People embrace Islam by choice: Reverts

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

By Manzar Imam

New Delhi: For those accusing that money and other lucrative offers are given in order to allure non-Muslims to covert, it was an eye-opener of sorts. Around one hundred people both men and women gathered at two separate locations for male and female participants. The occasion was the second annual “Reverts Get Together” organized by Islamic Da’wah Centre (IDC) on 25 December 2011.

The meeting was convened to learn about the experiences and difficulties of the reverts who had accepted Islam on their volition without any conversion programme being run overtly or covertly by any Muslim organization.

As against the charge of those who claim that people of poor families and lower castes are offered some incentives to denounce their old belief system and accept Islam or Christianity, these people came from well-off families and were well-educated and settled in life, many of them doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, and so on so forth.

Speaking on this occasion, Mohammad Umar Gautam, chairman of IDC, who himself accepted Islam back in 1984 and had to face great difficulties, said that the meeting was organized to know and share each others’ experiences and forge a new relation in order to lessen the burden of social ostracism that many had to face. It was an informal meeting and participants coming from different family backgrounds and different parts of the county, some even foreign nationals informed how they had boldly faced the challenges after their conviction that what they had understood of Islam was based on their study of it.

One of the participants, a PhD scholar at a central university in Delhi with a bachelor and master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Ukraine, said that in Ukraine he used to enjoy with friends every evil that is available for free but after sometime everything looked tasteless. I reached the conclusion that everything is nonsense, said he. I then started studying many religions and concluded that Islam offered best way of life. My heart witnessed it, but courage failed me to declare it. But one day I made it known to my family.

I used to hate Muslims and did not want to meet any person practicing any religion other than Hinduism as I served at temples and studied at Gurukul, my maternal grandfather being an Acharya with a Doctorate in Sanskrit from Banaras Hindu University, said Abbas Chaudhary of Nepal.

The only thing I liked about Islam or Muslims was the “beard”. Later, I started studying some other religions. Finally I accepted Islam. I was not taught Kalimah by any Muslim initially. By my own had I professed the Kalimah of Islam declaring my faith in Allah being my Lord and Muhammad (SAW) His messenger.

Mohammad Yaseen Zaman of the United Kingdom sat quiet with his five-year-old son. When asked to share his experiences, Zaman requested the audience to ask questions rather than giving a speech. He was asked, “What prompted you to Islam?” to which he said that there was no one definite answer to the question. He further said, “I cannot find an easy answer to it”. I was an atheist and my family was also atheist but there was something inside me searching for some answers. Why was the universe created? I would think and look towards the sky and think about the sun, the moon, the stars, etc.

According to Zaman even atheists follow some religion. They follow the religion of their nafs, the religion of duniya (world). Zaman accepted Islam six years ago after travelling the East and meeting scholars with the questions that always looked for answers.

An inquiry into the benefit of khatna (circumcision) led Mommad Ibrahim (Devender) to study the life of Prophet Ibrahim resulting into his declaration of Islam on 10 October 2010.

Justice many a times is not done in this world. Some culprits die before they are brought to book, said Dr. Mohammad Noor of Bihar who declared his faith on 29 October 2006. Islam’s idea of justice after death caught my imagination. Things like Muslims are terrorists, they are dirty, they do not encourage education, are common notions found in non-Muslim households. Some of these could be true to some extent but inwardly Muslims are very good.They need to pay attention to education and outer cleanliness, said Dr. Noor.

Trials are part of life, believed Dr. Ibrahim. Muslims should rather fear if they are not put through trials because Prophets were put through them, he said.

Cardiologist, Dr. Ayesha Shibli, Research Scholar Ayashaa Jenna and Post-graduate management student Samreen suggested to arrange training and education programmes for the reverts in order to enhance and strengthen their knowledge of Islam.

These are educated people who have embraced Islam without any greed, said Dr. Mohammad Harun Khan, Principal of Bharati Vidyapeeth God’s Valley International School, Panchgani, Satara. They have accepted Islam by choice. The important thing in whatever one does is to seek Allah’s pleasure in that, said he. Jobs will come not by touching the feet of the management but by seeking pleasure of one’s Creator.

People are running after food of which the Creator has taken the responsibility while they are keeping themselves away from the responsibility given by the Creator i.e. to take the message of the Creator to His creatures, said Abdul Hadi, section officer with a guest house.
The programme that started with the recitation of the Quran ended with dua for social goodness by an Imam.

