable over the long term. One can argue that the Malaysian government's handholding of Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad for more than two decades by restricting the opening of the market to both domestic and foreign competitors, may have delayed the growth of the sector in the country.

In other words, had the government opened up the sector say in the 1990s, the Malaysian Islamic banking industry may have been even in a more advanced stage today than it is.

Question: There have been a number of high profile IF milestones in the last two decades. What are the high flyers and flops?

Mushtak: It depends how you define milestone. If it is an achievement or target or innovation, then you have to ask to what extent has it made a difference in a given market or financial system or society. This is where the problem lies.

The milestones in Islamic finance have been benign in some respect; parochial in other respects - very few have touched the global financial system and begin to change the riba-based and profit maximsation "at any cost" mindset of the conventional bankers. A poignant reminder is the conspicuous absence of a considered, intellectual, theoretical-based response by Muslim economists, regulators, syariah advisories and Islamic bankers to the 2008 global financial crisis and the excesses of market capitalism (some call it casino capitalism).

A very prominent Catholic Academic in ethics and finance at a prestigious London University college recently told me that she is very reluctant to engage on Islamic banking and finance with her Muslim counterparts because all they do is proselytise about the glory of Islam and Islamic finance, and seem incapable of having an intellectual and theological discourse on topics such as usury and market excesses, and the failure of both religious establishments and governments in curbing such excesses.

Definitions aside, the three most important achievements of the contemporary Islamic finance movement is its phenomenal growth in terms of geographic expansion; its market size of an estimated US$1.5 trillion (RM4.68 trillion) in just 35 years, although this must be put in perspective given that Islamic finance assets constitute a mere one to two per cent of global financial assets; and the fact that Islamic financial contracts such as commodity murabaha (the vanilla type), ijara and sukuk are now internationally-accepted and established products.

However, any belief that this makes Islamic finance mainstream in the global financial system should be dispelled immediately. To achieve this milestone will take another generation or two or a seismic change in the mindset of the potentially important game-changers in Islamic finance such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. At the same time, the impressive growth of the sukuk market and human capital development, especially in Malaysia augurs well for the future.

Failure

In contrast, the biggest failure is the failure to articulate the Islamic system of financial intermediation beyond the "realm of the converted". Islamic finance should be on the agenda at the top table at the G8 and the G20 summits; and at the World Bank/IMF and Basle Committee deliberations, and not at some side event.

Here Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Indonesia, the three Muslim countries in the G20, have spectacularly failed to even consider discussing a potential role for the Islamic financial system in contributing to global growth and financial stability.

Other flops (as you call it) include a largely fragmented global Islamic financial system and architecture despite attempts through the establishment of industry bodies such as the IFSB and the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions to show otherwise; fragmented, erratic and in many instances a non-existent regulatory and legal framework of enabling regulation and laws to facilitate Islamic finance; a very slow pace of product innovation; and perhaps the most damaging is the short-termism of both shareholders, the institutions they own and investors, which has seen the industry fester in short-term risk and products such as murabaha and Bai Bithaman Ajil for the last three decades.

This ironically has had a pernicious effect on product innovation in some instances. For instance, if you try to get a Malaysian Islamic bank to migrate to the diminishing musharaka as the basis for their mortgage finance as opposed to the BBA, you will have an uphill battle. Many Malaysian Islamic bankers will argue: "Why tamper with a tried and tested product" and "Why spend new money to develop new products in this area?"

This misses the point, because ultimately it is the Malaysian customer that loses out because he/she is denied the choice of a potentially more suitable, flexible and cost-effective product. So much so for financial and social inclusion. There are a surfeit of other examples relating to countries in the GCC and elsewhere.

Discourse Disappointment

Perhaps a core disappointment is the lack of frank and open discourse between syariah advisories and between them and the regulators and other stakeholders in general. In the ancient times, a robust discourse on the basis of Ijtihad was the norm, including in matters relating to Fqh Al-Muamalat.

