Headlines

NCMEI initiative helps over 400 students of BTAD rehabilitated in first phase of programme

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 November 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

Guwahati: “Let us build bridges to connect the communities in conflict,” was the message given by R.S. Mooshahary, Governor of Meghalaya. He was speaking at the flag off ceremony of sponsorships for educational rehabilitation of strife-affected students of BTAD of Assam that was held at Sankardev Kalakshetra Auditorium, Guwahati in presence of Justice MSA Siddiqui, Chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Ministry of HRD, Government of India; Education, Research and Development Foundation (ERD Foundation), Guwahati; and supported by Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI; and All India Confederation for Women Through Education, New Delhi. Mooshahary further said that once we have built the bridges and there is trust among people, then nobody can come and disturb. Education, he said, could play a big role in enabling the people to build bridges.


Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, NCMEI, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, who is the spirit behind this noble project extended his hearty thanks to all the sponsors either at the organisational level or as individual who donated and through which the first phase of scholarships to more than 400 students of BTAD were distributed. He recalled his earlier meeting of 8th September, 2012 at Guwahati attended by members of the premier educational institutions, who had voluntarily adopted strife affected students for their educational rehabilitation. He felicitated one of the cook namely Mr. Mintu Ali from Guwahati who has sponsored one child from the affected area by paying a sum of Rs.500/- out of his meagre income. He appealed to the audience that everybody should contribute for educational rehabilitation of these unfortunate students. According to him, this is a major contribution for attainment of the peace as communalism can de defeated through education.

Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, who is the world renowned Islamic Scholar, reformist-cum-author and human rights activist, also contributed for this cause through the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and in his inspiring address he said communal violence has not only taken place in Kokrajhar but it is an outburst of hatred. He also stressed on education that will defeat the communalism.


Prof Akhter Siddiqui, former Chairman of National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE), and Deen, Faculty of Education Department, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, stressed on the fact that education alone can change the lot of the deprived sections of the society and hence the studies of their children should not allowed to be hampered at any cost.

Dr. NK Choudhury, former VC of Gauhati University, also lauded the work of ERDF and Centre for Educational Rehabilitation (CER) and said that while most other organisations were busy distributing blankets or holding rallies, it is this initiative which focussed on an issue that is of great relevance – education.

Mahbubul Hoque, Chairman ERDF, made a power point presentation which gave the historical background of the conflict in BTAD and the plight of the students whose educational activities have come to a standstill on account of the strife there. He also mentioned about a survey undertaken by ERDF that covered about 14,000 affected students, the selection tests conducted by ERDF where more than 2,000 students appeared and about the first phase of the project which is rehabilitating over 400 students from primary to PG level enabling them to pursue their courses without any hindrance.

Dr. Shabistan Gaffar, Chairperson, Committee for Girls Education NCMEI, extended the vote of thanks to all the dignitaries, who have graced occasion and appreciated their motivational addresses. She also thanked to all the delegates who have come from different parts of Assam and from different State of India and abroad for supporting the initiative jointly taken by the Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI and ERD Foundation, Guwahati under the patronage of Hon’ble Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, NCMEI under the project “Centre for Educational Rehabilitation”.


Mrs. Abeda P. Inamdar, Vice-Chairperson, Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI; Dr Jamal, Registrar, MES Kerala; Dr Fakhruddin, Hon. Secretary, MESCO Hyderabad; Syed M. Hussaini, PEO, Seed, Texas USA; Dr. Taj Mohammed Khan, Secretary, Rifa Educational Society, Mysore, Karnataka; and Mr. Abdur Rehman Amodi, Director, Amodi Constructions, Aurangabad had also addressed the audience.

Scholarships amounting Rupees 9 lakhs were distributed to 150 students affected by the strife towards six month post-metric scholarships at the rate of Rs.1000 per month. Arrangements were also made for rehabilitating 250 students upto secondary level through various educational institutions at the rate of Rs. 36000/- per annum (@3000 p.m.).

Process for establishment of a residential Women’s College was initiated by laying foundation stone at Badarpur, District Karimganj, Assam. The foundation stone was laid by Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, NCMEI on 10th November, 2012.

At the end of the programme, the students had a meeting with their donors and heads of educational institutions. A batch of 40 primary and middle school level students boarded the bus on their way to Badarpur where they would be provided residential education at the Central Public School, Badarpur. Mr. Mahbubul Hoque, Chairman, ERD Foundation said that 1900+ students of class IV, V & VI appeared for the selection test amount 14,000 strife affected students & have identified 100 in the first phase & hopefully another 500 by January and 150 post-metric students for scholarship & hopefully by next academic session 2000 students will be adopted by different minority institutions across the country.

[Dr. Shabistan Gaffar is Chairperson, Committee on Girls' Education, Nationaal Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi.]

Stage all set for 65th edition of 'Aalami Tablighi Ijtima' in Bhopal

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

Devotees book special train from Kurnool for Ijtima

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Stage is all set for the three-day 65th edition of “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” (World Preachers’ Congregation) which is being held here on November 24, 25 and 26. The congregation is said to be the largest Islamic gathering after Hajj at Makkah in Saudi Arabia and the “Bishwa Ijtima” at Tongi in Bangladesh. The annual congregation here draws between 5-10-lakh Muslims from all over the globe.

A tent city over 170 acres of land with marquees on 46 acres has come up at the Ijtima site which is about 12 kilometres on the northern outskirts of Bhopal town, the capital of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, at Ghasipura in Eintkhedi village. The air is thick with an aura of spiritualism which is pervading Bhopal, the city of lakes, hills, Masjids and now Mandirs too, as the “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” will unfold on Saturday soon after the Fajir Namaz (pre-dawn prayers).