[Manzar Imam is a journalist and editor of monthly IDC Newsletter published by Islamic Da’wah Cenre, New Delhi. He can be reached at manzarkhalil@gmail.com]

Presidential assent granted to Madhya Pradesh’s bill for ban on cow slaughter

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The long-pending Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak 2010 has received the Presidential assent following which it has become an Act and has been published in the December 31, 2011 extraordinary gazette, according to an official spokesman.

In fulfillment of its commitment to protecting and conserving cow progeny the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled state government had passed the amendment Bill in Vidhan Sabha in 2010 to remove the flaws in the Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Pratishedh Adhiniyam 2004. The Bill received Presidential assent on December 22, 2011. The Bill was forwarded to Union Home Ministry on September 3, 2010 for Presidential assent.

The Bill had also sought to obviate the difficulties and to make the provisions more stringent. With the enforcement of the amended Act now the responsibility of proving the prosecution wrong would lie with the accused in case of cow slaughter Similarly, now a guilty of cow slaughter would be liable to 7 years imprisonment instead of present 3 years and a minimum fine of Rs. 5,000 instead of Rs. 10,000, which may be increased by the court.

The amended Act provides that no person shall slaughter or cause to be slaughtered or offered for slaughter of any cow progeny by any means. Besides, no person including transporter shall transport or offer for transport or cause to be transported any cow progeny himself or by his agent, servant or by any other person acting in his behalf within the State or outside the State for the purpose of its slaughter in contravention of the provisions of this Act or with the knowledge that it will be or is likely to be slaughtered.

The amended Act also has provisions for specifying necessary actions for feeding and rearing the cow progeny.

Another specialty of this Act is that any police officer not below the rank of head constable or any person authorized in this behalf by competent authority shall have the power of entry, inspection, search and seizure and to present the case in the court.

It may be mentioned here that the state government had forwarded the amendment Bill on September 3, 2010 to the Union Home Ministry for Presidential assent. The assent was received on December 22, 2011. The amended Act has been published in the extraordinary gazette of Madhya Pradesh on December 31, 2011. Now the state government would take action for enforcement of the amended Act through a notification.

The Minister for Culture and Public Relations Mr. Laxmikant Sharma has expressed happiness over Presidential assent to the amended Bill, saying that the desire of the Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan would now be fulfilled. He lauded the efforts made by Mr. Chouhan in this regard and said that under his leadership the state government is committed to enforcing the provisions of the Act in letter and spirit.

[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]

An Open Letter of Indian Dalit Christians to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and Church Authority

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

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" - St Matthew 7.7

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Secretariat of State
00120 Vatican City State - Europe

Wish You a Merry Christmas and New Year

Your Holiness,

The debate related to the status of Christians in India is going on and you are already aware of it. There are two points to this wide ranging debate. Firstly, social, economic and political status of converted Christians and second is growing tension in different parts of country due to conversion related activities. The second has more to do with the way Catholic Church adopts to function in the country.

According to official estimates of government, there are 30 million Christians in the country and 70 percent of this population has directly come from socially and economically downtrodden community popularly known as “Dalits”. However, as per unofficial figures the population of minority Christians is not less than 60-70 million. Irony is that; these people have been constantly suppressed and exploited even under the structure of Catholic Church being led by you (Pope). They are ridiculed for their sacrifices made hundreds of years ago for the church. They don’t command equal status in the existing structure of church and this has made the sacrifices futile. Christianity stresses on the fact that God has created people with his own image and this has become founding stone of equality of human values in Christian society. But, they are continuously meted out differential treatment in the name of caste and birth. In order to catch your attention towards these core issues, I am writing this letter to you. I am going to discuss first core issue.

Ideology of Church

Theoretically, there is no place for non-equality and racism in the Christianity and when it is attached with identity of Catholic Church; the concept of caste automatically vanishes like camphor as the word ‘Catholic- means-Universal’. There is only one head of this universal community of people and that is none other than representative of Vicar of Christ which is responsible for recruitment of Bishops in order to guide their disciples. In that way Holy Father/Pope means ‘you’ are responsible for maintaining ‘Kingdom of heaven’ on the earth. Now, you should explain me where is the place of dirty ideology like casteism and racism in this ‘Kingdom of heaven’?

Deprived class in Indian church

Downtrodden class in India has always been victim of unequal treatment, casteism and social exploitation. In order to seek solace and relief from their pathetic condition they are still coming under the aegis of church for the last 3 or 4 centuries. But, here, too, they have been exploited in the name of caste and race. The hope with which they had come in the Christianity seems to have forfeited. On the contrary, they are now entangled in even deeper quagmire of inequality.
Church moving opposite to the ideology of Christianity

Catholic Church has completely failed in its duty to provide equality and justice to that majority of converted people under the structure controlled by you (Pope). The resources have been captured by upper-class Christians. After independence of India Catholic Church has immensely progressed which is reflected from heavy increase in the number of schools, colleges, social institutions, new diocese, Fathers, Bishops, nuns and their followers? However, despite this entire progress one thing that has not changed is the status of converted Christians.