Today, too many syariah advisories prefer to sit on the fence; or to refuse to engage with or counter an opinion of another syariah advisory; or remain selective in when and what they say. There is a strong argument for universal regulation of syariah advisories in Islamic finance.

[Rushdi Siddiqui is Global Head of Islamic Finance and OIC Countries at Thomson Reuters. He can be contacted at rushdi.siddiqui@thomson reuters.com

(Courtesy: Business Times, Malaysia)

Experiencing Ramadan at Desoto Masjid Al-Islam, Warith Deen Muhammad

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

By Mike Ghouse

Title - Ramadan day 22 - Desoto Masjid Al-Islam
Date - Friday, August 10, 2012 | Ramadan 22, 1433
Place - Desoto Masjid Al-Islam (972) 274-1101
Address - 1120 W. Beltline Road, Desoto, TX 75115
Website - N/A
Iftaar Time today: 8:17 PM CST

Imam Yahya Abdullah is one of the old timers and goes back to the movement of Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, also known as the Nation’s Imam. He has been a part of many of the events we have done and we know each other for at least five years.

He is well known for his interfaith work. Indeed, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad is the first Muslim to initiate the interfaith Dialogue in America. Imam Abdullah and Imam Qasim were students of Imam WD Muhammad. 

Wiki, “Warith Deen Mohammed (born Wallace D. Muhammad; October 30, 1933 – September 9, 2008), also known as "W. Deen Mohammed" or "Imam W. Deen Muhammad", was a progressive African American Muslim leader, theologian, philosopher, Muslim revivalist and Islamic thinker (1975–2008) who disbanded the original Nation of Islam in 1976 and transformed it into an orthodox mainstream Islamic movement.” 

Nearly 2 million Muslims switched from Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam. The WD Muhammad group makes about 1/3rd of Muslims in the United States.”

The Masjid is located right on Belt line; this is the 3rd loop road around Dallas and runs on the south side of the town going through Desoto. On the north side of Belt line is Chapel Downs, a home subdivision. Instantly I was in my glorious past, way back in 1985, when I was a community manager for Ryland Homes, I wrapped up that neighborhood with the last few homes we had built. By the way the company had given me a cell phone, that had a huge steel suit case placed in the trunk of my car, and the wires were cut through to the front. I was driving nearly 150 miles a day that year driving from Denton to Desoto and Mesquite to Bedford, closing down subdivisions with a few lots left in each place, right before the market collapsed in 1986.

The atmosphere at this Masjid is more like a family gathering, mixing and mingling with each other. I made it to the Mosque a minute before Iftaar as I was stuck in traffic going through downtown Dallas on a Friday night. I wish I had gone earlier, there is 8 acres of land of this mosque with trees and I would have loved to take some pictures.

In the Warith Deen Tradition, the men and women sit together and break the fast, indeed; it highlights the cultural aspect of Islam. It’s only in America we have come to know that Islam as practiced has the religious and cultural components in it, in most other nations, both are intertwined and hard to distinguish between the two.

By the way, their teen girls have an outstanding Musical dance performance group. I have watched them perform at Family Federation church and the Lifeway Church. Their actions symbolize different aspect of prayers (Salat, namaz), it is amazing. Insha Allah, we may ask them to perform in our annual Thanksgiving Celebrations program; a cultural pluralism program of musical expressions. 

The Maghrib prayers were led by Khairi Muhammad, 14 year old student of Imam Yahya. It was refreshing to see this; the Imam lets his students lead the prayers. He said; let them practice it early on! 

Khairi also leads the Taraweeh prayers. 

What a joy to see the Masjid overwhelmed by young kids, both male and female, most of them prayed the fard (obligatory) as well as the optional prayers. Thanks to the management and membership of the Mosques for participating in picture taking and sharing. I am glad Imam Yahya asked the congregation for taking the pictures and everyone was a happy participant.

