ACHA PEACE BULLETIN http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ACHAPeaceBulletin
A publication of Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) www.asiapeace.org
Editors: Pritam K. Rohila & Azam Saeed
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ACHA PEACE BULLETIN (Volume IV, No. 4, April 03, 2002 (Next issue, May 01, 2002)
Prayer: Let my country awake! By Rabindranath Tagore
Peace & Harmony News
Peace & Harmony Organizations
Joint Action Committee for Peace Karachi, Pakistan
South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), Kathmandu, Nepal
Reactions To The Recent Communal Carnage In India
Appeal For Funds To Help For The Victims Of Gujarat Violence
Gujarat Riots: Despatch From Karachi, Pakistan, By M.B Naqvi, March 4,
Reclaiming The Real Hinduism, By Vijay Rana, Free Press Journal
Hindu Family’s Islamic Tradition, By Kamil Zaheer, India West, March 22, 2002
Erasing Dividing Lines, By Lavina Melwani Lavina@Juno.Com, Newsday, March 20, Historic Wrong Redressal, By Shamsul Islam
Some Hindus Rescuing Muslims, By Beth Duff-Brown, Associated Press Writer, Mar 4
A Calm Corner Keeps An Eye On A Violent Subcontinent, By A. Chhabra, New York
Letters & Opinions
Let's Kill Religion, Subramony Sesha
Religion May Have Outlived Its Utility, Dhanyal Sahibzada
Response To Dhanyal Sahibzada, Ishtiaq Ahmed
Communal Tensions In India, Kushanava Choudhury, Calcutta
My Grandfather Would Sometimes Say, Omar Ali
Hindu Majority Has Taken A Self Righteous Stance, By Kanak Ravel
Political Islam In The Indian Subcontinent: The Jama'at-I-Islami, By F. Grare, & Centre
Heir To A Silent Song: Two Rebel Women Of Nepal, By Dr. Barbara Nimri
India Briefing: Quickening The Pace Of Change, Edited By A. Ayres & P.Oldenburg
Education: American Institute Of Indian Studies Fellowship Competition
Through April 12, Houston, Tx, Usa: Colors Of The Bindu
April 14, Los Angeles, Ca: Kashmir: Ways To Help Resolve
May 24-27, Atlanta, Ga, Usa: Young Sindhi Adults
Human Rights: U.S. State Department Report On Human Rights Abuses In Bangladesh, Bhutan,
India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
For info about Courses, Calls for papers, Conferences, Fellowships, Grants, Jobs & Practical Resources featured in recent issues of Coexistence Network Notice Board send a blank email to email@example.com with the word COEXISTENCE as its subject
REPORTS & ANALYSES
(For a copy send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org with its subject as the UPPERCASE word in the article title. Please limit your request to 3 articles)
LANGUAGE and religion in Bangladesh, By K. Ahmed, The Friday Times, March 8-14, 2002
Bangladesh Opposition ACCUSES Govt
Of Persecution, Dow Jones International News
World's most CORRUPT countries, By Wg Cdr Fardad Ali Shah (R), Chitral, Letter to Editor, Dawn, February 23, 2002
Company Town Keeps Indians at HOME, By Saritha Rai, The New York Times, March 18, 2002
India: Gujarat Tragedy & Related Matters
CRY, the beloved country: Reflections on the Gujarat massacre, By Harsh Mande
BJP’S RIOT - Free India, By Asghar Ali Engineer, Secular Perspective Mar 16-31, 2002
Indian Town's Seed Grew Into the Taliban's CODE, By C. DUGGER, The New York Times, Feb
India: Politics & Civil Society
INSTABILITY in India, Unsigned Editorial, The New York Times, Mar 7, 2002
India Is ... A Culture Struggles With All That DEFINES It, By S. Vedantam, The Washington Post
DEFEAT of BJP is Defeat of Communalism, Asghar Ali Engineer, Secular Perspective
India: Ram Janambhumi/Babri Masjid
Thick friends, save for 67.7 ACRES of land ,By Basharat Peer, Rediff.com March 18,
Secularism GARDEN at Ayodhya, By Prof. Chithra KarunaKaran, New York, March 3, 2002
India's Past Becomes a WEAPON, By Shashi Tharoor, The New York Times, March 6, 2002
SAVE Our Secularism, By T. Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2002
Would Ram RAJYA have been like this? By Gourisankar Ghosh, Rediff.com, Mar 6, 2002
'Loving' to HATE, Ram Puniyani email@example.com, Issues in Secular Politics, Feb
