Aligarh Muslim University Court or A Muslim Parliament?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 16 June 2013 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

There was a time prior to independence in 1947 that the Court of Aligarh Muslim University - its top governing body - comprised of the top Muslim elite in the nation. The then British-Indian government appointed select elite Muslims from across the country to the AMU Court largely as a recognition of their contribution to AMU and to the spread of education in the Muslim community. But times have changed and with changing times more and more categories of representation and number of members have been aded to this select body. Today there are nearly 200 members in the AMU Court representing more than half a dozen categories.

In earlier years the objective of the Court members was to provide direct or indirect financial support to AMU and to use their influence with the British-Indian government to get resources to AMU with a view to improving the educational status of the Muslim community. Many a nawabs and rajas and other distinguished and well educated Muslims were members of the AMU Court. But now a sizeable number of Muslim politicians, wannabe politicians, some of them even rabblerousers, and political maulanas vie and campaign every year to become members of the AMU Court.

Gone is the emphasis on noblese-oblige, creed of devotion to AMU's welfare and desire to contribute to maintaining AMU as a high quality educational institution, as the salient criteria for becoming members of this august body. Now it is the rough and tumble of political wrangling, canvassing, and influence peddling to get elected to the Court. Now whenever a Muslim in north India acquires some public recognition or makes a certain amount of money, no matter what his/her occupation, regardless of his/her contribution to AMU or level of education, they start aspiring to become a member of the AMU Court.

Recently on a visit to my hometown in U.P. a well to do Muslim businessman who has made good money in the leather trade, but whose educational qualifications are dismal, told me that he was campaigning to become a member of AMU Court. When I asked him why he wants to do that because he does not have much interest in education or AMU, he told me that now the AMU Court has become a sort of parliament of Muslims, especially north Indian Muslims. Interest in education of Muslim community or AMU is not necessarily a factor.

Indeed many political parties with hardly any interest in the educational welfare of the Muslim community (eg BJP), use their influence to place some of their Muslim members in the AMU Court. Also some other aspiring Court members are busy in rabblerousing tobecome popular in the community and use it as a path. Quite a few are movie actors and TV personalities with hardly any interest in the education of Muslims or AMU.

This is not a good trend since while many Court members are distinguished individuals who are working to improve AMU and education, many other Court members do nothing to help AMU or the education of the Muslim community in any way. They only attend the twice yearly Court meetings to further their social contacts and to feel good that they have arrived at a certain social ladder. In the bi-annual Court meetings they never say a word or make any suggestions.

It is time that the leaders of the AMU and Muslim community turn the clock back, reduce the number of Court members, make the criteria for selection stringent and objective to ensure that only distinguished and dedicated Muslims with real interest in furthering AMU and education in the Muslim community are selected to this august body.

Also the functioning of the AMU Court should be scrutinized to ensurethat it does not function as a social or political club or parliament of Muslims, but as a constructive body working hard for the educational uplift of AMU and the Muslim community at large.

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

Another Karbala in Syria: Start of an Open Sunni-Shia War

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 June 2013 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

On Monday, June 3, 2013, prominent Suni Cleric Imam Shaikh Qardawi who lives in Qatar and whose TV program and website is very popular in the Middle-East, threw all caution to winds and discarded neutrality in the Sunni-Shia conflict and appealed to Sunnis to go all out to annihilate Shias in the region.

He asked able-bodied Sunnis to come together and join the Sunni side in the current civil war in Syria with the intent of killing Shias. Qardawi labeled Hizbollah of Lebanon, that is composed mostly of Shias, as a party of devils and liars who have deceived Muslims and whom Sunnis must fight and destroy. Qardawi also alleged that the Islamic Republic of Iran has lied to and deceived the Muslim Ummah.

At the same time Hassan Nasrollah of Hizbollah who has already sent his troops into Syria to kill the Sunni rebels there has declared that his objective in the region is the same as that of the Alawaite Syrian President Assad, which is to annihilate Sunnis. Inside Syria it is no more rebels against the Syrian government. It is an open sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shias. On one side are the Sunnis of Syria supported by the Sunni majority countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and other Sunnis, versus Shias on the other side supported by the Syrian govt, Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Shias of Syria and Lebanon, the Alawaites and Iran.

This open bitter Sunni-Shia war has come about 25 yeas following the eight year Iraq vs Iran war of 1980s, which too was a Shia-Sunni war. The Christians of Lebanon and Iraq are supporting the Shias in the entire region. Both Shias led by Iran - an oil-rich state, and Sunnis led by Saudi Arabia and UAE - another conglomeration of oil rich states, are pouring in huge fortunes and resources to buy arms from US, UK, Russia, China etc. Thus the wealth of rich Muslim countries is ending up in the coffers of non-Muslim countries and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

In this internecine and bloody conflict the Sunnias and Shias are trying to inflict maximum damage on each other, while their common enemy, Israel and the Jews are luaughing away. They are laughing because their two worst enemies are killing and destroying each other and are sowing seeds of hatred between the two halves of the global Muslim community. This hatred coupled with violence will build much hostility and bitterness among Sunnis and Shia that may last at least a decade if not more.

This Sunni-Shia war may end up creating hatred, violence and bitterness among the Sunnis and Shias in South Asian countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India) and may even lead to violence among them, that may also take a long time to remove.

So for the next ten years Israel is safe in occupying the lands of Palestinians with no one to make a serious objection. Just as at the end of the Iraq-Iran war both countries became weak and easy prey to the enemies of Islam, the current bitter and bloody fighting will result in an overall much weakened Ummah. In the same timeframe Israel and the Jews will become stronger and the unquestioned super-power of the Middle-East.

This is how we Muslims are again harming ourselves and will again be reduced to being at the mercy of others, even as Allah has gifted us with the huge wealth of oil and energy resources. And this is how the enemies of Muslims easily divide the Muslims on a global scale and exploit our lands and resources. It has happened so many times and is happening again infront of our eyes.