Converted Christians are the backbone of Catholic Church in India but their participation in the structure of Catholic Church is zero. Bishop, Father and Cardinal from this class are rare to find and those who somehow managed after hard fought struggle are standing marginalized in the society. They are being treated differently by their upper-class brothers (Bishops and Fathers).

Thousands of organizations related to education, health and non-governmental organizations are being run by church and right to run these institutions has been conferred by Indian constitution. The structure of church being run under Vatican (You) has failed to do justice with converted Christians. Understanding the gravity of the situation Pope John Paul-II had severely criticized the attitude of unequal treatment and discriminatory approach in the church. In 2003, he had said that Bishops were appointed to look after lambs and it is their duty to abolish any kind of discrimination prevalent in the Catholic Church.

Betrayal of faith

There is widespread anger among converted Christians against the policies adopted by the church. They have started demanding their rights within the existing structure of church. The response of church has been abysmal in this regard. The church leadership has termed this anger unjustified. Instead of addressing the genuine concerns of converted Christians they have shied away from their responsibilities and are trying to shift it on government of India. This is being done in order to fulfill their own ulterior motive. By doing so church is pushing these people in the same quagmire of caste system.

When Indian constitution was being framed, constitution makers advocated for reservation of dalit class who were victim of caste oppression in the prevalent Hindu system. Majority of Hindu people sacrificed their right to equality in favour of their dalit brothers as a compensation of injustice meted out to them.

Your Holiness, do your representatives have moral right to betray the faith of those who had blindly believed on church and its promises. They have given their whole life to church. The story is similar to the poor widow about whom Jesus had said to their disciples, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12: 41-44) we dalit catholic, had also left the facilities (reservation) given by Indian government.

Church should compensate

Church is now blaming others for its failures. When Indian constitution was being framed these converted Christians remained in the fold of church and did not switch their loyalties. Within the framework of constitution minorities were given special rights and privileges that were even unthinkable in USA and Europe. Taking benefit of these rights church has enlarged its empire but seems to have forgotten converted Christians. Church leadership is trying stifling the just demand of their own people who are backbone of the Catholic Church in the country.

Now, church leadership has no moral right to bring the converted people in the realm of same caste system that has oppressed them for centuries. Had they not gone in the fold of church and continued with the Hindu system they, too, would have enjoyed benefits bestowed upon them by constitution of India and progressed like their other Dalit Hindu brothers in the same fashion.
After government of India, church is the only organized entity that can make available jobs but the participation of converted Christians is very low and maximum they can get is post of driver, cook, clerk, peon and gatekeeper. These jobs, too, can be availed on the mercy of Bishops and their condition is no better than slave laborer. I demand from church that they should compensate for the injustice and exploitation meted out to millions of converted Christians. Vatican had done this in the past and it can also be done here.

Church should change its policy

Church has always preferred safe trade. It has established thousands of schools, colleges and other institutions. This has benefited a lot to church leadership but majority of converted Christians have been largely deprived. Even in the field of education where church has practically monopoly it has failed to benefit converted Christians. We will not stop just after getting few benefits but Dalit Christians want their due share in the existing structure. Hindu society is changing very fast. Doors of temples are being opened for Dalit Hindus and many programmes are being run to abolish ignominious caste system whereas Christianity has not been able to do minor changes in its structure. Hindu dalits are constantly moving on but this is not the case with converted Christian society. Church administration being led by you is pushing them back. Perhaps their thinking is to assimilate converted Christians among 300 million Hindus. They believe that this will make the task of church leadership easier. Why it is that church leadership always seeks solution in putting converted Christians in the list of Hindu dalits.

It is the duty of church leadership that process of development should not only be being smooth. It is good to have institutions/policy made for the welfare of people. However, it is even more important that who are implementing them? Converted Christians should get share proportionate to their population. Unless and until this happens their position in the society will remain the same and their problems will persist.

Your Holiness,

In the first point I have tried to elaborate the first point related to the problems faced by converted Christians. In India the relationship between Catholic Church and its followers is not based on democratic set-up. Inside the church upper-caste Christians have more opportunity to progress than converted Christians. Considering the status of these people some fundamental structural changes are needed. At present Bishop is the “Key power” and they are appointed by the Vatican and that is why they feel themselves more responsible towards Vatican and less towards Kalisia. Most of the Catholics are of the view that Bishop should be elected by Kalisia and not by the Vatican so that they could be made more responsible towards their people.