Muslims of India, look for a SILVER lining in your own interest, By Faiz Ahmad, KGN News
This is the home of GANDHI?, By Sunil Khilnani, The Globe & Mail, March 20, 2002
GOLDEN Age Hallucinations: Indian civilisation derives from no utopian ideal; it was founded on, and as, a crossroads, By Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Outlook 20 August 2001
BETWEEN the mountains, By Isabel Hilton, New Yorker, 03-11-2002
The nuclear MENACE in the Subcontinent, By A. G. Noorani, Frontline, Mar. 16 - 29, 2002
The SHAPE of events to come, By M.B. Naqvi, March 18, 2002
A Modest Proposal From The BRIGADIER, The Atlantic Monthly, March 2002
Spring Peace Fest attempts to create peace awareness for KARACHI kids, By T. J. Khan
MEDIA Management: Restricting Freedom in Pakistan, By S. Sehbai, The Asian Wall Street J.
In Pakistan's Squalor, CRADLES of Terrorism, By Paul Blustein, Washington Post
Pakistan's American FALLACY, By Ayaz Amir, Commentary, Dawn, Feb 15. 2002
How many GENERALS can a country afford? By Ayaz Amir
The CORE Of Muslim Rage, By Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
March 6, 2002
Sri Lanka peace initiative: A progress REPORT, By Sharif M. Abdullah
*Let my country awake! By Rabindranath Tagore, Via Gourisankar Ghosh, a former Indian Administrative Service officer from the Gujarat cadre, who now works with the United Nations
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where timeless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clean stream of reason has not lost its way
In the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by these
Into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of Freedom, my father,
Let my country awake!
PEACE & HARMONY NEWS
The banned United Liberation Front of Asom, which has been fighting for independence since 1979, has renewed calls to the Government of India for peace talks to end 23 years of violence. “We desperately want a peaceful solution of the ongoing Indo-Assam conflict and so the conditions have already been set to hammer out through meaningful dialogue,” ULFA said in the latest issue of its magazine, Freedom.
Hindus observe Muharram in Orissa
While about a hundred Hindu families joined the Muharram procession at Jatni in Khurda district, some other families took out processions in western Orissa's Sambalpur town.
LTTE, Lankan govt may begin direct talks in May
Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen is expected to visit Sri Lanka next month to meet LTTE chief V Prabhakaran. http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/mar/27lanka.htm
Bangladesh and Indian security officials agreed today to hold regular guard meetings and to patrol jointly to maintain peace along the 2,500-mile common border. “We have set up guidelines for peace in border areas and encounter cross-border crimes including smuggling,” Gurbachan Jagat, Director General of the Indian Border Security Force told reporters after the three-day meeting in Dhaka. 3/25
India, Pak to discuss resumption of cricket ties
Peaceful Tazia processions held in Ayodhya, Faizabad
In Ayodhya, the processions were taken out from Kasiyana locality till the Sheesh Paigambar mausoleum in Vidyakund locality. http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/mar/25ayo.htm
RSS holds talks with Christian leaders
RSS chief K S Sudarshan said that the outfit had been depicted as "anti-Christian, anti-Muslim and an uncompromising militant group" by the media.
22 PWG militants surrender in Andhra
They were vexed with the mindless violence being carried out by the PWG, a senior police officer said. http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/mar/21jafri.htm
Naga peace process all set to move ahead
The NSCM (I-M) has accepted the government's invitation to continue talks in India.
Pak proposes SAARC Interior Ministers meet
The proposed meet would discuss a host of issues of common interest, including terrorism, extremism, drug and human smuggling, border control and visa restrictions.