The ritual prayers are identical to most of the Sunni Mosques, the only difference I noticed was in the Tashahhud position, and most of us lift the fore finger when we recite, “Ashhadu-an La Ialha Illal La”, but they were lifting the fore finger and the middle finger together, it was more than three people doing that in the Sunna prayers to ignore as a personal thing. I forgot to ask the Imam about its significance, or it is simply a matter of he did it, I do it too! 

Dinner was non-Asian and non-Middle eastern for the first time in 22 days! It was fish with Barbeque Sauce on it with Brown rice and Salad. I have had barbeque in every fashion, but this was the first time with fish. Oddly it was cooked by a Lebanese itna-Ashri Shia couple and not middle-eastern food. Good food for a change! The brother believed that the Sunnis follow the12 imams, the three of us, Imam Yahya, Marzuk and I assured him that it is not in the Sunna and not a Sunni tradition. He thought that was Sunnah. Most Sunnis assume that all Muslims do what they do. 

The lady across me in green shirt was visiting from Little Rock Arkansas. She was considering doing her Ph.D in psych or pursues a law degree. Her joy was that the sisters were marrying Muslim men; I guess that is the case with all sisters in every faith in the world to marry within the community. It is particularly pronounced among Jews and Muslims, more than others. 

It was good to see Marzuk Jaami, if you have lived in Dallas for more than 20 years, you may recall him and many Muslims joining together in the neighborhood watches and driving the drug pushers and gangster out of the neighborhoods, they cleaned the neighborhoods! 

Marzuk is also one of the recipients of the “Pluralist” recognition that the Foundation for Pluralism honors every year at the Unity Day program. He pioneered an educational series called Abraham in three faiths, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad in three faiths, a great educational program. Insha Allah, he plans to resume that this September. I wish, I really wish, Muslims from other traditions attend this and enlighten themselves. 

Interestingly the dinner conversation involved China, almost everyone on the table was doing business in China, recycle, men’s suits… you name it. A few people call this China Masjid.
They have enough space on their grounds to do the Eid prayers along with other WD Muhammad tradition mosques. 

Each mosque and each tradition is uniquely different. Insha Allah, I will do my best to keep that uniqueness intact, however, it is not easy to write different things each day for the whole month, and we have just about 6or 7 days left! I hope this has been a meaningful journey for you. I urge you to jump in experience it yourselves.

[MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to be first politician in India to have live video chat via Google+ Hangout

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 August 2012 | Posted in , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani 

Ahmedabad: Chief Minister Narendra Modi will be the first politician in the country to have a live video chat via Google+ Hangout with people across the country, something the US prez, Australian PM and our own Aamir Khan have done before.

President Barack Obama did it with his all-digital interview from the White House that brought him directly into the homes of thousands of Americans. On Saturday morning, Julia Gillard became the first Australian Prime Minister to follow suit in an experiment in online democracy. Now, Chief Minister Narendra Modi is all set to become the first politician in India to have a live video chat with people across the country.

Like with Obama and Gillard, the video chat with the Gujarat chief minister will be conducted via Google+ Hangout, one of the prestigious ‘hangout’ Google has hosted so far on their new social media platform.

For the fans and followers of Modi, it is a chance of a lifetime for a live video chat with the leader that will be broadcast directly into the homes of lakhs across the nation and the world. While politicians are known to use social media like Twitter, Facebook and others to interact with their fans and followers, Modi will be the first to use Google+ Hangout to communicate with the masses.

In India, actor Aamir Khan has done it on his popular show Satyamev Jayate. While there have been occasions in the past where recorded questions have been answered, this digital interview gives an opportunity to political leaders to interact live with their audience.

According to a CMO official, Modi will join Google+ in the third week of August, probably August 17 that will be broadcast live by the YouTube channel.