On the second day separate special religious discourses will be held during the conclave for intellectuals, traders, farmers, students etc. and the participants would be asked to follow the Islamic religious tenets in their true spirit apart from the message for universal brotherhood. Prominent “Akabreens” (Tablighi elders) who will address the gatherings include: Maulana Zubair, Maulana Sa’ad, Maulana Yunus, Maulana Ahmed Laat, Maulana Yousuf etc. The Ijtima shall conclude in the afternoon on November 26 with mass “Dua” (prayer).

Many Muslims from all over the globe from India and abroad in Jamaats (Groups of devotees) have descended here much before the start of the Ijtima and were housed in various Masjids in the city. They have now started converging from the walled city to the tent city at the Ijtima site. Hundreds of Jamaatis from Kazakhstan, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, South Africa, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc. have already arrived in the city and from many more other countries are expected to reach the Ijtima venue soon.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” this year is that for the first time a train has been booked by the devotees for coming to attend the Ijtima. Ateeq-ul-Islam, the spokesman of the Ijtima Organising Committee, informed that the train would be coming from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh reaching here on Friday night. The devotees coordinated and ultimately booked the whole train, said Ateeq. The moment the news of train being booked spread at Kurnool, about 3,000 reservations were done in an hour’s time. Participants coming from Kurnool would go back on November 26 at 4 pm. Special arrangements have been made for the participants coming by this train to take them to railway station in time, considering huge turnout of people on the last day of “Dua”, he added.

Divisional Railway Manager, (DRM), of West-Central Railway, (WCR), Bhopal division Rajeev Chaudhary and senior Divisional Commercial Manager Mandeep Singh Bhatia reviewed the arrangements at Ijtima site and met the Ijtima committee spokesman Ateeq-ul-Islam on Wednesday. Chaudhary assured Islam of providing better facilities to the devotees during the Ijtima. Bhopal Railway Division is also coming up with stalls for train enquiry, computerized unreserved ticket counter so that passengers can get their return tickets from the Ijtima site only. Besides, two booking counters will be opened near the RMS office by erecting tent.
One booking counter at each platforms i.e. number one and five at Bhopal railway station will be operated on November 26 and November 27. In the booking office of Bhopal railway station, a special counter for the devotees would function from November 25 to November 27. For providing these facilities, two enquiry cum reservation clerks, two booking clerks and four ticket checking employees will be deployed. On the demand of devotees about 35 additional coaches will be attached in various trains for the return journey of the devotees. Arrangements of additional buses have been made from railway station up to the Ijtima venue for which special permits have been issued.

Chaudhary has specially ordered commercial officers to provide better facilities of information of trains, cleanliness etc, Railway Protection Force and Government Rail Police (GRP) to provide better security, medical officers for treatment, civil engineering officers for providing clean drinking water and electricity officers for proper lighting facilities. RPF personnel have been employed at the Bhopal railway station for better security and vigilance.

The huge main “pandal” (marquee) has been erected on about 30 acres of land this year to accommodate the Jamaats from all over India. In the main “pandal” tens of thousands of people will camp for three days listening to the holy sermons of Islamic scholars as how to inculcate the good values in life following the Islamic tenets in order to lead an upright life in this world and thereby be rewarded with Jannat-ul-Firdaus Hereafter.

Arif Gauhar, another spokesperson of the organising committee, informed that various food zones have been made taking into consideration varying eating habits of people. Land and water has been provided free of cost to food vendors so that they provide food at reasonable cost. Lunch and dinner have been priced from Rs.20-30 while breakfast would cost only Rs.10. One section comprises completely of vegetarian food. Staple diet of ‘daal-chawal’ would be provided to guests from south India.

Meanwhile, the organisers have banned the use of polythene including the sale of gutka pouches and cigarette at the Ijtima site. Gauhar said: "It's an exercise to be conscious of our environment and lessen the carbon footprint during the event. We have requested all shops and sellers not to use polythene. Especially, the tea sellers have been asked to use disposables other than plastic".

He said after the congregation every year we felt there was an avoidable damage to the agricultural fields. Although there is no fine for violating the order, the stall owners, hoteliers and vendors who are found violating would not be considered for allotment next year, he informed.
Meanwhile, a special feature of the Ijtima is exclusive arrangements for deaf and dumb people who come in Jamaats from all over the country and are housed separately. The sermons from the main “pandal” are translated to them in sign language. Their disability does not come in their way to leave their home and hearth to learn and inculcate the basic teachings of Islam to become righteous Muslims.

About 400 Nikaahs are expected to performed in a simple manner in the spirit of Islam by the elders of the Tableeghi Jamaat on November 25, the second day of the Ijtima after Asr Namaz. The formalities for the mass Nikaahs have been completed.

The organising committee has also announced the Namaz timings at the Ijtima venue. As per the schedule announced the Fajir Namaz would be held at 6.15 am, Zohar Namaz at 2 pm, Asr Namaz at 4.25 pm, Maghrib Namaz at 5.38 pm while the Isha Namaz would held after the sermons are over.

Ateeq said out of 170 acres of land 70 acres are reserved for parking. Small shopping plots meant for eateries are spread around the venue cover 35 acres of land. More than 5,000 water taps have been installed for Wuzu (ablution) have been made. The venue is spotted with 170 water tanks of 5000 litre capacity. In all 21 tube-wells have been connected to ensure proper water supply. Over 600 makeshift urinals and 900 toilets have been put with a temporary sewage system. A separate closed dome has been erected for foreign Jamaats wherein separate toilets and washroom facilities have been provided for them.

Medical clinics of Unani, Ayurvedic and Allopathic systems of medicine have been set up at the Ijtima site to cater the needs of the devotees who need medical aid.