Evangelization and escalating tension

Recently, for the sake of safety and security of Christian society you have appealed to Hindu society that they should stand-up against condemnable hate propaganda against Christians and should pave the way for religious freedom. Your concerns are genuine as tension between Christians and people from other faith has escalated over the years and at some places it has even taken violent turn. Be it ignominious incident of burning of Graham Stains with his two children in 1999 or Kandhmal riots or violence at some other place. Indian society has always opposed violence on the name of caste or religion. Indian government has acted swiftly whenever such incidents have taken place. Perpetrators of crime have been punished. Government has also constituted various commissions in this regard and their reports have been startling.

India has always been glorious symbol of tolerance and has shown respect for all religions and faiths with the feeling of amicable co-existence. There is no place for non-tolerant faith among majority of Hindu community. Every citizen respects fundamental right of religious freedom of other people.

Many commissions constituted by government on the wake of violent instances against Christians have also indicated towards imperialistic nature of church. There is an urgent need for introspection on the method of propagation of Christian faith as they have become instruments of growing tension with people of other faith. We can stop this by changing the current practices by the church and help create amicable atmosphere.

Freedom of church in India

Indian church and Christians have rights that are not even available to European church. In the matters related to Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other religions there is some government intervention. For example, properties of religious institutions in Muslims are looked after by Waqf board. Similarly, religious properties in Sikhs are also managed according to Indian law. Government has direct control over the income of big temples and this money is spent on upliftment of deprived class.

But, government has no intervention in matters pertaining to Christians. Bishops are appointed by you and Vatican and Fathers/Bishops has ownership over huge assets and resources of church. Though, even in Europe many countries have control over the properties of church. India is one such country where church enjoys immense religious freedom.
Introspection of evangelization policy is necessary.

Recently, Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue has raised few questions about status of religious freedom in India. The indication was towards anti-conversion law made by few states in India. Church is facing difficulty after enactment of this law. They should understand that Indian constitution allows anybody to follow faith of his/her choice and even allows propagation of religion. But, nobody can justify conversion of scheduled caste and tribes under the garb of social service. There is a thin line between propagation of once faith and conversion. If state gives absolute freedom to those who have sole motive of conversion then it is the duty of the state to intervene in the matter. This becomes all the more important considering wherever conversion has taken place in large number social tension has increased.

This year Vatican had convened a meeting of various heads of faiths in Assisi of Italy on October 27. In this meeting Indian representation had tried to attract the attention of Vatican towards conversion. As a matter of fact if Vatican really wants amicable solution to various problems faced by Christianity then it is the church that will have to play larger role in the process.

Development of converted Christians should be goal of church

Your Holiness,

Theoretically in Christianity advocates for equality but in practice reality is starkly different. Discriminatory caste policies of Catholic Church fail the basic motive of Christianity. In reality, condition of converted Christians worsens after conversion. Church should bring a White Paper on the matter that how much church has progressed after independence and how much progress converted Christians have made during the same period.

Church receives huge donation in the name of social service and development of disciples of the faith but hardly anything has changed on the ground. This is certainly a food for thought that where this money goes?

Poor Christian Liberation Movement (PCLM) an umbrella organization of Dalit Christians is of the view that church officials don’t want to leave any benefit currently enjoyed by them at any cost. They are not at all concerned with the betterment of converted Christians. This is why there is no hint of betterment of the status of this community even in distant future. The current system harbours inequality. That is why it will be wrong to expect that things will change in near future.

Converted Christians are looking towards you with lot of hope and we request you to take concrete step for the change in fundamental structure of church.

Yours in Christ,

R L Francis

Poor Christian Liberation Movement (PCLM)
Email: pclmfrancis@gmail.com

Islamic banking risk management standards

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

Islamic Risk Management standards aim at enhancing and improving the current standards in the shariah compliant banking industry.

By Pedro Garcia

This article aims to address the current challenges faced by Chief Risk Officers in Islamic Banks, who are trying to move from standardized risk approaches to more sophisticated modeling approaches.

The move from conventional banking to Islamic banking has evolved at a pace that gives enormous rise for uncertainty especially when dealing with misunderstood and non-standardised products and financial solutions that aim to be compliant with Islamic law and jurisprudence. However, therein is the opportunity

Islamic Banking is the fastest growing financial industry in the world, at a rate of 50 and more percent per annum, however that the pace of growth should be matched with an equal amount of focus on best practices to mitigate unwanted exposures due to:

- Market risk
- Repayment risk
- Operational risk (including reputational, strategic and compliance risks)

Most of the current shariah compliant products are in fact not very dissimilar to their conventional counterparts. Their capital and cash flows are in fact almost non-distinguishable from conventional flows and thus would mistakenly give the impression that inherent risks are similar if not equal to conventional exposures.