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

GUEST EDITORIAL: Police Brutality in India -- Why? What can be Done?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 May 2013 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

Police brutality towards the powerless segments of population in India has been a fact of life for many decades. Even before 1947 when India became an independent nation, the zulum (brutality) of police towards the poor and powerless in the population has been a fact of life. Indeed Police has been roughing up as many powerless dalits, tribals, backward caste people, poor upper caste Hindus and Sikhs as Muslims.

Mushrooming of Population

Since 1947 the population has continued to mushroom in India. One billion people now live in the land mass space in India where about 200 million lived at the dawn of independence. The many cities, towns and villages are badly overcrowded and congested. When travelling to India as you land at the airport in any major city, you get a feeling of shock at facing such massive multitudes.

Every possible public space, be it trains or buses or roads or markets or shopping centers or parks or movie-houses or schools and colleges, is choked with endless streams of people. Since the Indira Gandhi sponsored Family Planning program that she tried to implement in 1974, and that rebounded on her and the Congress Party in the 1977 general election, there is no credible family planning plan and the population is growing uncontrolled.

Today for instance the population of Uttar Pradesh state that I belong to, is about 200 million people. In terms of population it is among the ten most populous countries in the whole world. Similarly the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh continue to have huge populations that have grown by about five folds in recent decades.

Mushrooming of crime and indiscipline

Along with this mushrooming of population, the tussle among people for the increasingly limited resources and opportunities has multiplied many folds. Thus public corruption, stealing or acquiring money by coercion, abusing political influence, religious sentiments etc. have grown many folds. Along with that the number of criminals and volume of criminal activities in the public space has multiplied hugely. Another phenomenon that did not exist about thirty years ago is terrorism.

Terrorism is an outgrowth of over-population, scarcity of resources and opportunities, indiscipline in the population, exploitation of the political process and religion, and laxity of government in governing the country on the basis of a set of principles. Today the society in India is many times more chaotic, undisciplined and ridden with crimes than about thirty years ago.

To make such a large, chaotic and anarchic society function, the ruling political elite constantly look towards the police force. The police force itself has grown many folds in the last thirty years. For instance in my home state of U.P., where about forty years ago the police force in each major district was headed by a Superintendent of Police (SP), now a couple of Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs) divide the top police management. For the U.P. state as a whole, instead of one Inspector General (IG) for the entire state now there are 8 IGs, 18 Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs), 4 Assistant Director Generals (ADGs) and one Director General (DG) – the top police official in the state.

Despite the significant increase in police force and senior police officers, crime, terrorism and mayhem in the public arena have continued to grow and remain uncontrolled. Unable to control this upsurge of mayhem in society and the inciting to violence by the unprincipled politicians, and unable to solve major crimes like riots and terrorist attacks, the police resorts to high handed measures. Thus police brutality has increased significantly over the last few decades.

Terrorist activities and bad law & order situation

Look at the upsurge of Naxalite and Maoist terrorism in the states of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal in the last twenty years. These movements resulting from government and social injustice to the tribal and dalit populations for decades have now formed regular militias that are well armed and frequently kill large number of policemen, paramilitary forces, government officials and wealthy people. In Chattisgarh instead of paying attention to the problems of the tribal people, the ruling political party created a rival militia by the name of Salwa Jadum to kill the tribal cadres of Maoists.

Well organized police operations and even paramilitary operations in these states have failed to diminish the widespread terrorist activities of these militias. In the state of Chattisgarh, in 2010 these militias killed about 75 soldiers of the paramilitary force in an ambush, and just last week they killed about 20 senior politicians in another ambush. The government policies in handling the grievances and subsequent militancy of the tribal people has failed completely in these states with significant tribal populations.

Even in In India’s major metropolitan cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, law and order situation is tentative at best. Even in these major cities incidences of molestation of women, rapes, crimes against women have mushroomed and the police is unable to bring them under control. Frequent terrorist activities like bomb blasts in public places, religious congregations, religious shrines, major public events occur with regularity. In very few instances culprits responsible for these activities are nabbed.

Police frustration feeds Police brutality

The senior politicians and major political parties have become very unprincipled in governing the country and the states and cities. They exploit divisions of religion, caste and ethnicity of the people and exploit the democratic polity of the nation to gain power. Once in power they practice corruption, injustice, cronyism to favour a few at the expense of many and implement contradictory policies. When big chaotic problems occur, instead of introspecting their governance and resolving their contradictory policies they pass the blame to the bureaucracy, government officials and their political rivals.

In the end the ruling politicians as well as the society at large is looking at the police force and senior police officers to bring the chaos under control and return the society to the lawful lifestyle that existed fifty years ago. But as explained above the many variables and contradictions that have grown in the government and political process and the society over the years, are thwarting the efforts of the police force, which is a very frustrated cadre of government today. Unable to solve crimes, unable to control the increase in crimes and unable to control the upsurge of mayhem and terrorism in society, the police force resorts to brutality and high handedness at various levels. Thus it appears that in the midst of contradictions and failures to govern, and inability to handle the pressures of the top political bosses, police brutality has become a governing style.

If people from the minority religious communities, who think that police brutality is the result of communalism of the majority community, look at the broad picture of police brutality, they will find that while police force is not free of communal feelings, when it comes to brutality, police often distribute it across the board to all powerless segments of society.

What can be done

Obviously police brutality in handling law and order breakdown situations is a most harmful phenomenon that will seriously harm the nation and will not be able to restore a law abiding society. The solution of the problem lies not in just laying the entire blame at the feet of the police force and senior police officers. Instead the first reform should be in the top political governance class who must be made to eschew highly opportunistic, contradictory and exploitative practices, politics and policies. Only then the ruling politicians will be able to hold the feet of the police force to fire to eliminate brutality in solving crimes and law & order breakdown situations. I unequivocally condemn police brutality and injustice in controlling the law and order problems, but at the same time I believe that unless all rogue practices of all segments of government and polity are reformed and the total picture is corrected, the law and order situation is not likely to improve.