Extra security measures are being taken with nothing being left to chance. While within the Ijtima campus Tablighi Jamaat volunteers will keep a tight vigil on security outside and around the Ijtima venue the cadres of Madhya Pradesh Police will do their job of maintaining law and order. A Police control room has be set up at Intkheri. In a bid to boost security in and around the venue CCTVs have been installed at strategic points. Police have set up watchtowers and hundreds of policemen will be present on the spot. Apart from police, the personnel of Rapid Action Force, (RAF), the Traffic police will be in attendance along with hundreds of volunteers of Tableeghi Jamaat to streamline the vehicular traffic. It may be mentioned here that the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in a meeting with Organising Committee of “Aalami Tableeghi Ijtima” and government officials had instructed the concerning state departments to help the Ijtima organising committee to arrange all the necessary requirements for “Jamaats”.

It may be recalled here that the Ijtima in Bhopal was first organized at Masjid Shakoor Khan in the walled city in 1948. Since then it is being held every year without break.

It may be pointed out here that Tablighi Jamaat (organisation for spreading faith) is a religious movement which was founded in 1926 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in India. The movement primarily aims at propagating spiritual reformation by working at the grass roots level, reaching out to Muslims across all social and economic spectra to bring them closer to Islam.

Tablighi Jamaat’s inception is believed to be a response to the deteriorating values and negligence of fundamental aspects of Islam, which were considered a threat to Muslims. It gradually expanded from local to national to a transnational movement and now has followers in over 150 countries.

Tablighi Jamaat maintains a non-affiliating stature in matters of politics and “Fiqh” (jurisprudence).

Meanwhile, “Tablighi Jamaat” has largely avoided electronic media and has emphasized a personal communication for proselytizing. The teachings of “Tablighi Jamaat” are mainly basic in approach and the Six Principles put forward by Muhammad Ilyas influence most of their teachings.

[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]

Experts suggest quota, policy and action for Muslims

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

New Delhi: Indian Muslims need reservation, inclusive government policies and affirmative action to join the mainstream of national life, civil society members and academics said at a seminar here Thursday.

The seminar 'Round table on Muslims, inequity and the post?Millenium Development Goals framework' was organised by Oxfam India at the Constitution Club in the capital to emphasise the status of Indian Muslims in the context of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

The speakers deliberated on the MDGs and the status of the country's Muslims against the backdrop of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission reports, besides discussing inclusive development agenda for the minority community beyond 2015.

"Development among Muslims can only take place if they are politically empowered. And that can come about only if they are given reservation," said Anis Ansari, vice?chancellor of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti University in Uttar Pradesh.

"Article 341 of the Indian Constitution needs to be changed so that Dalit Muslims can avail of the same benefits as their Hindu counterparts," he added.

Mumbai-based civil society activist Asghar Ali Engineer said the government as well as Muslims need to "address issues like security, poverty and gender discrimination among Muslims". "We also need to implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission report," he said.

The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by former chief justice Ranganath Misra, in its 2007 report suggested that instead of the 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 15 percent should be set aside for Muslims and Christians, leaving 12 percent for the OBCs.

Under the present arrangement, minorities (Muslims and Christians) get 8.4 percent reservation, while 18.6 per cent goes to the OBCs.

"We should start addressing the problems of Mulims from an Indian perspective," said columnist and writer Nilofer Suhrawardi.

"If we wish to have an inclusive society, we should have inclusive thinking. Only then can we think of inclusive development," said Navaid Hamid, founder secretary of the South Asia Minorities Forum.

Mumbai-based veteran activist Ram Puniyani felt that inclusive development could not take place in isolation. "Till insecurity among Muslims prevails, inclusive development cannot take place," he said.

(Courtesy: IANS, November 22, 2012)

Dear Western media, why can’t you call Kasab a terrorist?

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

By Venky Vembu

What do you call a man who was caught live on CCTV cameras waging urban war in a neighbouring country and shooting dead innocent people and policemen, was subsequently arrested, subjected to a lengthy due process of trial, and found guilty of waging war on India – and, finally, hanged?

Well, if you’re the New York Times, that would make Ajmal Kasab ”the Mumbai attacker” or the “lone surviving… gunman”. Not once in its report (here) on the hanging of Kasab does it refer to him by the only appellation that fits him: ”terrorist”. The only time it invokes that word is when it refers to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the jihadi proxy war machine that brainwashed Kasab and nine others and sent them to Mumbai to kill, as “a Pakistan-based terrorist group.”

More quaintly, the entire narrative in the Times story revolves around a tap-dancing exploration of whether the act of hanging Kasab – after four years of a transparent due process of trial that measures up to the highest standards of jurisprudence – would “derail improving ties” between India and Pakistan!

Ajmal Kasab the ‘gunman’. No, he’s Ajmal Kasab the terrorist.

Likewise, the Washington Post initially headlined its report on Kasab’s execution by referring to him as a “gunman”, although its report did refer to him as “terrorist”. But perhaps in response to some pointed pushback on social media platforms, it subsequently changed the headline to call him a “terrorist’ (here).

The notion that Western media outlets, who are quick to label even quasi-political movements as terrorist if they work against Western interests, would be so coy about deploying that word to describe someone like Kasab, who was driven by an indoctrinated ideology to cross borders and kill innocent people and law enforcement officers, did not entirely go unnoticed.

India’s Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, had this to say:

@NMenonRao: Why does most Western media coverage on #Kasab refer to him as "Mumbai attacker" - he executed terror attack on #Mumbai - was a terrorist.

The reason, of course, is that for much of the Western media, it isn’t “terrorism” unless it happens to “us”.

The words we deploy reflect our latent biases, and on occasions media megaphones lose their perspective, particularly when they operate on alien turf. Sometimes, it’s just a case of echoing the official political line of their home countries. The same Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who were valorised in the international media as “freedom fighters”, so long as they were being armed by the CIA and taking on the occupying Soviet forces in the 1980s, became “terrorists” the moment they began to bite the hand that fed them.