Sattar ready to visit India to resolve tension http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/mar/11pak1.htm
Restart J&K dialogue process: Shabir Shah
'We believe in democracy and negotiations and want India and Pakistan to resolve the problem peacefully', Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party president said.
Text of Sri Lanka truce deal: BBC News, Friday, 22 February, 2002
Agreement on a ceasefire between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
PEACE & HARMONY ORGANIZATIONS
*Commonway Institute, P.O. Box 12541, Portland, OR 97212, http://www.commonway.org 503.281.1667, Contact person: Sharif M. Abdullah
Sarvodaya organized, March 15, at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, the worlds’ largest peace meditation ever. About 600,000 people, from all ethnic groups and all religions, meditated together, at one place. Neither the bomb attack at Sarvodaya Headquarters two nights before, nor the blinding rainstorm the day before, dampened the spirits of the organizers and the participants. Someone said that the attack was a sign that the peace efforts were getting results. "These people feel desperate," he said. "It must be terrible for them, to see everything that they believe in turning to dust. Their power base of violence is eroding right under them. And, without violence, what do they have?" Nothing, except a few spare hand grenades.
Convened by the Joint Action Committee for Peace, the country's major political parties, trade union and non-government organisations and concerned citizens came together, March 20, at PMA House, on a joint platform to unequivocally condemn the growing violence and targeted killings of doctors, particularly in Karachi, with serious nation-wide consequences. the meeting expressed concern at the safety of Pakistan's Christians, and asked political parties to take up this issue from their own platforms as well, in order to isolate the sectarian elements.
*South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), G. P. O. Box 12855 Kathmandu, Nepal, Tel: +977-1-541026 Fax: +977-1-527852, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The human rights community of South Asia appealed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to request the governments of the region to stop their restrictive practices which prevent the human rights organizations in the South Asian countries from exercising their moral and political function of extending democratic rights.
The monthly global vigil for peace between India and Pakistan, that have been organized by various groups around the world, was continued March 24, at Cardoza Park, by QPB and FSA, to urge the two governments to resolve all issues through dialogue.
REACTIONS TO THE RECENT COMMUNAL CARNAGE IN INDIA
Hindu and Muslim leaders urged Indians to maintain communal harmony, after a meeting of representatives of the South African Hindu Mahasabha and five Muslim organizations including the Muslim Youth Movement, Sunni Jamiat Ulama and Palestine Support Committee.
Hindu Mahasabha secretary Ragubeer Kalideen said, “We (Hindu and Muslims) are one people and we have not allowed religious disharmony to affect us here. “We are shocked at the uncivilized and unreligious manner in which some groups are behaving in Gujarat,” he added. Religion is supposed to be about peace, tolerance and harmony. But what’s happening in Gujarat is just the opposite,” remarked Moulana Rafeek Shah of the Muslim Youth Movement.
A group of Bay Area-based Indians walked down from the Gadar Memorial Hall here March 23 to the Consulate General of India to protest the recent communal mayhem in Gujarat. They carried placards with Hindi and Urdu statements like “Religious Harmony and Social Justice in India,” “India: Secular, democratic, United,” “Godhra HO Ya Ahmeabad, Sampradayikata Hai Barbad” (“Whether it is Godhra or Ahmedabad, Communalism is a Disaster”).
A peace rally was organized in Washington, DC, on Wednesday afternoon to express people’s concerns about the carnage and try to mobilize people to work for peace and harmony. The number of concerned Indians belonging to different organizations, religions and culture observing fast for peace at different locations since Tuesday has reached to more than 400. Some of us are taking turns in staying near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi located in front of the Indian embassy in Washington, DC. Zafar Iqbal Ph.D. email@example.com
In order to “challenge the communal forces and stand up for the secular values of the Nation (India)” and to match with peace march to Ayodhya by people's movement, various organizations, and concerned individuals in Washington D. C. observed March 15 the National day for Peace and Communal Harmony. They gathered at the Mahatma Gandhi statue to collectively break the relay fast that they had been observing since March 5.
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, By Prashant Jawalikar
AID, the Association for India's Development and many other organizations, are coming together to send a message, indicating that we, as responsible citizens of the world, condemn this violence in all its forms, and call upon the Indian Government to put all in its ability to dissuade groups and individuals perpetuating such violence.