This assumption could certainly be true as many banks have unfortunately adopted a model that aims at emulating conventional banking customer needs (mortgages, car financing, personal finance, public debt etc.) whilst applying an Islamic vehicle (front end) that is approved by its internal shariah board. The fact that all banks are obliged to have their own Islamic approval mechanism contributes to the product inconsistencies across the industry and is also evident across different financial markets.

The definition of distress, repayment delay or even default as per conventional banking is not recognized within Islamic jurisprudence and therefore there are unique processes required to deal with such inherent risks across the spectrum of Islamic finance.

Coping with current challenges

Regulatory minimum standards imposed by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has led to an increased awareness and need for sophisticated approaches to tackle risk ratings. The lack of internal data to derive adequate internal computation of expected loss (EL) is very true for most banks as they just started offering Islamic banking or have not had losses so far. The key is to start collecting data right away and enhance the granularity of the distribution curve as time evolves and in the interim add external proxy data to overcome data gaps. A periodic validation process is necessary to enhance the model as time evolves.

Addressing the right level of sophistication to tackle risk

Competition and Shareholder pressure to excel in risk management has increased over the last decade and is evident across the Islamic financial world.

The way forward

Chief Risk Officers in Islamic Banks should start strategizing internal modeling techniques immediately to overcome future data requirements. The fact that current data is scarce should not hinder banks to start the process of collecting risk factors. Internal models are needed to compute expected loss for internal assets and periodic validation should be conducted independently to verify the model’s accuracy and robustness.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors to stage indefinite ‘dharna’ from January 3

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The survivors and victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, have given a call for indefinite “dharna” (sit-in) agitation from January 3 for their demand of changing figures of death and injuries in the soon to be heard curative petition pending in the Supreme Court of India.

Addressing a joint Press conference here on Monday five non Governmental organizations (NGOs) working for the welfare of the survivors of December 1984 December Union Carbide disaster announced that they will hold a peaceful indefinite “dharna” till the corrections in the curative petition are made which would enable the survivors and victims to get adequate compensation. The petition is likely to be heard after it is listed on January 10.

Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Madhya Pradesh Government was yet to make much needed corrections as promised by the Chief Minister in response to the “Rail Roko” (Train Blockade) agitation held on December 3. So far the only assurance the organizations have received is that the concerned officials will be meeting with the Additional Solicitor General of Madhya Pradesh on January 6 to discuss changes in figures of damage caused by the Union Carbide disaster, they informed.

“Our dharna will continue till the figures in the curative petition are actually corrected.” said Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh , who had been awarded Goldman Environmental Prize in 2004.

The organizations will also be demanding dropping of false criminal charges against the Bhopal gas victims and setting up an independent and impartial investigation as promised by the Chief Minister, they said.
“For peaceful protest action on the 27th Anniversary of the disaster, 2000 Bhopalis are facing 17 criminal charges each more severe than the other. The government is trying to criminalize the survivors’ efforts to claim their legal rights to adequate compensation,” said Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, who along with his colleagues, some older than 80 years, stands charged with murderous assault, arson, rioting and other grave charges.

The organizations plan to clean up and restore the historic "Bawadi" (step well) in Bada Bagh locality where the indefinite dharna will be held. The "dharna" will also be a place for dissemination of information on compensation and the trumped up criminal charges against gas victims.
The representatives of five NGOs viz. Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Children Against Dow Carbide jointly addressed the Press conference.

Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that on the eve of new year led by the five NGOs the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal had greeted the New Year 2012 with torch lights, music and dances by children. Holding flaming torches, survivors stood in a formation of the five Olympic Rings to demonstrate their resolve to continue with their campaign to oppose sponsorship of Olympic Games by Dow Chemical.

The organizations also had vowed to continue to pressure the government to present correct figures of death and injury in the curative petition before the Supreme Court to ensure adequate compensation for all gas victims.

Holding banners saying “New Year, Renewed Spirits” the survivors resolved to intensify their ongoing agitation for proper compensation from Dow Chemicals and Union Carbide.
Children of survivors danced to the tune of a now popular song on the violation of human rights by the state government during and after the “Rail Roko” agitation on the 27th Anniversary of the disaster.