It’s the same line that Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf echoed when he sat down with some of India’s top media editors on the sidelines of his failed Agra summit with the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee in July 2001. The bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, could not be characterised as “terrorism”, but as the wages of ”battle for freedom.”

It’s a propagandist point he would peddle for many more years – that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter“; as a ‘reward’ for which he continues to enjoy Indian hospitality to this day.

Words have consequences, and for the media to walk on eggshells by calling Kasab a ‘gunman’ or an ‘attacker’, rather than a ‘terrorist’, only disorients the moral compass in grotesque fashion.

And the notion that hanging a convicted trans-border terrorist after a transparent trial, when the country of his origin has abandoned him, could derail bilateral relations between India and Pakistan would be tragic if it were not so laughable.

Let’s just say that it isn’t Kasab’s hanging that will rupture bilateral relations. It is the fact that the Pakistani ISI and jihadi elements sent Kasab (and others) in the first place that effectively derailed the process of entente that the governments of the two countries had embarked on in 2008.

(Courtesy: FirstPost.com)

Muslim businessmen are Modi’s bridges to the community

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

By Sanjay Singh

Till a few years back, Narendra Modi didn’t have a single supportive voice in the Muslim community. He now has a few. They may not be very vocal, but they are influential and have managed to provide a bridge for Modi to address the community’s broader concerns.

Among the names now being linked to Modi are Asifa Khan, an erstwhile protégé of Sonia confidant Ahmed Patel, who crossed over to the BJP; Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman who had filed many human rights cases against Modi in the International Court of Justice; and Ali Syed, a former Inspector General of Police in Gujarat.

Syed was projected as a mayoral candidate in the last corporation elections in Ahmedabad but lost. He now heads the state Waqf Board. Baba Mehboob Ali, a.k.a. Sufi Sant, who heads the BJP minority cell, is another visible face. He also heads the Haj Committee.

There is a possibility that the BJP may field one or two Muslim candidates in the forthcoming assembly elections in order to carry forward the Modi campaign slogan of “Ekmat Gujarat, BJP Sarkar”. That issue is still being debated in the party’s parliamentary board. The new TV ads, which will be released soon, have distinctly Muslim faces who say only one word in the ad—”Ekmat”—while another says “Gujarat”.

Zafar Sareshwala is one name that often comes up in conversations involving Modi and Muslims in Gujarat. He is not a politician. He and his family has been in the industrial valves manufacturing business and stock broking. He also has an exclusive BMW dealership in Gujarat. He has one showroom and is in the process of opening another 1,00,000 lakh square feet BMW showroom on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway.

Sareshwala talks of the growing wealth of Muslims in Gujarat and says that last year 53 Muslims bought BMW cars; this year the number so far has added up to 54. He is hoping to take this to 60 BMWs by the end of the year. The obvious point is to suggest that there is no bar to Muslim prosperity in the state. Discrimination is coming down.

Bohra High Priest Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin with Narendra Modi
But Sareshwala is not the same man today that he was in 2002. Though he did not lose any family member in the riots, his business establishments were targeted and he lost money when his trading terminals were shut down for days after the violence. He was in London then. Moved by his own economic condition and the loss of three NRI neighbours who were killed during a visit to Gujarat during the riots, Sareshwala filed human rights abuses cases against Modi and LK Advani in the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

But today Sareshwala thinks dialogue is better than sulk. “It was very tough then. After going through a prolonged churning of thought, consultations with family and friends, I decided to open a dialogue with Narendra Modi. After all, we live in a democratic system. I came to Ahmedabad from London in 2005. If he was re-elected chief minister, who do we talk to? Dialogue is the essence of a democratic process. Someone had to hear our problems and we had to seek solutions from him. How can you shut the door, and decide not to talk and then hope for a solution? Thus we met Modi.”

But Sareshwala acknowledges that in breaking the taboo, “all hell broke loose. I, and my family, we were called all sorts of names. “Kaum Ka Mir Zafar… Sold Out… and so on. I was accused of not caring for Naroda Patiya (victims) and such other cases.”

“But with the support of my family I held firm. My point was should we degenerate after the riots or move on? Modi gave me his number and told me to bring any, or all, such cases which came to my knowledge to his notice at any time, day or night. If someone tried to put a spoke in the wheel just because the person belonged to the Muslim community, corrective measures would immediately be taken. And he took action,” says Sareshwala.

Things have changed for him now. More people from the Muslim community come to him for solutions. The name-calling from within the community and outside still hurts him, but he takes solace from the fact that the state administration has started taking corrective action and his “community at large, too, has started benefiting”.

The latest entrant from the Muslim community to Modi’s camp is Asifa Khan – to much consternation in Congress circles. A BJP leader described her a “combination of three M’s -Muslim, mahila and media”. The last ‘M’ is a reference to her status as a former journalist.
Suave, articulate, English-educated and ambitious, Asifa Khan was asked by Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s influential political secretary, to join the Congress in 2008. Ahmed Patel had known her as a journalist and they were from the same place in Gujarat – Bharuch. He believed she would be a good political prospect for the Congress. She rose to become state Congress spokesperson and media cell convener of the All India Muslim Congress.

“Before joining the BJP, I told him (Ahmed Patel) about my decision at a very personal level,” Asifa told Firstpost. What was his response? She declined to say anything on that. “We don’t need to go into the details. I still respect him a lot, adore him and we are proud to have him in that position in the Congress. He knows the problems the Congress faces in Gujarat and is aware that corrective measures have to be taken.”