Seeking inspiration from Gandhiji who came from the same state of Gujarat, we give a c all for a one-day FAST for Peace and Communal Harmony. If you cannot fast, you may express your solidarity by signing up on the website http://aidindia.org/fastforpeace and lighting a candle in remembrance of the victims of violence.
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Moved by the communal violence that swept across Ahmedabad, and to demonstrate their support for peace and harmony, around 1,000 marchers, including women, from various religious groups on Tuesday staged a six-km long silent march, from Kochrab Ashram to Sabarmati Ashram -- both set up by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 after he returned to India from South Africa. http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/mar/05train5.htm
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, Report by Teesta & Sushoba
A team of the People’s Union for Human Rights plans to visit different parts of the city of Ahmedabad and the state of Gujarat to document the loss of life and property. Other groups are also collating similar information. This would collectively be the groundwork for a people’s Judicial Commission into the Ethnic Cleansing in Gujarat that would be headed by Justice Krishna Iyer and of which Justice Suresh and Girishbhai Patel would be a part.
India, By Shaswati Mazmdar
firstname.lastname@example.org of Delhi
University Forum for Democracy
On the initiative of a large number of groups and eminent individuals a Citizens' March in
defence of democracy and secularism was organized on March 13. It started at 11 a.m. from Mandi House, (Jawaharla Nehru Univesity- City Centre), and to Parliament.
Faizabad, U.P., India, National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM), 9/982 Indira Nagar, Lucknow 226016, U.P., India, Phone 347365, 342435, e-mail email@example.com
On March 10, a Peace March was organized by Nagrik Shanti Morcha in Faizabad, which is 6 km from Ayodhya. A bare-feet and silent Peace and Harmony March was planned on March 14 to Ayodhya.
Women of diverse faiths held hands by Char Minar in a march to prevent outbreak of communal violnce March 15, the day Hindu radicals planned to conduct a prayer ceremony at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Hyderabad, A.P., India, Report by Sagari Ramdas of COVA
Yesterday a few of us met at DDS office to think of what we can do here at Hyderabad-not only to condemn the happenings in Gujarat but to pre-empt, prevent any such spread which could potentially happen in the city. Particularly in the wake of the latest call by VHP that they are determined to go ahead with their plans of March 15th, it is imperative to act. Today, a press statement was issued. It condemned the continuing violence was, and the attitude of the govt. in this matter. Teams of volunteers will visit and meet with community members in communally sensitive areas identified in the Bastis around the old city and other parts. They will visit these areas regularly for the next many days, with the aim to set up local Ekta, Aman and Peace committees in each locality. An interfaith evening of prayers will be organised on the Tank Bund on 7th March between 5-7pm. An has been made appeal to all organizations celebrating Women’s day on March 8th, to dedicate the day for communal harmony.
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, Report by Kavita Srivastava
On February 28, concerned individuals held meetings with senior BJP leaders to persuade the latter to stop the bandh call or else to ensure peace. Also they were in constant touch with the 18 Muslim organizations, who had set up 4 control rooms to monitor the communal situation. Besides they met with the Intelligence people in order to understand their preparation to prevent something like Gujarat from happening in Jaipur.
On the day of the BJP-VHP Rajasthan Bandh, a shanti sabha was held in the center of town. More than eighty people turned up to protest against the carnage in Gujarat and demanded the dismissal of Narendra Modi. People also went around town monitoring the situation particularly around the juma - ki- namaz period.
Today, we met in one of the bastis from where riots start. It was very well attended. We are planning to hold a big rally with left and other secular parties on the 6th of March. The theme for 8th March is Women for Peace and Development: No War No Terrorism.
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, By Dr. Jalandar Adsule, Director, Salokha; and Maju Varghese, SACH firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds of students from the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan along with Salokha an NGO working for communal harmony organised a harmony chain from Bandra (E) to Vakola on March 6. Many NGO's including EKTA, CSSS, Pratham, Yuva, Sakya, Sethu etc joined the harmony chain to announce to the world that the young generation and citizens in Mumbai are not with the communal hatred campaign carried out by some fundamental groups in the country.