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

Fifty Years After Nehru's Death, His Philosophy and Family Still Govern India

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

By Kaleem Kawaja

May 27, 2013 is the 49th anniversary of the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's great freedom fighter, builder of modern India, man of vision, who died on May 27, 1964. Next to Mahatma Gandhi he is the most revered of the leaders of modern India. Indeed though there was great commonality between the two of them, Nehru's thinking of what India should be like was very different from that of Gandhi. Today Gandhi is a revered point of reference and ideal for India, but Nehru's philosophy, institutions and legacy is actually operating the various avenues of the nation.

Nehru's Legacy vs Gandhi's Legacy

Whereas Gandhi was an extreme and sometimes impractical idealist, Nehru was a pragmatist. Gandhi's genius was in being able to have most people believe in him and follow him, despite the fact that they did not agree with him entirely. Nehru found it far more difficult to have most people follow him and used creative politics to have the country follow his philosophy and sideline his opponents. Remember the Kamraj Plan!

It is a credit to Nehru's ability and skill that in the short span of 17 years as the leader of India which is a country of extreme diversity and contradictions, he put in place so many institutions and policies for India's future that are pretty much still leading India. And he did so by more or less democratic means.

Since independence, two generations have gone by and now the third generation is hitting the threshold. The complexion of the country has changed radically. The population of the country has mushroomed five-folds; the number of states in India have more than doubled; so many political parties based on the castes and ethnicities and religious straits have mushroomed and even have significant following.

Quite a few of Nehru's socialist policies , institutions, public sector industrial infrastructure have been replaced. Yet the new economic order that began twenty years ago in 1991, opening India's economy and society to the Western countries, is not a major departure from the Nehru thought. Because unlike Gandhi who was so much for Swadeshi structure, Nehru always talked about India reaching out to the world and adopting some of their institutions and social styles.

Yet despite so many conflicts and contradictions Nehru's modernistic, progressive and pluralistic vision of going forward, taking every segment of the nation in the mainstream is still thriving in India. Much as Mao tse Tungs legacy and vision for China are thriving, Nehru's legacy and vision are thriving in India. In the same time phase Lenin's vision for Russia has been completely debunked by his descendants who have moved away from Lenin's vision and legacy.

Continuing sway of Nehru philosophy and family on India

What is indeed remarkable about Nehru's legacy is that not only his philosophy and vision for India have survived, his own family has retained its supremacy and control on India , fifty years after his death. Even though Nehru's grandson Rajiv Gandhi did not survive as his descendant in the power echelons of the nation, his daughter Indira Gandhi put the Nehruvian stamp on the nation and managed the nation's contradictions extremely well.

Even when others became leaders of the nation in the interim, they still followed the Nehruvian philosophy faithfully. It is absolutely remarkable that for the last about ten years, Sonia Gandhi - an Italian woman, the daughter-in-law of the Nehru family, has maintained remarkable control on the apparatus and subsets of the vast and diverse nation and has kept pushing the Nehruvian thought process. At this time despite much political and social turmoil, it is difficult to say that the nation will depart from the Nehru philosophy and even his family.

Other icons of freedom movement are only points of reference now

In contrast none of the descendants of Gandhi or Sardar Patel or Maulana Azad or Rajendra Prasad or Subhash Bose or other top freedom fighters remained on the national scene. Indeed just a decade after their demise no one even knows their names or where they are. Today these illustrious leaders of the freedom movement remain the icons of the nation, but not many people know what were their philosophies like.

Where will the Nehruvian vision and philosophy take India in the next fifty years is anybody's guess and extremely hard to say. But the fact that Nehruvian legacy has become an integral part of India's governance, seven decades after independence, is by itself an absolutely remarkable phenomenon.

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

The Maulanas and Dargahs -- Imbibng modern education and competitiveness in Muslim youth

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 10 May 2013 | Posted in , , , , , , , , ,

The Maulanas and Dargahs who are Imparting Superior Modern Education and Competitive Ability in the Muslim Youth

By Kaleem Kawaja

Muslim maulanas (clerics) and dargahs (religious shrines) dot the landscape of Muslim India – the cities and towns where India’s Muslims live. Having grown up in India, the scenes of multitudes of worshippers thronging the shrines and bearded maulanas lecturing away to the congregations are ingrained in my mind. Countless movies and TV coverage of religious occasions have further reinforced these images over the years. Many people stereotype the extraordinary educational and socioeconomic backwardness of the Muslims of India with the sub-culture of dargahs and maulanas that is pervasive in the lower middleclass Indian Muslim community.

On the other end of the spectrum of the Indian society are the images of successful bright Indian youth who compete fiercely for top professional opportunities like IAS/IFS/IPS civil services and the bright eyed engineers from IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and doctors from prominent medical colleges entering promising careers in the modern fields of engineering and medicine.
The two images are poles apart. Yet in recent weeks my attention has been pleasantly drawn to the two images coming together for a few Muslims. No, they did not crack the Powerball lottery. A counted few among the lecturing maulanas and the maudlin dargahs took a big leap forward and bridged the vast gap between the two images to make it possible for a few ordinary Muslim youth to touch the modern Indian moon. Let me share this pleasant observation with you in the following.

Maulana Mohammad Fazlur Rahim Mujaddidi’s Crescent Civil Service Academy, New Delhi

About ten years ago Maulana Mujaddidi, a very respected Muslim cleric, established the Crescent Academy in New Delhi as a division of the Maulana Abdur Rahim Educational Trust, with a vision of providing proper guidance, academic coaching and training to the Muslim aspirants for the country’s topmost Civil Services (IAS/IFS/IPS etc).

Typically every year less than 1 percent successful candidates are Muslim. In the just announced results for the very tough multipart competition for these coveted careers for 2013, 13 trainees from the Crescent Academy came through as successful candidates. In fact 30 candidates from the Academy were successful in the first round examinations and 19 cleared the main IAS examination.

It should be noted that to-date the Academy with its limited infrastructure and resources, has been able to produce more than 100 IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, judges and State civil servants throughout the country. These are the very top government services in India and the careers lead to their being the makers of the top policies in the country.