Leaders of the survivors’ organizations expressed hope that in the year 2012 they will be victorious in their long drawn battle against the Dow Chemical and the Union Carbide.
It may be recalled here that 40 tones of methyl isocyanate, (MIC – a highly volatile toxic chemical), gas spewed out from the pesticide plant – owned by Union Carbide India Limited, (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA – in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more than 25,000 over the years and inflicting grievous injuries on countless others. Many were deformed for life and many children born with the toxic effect are sick and with congenital malformations. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

[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]

Historic day for Kishanganj: Vice Chancellor signs land agreement for AMU centre

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 January 2012 | Posted in , , , ,

By Manzar Imam

In a remarkable turn of events that could be described as a historic day for Kishanganj, Bihar, Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Dr. P.K. Abdul Azis signed the land agreement papers for the long-awaited special centre of AMU at Kishanganj.

People are in a jubilant mood – celebrating the day, distributing sweets and congratulating each other. Kochadhaman MLA Akhtarul Iman called it a historic day for the people of Seemanchal.

It has been a victory earned hard and marked by patience, unity of the people and an untiring effort by the local Member of Parliament, Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque Qasmi whose presence and call drew a crowd of more than 2 lakh people from different parts of the country on 12 October 2011 to press the State Government of Bihar to agree to provide land for the proposed campus.

October 12 saw people going for an extended rail and road jam – shouting slogans and demanding Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to either give land for AMU or leave the position. The protest was democratic, not causing any harm to any public or private property.

The administration had initially thought that people will get tired and leave for their home by the evening. But they were proved wrong when an enthusiastic crowd even braved the requests of Maulana Qasmi and other leaders – to end their protest only when the government okayed their rightful demand – that district administration and government authorities woke from their slumber.

It was at the midnight that the Purnea Commissioner gave his word and the crowd called off the protest.

On 30 December 2011 AMU VC and other members of the University were present at the land transfer ceremony at Kishanganj.

According to the Public Relations Offer of AMU, “Amidst a wave of enthusiasm, a new chapter of modern education was initiated in Kishanganj district of Bihar with the transfer of 224.02 acres of land to Aligarh Muslim University by the Government of Bihar for establishing AMU Kishanganj Centre.”

The transfer of documents along with the certificate for delivery of possession was initiated by Revenue and Land Reforms Department, Government of Bihar. Principal Secretary, Human Resource Department, Government of Bihar, was the authority to undertake the delivery of possession and Kishanganj District Magistrate and Collector Dr. Sandeep Kumar R. Pudakalkatti had delivered the possession as per the authorization of Bihar government.
The land for the special centre falling under the Kishanganj circle, Mauza Chakla, Khata No. 384 and Mauza Govindpur, Khata No. 40, together totaling 224.02 acres, was transferred to the AMU Registrar by the District Magistrate and Collector free from any encumbrances for setting up the Centre of AMU.

An assurance to provide all possible support for the necessary infrastructure including construction of a 30-meter wide road, a 30-KV electricity sub-station dedicated to the Centre as well as water to the Campus and also building the fencing to make the land encumbrance-free has been given by the government authorities.

Brijendra Prasad Yadav, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Energy, Registration and Excise; Anjani Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary, Human Resource Development Department, Government of Bihar; Brijesh Mahrotra, Commissioner, Purnea; Rahman Balyavi – all representing the Government of Bihar, were present during the transfer ceremony along with Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis, VC, AMU; Prof. V. K. Abdul Jaleel, Registrar, AMU; Mrs. Yasmeen Jalal Beg, Finance Officer and Member Incharge, Property; Prof. H. S. A. Yahya, OSD, Nodal Office for AMU Centres; Prof. N. A. K. Durrani, Media Advisor; Prof. Javaid Akhtar, former Dean, Faculty of Management Studies and Research; and Prof. Ekram Husain, Principal, Zakir Husain College of Engineering and Technology, represented the Aligarh Muslim University.

The VC assured that if the State government provided temporary accommodation, the University might launch some of its programmes in the next academic session.

Kishanganj MP, Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi who was present during the meeting, expressed his overwhelming happiness that his dream of bringing a modern education centre to Kishanganj had come true with the help of the State government and Central government and also because of the initiative taken by AMU Vice Chancellor. He hoped that in future it would change the fate and face of that underdeveloped region of the country.

Some MLAs, who had played active role in the identification of the land, and a number of distinguished people of the region, were also present on this occasion.

With this centre of AMU at Kishanganj, educationally backward Purnea Commissionerate will have its first university. This might change the landscape of the region in future.

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

AIM to build English Medium School at Madrasa in Muzaffarnagar, Hyderabad's MESCO to manage the school

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM), an NGO of Indian Muslims who live in the United States, has announced plans to build an English medium Junior High School at a Madrasa in the town of Tewda in district Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh.