People drawn from all walks of life, including the youth, can discuss at length on the topic, ‘Be the Youth of Swamiji’s (Swami Vivekananda) dreams’. “While people have known Narendra Modi through his speeches and through the eyes of the media, this will be their first opportunity to have an open dialogue with the leader as lakhs view it from their homes,” said Dr Hiren Joshi, officer on special duty, Chief Minister’s Office.

Those who get a chance to have a live dialogue will be screened from entries by Google+ and YouTube. From Monday, Google+ and YouTube will ask people to send in recorded questions to the channel. Entries will be screened and those chosen will have a live dialogue with the leader.
According to Joshi, Modi is popular on social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook. This will only add to his growing popularity.

For Obama, over 227,000 people submitted questions, but only five lucky Americans got to chat face-to-face with the president. Google (and YouTube) selected questions for Obama from the videos that got the most votes from YouTube users, however the video with the most votes was not included.

Obama and Gillard’s video chats were 45 minutes and 1 hour respectively, but Modi’s live chat will be around 2 hours, according to a CMO official. 

[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]

Traders observe Quit FDI Day in India

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

IMO News Service

While lodging its strong protest against FDI in Retail, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) observed today (August 9) – the day of Quit India Movement as Quit FDI Day across the Country by holding Dharna, Demonstrations and burning of effigy of FDI in nearly 60 cities in different States of the Country. The protestors shouted slogans like "Videshi Poonji Nahin Videshon Main Jama Bhartiya Poonji Chahiye", "Khudra Bazar Main Videshi Nivesh Gulam Banega Apna Desh", "Videshi Compania Aayengi Mehngai Dahej Main Layengi". While registering their loud protest, the CAIT termed the FDI in Retail as a step forward to economic slavery. The CAIT has demanded the Government to bring out a White Paper on the need of FDI in Retail.

Nearly 3,500 Trade Federations and Associations took part in today's protest which includes cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Banglore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Raipur, Jammu, Jaipur, Rourkela, Ranchi, Bhopal, Surat, Jamnagar, Chandigarh, Ghaziabad, Jhansi, Kolkata, Raniganj, Asansol, Bilaspur etc.

CAIT National President B. C. Bhartia while pointing out a question on the repeated statements of Union Commerce Minister for arriving at consensus on this issue said that yesterday in the Parliament Union State Minister for Commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia has informed that so far only four States and Union Territories have consented their support to FDI in Retail which includes Delhi, Manipur, Daman & Div and Dadar and Nagar Haveli out of which only Delhi is eligible for FDI in Retail as per proposed policy of the Govt since it has population more than 10 lacs. He further said that even the UPA led States have not expressed their support so far. Under such conditions the repeated Statements of Union Commerce Minister and other people in the Government amply reflects some kind of hidden pressure on the Government which needs to be elaborated.

CAIT National Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that statement of Anand Sharma that it is the prerogative of the States to allow FDI or not is misleading. The Government of India has signed Bilateral Investment Agreement with 82 Countries as on 9th December 2011 in which a standard feature is that they accord National treatment to foreign investores. The effect of National treatment is that Govt of India can not put any conditions on Foreign Investores which are not applicable to Local Investores. Therefore, it is the Central Government and not the States which is responsible for the policy.

The CAIT has demanded that the Government should bring out a White Paper on need of the FDI in Retail and the unanimous report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee should be discussed inside and outside the Parliament.

For more information please contact CAIT, Secretary General, Mr. Praveen Khandelwal@9891015165, 9310199771

Indian Shia and Sunni Unite in Hating Israel

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

Although Shia and Sunnis do not pray together, as both sects have the same goal – hostility to Israel – the Shia cleric, to set a precedent, recently asked the Sunni Imam to lead a prayer service attended by both congregations.