Maulana Wali Rahmani’s Rahmani-30 IIT Entrance Coaching Center, Patna

About five years ago Maulana Rahmani, another very respected Muslim cleric, established this coaching center to provide academic and competitive training to Muslim youth who aspire to enter the Indian Institutes of Technology - India’s most prestigious engineering colleges. Typically every year no more than about 1% Muslim youth are successful in enrolling in the IITs. The results of the competitive examination held for 2013 announced last week show that 24, mostly Muslim, of the 30 candidates from the Rahmani-30 Center cracked the IIT-JEE (Joint Entrance Examination).

Besides the 24, four students of Rahmani-30 who could not clear the test last year have also got success this year. These 28 candidates have qualified for IIT-JEE Advance test to be held in June.

Typically graduates of IITs go on to work in prestigious positions in the country’s top corporations, or multinational corporations or receive employment in foreign countries.

Khaja Bandanawaz Gaisudaraz Dargah’s Engineering College and Institute of Medical Sciences, Gulbarga

Khaja Bandanawaz Gaisudaraz, who passed away in 1422, was a illustrious sufi saint who settled in Gulbarga, Karnatak at the invitation of the then Bahmani Sultan Tajuddin Firoz Shah. He was a disciple of the very illustrious sufi saint Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlvi. His ancient dargah in Gulbarga is a popular center of attraction in south India.

In 1966 the Dargah’s Trust established the Khaja Education Society to promote education in the educationally backward Muslim community. They started with a school for girls and now operate 15 minority educational institutions in Gulbarga, including the Khaja Bandanawaz College of Engineering established in 1980 and the Khaja Bandanawaz Institute of Medical Sciences established in 2000. The pioneering spirit behind the Khaja Education Society has been the Dargah Trust and Padamshree Shah Mohammad Hussaini who passed away recently.

Without a doubt this dargah is totally different from the thousands of dargahs spread throughout the country, in that it has put its primary focus on imparting modern high education to the Muslims. Also they have been so eminently successful in transforming youth from the backward Muslim community into high quality engineers and doctors, who are helping uplift the Muslim community and the country into a modern nation.

Spread the secrets of success

One important factor for the handful of brilliant success stories in the Muslim community enumerated above is the close cooperation between the Muslim religious leaders and the Muslim intelligentsia leaders.

Instead of competing with each other or ignoring each other, they pooled the street popularity of the religious folks with the knowledge of modern education of the educated Muslims to make it a win-win situation for the community.

These undoubtedly rare success stories in India’s Muslim community make one wonder how much socioeconomic development can take place in the community if many more maulanas and dargahs dedicate themselves to the cause of imparting quality modern education and competitive ability to the Muslim youth and include the well educated Muslims in their team. Instead of spending so much time and energy on political and publicity activities if we spend more of it on the development of our youth, we can change the community’s picture drastically in just one generation.

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

GUEST EDITORIAL: Muslim Leaders Should Not Use Inflammatory Rhetoric In Public Speeches

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 10 January 2013 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

Indian Muslims live in India where Muslims are 15%, Hindus are 80% of the population. Almost all power (economic, police, military, intellectual prowess, education) is with Hindus; Muslims have no more than about 4% of it. Thus in the event of a conflict between the two communities, Muslims have to depend first on God's help and then on the balanced/secular/unbiased sense of a majority of Hindus. Otherwise might is right is going to play out, as it has over last 5,000 years on earth.

Despite a few Hindu politicians (Narendra Modi, Uddhav and Raj Thackeray, Praveen Togadia etc) speaking belligerently in public, if Muslims ignore that and put their case in a rational medium rather than belligerent rhetoric, there is a good possibility that majority Hindus will remain unbiased and practice secular/democratic methods, Thus Muslims can achieve human rights and development somewhat, though not entirely comparable to Hindus. Sachar Committee, Misra Commission, Srikrishna Commission, Gujarat SIT court that sentenced Maya Kodani etal to long jail term, were headed by Hindus yet gave fair judgements and recommendations on the situation of Muslims.

If the minority Muslims adopt a belligerent method of communication to insist on their demands, insist on speaking like Togadia etc, it is very likely that the Hindu dominated power structure will stop listening to Muslims' fair demands and turn a deaf ear to them. In that event Muslims can expect NO improvement in their condition or maybe a worsening of it. When that happens to whom will Indian Muslims take their case? The Arab, Persian, other Muslim countries! For 65 years these Muslim countries have totally ignored the oppression of Muslims in India. To: UN/western powers? Anti-Muslim feelings are strong in these countries after 9/11/01.

All these belligerent Muslim speakers (Shahi Imam Ahmad Bukhari, Akbaruddin Owaisi etc) speak only to Muslim audiences and in Muslim mohallas; they never venture into an audience/mohalla where Hindus are in a majority. All these fire breathing, venom spitting Urdu journalists write only in Urdu newspapers that are read only by Muslims. They never write in English or Hindi newspapers where majority of readers are Hindu. When Muslims face the Hindu reaction, all these lions & tigers of the community hide in their lanes and mohallas. So what use is all this empty/counterproductive rhetoric?

Even when you are telling the truth you have to do it n a manner that it may be received well and you may benefit from it.

The Quran tells us that when Moses went to admmonish Pharoh he asked for God's help in his being able to communicate his message well so that chances of his success are high. Everytime our prophet talked to the belligerent Kuffar of Mecca, he spoke in rational words with a persuasive tone; not in angry/harsh tone.

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

India’s Cities: Idols of Goddesses in Temples and Sexual Harassment of Women on the Streets

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 04 January 2013 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

The heritage

India's civilization is very ancient, very rich and very sublime. And we are justifiably proud of that heritage. In the Indian Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, there are many goddesses, the more popular ones being Durga and Kali (protection from evil); Lakshmi (wealth); Saraswati (knowledge); Sita (faithfulness); Parvati (kindness). Throughout India countless temples have existed for millennia in the name of these goddesses; their graceful idols have added holiness to the temples and men and women have prayed to them for the removal of their afflictions.
In India’s many ancient legends and stories that are part of our folklore and culture there is much affectionate emphasis on the female form of mother, sister, daughter, and sweetheart. All that has distinguished the Indian culture and society in a very unique way.