The problem with the Congress, she said, was that for every small thing a decision had to come from Delhi – and that would take months. No leader in the state, big or small, had any authority. One was completely dependent on Delhi. For Gujarat Congress, Delhi means Ahmed Patel.
She has a long list of anecdotes where meetings with a series of aggrieved Congress leaders, including MLAs, failed to find solutions. This happened even if the leader concerned was from the Muslim community. She saw this contrasting with attitudes in the BJP, and this is what prompted her to join Modi’s bandwagon.

After a small one-on-one meeting with Modi, she officially joined the BJP. She is full of praise for Modi about how he has changed the face of the state, locally, domestically and internationally. “There is one policy, one implementation in Modi’s regime, without discrimination, without bifurcation on grounds of caste, creed and religion. There is clarity of sense and purpose.”

There are others like Ismail Pathan in Rajkot and Shahnaz Qureshi in Junagadh who are actively working for the BJP after switching sides from the Congress.

Rasheeda Bhagat, writing in BusinessLine, quotes social scientist Achyut Yagnik as saying that the mercantile community among Muslims is now moving towards Modi, and some of them told her “our lives and businesses are safe when he is in power”.

Yagnik confirms this point to her: “It’s because Bohras, Agha Khanis or Khojas and Memons are all mercantile communities and they support him. And the Bohra support is because their spiritual leader Syedna openly supported Modi in Rajkot recently.”

The slow accretion of mercantile support for Modi does not mean all sections will warm up to him, but it is a beginning. This opening to the Muslim community will help him plan a bigger image makeover after the Gujarat assembly elections, Modi’s supporters believe.

(Courtesy: FirstPost.com)

Karnataka's Muslim cop count just over 6%

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

By ND Shiva Kumar

Bangalore: Though the population of Muslims in Karnataka is 12.23%, their representation in the state police force is a meagre 6.62%.

It's not just about Muslims, the Karnataka state police force is left wanting when it comes to women and other minorities too. Women account for 4.77%, while there are no Parsis or Buddhists in the force. Sikhs are just three in number and Jains a mere 223. There are very few police officers from the minorities at top positions and of 44 superintendents of police (IPS), none belongs to the minorities.

Karnataka's total Muslim cop population of 4,768 is less than the police personnel deployed at police stations in Gujarat, which is 5,021. Though a smaller state with less percentage of Muslim population, Gujarat has more Muslim cops than Karnataka. As per the 2001 census, the proportion of Muslims in Gujarat's population is 9.1%, while it is 12.23% in Karnataka.

The trend clearly reflects that the state has to do much more to fulfill the Sachar Committee report's recommendation, which suggests more Muslim cops to build confidence among the community.

Why Less?

A former director general of police feels the skew could be due to a combination of factors. "About 12 years ago, before the reservation came in to effect, the representation was much lower. The situation improved only after reservation. The reluctance of minorities is also one of the reasons for their lower representation. However, a sociological study is needed to ascertain the exact reasons,'' he says.

He feels the Sachar Committee recommendation to have representation of Muslim police personnel in Muslim-dominated areas is largely followed in the state. "Minority personnel are posted in many, if not most, police stations where the population of minorities is sizeable,'' he says.

GK Karanth, professor, Centre for Study of Social Change and Development, Institute for Social and Economic Change, says the affinity some castes and communities in the state have for police and military could be a reason. "Historically, the Marathas have shown preference for policing, while Kodavas have exhibited their love for military. Earlier, Muslims didn't have the aptitude for police force, but preferred revenue service,'' he says.

Prof Karanth feels increasing representation for minorities is due to the sensitive confidence building and broad-basing process followed by political parties and the community's switchover to the formal stream of education.

In the past, it was possible for political parties to give statements and get away without doing it. Now, mere lip-sympathy won't work. Demonstrative politics or performance demonstration becomes important. It is important for the political parties to survive. The health of the society depends on inclusive and participatory growth. The politics of inclusion necessitates and helps the minorities,'' he explained.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

'Sare Jahan Se Achcha' poet Mohammed Iqbal remains pariah in India

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By Mohammed Wajihuddin

In The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru recollects his last meeting with poet Mohammed Iqbal a few months before his death in Lahore in 1938. Nehru says that an ailing Iqbal, comparing him with Jinnah, had remarked: "Jinnah is a politician and you are a patriot."
While that should have silenced Iqbal's critics in India, who continue to blame him for coming up with the idea of Pakistan, the poet who paid tribute to India's multiculturalism, called Lord Ram Imam-e-Hind (Leader of India) and celebrated its eternal beauty through numerous poems, including Sare Jahan Se Achcha, is still a pariah in India. How else does one explain the country's collective amnesia about him on his birth anniversary -- November 9? While the government has completely forgotten Iqbal, the public at large also seems to be abandoning him. Barring a few Urdu literary organisations, the country has chosen to ignore the poet's birth anniversary.

Ignorance combined with doctored history has misled even many educated Indians to believe that the once great patriot later turned fanatical and chose Islamic Pakistan over secular India. Late scholar Rafiq Zakaria was shocked when Pramod Mahajan, then general secretary of the BJP, at a seminar at Nehru Centre in 1990, said that "a great Indian Muslim like Iqbal who penned Sare Jahan Se Achcha later divided India".

"I reminded Mahajan of his ignorance and decided that very day to try and set the record straight," writes Zakaria in Iqbal: The Poet And Politician. The book not only details Iqbal's love and admiration for India's iconic figures like Ram, Guru Nanak, Swami Ram Teerath and classical poets Vishwamitra and Bhartrahari but also traces the reasons for hatred against the poet.

The seed that sowed doubt about Iqbal's patriotism was in his 1930 presidential address at the Allahabad session of the Muslim League. Addressing a motley crowd at an old haveli, Iqbal proposed the creation of a Muslim province within the Indian federation, comprising the Muslim dominated areas of Punjab, North-Western Frontier, Sindh and Balochistan.

