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GUEST EDITORIAL: Delhi Gangrape Protest cannot be Ignored

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 December 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The gang rape in New Delhi in a moving bus on Dec 17, 2012 has stirred the consciousness of the entire nation. More incensed are the people living in the national capital who are its victim every now and then. What separates this event with other is the powerful youth protest against such horrendous crime that continues to grow without any solutions in sight. The protestors gave a strong message that they can no more tolerate such ghastly assaults on the dignity of women in near future.

It was unfortunate that some hooligans joined the peaceful protestors and indulged in the acts of vandalism that caused grave injuries to a police .constable who later succumbed to his wounds. Notwithstanding the facts, the essence of the protest cannot be ignored.

In recent memory, the presence of young brigade on the Rajpath demonstrating for a rightful cause is unprecedented. It was a sheer call of consciousness that mobilized such a large number of young people driven by a common cause. The brave hearts defied the chilling winter of the capital and were peaceful in giving vent to their pent up anger.

The youth demanded to live a peaceful life, better security, and prevention of crime, swift action and punishment, better law to handle such cases. They were deeply hurt because all such basic requirements were missing from the national capital. If that be the case, imagine the condition in rest of the country.

The angry youth while coming out for protest walked alone nursing the gruesome of the images of lowering the dignity of women in a moving bus. Each one carried their anger within but never realized were not alone. They were astonished to find that there were many who thought in the similar way. It was a rare sight to see such synchronization of aspirations convergence of people to articulate their demands.

If we ignore the few miscreants who set fire some logs and vandalized some vehicles, and hurt a policeman, the demonstration was by and large purposeful. Most of the young folks were peaceful and liked to be counted for standing up for a cause.

Their din and clatter went beyond the Raisina Hills and Malacha, the two forgotten villages of Delhi that were razed to construct the viceroy’s palace. The chivalry shown by the youth on the most high profile street in the country made the place look very ordinary where India’s might is on full display every 26 January.

These youth were not the one who believed in Facebook based protests or signing the online petition as a means of protest. They were convinced lot and had decided to raise the banner of revolt through street protest. Their message was clear that this time they will not remain a silent spectator to such growing crime in the city. Being beaten up or strewn with tear gas and water canons did not deterred their resolve. They were willing to suffer any amount of pain and sufferings and refused to be cowed down by any odd.

Their heroic efforts has reclaimed the dignity of the street protest' that’s fast being over taken by the social media these days. At a time when it is felt that social media has become one of the most favored way of youth protest, the recent street protest Delhi have preempted such assumption. In fact this was the first spontaneous protest in New Delhi after the Mandal agitation of 1990.

It would be wrong to call the jeans clad protesters as an 'urban centric,' crowd and it would be naive to dismiss them as elitist protesters as well. These middle class youth wearing T-Shirts and jeans and holding banners wanted to be counted as someone who can muster courage to defy any odds can not be dismissed lightly. These brave hearts stood for demanding greater respect and dignity for women and deserves to be applauded.

It was great sight to see some young girls demanding their right to be protected in this country. They were not merely a protest against the physical abuse but for all form of abuses; be it mental or social or about their priorities and aspirations in life. These fearless faces epitomized a whole brave new India those who no more like to tolerate such humiliation of women in the public places.

In this season of protest equally praiseworthy are the police forces of Delhi that handled the protestors with exemplary restrain and courage. Imagine the scene of the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 and compare with those of the Rajpath on December 21-22, 2012.

It was a rare sight to watch the police force standing up in their defence, while youth force were in full mood of aggression. In fact the police was allowing the youth to have their way while taking the beating from all corners. In the process they lost one of their brave constables. Such restrain demonstrated by the security forces is never found in the annals of street protest in New Delhi. The Delhi police deserve some praise for doing so.

It’s not for the first time the incident of rape has rocked Delhi. If memory serves right, in 1978 two children, Geeta and Sanjay Chopra, were kidnapped by two criminals Ranga and Billa, for ransom. The children were kidnapped while hitching a ride from outside Gol Dak Khana near Connaught Place. The kidnappers plan went haywire when their car met with an accident with a DTC bus. The duo escaped from the city after murdering the children. Later, medical examination confirmed that Geeta Chopra was raped before murder. Delhi, at that time was seething with anger and every one wanted the culprits to be caught and punished. Subsequently, the kidnappers were arrested, tried and hanged for their crime in 1982.

Since then Delhi continues to lives up to its reputation for being the rape city of the country. The incidents of rape in the national capital are happening at regular intervals. Delhi tops the chart in the rape cases every year. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics of 2011 Delhi reported much higher rape cases then other five metros of India. Delhi had 572 rape cases, Mumbai (221), Kolkata (46), Chennai (76), Bangalore (97) and Hyderabad (59).

In contrast to all the previous rape cases, the latest rape case in Delhi is an eye opener. This can be singled out for huge mobilization of the youth in the capital. The protesters represented the public outrage against such heinous crime in the city. Their protest should not go in wane and their demands may usher in change in handling such cases in the country.

With the constitution of fast-track court to try such cases and the promise of speedy conviction and deterrent punishment to the culprits there are some ray of hope to firmly tackle the occurrence of such crime in the city. It could well be a turning point in bringing new law to handle rape cases in the country.

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

Every Muslim is responsible to protect Waqf properties: K Rahman Khan

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

By Manzar Imam

New Delhi: On the auspicious day of Christmas compounded by communication hazards following the fateful rape of a 23-year-old girl in the capital on 16th December 2012, the crowd of an overwhelming audience convened by a newly formed Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) was unusual. Human Chain, a Delhi-based NGO, organized national seminar on “Sachar Committee Report: Its Recommendations, Challenges and Implementation” here at India Islamic Cultural Centre on the cold evening of 25th December 2012.

Speaking on this occasion, Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan lashed at some State Governments for not cooperating with the Central Government to implement several government schemes meant for the welfare of minorities. We are unable to spend even 50 percent of the funds allocated for Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) because state governments do not cooperate, Rahman Khan said. On the questions raised by participants that the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee were not being implemented, Khan said it was wrong to think that there was no implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. Khan said that every government scheme had some monitory and implementation issues and it was not a specific the case only with the Sachar Committee recommendations. He blamed it to the bureaucracy for failing to implement government schemes properly.