In the Indian society men are taught from an early age to be more respectful of women per se and especially not treat them as sexual objects. But in the last several decades as the culture in the cities has modernized and westernized and many more women are out on the streets, going to colleges, offices, public events etc. the reality has become opposite of the sanctified heritage.

The reality

Go to any major city and try to travel in trains, busses and public transport, or visit public places like entertainment complexes, sports stadiums, major public events like New Year Day, Independence Day, Republic Day, Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Eid, Baisakhi, sporting events where crowds throng. You will observe all sorts of men, older and younger, trying to take sexual advantage of women. Touching women inappropriately, making obscene sexual gestures, making lewd verbal comments and taking physical-sexual advantage of women in crowded public places has become commonplace and is euphemistically termed, “eve-teasing”.

Whenever a woman or girl finds herself alone after sunset in a place where there are a few men, she worries. Even in big, world-class metropolitan cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, women worry when going outside their houses alone after dark for fear of molestation.

But with much modernization and development in India’s cities, many a career-women and girl-students have to go around by themselves and return home by themselves at night. It is no exaggeration to say that they become vulnerable to molestation by praying men. The women from the upper class families generally travel by car and do not face predatory men. But most women from middleclass families who do not have cars available to them and travel by public transport face this risk every day.

In 2012 alone, in New Delhi, police reported about 600 instances of actual rape (molestation and harassment cases not being recorded by the police). And in the same year only one man was actually convicted of rape in New Delhi; the remainder being acquitted. Even those few men who are convicted of rape, receive light sentences and are out of jail in a few short years. Thus predator men are not that afraid of the consequences of raping or molesting women.
One of the major reasons for such inordinate increase of rapes of women is that the police often decline to record complaints of rape from women and in fact discourage them from even reporting the crime.

The courts follow very cumbersome and long winded procedures to try the rapists and put very difficult burden of proof on the victim women. That results in encouraging the predatory men from being fearless in their ugly pursuits of women.

The upsurge of a modern lifestyle that entails the mixing of men and women and its proliferation on TV, internet and flashy magazines in the last decade in the big cities in India, has further heightened the libido of the sexually frustrated unmarried men, in a society where most young men know females only as either mother or sister. Having no interface with women outside of their close family, but a heightened desire for physical contact with women, drives some of these men up the wall and prone to molest women whenever and wherever they can find an opportunity.

The gruesome gang rape and murder of a young college student girl in a moving bus in the suburbs of New Delhi in mid-December has shocked the conscience of India. A huge number of men and women including many youth have staged massive rallies in the heart of New Delhi and Mumbai and other big cities and the prestigious seats of the Indian government.

The remedy

So as India modernizes and westernizes rapidly, its men have to accept an equal space for women not only in professions and careers but also to stop looking at them as sex objects. Men need to resolve the contradiction between their reverence for the goddesses from the pantheon and their lack of respect for the ordinary women whom they perceive from a carnal angle.

There is an immediate need for India to change its laws on rape, molestation and sexual harassment of women by instituting harsh punishments through the court system at a fast pace. And ensure that policemen drop their casual attitude towards molestation of women and view it as a serious crime. The roles and responsibilities of policemen on the streets should be changed making them more responsive to safeguarding women from sexual harassment.

Indeed since a large number of sexual harassment of women involves powerful politicians and officials and their kin, the government should ensure that the said laws are actually applied to all men, regardless of their status in society. The Indian government needs to learn a lot in this respect from other countries where men responsible for sexual harassment of women are punished severely for their crimes.

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

Why Modi cannot be a National Leader?

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

By Kaleem Kawaja

Surely BJP winning the Gujarat state Assembly election under Narendra Modi’s leadership for the third time in a row is to be recognized.

But to use that as a basis to project Modi as a national leader and a candidate for Prime Minister is a wildly exaggerated hype.

Indeed three other current chief ministers, Tarun Gogoi (Assam), Sheila Dikshit (Delhi) and Navin Patnaik (Orissa) have achieved the same feat. But no one has projected them as national leaders.

We cannot ignore the fact that despite huge money support from top industrialists, maximum polarization of the Gujarati society along the lines of religion for over a decade in a state where Hindus are 91% of the population, orchestrated by Mr. Modi, the number of seats in the state assembly won by the Gujarat BJP under his leadership has continued to decline from 127 in 2002, to 117 in 2007, to 115 in 2012.

Admittedly, during Mr. Modi’s tenure in Gujarat good development of industries and infrastructure has taken place. But a lot of credit for this goes to the entrepreneur nature of the Gujaratis per se.

Indeed wherever Gujarati people have lived in the last many decades, in Mumbai & Maharashtra, in East and South Africa, in UK, in US, they have been in the forefront of significant commercial and industrial development. It should also be noted that in Gujarat, Mr. Modi while helping the wealthy industrialists, has done very little for the backward segments of population.

In electing India’s future national leaders, can the people of India outside Gujarat ignore the severe strictures of India’s Supreme Court, the Indian Human Rights commission, the mainstream Indian media, the UN Human Rights Commission and several major international human rights bodies and governments, against Mr. Modi?

Those strictures relate to the grievous anti-minority violence in February 2002 that resulted in the killing of over 1,000 Muslim civilians all over Gujarat; the subsequent fake encounters staged under Mr. Modi’s direction that resulted in the killings of scores of innocent individuals; the total lack of state government protection to the minorities; and Mr. Modi’s lack of respect for the laws of the land.

India is a nation of 28 states representing ethnic and religious diversity. The majority population in most of these states though Hindu is largely secular and coexist with minority Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. In most states, there is little polarization along the lines of religion. Over half a dozen of the most populous states have very sizeable minority population with representation in the state assemblies and parliament through several secular and regional parties. Also poor people comprise about one-third of India’s population.

Thus the national leaders and Prime Minister have to be those who represent the inclusive values and coalition politics of the diverse nation, not those who polarize the population along the lines of religion, and who use fear to govern, as Mr. Modi has demonstrated about himself. Being for development alone is not enough.