"Iqbal never demanded a separate home for Muslims outside India. He didn't include the Indians of Bengal or Central India," says Abdul Haq, Urdu scholar and professor emeritus at Delhi University. "In Independent India too, we have given special status to some north-eastern states and Jammu & Kashmir to safeguard their unique culture. Iqbal's demand should have been seen in that spirit."

Haq admits that since Iqbal's formulation suited the supporters of Pakistan, they lapped it up and declared him as the "ideological father" of the country—which too made him a detested figure among many Indians.

Mumbai-based Urdu scholar Abdus Sattar Dalvi, who translated Zakaria's book on Iqbal into Urdu, argues that years before Iqbal uttered the controversial plan at Allahabad, nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai had written a series of articles in Tribune favouring the creation of a separate Muslim state within India, comprising the Muslim-dominated north-west provinces. "Why doesn't anyone question Lala's patriotism for his views?" asks Dalvi.

Most scholars agree that as a politician Iqbal was a big failure. But that doesn't undermine his contribution as one of India's greatest poets.

Anwar Pasha, professor of Urdu at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says that even if Pakistan regards Iqbal as its founding father, India should not abandon him as he championed our struggle against foreign rule. Iqbal, says Pasha, attacked both Hindu and Muslim fanaticism, ridiculed orthodox mullahs and pandits and exhorted not only Indians but Asians against western imperialism. Acknowledging Iqbal's contributions, poet-freedom fighter Sarojni Naidu had called Iqbal the "poet laureate of Asia".

Iqbal fought communalism attacking fundamentalist Hindus for questioning Muslims loyalty to India, he wrote:

Patthar ki moorton mein samjha hai tu khuda hai/khak-ewatan ka mujhko har zarra devta hai (For you god is in stone's idol/To me every particle of the country's soil is a deity). Although he used Islamic metaphors extensively in his poetry, Iqbal attacked the sloth-filled Muslim masses and supremacist, narrow minded clergy.

However, he also received flak from a section for using Islamic metaphors extensively during his later years. Many even called him "reactionary". "He did have a streak of pan-Islamism in him. But the charge that he became a poet of Islam is wrong. The poetry of Kalidas and Tulsidas is inspired by Hindu mythology. Just as we don't call them communal Hindu poets, it is unfair to call Iqbal a fundamentalist Muslim poet," says Mumbai based Urdu critic Fuzail Jafri.
Perhaps those ignoring the poet's birth anniversary would do well to heed Tagore's words: "India just cannot afford to ignore Iqbal whose poetry has universal appeal."

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

In absence of separate law, Islamic banking not possible: RBI

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

Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao on Thursday ruled out introduction of Islamic banking in the country but said other methods for channelising funds based on the principles of Islamic law can be looked at.

“Islamic banking is not possible”, he said, adding the central bank could look at other vehicles based on Islamic banking principles to channelise NRI funds.

Replying to a question on the issue, Subbarao said: “There are some legal problems. We have studied the issue. We appreciate the objectives behind the request. But there are some legal problems. It can be got around not through banking, but other vehicles”.

He said that introduction of such banking was not possible in the absence of a separate law for Islamic banking.

The RBI chief further said the state Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had told him that there were several NRIs in Kerala who wanted to contribute to the development of the state and that there should be a mechanism for channelising their funds.

To questions on inflation, Subbarao said: “I will talk about inflation later. I will only say that our next mid quarter monetary policy review is on December 18. Last policy review was on October 30″.

In view of the high inflation, the Reserve Bank in its last policy review refrained from reducing interest rates, though it did cut the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by 0.25 per cent, releasing Rs 17,500 crore of primary liquidity into the system.

(Courtesy: PTI, November 23, 2012)

A Reflection on the Halal Market in Spain

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

It's a good time to encourage the flourishing of individual harmonic Halal initiatives

By Hanif Escudero Uribe

The market Halal is new in Spain. Early milestones dating back in the seventies, with the arrival of food products Halal Europeans, the result of the maturation of resident immigration in countries like France, Belgium, England and Germany and the level of consumer demand. In the eighties, with the arrival of immigrants from African countries and the emergence of the first Spanish Muslim converts, opened the first butcher shops and small food shops, later introduced a certification of quality Halal , Halal Institute, and created a consumer protection organization Halal Life.

There is now more than a million and a half Muslims in Spain. Islam is plural and diverse which gives rise to different schools of jurisprudence, or schools of thought related cultures possible interpretations of the Quran and the Sunnah, or example of the Prophet Muhammad (SWS). In Spain this diversity is a mirror of other European countries but with the factor of being the country closest to Africa. Only about 700,000 Moroccans are Muslims in Spain.

In any case the vision and concept requirement Halal , goes beyond a term diet, to be a healthy lifestyle and ethical advisable for any human being. A clear example is the trend between consumers Halal non-Muslims, who choose a product Halal as they feel they have more control, and supplemented with official controls, offer greater security, especially in products are likely to contain pork, alcohol, or any harmful additive in the case of financial products, with an interest or unfair terms.

Moreover, more than two hundred companies in Spain have decided to meet the requirements of Islamic law and produce food or services which are deemed Halal, and therefore allowed in Islam. Adapting to these requirements has been gradual and today most of Halal producers are high quality and are trained to meet the needs and requirements of all consumers, as well as the requirements of the main destinations for the export of products Halal . Certainly the opening of new markets is a key factor in the rise of industry Halal in Spain.

Another advantage to market standardization Halal Spanish is the existence of a normative reference, Regulation of Use of the certification mark of Halal Islamic Council, which is recognized by the different standards of the Arab countries, the countries of Southeast Asian and European regulations and international level.