On the issue of the Kishanganj Centre of Aligarh Muslim University, the minister said that the government was sincere in its intention to expedite the establishment of the Centre, but sections of Muslims were creating problems. He said that while Muslims kept complaining about their educational backwardness, there was a clear lack of interest on their part to take good steps. If there are some 600 universities in India today, they have not been established by the country’s prime ministers or minority ministers, Khan said adding that Muslims were content only with two universities. Who is responsible for what Muslims have lost, he asked.

The former Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Khan urged Muslims to come forward to support their own community instead of shifting blame on others. There is no power that can stop Muslims from demanding anything if they do so within the limits of the Constitution. Muslims should be aware of their rights, he said. More often than not, our constructive issues are overtaken by our emotive issues, he said. While I have less time, people have many expectations from me, said he adding that removing Muslim backwardness was among his priorities.

About encroachment and mismanagement of Waqf properties, Khan said that some Muslims thought that the Waqf properties were so large that only government could protect them. Every Muslim is responsible to protect Waqft properties. I have never seen an all India protest for Waqf properties and for demanding removal the illegal encroachments from them, he said.

Earlier, Dalit leader and Chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, Udit Raj spoke about the long struggle that Dalits and other backward communities had made to secure their rights. This country can progress only when people are given according what is their right, said he and regretted that Muslims had a poor habit of voting on emotional issues rather than issues of development.

Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, President of Zakat Foundation of India, drew the minister’s attention to some of the important recommendations of the Sachar Committee report. He said the report was specifically made for Muslims. Zafar Mahmood, a former Indian Revenue Service Officer who was also OSD of the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee constituted for preparation of a report on the Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India which later came to be known as the Sachar Committee Report said that the failure of the government to implement the recommendation even after seven years was a matter of grave concern. He stressed the need for implementing minority schemes on grassroots level.

Syed Husain Waheed said that the Waqf landholdings were the third largest landholding in India after Indian railway and defence. But unfortunately they were not properly managed.

Dr Shakil-Uz Zaman Ansari, a former minister of Bihar and member of Backward Classes Commission of India observed that the issues of Muslims were a bit different from the issues of Dalits and other communities hence a slightly different method was required to address those issues.

Sirajuddin Qureshi, President of India Islamic Cultural Centre, also spoke on this occasion and appreciated the efforts of Human Chain. He said after passing quite a long time since the report came it would be interesting to see how many recommendations the Government has approved and how many of them have been rejected. Congress Youth leader and vice-president of Nehru Yuva Kendra, B P Singh also spoke on this occasion.

President of Human Chain Engineer Mohammad Aslam Alig on a high emotional note demanded proper implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations. He said that seminar was called not only for discussing the recommendations but for demanding their implementation. Minnat Rhamani, coordinated the programme.

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

Appointment of India's first Muslim IB chief Syed Asif Ibrahim a potentially transformational symbol?

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

By Nistula Hebbar

One hundred and twenty-five years after it was set up, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India's internal intelligence agency, named a Muslim as its chief.

From the dacoit-infested ravines of Madhya Pradesh's Bundelkhand region to the office of the director of the world's oldest intelligence agency, life seems to have come full circle for the man of the moment, Syed Asif Ibrahim, a 1977 batch IPS officer from the Madhya Pradesh cadre, who had made a name for himself in the 1980s by wiping out dreaded dacoit Malkhan Singh's gang before he was handpicked by the late Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia to join his staff.

A person, who has watched Ibrahim for years, says the new IB director is a highly efficient intelligence officer who has shown exceptional talent not only in information-gathering but also in winning over people's support. Ibrahim was personal secretary to India's first Muslim home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 1989. It was a challenging time as the Mufti's daughter Rubaiyya had been kidnapped by militants in Kashmir.

A first-class intelligence officer and a gentleman, Ibrahim is enormously graceful and discreet under pressure, says this person who asked not to be named.

People-First Approach

Another person who has closely worked with Ibrahim says he always understood that no intelligence officer could work effectively without engaging civil society, especially in troubletorn regions such as Jammu and Kashmir, where he is credited with making much head way in dealing with militants. The officer also didn't want to be named because he wasn't authorised to speak to the media.

Someone who has watched IB's operations closely says Ibrahim has displayed tremendous skills in anti-terror efforts. He recalls: "Ibrahim was posted at the IB office in Delhi between 2004 and 2007 and it was he who reoriented a lot of thinking on terrorism.

He was, in fact, one of the first officers in the department who suggested that not all terror groups came from across the border, and that we needed to look within. It was only then that the focus was shifted to domestic outfits such as Indian Mujahideen."

Why a Tag?

There are those both inside and outside the government who feel that it is unfair to bring up Ibrahim's religious identity because he is an outstanding officer. Former RAW chief AS Dulat, who hired Ibrahim at the agency, says, "Please do not make this a communal issue. He is a meritorious officer who made it to the top of his department."

But several others, including IB officers, hasten to point out that it is, in fact, a big deal. "Ibrahim entered the IB in 1990 and till about a couple of years ago, he was the only Muslim officer here," says an IB officer, emphasising that there have been several attempts to look into this exclusion based on religion. He also requested anonymity. Interestingly, many officers attribute this "exclusion of Muslims from the top post of the IB" to British legacy. The IB was inherited from the British, complete with British attitude, says a former IB chief, who didn't wish to be identified. Since the rebellion of 1857, the British colonial secret service distrusted some communities and kept them out of government service.

Life of a Democracy

Tufail Ahmad, director of the South Asian Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington, DC is glad that at least in a symbolic way Ibrahim's elevation as IB director signifies reclaiming of "that lost ground".

"The reason why it has taken time for Ibrahim to become the first Muslim chief of the Intelligence Bureau is because it has taken time for democracy to mature in India. As democracy flourishes, matures and takes deeper roots in Indian society, we are witnessing large sections of Indian people becoming empowered in the process," says Ahmad, an alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and King's College, London. "Ibrahim's appointment as IB chief marks a turning point in the development and prospering of Indian democracy. In the coming decades, we can be certain that more and more Muslims in India will rise to prominence by hard work and merit alone."