By Mohshin Habib

A group of Indian Shia clerics, led by a prominent Shia Islamic leader, Kalbe Jawwad, has demanded breaking ties with Israel. In May Kalbe Jawwad, a cleric and member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, alleged that there has been a "flood of terror attacks in India" ever since Israel established an embassy there, and accused the Congress Party-led government of India of defaming the Muslim community as a whole.

The clerics accuse Israel and the United States of being the "biggest sponsors" of international terrorism, and are recommending that India focus on improving relations with Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority.

Maulana Jawwad, the most influential Wakf leader in India, has been organizing Muslims to demonstrate to pressure the central government of India to be more responsive to their demands. Wakf, an Arabic word, means "an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, donating building, land and cash for Muslims' charitable purposes."

Jawwad is also celebrated for holding the largest ever anti-U.S.-Israel-Denmark demonstration in Lucknow, the capital city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Jawwad has invited a leader of the Sunni sect of India -- the Imam-E-Jummah, or Imam of the Friday prayer -- of the highly regarded Shahi Asafi Masque of Lucknow, Mawlana Khalid, to join his campaign.

Although Shiites and Sunnis do not pray together, as both sects have the same goal -- hostility to Israel -- the Shia cleric, to set a precedent, recently requested the Sunni Imam to lead a prayer service attended by both Shia and Sunni congregations.

On 30 March 2012, after the Friday prayer in Lucknow, thousands of Muslims held an anti-Israel protest led by Sunni Maulana Khalid Rasheed, demanding the "liberation" of Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque.

The Shia cleric, Maulana Jawwad, has taken charge of rescuing Karbala Motamadud-Daula, a building occupied by the Freemason Temple since 1879. Maulana Jawwad started a protest movement last year to seek the ouster of illegal occupants from it; and the Shia Central Wakf Board formed a 21-member committee headed by Jawwad.

At the same time, Indian Muslims are concerned about increasing ties between India and Israel, especially after the recent decision to establish an Israeli consulate in Bangalore, cooperation in boosting trade from $5 billion to $15 billion, and initiating an extradition treaty between the two. The Muslims of India, not only Uttar Pradesh, have unbroken relations with the Pakistani Muslims, who migrated from India during the partition of the sub-continent in 1947. Moreover, most of the Indian Muslims, whether Shia or Sunni, do not approve of India's policy on Afghanistan.

There are about 180 million Muslims in India, with approximately 25% of them Shia. In Uttar Pradesh, Jawwad's state, although less than 20% of the population are Muslims, they nevertheless have a strong influence on the society and in politics. The sitting government of Uttar Pradesh has also been supportive of Muslims.

Although the Shia and Sunni have long been mutually hostile, in recent years, as they found a common platform over which to instigate violence -- Israel, Jews and Wakf property -- their antagonism toward one another has significantly decreased.

Ban on Myrdal’s India Visit Undemocratic

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The alleged ban by the government on world-renowned Swedish writer Jan Myrdal to visit India is shocking. The official version is that Myrdal is a Maoist supporter and he had indulged in anti-state activity and that is the reason a ban on his future visit is being contemplated.

The 85 year old writer denied this allegation saying he is not so stupid, and has called the move against him as anti-Indian. The extreme left see this as India’s attempt to toe the US line that has imposed a stringent regulations on Myrdal to enter America.

Jan Myrdal is son of Nobel Laureates Gunnar Myrdal of ‘Asian Drama’ fame. Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi very often used to quote the books of Gunnar Myrdal, specially his famous observations on corruption in India. Jan’s mother Alva Myrdal was Sweden’s Ambassador to India from 1955 to 1961. The Indian government had felicitated the couple with the Jawaharlal Nehru International Understanding Award.

Jan Myrdal has authored several books that include 'Report from a Chinese village', 'China: The Revolution Continued', 'Confessions of a Disloyal European' and 'India Waits.' The last one is based on his tour of Andhra Pradesh in the early 1980s, where he mentions that a Marxian-inspired peoples' movement, emanating from rural India, parallel to the Chinese Communist revolution is awaiting in India.