For all these aspects is a good time to encourage the flowering of the various initiatives harmonic Halal , both in the field of production, distribution or sale, as in the field of certification, control or supervision of the market Halal . Definitely need the active involvement and participation of the Muslim community and the other stakeholders, producers, consumer, animal welfare advocates associations, industry groups and so on. with the intention that the outcome is the result of a "shura", ie consensus standards, first within the Muslim community itself, and second with the other party affected by it.

(Courtesy: Instituto Halal)

AIDS in India: What Can The Indian Government Do Different?

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

By Dr. Sukant Khurana & Dr. Gaurav Sharma

As another world AIDS day passes by and the epidemic shows no sign of end, we need to evaluate the status of AIDS in India. Our country is one of the hotspot of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), an incurable syndrome that eventually befalls on large fraction of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive individuals. While globally the number of AIDS patients has started to stabilize but epidemic is nowhere close to being over. This global epidemic has already turned out to be a major killer of humankind on an epic scale comparable to black death and smallpox. As per the latest estimates by UNAIDS, it is the fourth leading cause of death. In India, the state of affairs is so unsatisfactory that we still have frequent cases of mass infection of poor patients due to the negligence of hospitals, horrible mistreatment of HIV positive individuals and lack of even basic care for millions of AIDS patients. While the problems of AIDS in India are manifold and would require efforts from all the sectors of Indian society, in this article we want to bring forward key failures of the Indian government. We focus on five core issues that require immediate attention, if we wish to see the tail of this AIDS epidemic:

1) Demographic and epidemiological understanding

2) Awareness

3) Screening and counseling

4) Treatment facilities and medicines

5) Need to develop indigenous cures

Demographic and epidemiological understanding: In India, it is difficult to trust the total number of AIDS patients, as grossly contradicting government figures makes one wonder if the actual magnitude of the epidemic is even larger than what is currently reported. The latest estimates released by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), an organization run under the auspices of the ministry of health, indicates that national adult HIV prevalence in India is approximately 0.29%, which corresponds to an estimated 2.27 million people living with HIV in the country (Annual report NACO 2009-2010). In contrast in 2005, NACO reported 5.21 millions HIV positive individuals. One can only wonder if such a change in the figures is an effort to put lipstick on the pig or there was a fundamental error in one of the two estimates. There has been some beating around the bush, blame laying and unsatisfactory explanations in response to this contradiction but if there was a genuine error then what is conclusively being done to avoid future errors, is currently not clearly known. Apart from getting the right overall numbers, what is also needed, is detailed demographic and epidemiological data. Different strains of HIV are prevalent in the different parts of the world and progression of AIDS is also different in people of different genetic background, for example there is a very small fraction of people that innately do not contract AIDS. Such trends of immunity to AIDS are either absent or currently not known in the Indian population. It is rather appalling that in India, the land that holds genetic diversity next to the continent of Africa, we for some silly reasons have been using data solely from the White Caucasian populations. This over dependency on western data is wrong for three reasons: 1) The strains of HIV prevalent in different regions are different, 2) The genetic diversity of India makes comparison to one ethnic group meaningless and 3) Apart from the Anglo-Indians with significant European heritage, no ethnic group in India, whatever be their surname and notions of self identity, share that close of genetic identity with the European populations to justify the current usage. What is needed is to understand the spread of different strains of HIV in India and the progression of diseases in individuals with a different genetic background.

Awareness

The first case of AIDS in India was diagnosed way back in 1986. Subsequently some apparent movement of bureaucratic and political machinery took place that in the following year resulted in the formation of National AIDS control program (NACP). In reality, the understanding of Indian government and media on the danger of this disease was largely missing until recently and is still rather poor. Even till late nineties, it was not entirely uncommon to hear voices in the Indian media claiming that AIDS is likely a trouble of promiscuous foreign lands and not of a conservative India. The media and the government forgot that this land of billion plus is first the land of Kamasutra and then of Gandhian moral curtains. Such ethnic biases that come wrapped in moral judgments cost lives everywhere. Even in the United States, initially AIDS was largely thought to be a disease of homosexuals and Afro-Americans, a curse of God for the decadent. In India, the lackadaisical approach in dealing with AIDS was also due to undermining the spread of HIV through blood transfusion and not realizing the severity of needle sharing by drug addicts and poor hospital administrative/clinical measures. As an addition to the existing policy, firstly the government needs to be aware of the full cost of AIDS and then it needs to take action to better inform the health care professionals and public at large. Media also adds to the trouble by rarely looking beyond less glamorous issues than some odd cricketing century of Tendulkar or birth of Bachchan granddaughter, occasionally mentioning somewhat sensational denial of basic services to HIV positive individuals or some innocent people being infected at a mass scale, instead of serious discussion of issues. Serious discussions, even when managing to creep in from the nooks and crannies of the sensational mainstream news, fails to gather attention beyond one media cycle.

Is this lack of information spread, a result of lack of resources or is it due to lack of political will? A significant chunk of taxpayer’s money on AIDS, like any other resource in India has been squandered with significant chunks making it to the chauffeurs of the corrupt. Lack of adequate money is definitely a problem, but a relatively minor one, compared to the mismanagement of the available resources. An approach for awareness, with low cost and huge promise, is the proper training of health care professionals. Mandatory improvements in the syllabus of medical schools and compulsory training of health care professionals to be better deal with immunocompromized AIDS patients, providing all medical services to HIV positive patients and to counsel patients on screening and precautions can be a game changer. While some namesake changes have been made in some medical curricula of advanced training but none to the internationally acceptable standards and barely any that impact primary care providers dealing with majority of patients. Formulation and implementation of laws against discrimination of HIV positive patients is also needed urgently. Another dimension of information dissemination and care is to focus on special groups. Recent international attention and support from charitable organizations along with government of India’s initiatives on free distribution of condoms to sex workers has been very productive. Successful select programs are currently targeting high-risk populations like truck drivers and sex workers but the biggest group with this affliction is currently ignored. This group is of the displaced urban poor migrant workers who are forced to work in non-native cities and seek sexual favors in questionable places. In a nation, that is busy unsuccessfully dealing with the symptoms of poverty and displacement, by the means of handouts that reach only select few and harassment to silence dissent, one needs to cure the actual disease of poverty that accentuates problems such as AIDS by means of holistic socio-economic development.