Likely Effect

Ahmad adds, "It does not matter who heads the IB and other intelligence agencies, they will continue to do their job professionally. Security agencies are not political groups; their work is defined by the terror threats emerging on a day-to-day basis. In such a situation there is little room for them but to act professionally. Indian security agencies have done some commendable work recently with regard to the capture of Zabiuddin Ansari [of IM] or those belonging to the Abhinav Bharat [a Hindu terrorist body]."

Ibrahim's appointment will inspire more Muslims to join Indian security forces, insists a former RAW chief who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Symbols are powerful because they point to the possibilities," he said.

Change of Guard

Even as the new director of the Intelligence Bureau got down to work, his predecessor Nehchal Sandhu was appointed as deputy national security adviser. Sandhu, a 1973 batch IPS officer and the first Sikh chief of the IB, joined the agency in 1979, but developed his spook chops during pro-Khalistan extremism in Punjab.

Those who have known Sandhu for a long time say his most distinctive characteristic is his old-world courtesy. "All his file notings start with Pl [please], it made us that much more careful ourselves," says an officer who served under Sandhu. This courtesy translated into cordial relationships with the chiefs of security agencies in the US and Saudi Arabia, which have come to play an important role in India's counter-terror strategy.

Sandhu can be credited with raising the flag on the return of the Babbar Khalsa in Punjab after two car bombs with RDX were defused in Ludhiana last year.

In all, interesting times ahead in the land of smoke and mirrors.

(Courtesy: The Economic Times)

Vision 2020 in Hyderabad during December 27-31

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

Hyderabad: A group of local, national and global organisations are coming together to host India's education conclave in the city between December 27 and 31, to discuss Vision 2020 which aims at empowering the Muslim community socially and economically.

Vision 2020, according to Hyderabad-based Mesco president Fakhruddin Mohammed, is a plan prepared by Muslim groups in India with the assistance of other similar organisations in the West sometime back with a view to "motivate and inspire the community as well as provide it with necessary facilities to improve literacy levels and achieve excellence in the field of education."

He told media persons on Saturday that while the national literacy rate hovers around 70 per cent it is less than 50 per cent among Muslims. The literacy rate among Muslim girls and women is little over 30 per cent. "The backwardness in education has led to the community's backwardness in other areas. As several commission reports pointed out that the community is highly backward socially and economically. We believe that unless the barriers in getting education are broken we see no overall tangible progress for the community," he explained.

The conclave which coincides with 30 years of service by Mesco is being held in association with the National Commission for Minority Education, American Federation of Muslims of India, International Institute of Islamic Medicine of North America, India Muslim Relief and Charities and Seeds-both from the US, Confederation of Muslim Educational Institutions of India, New Delhi, Azam Campus, Pune, and Muslim Education Society from Kerala.

Speaking on the occasion Tajuddin Ahmed, president AFMI, said that the conclave will discuss means to set up 1000 model schools in the country to supplement the government of India's plan to establish 6,000 educational institutions in Muslim concentrated areas.

Fakhruddin said since the literacy among Muslim females is very low a special session will be held during the five-day conclave to find out ways of improving levels of education among them.

Vision 2020 has identified states such as Assam, West Bengal, and Bihar where the Muslim population is sizable but they lack behind other communities in various social parameters. Muslims in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana are also particularly backward.

A host of experts from within the country and abroad will be taking part in the conclave which will be concluded on December 31, he said.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Confer Bharat Ratna to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, demands Madhya Pradesh CM Shvraj Singh Chauhan

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan inaugurated an exhibition of Public Relations Department focusing on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Good Governance Day here at Ustad Alauddin Khan Sangeet Academy’s auditorium on Monday.

After going round the exhibition, Chief Minister Chouhan lauded the manner of its presentation. Talking to media later, he said that Atal Bihari Vajpayee should be conferred Bharat Ratna. He is a leader who is cynosure of every eye. He said that Vajpayee dwells in the hearts of country’s people. He still rules over people’s heart. Chouhan described Vajpayee as a staunch patriot and great scholar.

Chief Minister Chouhan said that Vajpayee has put in unique service to the country during his term as the Prime Minister. He enhanced country’s glory by making it an atomic power. He implemented schemes for network of National Highways to interlink entire country, Chaturbhuj Yojna and Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojna to improve the lot of villages. All these are the results of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s progressive thoughts and deeds.

He said that he will congratulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee on behalf of state’s people in New Delhi on December 25.

The exhibition dedicated to the former Prime Minister on the eve of his birthday displays about 100 photographs throwing light on various aspects of his life. The photographs include those of his childhood days, Gwalior-based school, with noted political leaders and other special occasions.

Madhya Pradesh Public Relations and Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma and State BJP President Narendra Singh Tomar along with Principal Secretary Culture B.P. Singh, Secretary Pankaj Rag, Commissioner Public Relations Rakesh Shrivastava and large number of distinguished citizens were present on the occasion.

[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]

Three day 121st Annual Convention of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat to begin on December 29

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar: Ahmadiyya's from across the world including Pakistan would converge at Qadian in Gurdaspur district to participate in the three day 121st Annual Convention of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat, India beginning on December 29th.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community within Islam was founded in 1889 and spans over 250 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions having current headquarters in UK, informed Secretary Press Committee, Sheikh Mujahid Ahmad while talking to TOI on Tuesday.
Notably In Pakistan Ahmadiyya's have been declared as non Muslims, they are not allowed to call their places of worship as mosque, give azan and were subjected to severe punishments if they call themselves Muslim. The community have been raising their voice at international level against the alleged brutality of Pakistan government towards them.

He informed that it was the only Islamic organization to endorse a separation of mosque and state. "Over a century ago, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad , founder of Ahmadiyya sect, taught his followers to protect the sanctity of both religion and government by becoming righteous souls as well as loyal citizens" he said. Deputy Secretary Maqbool Ahmad said that the aim of the gathering was that the members of the Jamaat should be able to derive religious benefits and at the same time they should acquire more of the knowledge and advance in their realization of God.

Another aim of the Convention, Maqbool informed was to promote peace in the world, to project the pristine teachings of Islam and to promote the bond between human beings and Allah. Likewise safeguarding the rights of women, guaranteeing the human rights, controlling the rise of 'fundamentalism' and so on will also be deliberated in the convention in the light of the time-invariant lofty Islamic teachings.