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, By Ammu Abraham <email@example.com
Women's Day in Mumbai was observed by several local women's organizations
(AIDWA, Women's Centre, YWCA, NFIW, FAOW, Mahila Daxata Samiti, Swadhar,
Samajwadi Mahila Sabha, Akshara and Forum for Women's Health) as a Peace Dharna
at Hutatma Chowk/Flora Fountain, 4 - 6p.m. The common banner was: 'Strenghten
Women's Unity for Communal Harmony and National Unity, For Secularism And
Protection of the Rights of All Communities'. They endorsed statement demanding
(1) that the Central government should act immediately to restore normalcy in
Gujarat, (2) that the Karsevaks be cleared out of Ayodhya and, (3) that those
who have proclaimed their contempt for the Constitution of India be taken to
Slogans like "Commywad se, Azaadi" and even "Sangh Parivar se Aazaadi" reverberated at the Fountain area, where hundreds of working people were passing by on their way to the Churchgate station, and paused to see the dharna and take the leaflets being distributed.
Representatives of the groups present gave short talks or led anti-communal sloganeering. Stree Sangam members sang a song which was specially written about the riot victims. The gathering observed 2 minutes' silence in mourning for the thousands who have been massacred or tortured or rendered destitute in Gujarat's shameful genocide and resolved to strengthen women's unity for a secular India.
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, firstname.lastname@example.org
"HUM JEENA CHAHTE HAIN - DHARM KE NAAM PAR HAME "PHIR SE" MAT LADAO. KYA AAP "HUM' ME SHAMIL HONA CHAHTE HAIN?" is the slogan for a campaign regarding the Godhra and subsequent events in India. Individuals, who are neither affiliated to, nor funded by any party or organization, collected 3492 signatures for it in three days from Universities, Slums, Platforms, trains and buses of Mumbai and 195 signatures in a couple of hours in villages of South Gujarat.
New Delhi, India
Distressed by the recent communal carnage in India, People for Peace and Secularism organized a fast for peace and communal harmony was held March 23-28 at Mandi House circle in New Delhi. Each group of 50-100 individuals fasted for 24 hours starting at 8:00 a.m. every day.
Some 30 Opposition Members of Parliament, March 5, attended a meeting and peace march at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Left parties organized, March 6 a large demonstration at Jantar Mantar at
On March 7, at 4:30 p.m., a planning meet was held at the Indian Social Institute to develop a strategy for the following week.
Well-known artists in the capital city, including K.G. Subramanium, Satish Gujaral, Krishen Khanna, and Jatin Das, expressed its solidarity with the victims of Gujarat violence by donating paintings and art works displayed at an exhibition organized by Sahmat, a city-based cultural organization. The proceeds of the sale were routed through Commual Combat, an NGO.
APPEAL FOR FUNDS TO HELP FOR THE VICTIMS OF GUJARAT VIOLENCE
To help the victims, Center for Study of Society and Secularism, has started a fund drive. “We wish to reach it to the sufferers irrespective of their religion and caste strictly on secular lines,” said Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, the chairman of the Center and a well-known secularism activist in India. Our readers have frequently seen his columns in ACHA PEACE BULLETIN.
As a first step in building this fund Center has decided to donate a modest sum of Twenty Thousands. Dr Engineer urged people to “donate generously for this humane cause.” Please make your checks payable to Center for Study of Society and Secularism and mail them to the Center at 9B, Himalaya Apts, 1st Floor, 6th Road, Santacruz (E), Mumbai:- 400 055, India.
Pritam Rohila, Editor, ACHA Peace Bulletin
*Gujarat Riots: Despatch From KARACHI, Pakistan, By M.B Naqvi, March 4, 2002 Via Harsh Kapoor email@example.com
is entirely possible to reconcile the Hindus and Muslims because the bases for
discord and enmity as well as of understanding, friendship and fraternity
simultaneously exist. A people-to-people reconciliation between Pakistan and
India – that must also include the people of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – can
create a whole new dispensation in which the communal politics can be contained
and countered, both inside each South Asian state and among the states of the
region. Only, it is necessary to see the utility of this approach for first resolving India's persistent problem and this can go on to resolve inter state confrontation, which incidentally would resolve many of Pakistan's domestic problems. Even Bangladesh may thereby be able to evolve a truly
common nationalism for all Bangladeshis to fit the new state. For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with KARACHI as its subject.