Screening and counseling

Roughly 85% of new infections are via the heterosexual route and efforts towards premarital counseling for HIV can reduce half to three fourth of this spread. In Goa and Andhra, the high prevalence states, the state governments proposed bills in 2006 to make HIV testing compulsory before marriage, but ethical concerns and political issues have thus far stopped the actual implementation. This issue of mandatory testing poses a real ethical concern as on one hand we do not have any patient confidentiality where people are denied their due rights due to their HIV status and on the other hand, who can justify the infection to innocent spouses, mostly females via their less than faithful counterparts? One needs to evolve a system where an employer and an insurer, cannot know the HIV status of the patient but a spouse can. It is not going to an easy nut to crack for any government, leave alone Indian, but the administration has not even started inching in the right direction of evolving such a mechanism.

Treatment facilities and medicines

National AIDS control program (NACP-III, 2007-2012) of India has a total budget of about 2.6 billion dollars but only a minor fraction of it is for the treatment. This is unacceptably low amount of money being spent on treatment, especially the amount that finally trickles down the bureaucratic apparatus. One may wonder what do we mean by treatment of an incurable syndrome? The progression of HIV positive individuals to AIDS is very different. Once patient contracts full blown AIDS his/her survival can vary from months to decades. This survival, apart from patient to patient variability, depends on the availability of antiviral drugs and treatment facilities. It is possible that India may have lost much of its potential to produce generic and cheap anti-retroviral relief due to twists in the international politics and India’s easy compliance with pressures. It is possible that recent aid to African countries to counter AIDS, has likely come with strings attached as they have almost stopped use of cheaper generic anti-retroviral drugs. Indian anti-retroviral drugs that were much cheaper than Western products have not just lost a market in Africa but their share in India is also tapering. We would recommend evolution of an informed policy that considers efficacy and costs of all compounds with the goal to save as many lives as possible.

Need to develop indigenous cures

Let us focus on vaccines, a preventative approach that actually holds a long-term cure of AIDS. While there have been some sporadic islands of successes in the ocean of failure in finding vaccine for AIDS, the international efforts are finding new promises and ruling out failed ideas with every passing day. We wonder why not a single significant effort worthy of mention is being pioneered in India? Given that we as Indians have become comfortably numb to the thought of India as a second or third grade country that is a recipient of high-end technology and fruits of scientific research, an average Indian, even if bluntly reminded of the state of affairs, howsoever offended, will not break sweat for long about the lack of innovation. The concern is far graver than the lack of innovation and the lack of national pride. If we need vaccine for AIDS, as soon as it is available in the West, unlike the case with polio or smallpox, we cannot take our begging bowl to world as we did in early years after independence or grossly overpay our way out, as we frequently do to procure any technology, ranging from our medicines to our warplanes. The problem with HIV vaccine stems from to the issues of demographics and epidemiology. Different strains of HIV are prevalent in different parts of the globe. HIV is very diverse, in fact some strains only show 40% homology between each other, not that different of genetic homology between you and a banana and in fact less than you and an earthworm. Thus to combat a hyper-mutable virus one needs to work on local strain and keep local population genetic profile and overall epidemiology in mind to solve the AIDS epidemic in India.

Will India rise to the challenge novel anti-retrovirals and indigenous vaccine? Likely not. Even in the well developed sectors like information technology, India only delivers small software packages for foreign products and does not manufacture a single major internationally recognizable product. This is not due to dearth of scientists or of money. In fact, India has very high numbers of biomedical scientists and research institutions spread across the country for the size of its economy. The problem is of incompetence, lack of management, corruption and nepotism. The political infestation of research is palpable in Delhi where corruption and lack of accountability permeates all levels of research epithet. One need not go into the obvious appointment of unqualified vice chancellors and administrators of universities and directors of research institutes based on proximity to political parties in power. A look at say, the University of Delhi University, a supposed prime University of India, can give you an idea of the political stooges running the show of research in India. Apart from corrupt management, there exist a large number of the so-called scientists who do not have a single major internationally known finding to their name but are busy sliding papers in “friendly” obscure journals and frequently get awarded national and regional honors. This abysmal state of affairs keeps very successful and patriotic scientists out of this Indian swamp that is sure to kill any good science.

In summary, current government efforts are either missing or misplaced and are largely wrought with corruption and inefficiency. A significant blow can be landed to AIDS epidemic with effective government policies. We hope that this article along with many other efforts raises awareness of public and its representatives for better combating the scourge of AIDS.

[Dr. Sukant Khurana is a New York based scientist, innovator and author of Indian origin. He is known for his research in the field of sensory perception, addiction, learning and memory, apart from his recent involvement in many high tech sectors of India. He is active in campaigning for issues of corporate responsibility, education, scientific thinking and improving affordable healthcare. He can be contacted at sukantkhurana@gmail.com. Dr. Gaurav Sharma is a postdoctoral scientist at the Department of Transplant Immunology and Immunogenetics of All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He has been a part of the esteemed group involved in the first demographic study, characterizing the progression phenotypes such as rapid and long-term non-progressors in India and HIV/AIDS related genetic determinants.]

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