The school will be built at the existing campus of Madrasa Islamia Arabia Qasim-ul-Uloom, a prominent, modern and financially sound Madrasa owned and operated by the Muslim Educational Development Association of Muzaffarnagar.

According to a AIM Press release issued by Kaleem Khawaja from Washington DC via e-mail, the AIM will build and equip several classrooms and infrastructure for the English medium 'AIM Junior High School' on land donated by Madrasa Islamia Arabia Qasim-ul-Uloom at the existing campus of the madrasa in Tewda, at an estimated cost of about Rs 25 lakh. AIM is building this project in collaboration with the Hyderabad based NGO - Muslim Educational, Social, Cultural Organization (MESCO). The school will be managed and operated by MESCO under the auspices of the management of the Madrasa Islamia Arabia Qasim-ul-Uloom.

The AIM school from KG grade to Grade VIII with an enrollment of about 150 students will follow the Indian Government's CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) curriculum, with English being the medium of instruction. Under an arrangement with the Madrasa the program calls for transferring some young students from the Madrasa to the English medium school. Instruction in the school will comprise of both Islamic subjects (Deeniyat) and regular subjects including Science subjects. In Grade VIII students will be given an option to either study Islamic subjects to become Islamic scholars on a full time basis, or regular scientific subjects to pursue careers in science and technology, the release stated.

The construction of the AIM school is expected to begin in a few months upon the completion of construction drawings, receipt of construction permit from the municipal authorities and the selection of a construction contractor, the release added.

It may be mentioned here that Muslims comprise about 40 per cent of the population of the township of Tewda, which is located about 100 km from New Delhi

[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]

Maldives bans spas after ‘prostitution’ protests

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

The Maldives has ordered hundreds of luxury hotels to close their spas after protests by an Islamist party which claimed they were a front for prostitution, an official told AFP Friday.

The tourism ministry instructed all resort hotels across the nation’s 1,192 tiny coral islands to shut their spas and health centers with immediate effect.

The opposition Adhaalath party, a socially conservative movement whose website features an article criticizing “lustful music,” staged protests in the capital Male last week accusing spas of being used as brothels.

“An Islamic party has been agitating against spas hoping to embarrass the government,” an official told AFP by telephone, confirming Thursday’s ministry order but asking not to be named.

Tourism is a key foreign exchange earner in the Maldives, a popular high-end destination for well-heeled honeymooners where luxury rooms can cost up to $12,000 a day.

The Indian Ocean country this year received more than 850,000 tourists, drawn to its secluded islands known for turquoise blue lagoons, flourishing corals and reefs filled with multi-colored fish.

But the government bowed to the pressure less than a week after President Mohamed Nasheed called for a “tolerant” form of Islam in his nation of 330,000 people, who by law are all Muslims.

He urged Maldivians to reject religious extremism and support the more liberal “traditional form” of Islam that has been practiced in the Maldives for centuries.

“I asked you to come here in support of the middle, tolerant path,” Nasheed, who came to power in the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, told ruling party supporters last week.

The government move to shut spas will directly affect an opposition leader, Gasim Ibrahim, head of the Jumhoory Party, who owns five, the independent Minivan news website reported.
It said they were asked to shut down this week before the government’s blanket ban on Thursday, and the companies had sought court intervention to remain in business. Thursday’s order applied to all spas in the country.

(Courtesy: Al Arabiya News)

Strong appetite for Islamic finance products in Oman

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 January 2012 | Posted in , , ,

Muscat: Omani consumers have expressed a strong appetite for Islamic finance with a rapid take-up of banking products expected within the first 12 months of being launched.

These are key findings published yesterday from Oman’s first independent market study, entitled ‘Islamic Finance in Oman – Sizing the retail market’.

The report was independently commissioned and published by IFAAS (Islamic Finance Advisory & Assurance Services), the international Islamic Finance consultancy.

The report, analyses the retail market for Islamic finance in Oman across all sectors of the financial market, including banking, finance and insurance. It examines the current behaviour of consumers and measures future market trends to gauge the real potential of Islamic finance in Oman.

The report fulfils the demand for empirical data that new and existing players need to develop their business plans using robust scientific information. Key findings from the report reveal: About 85 per cent of consumers in Oman expressed an interest in Islamic finance products, of which 59 per cent were very interested and 26 per cent quite interested.

Nearly 70 per cent of consumers in Oman anticipate opening an Islamic savings account in the next 12 months with half (35 per cent) expecting to do so within three months of one becoming available.
About 77 per cent of consumers in Oman expect to take out Islamic financing (loans) within the next 1-2 years.