His book “Red Star over India” has been widely received in India. This book has now reached its second English language edition and is being published in Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. In Europe it has been translated to German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish. It is available as an e-book and on the net.

The Sweden-based author was in India in January-February, 2012 for the promotion of his book “Red Star over India” and had visited Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ludhiana and Delhi and shared his views with writers, democrats, students and journalists.

The Home Ministry however has found that Myrdal had attended pro-Naxal conventions and allegedly expressed support to the CPI (Maoist) ideology of armed struggle against the state, a charge vehemently denied by the author.

Myrdal has reportedly rebutted the allegation saying he was on a one month conference visa to re launch his book "Red Star Over India - Impressions, Reflexions and Discussions when the Wretched of the Earth are Rising." The government was well informed about his movements and his speeches are in public domain either printed or is available on the net. 

The author said he did not do anything stupid like giving political "advice" to the Indian friends and the decision to ban him from entering in the country was an anti-Indian act. He requested the official to withdraw the decision if it’s already been taken.

It is well known that Jan Myrdal is a follower of MoaSaTung’s ideology. In India the CPI (Moaist) are inspired by his writings. He has visited India several times and has extensively toured the country. He knows the Indian reality at the grassroots. But, then that’s it, there are so many foreign intellectual, too may have similar understanding. What does it really mean?

There are certain questions that seek answers? Will the ban on Myrdal solve the Maoist problem in India? Will his visit intensify the Maoist struggle in the country? Can’t his visit be converted as an exercise in exchange of ideas and the government has benefit from his advice? In fact after 'India Waits,' Indira Gandhi has asked him to come and discuss the issue of left rebellion with her but the ‘mother India’ met an untimely death. 

Now the ‘Sons of India’ who are killing its own people, under operation ‘Green Hunt’ think they can solve the problem by doing so and anyone who opposes such brutal designs has to be kept off. 

It is in this connection that a person of the stature of Jan Myrdal is being ban from visiting the country. This is a clear indication how much Indian has changed in its character and ideology over a period of time.

The Indian government that is giving red carpet welcome, to MNCs and big bourgeoisie to indiscriminately loot the most valuable riches of the country and is being intolerant towards those who are opposing them with genuine democratic and progressive views.

The Indian government is inviting international big corporate like Enron, Dow Chemicals, POSCO, Monsanto, Vedanta and Areva and so many others. It is hugely supporting Jindal, Mittal, Esssar, Tata and Ambani that are colluding with these MNCs and serving them.

On the other hand the Adivasis who are fighting a life and death struggle to preserve the most valuable lands, forests, hills, waters, minerals and all kinds of other natural resources in the vast areas of the country from their exploitation are being hunted down under the operation ‘Green Hunt’. It shows how far Indian state that rest on the word ‘socialism’ enshrined in our constitution is moving away from its own code of commandments. 

It is not new for the ruling classes of this country to deal with artistes, writers, journalists, film producers and directors in such a manner. There are several writers and democrats who have been implicated in countless conspiracy cases in our country.

On July 1, 2010 a Delhi based journalist Hem Chandra Pandey was shot dead in a fake encounter by the Andhra Pradesh police. Artiste Jeeten Marandi was sentenced to death by a court of law but later the judgment was withdrawn due to popular pressure. Well-known writer Arundhati Roy was sentenced to jail for supporting the cause of the Kashmir people.
Recently the Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee got Professor Abhishek Mahapatra arrested with the ire that he drew a cartoon on her. The Jadavpur University students, who questioned this, were harassed in the name of being Maoists.

The stand taken by the Indian government to stop Jan Myrdal from coming to our country is shameful indeed. All democrats, writers, artistes, students, journalists and people from all walks of life should condemn such tyrannical decision. The need is to build a broad and strong solidarity movement that would make the government revoke its proposal to ban Jan Myrdal from visiting to India.

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

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