In the last few years despite his claims of success, except for a counted few states, hardly any other states in India have invited Mr. Modi to visit there – not even states ruled by his own BJP (e.g. Bihar, Karnataka). He is also not welcome in most countries outside India.

Thus based on his social/political philosophy, style of governance and personal characteristics, it appears that Mr. Modi cannot be a leader outside Gujarat and cannot be a national Indian leader.

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

Shocking killing of 20 innocent little children by one of their own breaks America's heart and mind

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 19 December 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

Last Friday it was a day from hell in the small, lily white town of New Town, nestled in the beautiful valley in western Connecticut state. This town is just 30 miles west of the other better known town of Danbury, on US Route 84 that runs east to west through several northeastern US states. I am very familiar with the area as for four years I used to drive through this valley to take my daughter to her college in Massachussetts from my home about 400 miles to the south.

This gentle mountaneous valley of rolling hills is a most beautiful geographical part of northeastern US. Several high tech industries are located in the towns in this area. This area is affluent, clean, free of congestion and pretty shops, restsurants and houses.

But in this heaven like place in America an evil took root in the mind of a 20 year old young man, a psychologically deranged loner. He took several guns that his mother, who was living alone kept in the house, and went on a killing rampage against innocent people. After killing his mother he went to the nearby elementary school and shot dead 20 children, none of them older than 7 years of age and 6 of their teachers, all of them white. Then as police arrived at the school he killed himself dead. Thus was pure evil and hell on earth in a location that looks like heaven.

This tragedy has broken the heart and mind of America and has shocked America's consicence and forced it to examine their own ethos. It is a time of great sadness for the entire humanity. But it should make America that is becoming increasingly God-less, and where defying God's basic guidance to mankind is violated by many every single day.

For decades now American troops have attacked far away lands annihilating villages and towns and rampaging innocent civilians; and then giving explanations that do not make sense. From Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan to western Pakitan a large number of inncocent civilans, children, women, old men have perished with the oslaught of the drones and "smart bombs" and "Agent Orange", often when they were asleep in the night; Israel's annihilation of innocent Palestinians for 50 years has been defended.

God is sending a message to those in America who think that their vast superority in military technology and weaponry and their smart science and technology systems can militarily conquer everything and everyone.

They should remember that in the past vastly superior militaries/technology of the Aad people, Pharohs, Romans, Genghis Khan et al also over ran everyone. But then as they became overtly sure of their might and technology, and no one could match them, evil from within their ranks imploded them and they were destroyed. Majority of Americans are good people and do not believe in wronging anyone let alone the poor civilians of Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. But a few are becoming too arrogant.

This is time for the powerful and affluent Americans as a nation to think that it is God's law that "What goes arond, comes around". America is the world's greatest nation, not only scientifically, militarily advanced but also maximum collection of gifted and talented people. In the last 100 years they have built a great nation. They should now listen to God's signs that are coming up everywhere in this glorious land every few months in the form of insane killings perpetrated by their own upper class white people. The answer lies in reflecting seriously and finding a way out. God will help them remove this curse and scourge if they listen and learn and change the direction to the straight path. God's greatest characteristic is mercy and benevolance.

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

Why are Muslim Leaders Silent as Hyderabad Muslims Face a Crisis?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 20 November 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

The recent attempt to expand and legitimize a so called Baghyalaksmi Hindu temple, contiguous to the walls of the renowned Char Minar monument in Hyderabad, is a nasty trick of the communalists. The Muslims of UP and Bihar are very familiar with such tricks. The ancient Muslim monuments and graveyards built by erstwhile Muslim kings have been subjected to this trick often. Their objective is to illegally grab the land and property that belongs to Muslim waqfs, established centuries ago.

In many such Muslim community public places the communalists secretly installed on contiguous sidewalks or land, small idols of Hindu gods or even a pipal tree in the middle of the night. Then they start praying at it and soon a throng collects. This is how many a Muslim qabristans, lands of mosques, dargahs and madrasas were grabbed. Overnight the communalists buried a small statue in the land and then with police protection claimed that it was a Hindu temple that some Muslim king demolished to build a graveyard or mosque or madrasa.

We all remember how the communalists placed a idol in the ancient Babri mosque in Ayodhya and then claimed that it was Ram Janambhoomi that Akbar's general demolished to build the mosque. Soon enough they created a major problem for the Muslim community with devastating consequences.

In my hometown in UP, I have come across many such small temples built on the footpath adjacent to an ancient mosque or Muslim monument. And then the anti-Muslim forces started playing their nefarious games.

Many a dargahs in Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP, Bihar have been subjected to such wild tricks. The anti-Muslim forces declared those long dead Sufi Muslim saints as Hindu leaders of the past. Several monuments built by Sher Shah Suri in Bihar have thus fallen to the tricks of anti-Muslim forces.

That is why I fully support the alarm felt by the Muslims of Hyderabad and the Majlis Ittihad Muslimeen, and their loud protests. What is very strange is that other Muslim leaders notably in North India and West India are silent as the controversy rages. Muslims in various places in India have to realize that they must support other Muslims in far away locations, whose monuments and public properties and lands are being subjected to grabbing by other people, surreptisously building small temples next to them and then calling it a historical temple. The objective of the communalists is also to create tension between Muslims and Hindus and spread hatred in the minds of Hindus against Muslims.

As far as the government, police, political parties and politicians are concerned, our experience shows that in 65 years as a large number of Muslim monuments and their lands have been grabbed, these parties have either abetted with those crimes or have remained silent spectators. This is where we have to rely on our own community's strength. I urge all Muslim groups and leaders to not remain silent, and speak up against this latest monstrosity and join hands with the Muslim leaders in Hyderabad to put an end to this nefarious conspiracy. Let us make sure that the communalists are not allowed to rewrite history and victimize grand historical monuments like Char Minar that our ancestor Muslim rulers built all over the country in a sojourn of the thousand year era of the Muslims of Hindustan.