Various departments of the Jama'at Ahmadiyya have already become active to provide security, boarding and lodging, medical facilities and other such services to the guests. On December 30th convention will be celebrated as All Religions' Day when scholars from different religions and faiths will give discourses on peace and brotherhood from their respective scriptures.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Politics, laws weigh on Islamic finance in India

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

Dubai/New Delhi (Reuters): India’s tiny Islamic finance industry is hoping to expand by developing products that would work around the country’s ban on sharia-compliant banking. But political and legal obstacles mean progress is likely to be slow.

An estimated 177 million Muslims in India, the largest Muslim minority population in the world, are unable to use Islamic banks because laws covering the sector require banking to be based on interest, which is forbidden in Islam.

This policy has persisted since 2005, when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set up a committee to study Islamic finance.

“The Reserve Bank’s position has been that the current Banking Regulation Act does not permit Islamic banking because interest rate is an important component of banking in India,” RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao told reporters in October.

Last month, the governor added that some Islamic financial services could be delivered through vehicles other than banks – a comment which is encouraging some firms to look at developing sharia-compliant products outside the banking sector.

“It can be got around not through banking, but other vehicles,” Indian media quoted Subbarao as saying.

Shariq Nisar, director of research and operations at Mumbai-based Taqwaa Advisory and Shariah Investment Solutions (TASIS), an advisory firm, said of Subbarao’s statement: “This is a good thing – it is the first time the RBI is saying that Islamic banking is possible through other mechanisms.

“The message is to try out other things.”

Because Islamic banks pay depositors based on the returns earned by pooled investment funds, equity- and investment-related products might to some extent mimic the operations of Islamic banks and fill the gap left by the ban on them, the products’ proponents hope.

Saif Ahmed, managing partner at Bangalore-based Infinity Consultants, said: “The RBI’s comments will enable a more creative approach to developing Islamic finance in the country, by getting people to critically think through ways they can introduce Islamic finance under the present regulations.”

Innovation

The 2006 Sachar Committee report, commissioned by the state to examine the social, economic and educational conditions of India’s Muslim communities, recommended steps be taken to improve Muslims’ access to credit, which it called inadequate.

Muslims across all income categories in India are shunning conventional banks because of Islam’s ban on interest, said Ahmed. “Access to sharia-compliant credit is the biggest issue, followed by access to sharia-compliant investment options.”

The issue of investment options looks easiest to resolve. Some capital market products, regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), are already based on Islamic equity indexes, such as one launched in 2010 by TASIS and the Bombay Stock Exchange; Islamic indexes exclude firms involved in areas forbidden by the religion, such as alcohol and gambling.

In May, SEBI introduced guidelines for alternative investment funds (AIF) which allow the pooling of capital from local and foreign investors.

“We expect sharia-compliant funds to be registered under the AIF regulations,” and to invest in permissible assets such as real estate, said H. Jayesh, founding partner of Mumbai-based law firm Juris Corp.

Both Infinity and the Bangalore-based Amana Group have developed savings schemes known as chit funds which they say comply with Islamic finance principles. In chit funds, subscribers pool their money; members can then obtain temporary use of the funds through a bidding process.

“Our schemes have been approved by major sharia institutions…along with prominent scholars. This can promote Islamic banking in the country more wisely,” said Asifulla Khan, founder and partner at Amana.

Credit

But providing any form of credit in India under Islamic principles appears much more difficult, and would probably require regulatory changes.

A handful of politicians, particularly Muslim leaders such as Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, has been lobbying for years to start Islamic banking in India. Politicians from the southwestern state of Kerala, where there is a large Muslim population, have raised the issue many times in parliament.

They have met strong opposition from bureaucrats in the finance ministry and banking circles. Some politicians, especially from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, say they fear Islamic banking could be used by militants and might strengthen the hold of clergy over India’s Muslim community.

Also, the government is struggling to shut down channels for illicit flows of funds from the country, which are used by businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats to evade taxes.
For these reasons, India seems unlikely in the foreseeable future to permit any form of Islamic banking.

Nisar at TASIS said that one possibility, which would not require amendments to the banking act, would be for the RBI to issue an order allowing non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) to operate under a participatory model. Under this model, NBFCs would not charge interest but instead pay depositors with the proceeds of investment funds.

However, RBI officials told Reuters they did not think this would be feasible. Rules for NBFCs are the same as for banks with regard to interest rates, they said.

Abdur Raqeeb, general secretary of the Indian Centre for Islamic Finance in New Delhi, said laws other than the banking act could be amended to facilitate Islamic finance. This has been done in Singapore, Japan and Britain, he said.

“Changes have been introduced through the finance act as in the UK and other jurisdictions in the tax laws, to create a level playing field,” Raqeeb told Reuters via email.

Tax rules are important for Islamic finance because many popular asset-based transactions are vulnerable to double taxation under conventional accounting methods.

“It primarily will be a political decision that has to be made by the government through legislation in the parliament,” similar to steps taken by Sri Lanka in 2005, Ahmed at Infinity Consultants said. This will test how serious the government is about creating an inclusive financial system, he added.

Even if top government officials decide in principle to change rules, though, progress is likely to be very slow because of a complicated consultation process, the large number of stakeholders involved, and opposition in some political parties.

Contacted by Reuters, the RBI declined to elaborate on Subbarao’s comments. A person with direct knowledge of India’s regulatory environment, declining to be named because of the issue’s sensitivity, said the RBI had written to the government requesting clarification of its stance on Islamic finance.

Court Case

A court case now underway is testing the legal climate; in May, the RBI revoked the licence of Kochi-based Alternative Investments and Credits Ltd (AICL), which had operated under a participatory model since 2002.

“The RBI took a stance that compliance to the code requires declaring a fixed rate of interest rather than profit-sharing ratio,” AICL chairman Mohammed Ali A. said in September.

AICL has challenged the RBI’s decision, with the matter still being heard in Indian courts.
“In our opinion sharia-compliant NBFCs can operate within the existing legal framework,” said Jayesh at Juris Corp.

He noted that in a separate case, the High Court in Kerala had upheld the constitutionality of the state government’s investment in a company set up to carry out sharia-compliant financing activities.

(Courtesy: FirstPost.com)

Is Israel-Palestine conflict resolution possible?