‘Islamic Finance in Oman – Sizing the retail market’ also found that currently 86 per cent of consumers in Oman have some kind of conventional banking products , of which 60 per cent declared to be ‘bothered’ about using products that are based on Riba (interest).

Strong potential

This further re-enforces the strong potential for retail Islamic finance in Oman, inferring that a high proportion of consumers engaging in financial activities are likely to switch to Shariah compliant alternatives when they become available. The report summarises its findings with several conclusions including:

The introduction of Islamic Finance in Oman is anticipated to change the country’s financial landscape over the next decade with far reaching positive effects for the overall economy.

The retail market will see a shift from conventional banking and a change in the savings behaviour leading to sizeable ‘new’ money.

Commenting on the findings, Farrukh Raza, managing director, IFAAS said, “The findings from ‘Islamic Finance in Oman – Sizing the retail market’ demonstrate that the growth from Islamic Finance has the potential to be bigger than currently expected.

The major challenge for decision makers is to ensure that their early critical decisions are based on accurate market information to ensure long term success. IFAAS’ report and findings have proved invaluable for many institutions considering their next move.”

(Courtesy: Times of Oman)

Fall in infant mortality rate in Madhya Pradesh more than national average claimed

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: In comparison to last year, 9,000 more infants in Madhya Pradesh have been saved from the jaws of death during the year 2010-11. Thus, a fall of five points has been registered in infant mortality rate during year 2010-11. During the last five years, 25,000 infants have been saved in the state, an official Press release claimed.

In the wake of establishment of Neo-natal Intensive Care Units in all the district hospitals in the state by Madhya Pradesh government, the infant mortality rates came down to 62 per one thousand during the year 2010 in comparison to 76 per thousand in 2005.

As per Sample Registration Survey, (SRS), report for December 2011, infant mortality rate in the state registered a fall of five points representing a decline from 67 to 62 in the year 2009 while a decline of only 3 per cent has been registered at the national level. Thus, the fall in infant mortality rate in Madhya Pradesh is more than any other state.

The infant mortality rate was 90 per one 1000 during year 1999 which was brought down to 79 per 1000 in the interval of five years in 2004. A fall of 11 points was registered in IMR during these five years. Similarly, a fall of 14 points was registered from 2005 to 2010. The Public Health Department has fixed a target to bring down infant mortality rate to 60 per thousand for the year 2012. The department is undertaking several activities to achieve this goal.

Establishment of Neonatal Intensive Care Units: It is vital for bringing down child mortality rate that the infant mortality rate, which is twice more than the child mortality rate, is brought down. For achieving this goal, a target was fixed to set up a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit in all the district hospitals of the state. At present, Neo-natal Intensive Care Units are operative in 33 district hospitals. These units have been set up at Guna, Shivpuri, Sehore, Vidisha, Jabalpur, Katni, Ratlam, Mandsaur, Satna, Gwalior, Datia, Ujjain, Bhind, Hoshangabad, Bhopal, Khargone, Khandwa, Shahdol, Raisen, Chhatarpur, Neemuch, Seoni, Sheopur, Ashok Nagar, Jhabua, Mandla, Shajapur, Panna, Dhar, Tikamgarh, Morena, Narsinghpur and Rajgarh. Seven more units will be added by March 31, 2012.

In all, 29,446 newborns were provided treatment at the existing units by November 2011. Besides, 25,634 infants have been saved from the jaws of death. Moreover, 4-bed intensive care units for the treatment of ailing newborns are also being set up in selected civil hospitals and community health centres.

Newborn Corners in health institutions: Newborn Corners have been set up in all the health institutions having the facility of delivery with a view to ensuring proper health care of newborns. These units are equipped with necessary appliances to take care of newborns. The paramedical staff deployed there is trained to take care of newborns. So far, 80 percent of the staff has been trained.

Encouragement to breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is one of most important activities for bringing down infant mortality rate. Consultants have been appointed to advice health institutions on breastfeeding. It is also being ensured that the mother breastfeeds the child soon after its birth and keeps breastfeeding the child till the age of six months. Following this, nutritious food should also be served to the child along with mother's milk.

Home-based caretaking of newborns: The period of 28 days after the birth is very sensitive for the newborn. Possibility of death of the newborn is maximum in this period. ASHA workers are being trained to visit every house in villages to identify newborns, start preliminary treatment and if need be, refer them to higher health institutions. Necessary kits are being provided to ASHA workers for this purpose.

Vaccination: Year 2011-2012 is being observed as Vaccination Year in the state with a view to ensuring cent percent vaccination of children. Cent per cent vaccination is ensured by identifying every child through mother and child tracking system.

[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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