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

Obama or Romney: Who is Likely to Win White House?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 November 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

[Stop Press: According to latest reports President Barack Obama is heading towards a convincing victory garnering 274 electoral votes so far at the time of publishing of this article. His rival Matt Romney has so far managed to get 201 electoral votes. Good Luck President Barack Hussein Obama to another stint in the White House. Indian Muslim Observer extends its best wishes on your great win. -- Dansh Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor, IndianMuslimObserver.com]

By Kaleem Kawaja

The very keenly contested election to become the next President of US and the next occupant of White House, Washington DC, the seat of power of the world's only superpower, and considering the divisions in the world at large, the office that carries most power in the affairs of the world at large, is less than two days away. Even people who live very far from America have heard of this hotly contested election between incumbent US President, Barrack Obama of the Democratic party, and the challenger, Mitt Romney of the Republican party.

The American nation of 300 million population, 50 states, and the huge size of a subcontinent that spreads 3000 miles from the Atlantic ocean coast on the east to the Pacific ocean coast on the west, and 2000 miles from the Canadaian border on the north to the Mexican border on the south, has become increasingly diverse, complex and full of internal & external conflicts and contradictions in the last few decades. Even though the office of the US President is most powerful, the ability to get things done is keenly divided between the Office of the President and the US Congress (Senate, House of Representatives) and also the governors of the fifty states.

Today with continuous immigration over the last two hundred years, first Whites from Europe, then Blacks from Africa as slaves, then colored people from South America and from Asia, America has become a real mixture of people of all races, ethnicities, religions and cultures. Thus the American nation that was dominated fifty years ago by the White people who held all power in all walks of life, and still dominate all aspects of the American nation, has to pay attention to the vote power of the substantial non-White electorate.

Partly in response to the upsurge of the colored Americans increasingly asserting their electoral power, a sizeable segment of the White American population has turned to the right wing and conservative policies of the Republlican Party in the last decade. In fact the Tea Party an internal faction of the Republican party has put tremendous pressure on the nation's policies, and on the policies of the Republican party by swaying voters to right wing views. Thus of compulsion, the candidates of the Repubican party, that used to be somewhat moderate even though they were right of center, have turned to mouthing conservative & right wing policies.

The Democratic party that used to be left of center has gone more to the left on some social issues. Increasingly irreligiosity has become a feature of the Democratic party. Thus they find nothing wrong with giving constitutional recognition to same sex marriage or legalizing the proliferation of gambling casinos across US. At the same time the Democratic party appears to pay some attention to the havenots in US and in the world at large. Republicans on the other hand emphasize a return to the days when White people held all power and in international affairs they believe in utilizing the mighty US military to make the third world do what they think is right. Yet, Republicans in general believe more in religious and family values.

Thus there is no clear choice between the candidates of the two parties in either domestic US policies or international policies.

The clearest indication of this sharp division among the politicians shows up all the time as the two sides stonewall each other in the US Senate and House of Representatives, and as they confront the President in the White House. It was the same situation in the 8 year era of President George W Bush. Thus political gridlock is the order of the day in Washington and US government today.

Thus it is no surprise that the 2012 US Presidential election has cost a total of $6 billion! Imagine how much this big money could have helped improve the currently depressed Us economy. President Obama who came to the White House in 2008 on the strength of many egalitarian promises of making positive changes in the country, including the nation's depressed economy, failed to implement most of his promises.

The war in the Middle East is continuing as the war in Iraq ended but the war in Afghanistan mushroomed, and the sirens of another war in Iran are being heard. US policies in the third world continue to be a militaristic display of raw power as the US international image of a champion of democracy and fairness continues to be sullied. The US economy continues to be very depressed as unemployment continues to be near 8%, four years after President Obama took office. The Guantanamo Bay prison continues to remain open. The lives of middleclass and poor class people in US continues to be less cheerful than what it was four years ago. Low taxes of the superwealthy Americans that President Bush inaugrated continue unchanged under President Obama.

Thus a non-aligned observer does not find much cheer in President Obama's record. One may thus imagine that it is time to have another President in US. Yet the same observer fears that under a President Romney the neocons of the Bush era and the right wingers of the Tea Party will crowd White House policies, and the havenots, the colored people, the immigrants will be crowded out of consideration and relegated to the margins.

Today, two days before the election on November 6, 2012 most polling outlets and media outlets are calling the Presidential race between Obama and Romnet a dead heat. Yet Obama is being shown as 1 percent ahead of Romney. The curious US system of electing the President through the electoral college may skew the result by giving more importance to half a dozen of the fifty states, namely, Florida, Ohio, Wisconcin, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire.

It is extremly difficult to predict with confidence as to who will win the Presidential race. Yet it appears that Obama has a slight edge that may help him return to the White House for another four years.

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

US: At Election time degeneration of morality hits another low point

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 31 October 2012 | Posted in , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

November 6, 2012 is election day in America. On that day ellection will be held for the office of US President, US Senators, US Congressmen and governors of various states. Also on that day many states and countries will hold election for members of state assemblies, county councils and an assortment of elected positions. Also on that day various states will hold refrandum on a variety of local and national issues. Two prominent issues are: Same sex marriage and legalized gambling.

Same Sex marriage

Presently homosexual men and women in US have all the freedom to live together and to say openly that they are homosexual. However in America marriage is still defined by the definition in Bible that it is the union of a man and a woman. In recent years homosexuality has become prevalent in US; with many political leaders, movie actors, TV personalities, athletes accademics and other celebrities announcing in public they are active homosexuals. The major media in US is avidly supporting the public acceptance of homosexuality and is advocating that the voters approve same sex marriage in this year's election time referendum

Even President Obama had declared his support for same sex marriage. The homosexual peope have formed powerful lobbying groups who are lobbying to approve the same sex marriage as a legal institution. Thus a large number of en-bloc voters vowing to approve the same sex marriage legislation, are putting lot of pressure on those political candidates and leaders who oppose legalization of same sex marriage.