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

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

With a view to isolating Hamas from Fatah and world at large and kill as many Palestinians as possible, the CIA-Mossad gangs have successfully converted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the Israel-Hamas war. As the root causes of the animosity between the two parties have not been addressed and unless the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved, future flare ups are likely to reoccur.

Having imposed in Mideast by dictatorial USA-UK terror twins, Israel, like US led NATO, doesn’t want to end terror war on Palestinians and other Arabs. However, this does not mean that conflict resolution is beyond reach even though many actors have grown frustrated and fatigued by the stalemate. This state of affairs is untenable.

The release of Israeli spy soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas led Palestine government last year underscored that cooperation between the seemingly bitter enemies was possible. World though Israel would now feel safe and trust the Hamas Palestinians and forge cooperation, but, alas, that is not to be because Israel somehow wanted that spy to show to Jewish illegal settler voters that Israeli regime is too concerned about life of Jews.

Fact of the matter is that Israel doesn’t seek any peace or friendship with Palestinians whose lands it has stolen. The escalation of attacks between the GOI and Palestinians, especially Hamas has occurred many times. The most significant was in 2008-2009 when Israel carried out airstrikes and a ground incursion into Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead. The exchange of Zionist aerial bombardments and reply rocket fire from Palestine-Hamas that claimed the lives of over a hundred people, inflicted numerous casualties and caused massive damage to infrastructure, finally came to a halt on 22 November 2012.

The devastation and loss of lives as well as the lessons from these and other encounters should have served to deter or at least compel decision-makers on both sides to refrain from pursuing the path of violence. But Israel wants this terror status quo to continue so as to extract political capital from the conflict for domestic poll reasons and to gain more military aid from USA and Europe. Besides, the war is used by Israel to showcase its latest terror goods for third word customers.

As such, Israel does not seek a resolution of the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict and simply wants to provoke and “maintain” the conflict at a manageable level. If Kadima PM Olmert had attacked Gaza strip on the poll eve for making poll fortunes, Netanyahu government’s bid for re-election is a major factor that has driven the GOI to confront Hamas at this time. In attacking Palestinian government and groups in Gaza, Netanyahu in fact miscalculated that his credibility among the electorate would rise, boosting his bid for re-election. Netanyahu may actually suffer political losses rather than make political gains from the confrontation. It is for this reason that Netanyahu has been actively trying unsuccessfully, to sell the ceasefire as a victory against Hamas.

Unlike the terror wars launched by NATO terror syndicate have been non-stop and protracted almost endlessly, the Israeli war with Hamas Palestinians are planned for short period and not to be protracted; it must be decisive, in that the capabilities of Hamas, its armed wing and other militant groups must be completely neutralised, and no all Palestinians must be killed. True, many Mossad-CIA buts might say Israeli forces would be able to focus on Iran and Hezbollah by incapacitating Hamas. But Israeli strategy is not to end Palestinians on earth in one go or quickly enough, because it needs them as a threat stuff essentially for ensuring more aid from west. Moreover, Israel would then face extinction which worries the Jews.

Israeli air strikes have hardened the positions of many Israelis and Palestinians on making peace with Israeli terrorist regime. Hamas can now use of Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets that can target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but they refused to employ them.

Until the unity government takes charge, the Hamas government still needs to work towards permanently ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza, ensuring that all border crossings are open, improving the economic and social situation in the enclave and realising Palestinian nationalist aspirations for an independent state.

The Hamas government should show restrain and responsibility, unlike Israeli terrorist gangs. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) should be strengthened and reformed to protect the lives of Palestinians and not to get provoked by Israeli wicked machinations. Palestinian fatalities and casualties from the airstrikes meant that Hamas could not refrain from entering the fray lest its credibility be adversely affected; hence, it too, began firing rockets at Israel. In addition, following Israel’s assassination of the commander of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Jabari, the movement’s ability to restrain its armed wing as well as the other Palestinian factions became difficult.

Now that Palestine has won observer state status at the UN, Palestinian factions must quickly forge a credible alliance and forge a unity government to safeguard the gained status after a long battle with Zionist criminals.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become an international problem because it fuels the ideology of global state terrorism (GST) and global anti-Islam infrastructure (GAI) that have affected many countries around the world. Hence, it is time for the international community to play a more active and perhaps a more assertive role to resolve this conflict.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism; Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); Independent Analyst; Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.). He is also former university Teacher. He can be contacted at abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com]

Open Letter to Indian Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 December 2012 | Posted in , , , ,

Instead of self-bashing and defeatist mindset, Muslims should shape their destiny

Dear Muslim Brothers & Sisters,

This refers to my article published on December 21, 2012 in the Online News Portal Indian Muslim Observer titled "Gujarat 2012 Elections: Narendra Modi’s electoral victory due to cowardice of Muslims and a comment on it by Mohammed Akram. During human rights activities, in my discussion with various Muslim leaders of different fields, I get an impression that Muslim community seem to have lost faith in their future, especially given the perceived discrimination against them by Hindu Majority India. There may be some or rather substantial truth in this defeatist attitude of important people of Muslim community, but I believe that no community becomes great by enumerating its problems or through self-bashing, but by finding solutions to these problems. Keeping this spirit in view I suggest the following :-

(1.) Without indulging in customary formal praise, I submit with conviction (out of my even very brief contact with Quran Sharif) that first and foremost, Muslims should not forget that they have biggest asset (Islam) with sanctity of currency and anti – interest (anti - Usury) Islamic sentiments in addition to what I said in my December, 21 article (in IOM with title "Gujarat 2012 Elections : Narendra Modi's electoral victory due to cowardice of Muslims") that Islam is the only religion on this earth which expects its followers not be afraid of any body (including the temporal authorities) and shows the path to Muslims, how to keep the spirit high by treading the path of justice and humanity.

(2.) Secondly, Muslims should also use their social, political and religious leadership in the wider interests of Indian Muslim. Though these Muslim leaders have grossly neglected the interests of Indian Muslims (as I also mentioned in my December, 21 article) but Muslims should not forget that these leaders also follow Islam (may be even inadequately) and they are quite capable people who should be utilized for the benefit of Indian Muslims. Moreover theses Muslim leaders will also like to be used in an exalted way for the benefit of Indian Muslims.

(3.) Thirdly, to start this mission Muslims should launch (i)- Human Right NGO [may be with name 'Insani Haquq' (IH) or with any other name] and (ii)- Islamic Health & Education Institutions (IHEI) on the basis of ‘capital on charity’ ( with shares of charity as in public limited companies) & ‘revenue from fees’ - with one mission in mind that Indian Muslims shall provide leadership & road-map for the betterment of India which even majority community Hindus are finding difficult to provide (with no sarcasm intended) and which has brought our country to such pathetic condition.

(4.) Though membership of IH can be open to every Indian but its membership will be restricted in the sense that it will be approved by National Executives of IH (or under its delegated powers by other bodies of IH). In addition to Society Act, the IH shall be registered with NHRC (as Core Group of NGO) and UNHRC too for ECOSOC status. The Registered / Head office of IH can be any where in India (preferably in Delhi).

(5.) Similarly membership of IHEI can also be open to every Indian but its membership will be restricted in the sense that it will be approved by National Executives of IHEI (or under its delegated powers by other bodies of IHEI).

(6.) To start this mission, the IH should first take up Human Rights related Court cases regarding Gujarat 2002 & Delhi 1984 massacre (mainly related to 130 & 131 CrPC which have not been taken-up so far as explained in my December, 21 article) and rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of Displaced Kashmiri Pundits (DKP).

(7.) It does not require a genius of political science to understand that the rehabilitation of DKP will not only be according to the tenets of Islam (humanity and justice) but it will boost the stock of Indian Muslims in the reckoning of entire national and international community and will go a long way in improving the condition of Indian Muslims in every way.

(8.) Simultaneously IH should organize & work for the workers of NREGP in the interest of human rights as per Article 25 of 'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights' (UDHR) which reads as (i) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (ii) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

(9.) It goes without saying that another highly important strength of Islam, the Institutions of Wakf & Zakat should also be commissioned for the help of IH and IHIE.

(10.) To formally launch the IH & IHEI their founding ‘general body meeting’ should immediately be called.

If IH and / or IHEI think that I can be of some assistance to these then I am prepared to come to Delhi (or any where) any time and prepared to work for them for rest of my life.

Yours truly

Hem Raj Jain
(Author of 'Betrayal of Americanism')

Richfield, Minnesota – 55423, USA, Ph: 612-202-4053

Presently at – S/72, Maya Indraprasth, J P Nagar Ph VI th, Bangaluru - 560078, India, Ph:- 080 - 41144997, 7829074704

[Hem Raj Jain is a prominent human rights and civil rights activist. He can be contacted at jainhemraj59@gmail.com]

Focus on effective law enforcement: Civil society and government agencies need to be in sync

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

By Nabeel A Khan

Insensitivity, vandalism and oppression in a democracy are the worst scourge. Unfortunately we, the Indians, have become used to it. The most vital reason for this is the lack of fine balance between the rights and duties. It is correct that protest is pride of democracy, and oppression, restriction is a blot on the form of people’s governance. Last week, we have seen restriction and oppression by the government as well as protests from the civil society transcending its civilized limitations.

The government should respect its duty of allowing its people the right to protest, while at the same time citizens need to understand their responsibility and not to turn the protest into vandalism and hooliganism. A wrong cannot be right through a wrong act or means.
The idea is not meant to preach, but a gist of an ideal situation which is nothing less than a euphoric thought in the current situation.

However, we must congratulate ourselves for the peace and patience we maintained in the majority part of the protest. Emotional issues like this, most often weakens our intelligence and we tend to succumb to some malicious, conceited and politically motivated forces. This happens because of a preconceived notion – the moment we come on the roads we treat government and its agencies as our enemy. We need to remember that, the system has not been imposed by a third party but we have made it. So the fight is with us only.


The essence of the movement/protest should not be emotional, but a logical one. The demand should be well chalked out, precise and efficacious. But, our logic and intelligence is most often overpowered by storm of emotional outburst. We most often ask for a new legislation, which is apparently the most convenient thing to do for any government. We did it during the Lokpal, Mumbai attacks or current brutal rape case in the national capital. It’s not that we don’t have legislation or agency to punish/investigate the rapists, corrupt, and a terrorist. We have well established agencies and laws, but what we need is effective enforcement of the law. Death penalty for rape is being demanded, but where is the guarantee that it won't be misused by girls and women folk to settle scores or the rapists won't finish off the victims? Certainly, the one of the most valid concerns raised by the experts is that the chances of victim being killed becomes more, if the death penalty becomes the norm. At the same time this could be misused. The other debate is – can India, which is respected as a civilized nation in the world, implement death penalty in the cases of rape?

Enforce Law

We don’t lack laws. What we lack is the implementation, and execution of law. There are lakhs of rape cases registered in the country, but they are just there for years to pass by. And at the end of the day what is the result? We see only a negligible percentage of conviction in rape cases. The other depressing factor is that when the case goes on for long, the witness tends to become cold while the victim also gets disappointed and loses hope. While, the victim is also treated almost like an accused in the current scenario. We need to make the judicial procedure more victim-friendly. The lack of conviction is one of the main reasons for inciting crime. So the right idea would be to demand for something what is immediately possible and easily doable. And, in this case the government should ensure what strategy it is going embrace for effective and efficient implementation of law, if no new legislation is introduced.

It’s been since ages that we have seen huge numbers of cases being pending due to lack of the size of judicial machinery in the country.

Why can’t the government think of expanding it to match the growing population of the country. May be, the government can strategically distribute the responsibilities –such as making the panchayati system (Sarpanch) more effective for specific kinds of cases such as civil suits.

Policing

The cops might be giving VIP security as main reason for their lack of effectiveness but the police also seem to have lost its way in terms of understanding its nature of work. We immediately need to coach them of their responsibility and job profile. They need to act more than a thug in a look out to fleece people and get bribes. For the cops, their most important job profile currently is to find if a chana wala (roasted gram seller), andawala (egg seller), or any other small roadside vendor if they are paying the monthly bribe on time or not. Even the parking people pay a fixed amount to these cops and a strategic identification sign is made to protect the vehicles parked at unauthorized location/roads. If the actual case comes they police will first try to scare and then ignore and most often will not lodge any FIR. They want to remain in the safe heaven and focus on the earning part. If some pressure comes in then they will nab/arrest – most often an easy pray and implicate them under fabricated charges. The same Delhi Police do not allow a single tempo-wala (autorickshaw drivers), and petty vendor to run business without paying bribe but at the same time big crimes such as bomb blast, rape, robbery are easily committed. We urgently need to train the cops and make them understand actual KRA or Job responsibilities.