In direct opposition to the votaries of same sex marriage are the religious establishments. Almost all Christian (protestant, catholic, baptist, methodist, episcopalian, mormon, anglican, seventh day adventist, christian-scientist) churches, Jewish synagogues, temples of Buddists, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslim mosques are advocating that people reject the legisation that defines marriage as either between a man and woman, or a man and another man, or between a woman and another woman. A variety of pastors of Christian churches that represent the majority of American population who believe in religion are lobbying to reject the notion of same sex marriage as antithetical to civilized living.

The fact remains though that a large population in America are irreligious people who have no faith in religion or God per se. The number of atheists in America has steadily grown to about 40% of population as material goods and comforts have become more commonplace. Such is the dislike for the institution of religion and God in the majority of US population that they do not even think of same sex marriage as a new depth of immorality in society. Bible's description of these people as the people of Sodom and Gommorrah who were ultimately destroyed with God's wrath does not cut a dice with them. Of the two political parties, the Democratic party is an avid supporter of same sex marriage. The Republican party members though are divided; most of them oppose it while a minority supports it. 

Legalized Gambling

The other immoral issue on which referendum is taking place in US is that of establishing legalized gambling centers, or casinos in a variety of cities. The governments of various states are saying that the income to the government by way of high taxes on gambling casinos will be ploughed into improving the quality of schools. Once again it is amazing that the abhorrent institution of gambling is being sought to be legalized and glorified by its proponents as saviours of society by helping improve education. Promoting the evil of gambling in society is not being looked at as an immoral institution. Again most Christian churches, synagogues, mosques and temples and the religious leaders of various faiths are opposing this effort; but with irreligiosity on the upswing in society, the takers for the appeals of the religious leaders are in a minority.

Obviously the opening of casinos will lure many a low income people to try them as a means of getting rich quick. But as experience shows gambling onlly results in the poor people loosing whatever money they have and become poorer. Neglect of families and children by the men who are the breadwinners and who become addicted to gambling, with the easy access to gambling centers close to their residences is a curse that will cause havoc in society.

Ignoring other harmful causes of decline

In the same vein neither US politicians nor other social leaders are looking at US conducting wars on third world countries for about 12 years now, and its huge financial burden on society. Incidently US has conducted these wars exclusively in Muslim countries. Let alone the deaths of about 7,000 US soldiers and over one million people of the third world countries in these wars. For 12 years now the US economy is in poor shape, unemployment is high and the deficit in the US budget has mushroomed.

There is no question that US is a most scientifically, economically and militariy advanced nation, the only superpower on planet earth. Yet the rejection of the guidance that the institution of religion provides to society, which helps maintain basic morality and keeps the nation and people on a stright path, is having a devastating effect on US. The progress of US in various arenas has slowed down. In the last ten years while the economy of China grew by 9% and that of India grew by 5%, the US economy grew by less than 2%.

Such pandering to immortal issues for the sake of votes by the politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties is causing much tension and rift in the US society. It is causing immense harm to the institution of family which is the bedrock of the American society. It is very lamentable that as recently as 1950s, the US society respected family values, and the institution of religion and its guidance in daily ioves of the people. That made US the most advanced nation on earth. But now accepting policies that are lowering morality in the nation is also causing an overall decline in the status of US on the global stage.

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

Why Are Muslims Leaders Not Protesting Against FDI In Retail, And Other Harmful Economic Policies?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 03 October 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Kaleem Kawaja

In the last about three years the growth of India's economy which had continued to grow at a healthy 6 to 8 percent annually for about a decade, has slumped to about 5 percent annually. In the same period corruption at the highest level in the government has mushroomed.

Three major corruption scandals, namely the Commonwealth Games scam, the G8 telecommunication tender scam and the Coalblock scam have occurred with cyclical regularity. The ministers and top bureaucrats in the central government, taking huge bribes gave away monopoly rights to explore and market controlled products and services to private contractors at very low rates without any competition. Those contractors then sold those rights at very high rates by bargaining with competitors. Thus a huge amount of funds that could have come to the government, and that the government could use for the improvement of woefully inadequate infrastructure, have gone as windfall to private contractors, many of them foreign corporations.

The prime minister and the central government are pretending as if nothing untoward has happened. The economic growth has dropped substantially. Instead of paying attention to the grievances of common people against such colossal corruption and loss to the national treasury, the prime minister and central government have announced increase in the price of diesel fuel and to let foreign big retail stores eg Walmart, Kmart, to open supermarkets in India that will sell raw food products like vegetables, fuits, milk, cooking oil and other consumer items of daily use. At this time a huge number of small time street hawkers and shopkeepers sell these goods from unpretencious shops. The multinational corporations with their huge funding bases and loans from banks will lower prices of consumer goods for a certain period to make the small shopkeepers go out of business. After that they will increase prices of those goods to sock it to the consumers one more time.

A large number of these small shopkeepers, street hawkers, artisans are Muslims. This Government action called Foreign Direct Investment in Retail, will force more than 100 million small shopkeepers in the country, to go out of business. Of this, 100 million small shopkeepers roughly 35 million are Muslims. Similarly, the diesel fuel price increase will cause extreme hardship to about 500 million Indians, about 90 million of them being Muslims - about half of the country's Muslim population who presently live below poverty line, by the immidiate increase in prices of daily use food and consumer products.

Thus it stands to reason that leaders of Muslims in India join hands with the other leders who are protesting the above mentioned actions of the central government and the Prime Minister loudly. However it is very strange that almost all recognizable Muslim leaders and groups are keeping aloof from these national movements that affect not only the nation but also orddinary Muslims in a big way.

The central government on its part is branding all those who are protesting the above huge corruption and terrible econmic policies as communal politicians. Thus they are managing to keep the leaders of Muslims silent on this issue and cut off from participating in the major mainstream movements of the day. This is not the first time that Muslim leaders have been manipulated in this crass manner by politicians. The future of Muslims in India and their hardships are the same as that of the other deprived Indians, who now number roughly half of the country's population. Let us hope that he leaders of Indian Muslims will relaize this basic fact and join the national movements to remove corruption and to stop the harmful economic policies, that are greatly widening the gap between the rich and poor and that are resulting in big losses to the nation's treasury and its ability to lessen the burdens of the common Indian - the "aam aadmi".

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

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