Be Civilized Society

Be a civilized society and not merely civil society. The civil society very quickly draws a divide between them and the government and finger is raised against government which is quite valid and natural. But in democracy, how can we totally ignore the fact that government is formed by us. We make hue and cry and MPs, MLAs are criminals – but who voted for them. The society also needs to wake up and understand its responsibility; we should not wait to put off the fire till it reaches our house. Let me confront the bitter truth, we have crores of people shouting slogans after a crime is commited, what happens why the same society acts as mere darshak (spectator) when the crime is being committed and no one came to help the victims. People simply ignore. We need to be sensitive and nip the crime in its bud stage.

The society need to build an environment where women’s stature and respect is restored as mother, sister and not treated as commodity.

The women themselves should adopt a zero tolerance against any such advancement – never ignore. The society should also collectively take action against the wrong doers so the stigma of doing wrong pinches them every minute of their lives.

[Nabeel A. Khan, a Delhi-based Journalist, is Consulting Editor with IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at nabeelkhan786@gmail.com]

Madhya Pradesh honoured with “Fast emerging state in category of big states” award

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Madhya Pradesh has been honoured with “Fast emerging state in category of big states” award. Instituted by IBN-7, the award was given away at “Diamond State Award” function in New Delhi by Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs. Meira Kumar on Saturday. The Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan received the award on behalf of the state, an official spokesman said.

The selection of award was done following close screening by the jury appointed by editorial board of IBN Network and Outlook magazine. The jury headed by former RBI Governor Dr. Vimal Jalan comprised former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramaniyam, Dr. Sebal Gupta, Asian Development Research Institute Secretary, Mr. Damodaran, former SEBI Chairman Mr. Gurcharan Das, writer and intellectual Dr. Bakul Dholaliya and former Director of IIM, Ahmedabad.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan reportedly said that this is a major achievement for Madhya Pradesh as it was once considered as backward. State’s growth rate now stands at 12 per cent and agriculture growth rate 18.68 per cent, the highest in the country. He informed that when he assumed power seven years ago, situation of power, roads and water was quite bad. Now, Madhya Pradesh is the only state in the country to supply power for 24 hours to industries. Feeder separation work is progressing at rapid pace in the state. Following separation, power to industries and farmers will be supplied separately and 24-hour power will be made available in villages from 2013.

Mr. Chouhan said that 85 thousand kilometre long roads have been constructed in the state so far. Area under irrigation has increased from seven lakh hectares to 21 lakh hectares. It will be increased to 25 lakh hectares next year. Rs. 425 crore Narmada-Kshipra-Simhastha Link Project is being implemented for turning Malwa region green again. The project will supply drinking water to 3,000 villages in the region. He said that entire Malwa region will be turned green in future by linking Parwati, Kali Sindh and Gambhir rivers with Narmada river.

He also referred to the award conferred to the state by the President recently. He informed that Madhya Pradesh stands third in the country in wheat procurement and will soon equal Punjab and Haryana. State’s e-procurement system has been lauded throughout the country.

A number of concrete steps have been taken to make agriculture profitable. At the same time, loans are being provided to farmers at zero percent interest. Farmers are being given Rs. 100 per quintal bonus on wheat procurement. He said that agro processing industry has also been promoted in the state. Policies have been framed for organic farming and food processing.

Referring to industrial sector, Mr. Chouhan gave information about MoUs worth Rs. 3 lakh 50 thousand crore signed at recent Global Investors Summit. He informed that textile hubs, automobile hub, cement factories and small and medium industries have been promoted in the state.

The Chief Minister informed that "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" has been launched in the state for women’s empowerment apart from launching a number of novel schemes like “Ladli Laxmi Yojna”, “Gaon Ki Beti Yojna”, formation of women’s battalion, special helpdesk for women in police stations, enhancement in upper age limit for government jobs etc. Referring to health sector, he said that the State Government is providing free treatment and medicines to all the poor.

Mr. Chouhan also gave information about Higher Education Loan Guarantee Scheme started in the state. He threw light in detail on efforts made in skill development sector. He said that ITIs have been opened under PPP mode in the state. A number of other institutions have also been opened which will provide jobs to trained youths and remove unemployment. He also informed about state’s Public Service Delivery Guarantee Act. He said that services sought by common people are delivered to them within a prescribed time limit.

Turning towards the Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs. Meira Kumar, Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan stressed the need for electoral reforms and demanded to hold Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections simultaneously. He described state funding as necessary for elections saying that frequent elections mar development process. This will help put a leash on use of black money in elections and corruption, he added.

[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]

Muslim poverty may bite Narendra Modi at NDC meet in Delhi

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

By Pranab Dhal Samanta

New Delhi The final version of the Twelfth Plan document has named Gujarat among four states with the maximum number of Muslims below poverty line, which could set the stage for another confrontation between Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre at next week’s National Development Council (NDC) meeting.

At the 2007 NDC meeting to discuss the Eleventh Plan, Modi had openly hit out at the prime minister’s 15-point programme for minorties, demanding that it be dropped “in the interest of maintaining the social fabric of the nation”.

He subsequently never implemented the Centre’s scholarship scheme for minorities.
Now the Twelfth Plan document, which will be the subject of discussion at the NDC coming Thursday, shows Gujarat in a poor light when it comes to lifting Muslims above BPL in both urban and rural areas. To address this, the Plan calls for direct targeting of minorities to be made a pre-condition for disbursal of funds — a concept Modi has vehemently opposed, terming targeting of population on lines of religion “anti-constitutional”.

“According to the latest Planning Commission estimates, the poverty ratio for Muslims was 33.9 per cent in urban areas, especially on account of states such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal. In rural areas, the poverty ratio for Muslims was very high in states such as Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat,” states the Plan document in its chapter on social Inclusion, which is part of the section on social sector.

Using the Tendulkar Committee’s methodology, the Planning Commission estimates that 42.4 per cent of the Muslims in urban Gujarat are poor, which is very high compared to the overall poverty ratio of 17.9 per cent in urban areas. In rural areas, the corresponding figure stands at 31.4 per cent, which is again more than the overall average of 26.4 per cent for rural poverty in the state.

On urban poverty ratio among Muslims, Gujarat’s figures are the third worse after Bihar (56.5 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (49.5 per cent) while in rural areas, it’s fourth after Assam (53.6), Uttar Pradesh (44.4) and West Bengal (34.4).

The overall BPL population ratio in the country, according to the Tendulkar report, is 29.8 per cent.

Noting that a “perception of discrimination and alienation” is the most “important concern” for Muslims when compared to other minorities, the Plan document has stressed on its “direct targeting” approach.

“Revamp the design, expand the scope and strengthen implementation structures of key initiatives such that minority settlements and people are directly targeted; such direct targeting should be made a condition for approval of all block- and district-level plans,” the document stated.

For Modi, the visit to Delhi to attend the NDC meet is also like the customary victory lap after a third straight win at the hustings. He has claimed that his opponents were spreading “lies about Gujarat” in the course of the election campaign and underlined that his win was proof enough.

(Courtesy: ExpressIndia.com)

Shivraj Singh Chouhan is best, Narendra Modi worst Chief Minister of BJP ruled states: PCI Chairman Justice Markandey Katju

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Chairman of Press Council of India Justice Markandey Katju, who is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, has termed Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) two Chief Ministers viz. Gujarat’s Narendra Modi as the worst while Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan as one of the best in the country.

The 2002 Gujarat pogrom wherein thousands of Muslims were massacred in the state under Modi’s rule is a big blot on him which can never be washed away. Quoting English literary giant Shakespeare he said: “All the perfumes of Arabia cannot wipe the stains of the blot”. He said he can never forgive him for his crimes of such magnitude against humanity.

In an interview to this Correspondent Justice Katju asserted that the aura of development in Gujarat is all phoney and fake as the rural poverty in the state is 51 percent. There is no real development in Gujarat but with his cocky attitude Modi he impresses that he is all-knowing and tries to paint a rosy picture to befool people.

On the contrary vital statics about Gujarat speak otherwise as the living standards of the common people was still "abysmal". The test of every system is whether the standard of living of the masses is rising or not. Modi was no doubt successful in projecting an image of 'Gujarat Shining' under him. But the stark reality is very different, he asserted. No doubt Modi has given huge concessions to big industrial houses, giving them cheap electricity, land, etc. and has built roads, etc. But what about the standard of living of the masses?

Pervez Bari (Left) along with PCI Chairman Justice Markandey Katju (Centre) 
To prove his point Justice Katju pointed out figures about the state which include: 1. Child malnutrition at 48 per cent in Gujarat is higher than the national average, far higher than the poorest African sub Saharan countries of Somalia and Ethiopia where the rate is about 33 per cent; 2. The infant mortality rate in Gujarat is 48 per thousand, which is the 10th worst in India; 3. More than a third of Gujarat's adult men have a body mass index of less than 18.5, the 7th worst in India; 4. Gujarat has a high maternal mortality rate; 5. Education, health and income levels in Gujarat is placed it after 8 other Indian states.

He informed that when Modi was confronted with malnutrition in the state he did not deny it but claimed that as girls in Gujarat are beauty conscious they do not eat or drink milk for fear of becoming fat, the people are vegetarians etc. which is all nonsense. He questioned should the Gujarati children eat the factories, roads and electricity Modi has created?

“Yeh Sab Behuda Batein Hain. Modi is a big fraud and a dramatist and his best place should have been in the film world,” he remarked. The time may come when the people of the state would themselves realise that the development about which Modi boasts a lot was of no use to them, he said.

On the other hand Justice Katju said that in sharp contrast, there was no blot on another BJP-ruled state Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's name. There has been no major communal conflagration in the state under his seven year rule.

He said the abbreviation CM stands for Chief Minister and Common Man both. “I am told that Chouhan is known as Common Man and CM denotes this. I was struck by Chouhan's humility and modesty and found him to be a very polite and humble person", he said.

Justice Katju said that he met Chouhan two days ago and invited him to attend an 'Mushaira' (Urdu poetry meet) and the chief minister promised that he would come for only 15 minutes. He said that when Chouhan came, he extended his stay to 50 minutes and appreciated Urdu poetry. He said Chouhan also has promised to do all that he can for the development of Urdu in Madhya Pradesh.

"I neither belong to BJP nor Congress. I am people's representative and try to highlight the truth whether one likes it or not. I have criticised Chief Ministers Mamta Banerjee of West Bengal and Nitish Kumar of Bihar in the past. Mamta gets anyone arrested by police whosoever criticizes him which is very unfortunate. While Nitish Kumar's claim of "Bihar Shining" is also hollow" Justice Katju stated.

"I am told that it is all media management which has put people's woes under the rug. Wherever I went I found poverty staring people in the faces with problems of unemployment, no electricity, people are migrating to other states to make a living", he lamented.

Meanwhile, Justice Katju strongly condemned the recent gang-rape incident in New Delhi and opined that those who are found guilty by a court of law should be given harsh punishment. He, however, wondered at the same time whether the same hue and cry which has been raised about it in the media and in Parliament about this incident would have been raised had this incident happened in some other part of India, particularly in rural in Madhya Pradesh or any other state. “I am sure it would not. But surely Delhi is not the whole of India”, he added.

He was also very critical of hue and cry raised by Anna Hazare and his entourage in their campaign against corruption which media hyped as “second” or “third” revolution. He questioned whether even one percent corruption has been reduced.

He pointed out that there has been hardly any hue and cry to a similar extent about the 250,000 farmers suicide in Vidarbha, Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere over the last 10-15 years(an average of 47 farmers suicide per day, which is still continuing) which is a world record of farmers suicide. There has been very little hue and cry about the fact that 48 per cent of Indian children are malnourished.

He clarified: “I am not trying to justify rape but I only request people to maintain a balance and not hype the Delhi gang-rape incident as if it is the only problem in the country. Section 376 Indian Penal Code already provides for a maximum of life sentence for rape, and I see no reason why capital punishment should also be provided for it”.

It may be mentioned here that Justice Katju was in Bhopal in connection with Urdu Heritage Caravan and Press Council of India meeting.

[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]

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