*RECLAIMING the Real Hinduism, By Vijay Rana, Free Press Journal
Nana's day began with the chants of: 'Servey bhavantu sukhinah, servey santu
niramaya...' (May all living being be
happy and free from fear.') Then I didn't understand the relevance of these
lines, but I understand now. When rampaging mobs, chanting the name of my Lord
Rama, kill innocent women and children. I say, 'No! That's not the Hinduism I
was taught. My Hinduism
promised to ensure freedom from fear, not for Hindus alone but for all living being.'…
That was the Hinduism that echoes in my ears. The Hinduism of Ramchndra Paramhans or Ashok Singhal is alien to me. The sword wielding, slogan shouting and hate spewing Karsevaks terrorise me, a Hindu, too. No, I am not prepared to accept them as protectors of Hinduism. No, I am not prepared to accept the VHP and Bajrang Dal as champions of Hinduism. Yes, I would welcome a Rama temple in Ayodhya, a temple of compassion and social harmony. I do not need a temple made with the shilas of hatred, a temple that is cemented by communal intolerance. I am in no rush. I can wait till courts come up with an acceptable answer. I can wait till
Hindus and Muslims come to a sensible compromise. For full text email a request to email@example.com with RECLAIMING as its subject.
*Hindu FAMILY’s Islamic Tradition, By Kamil Zaheer, India West, March 22, 2002
“I feel good that the Basu family looks after the mosque on their compound,” Muslim priest Mohammed Abu Bakkar told Reuters. “Itshows that despite Gujarat and all the religious hatred, Muslims and Hindus are basically one,” said Bakkar, a 76-year-old with a white goatee beard and a skullcap. For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with FAMILY as its subject.
For most Americans, Pakistan, which has been catapulted into world consciousness with the painful events of the past six months and the war in Afghanistan, has remained an enigma. In presenting Painting Over the Lines: Five Contemporary Artists from Pakistan, Indian-owned IndoCenter of Art & Culture (ICAC) is providing a glimpse into contemporary Pakistani culture and conflicts. For full text email a request to email@example.com with FAMILY as its subject.
*Historic WRONG Redressal, By Shamsul Islam
It is really intriguing that in a country like India whose civilization is more than two thousand years old, a period of 400-500 years (so called Muslim Rule) only is put under scanner. It may still be relevant to inquire into two aspects of this 'Muslim Rule'.Firstly, why the common Muslims of today's India pay for the sins of Muslim rulers who had very solid and cordial relations with high caste hierarchy of Hindu ruling classes…Secondly, in spite this persecuting 'Muslim Rule', India remained a country predominantly inhabited by Hindus who constituted around 80 percent of the population.
The Philosopher and Godfather of RSS, MS Golwalkar tells us that Somnath Temple was not desecrated and destroyed by Mahmud Ghazi only….Swami Vivekananda adds another dimension to this debate by writing that "the temple of Jaganath is an old Buddhistic temple. We took this and others over and re-Hinduised them…” For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with WRONG as its subject.
*Thick friends, save for 67.7 ACRES of land, By Basharat Peer in Ayodhya
One is an architect of the Ram Temple movement, and the other does not miss any opportunity to oppose it tooth and nail. Both are fanatically committed to their respective causes and make sure that the whole world knows about it. But what the world doesn't know about the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas president Ramchandra Paramhans (96) and Hashim Ansari (83), one of the main litigants in the case filed by the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, is their deep-rooted friendship, which continues till date. For full text email a request to email@example.com with ACRES as its subject.
KUTCH remains an island of peace, By Bharat Desai, Times News Network,
March 05, 2002
Kutchis always feel they are distinct from Gujaratis. Their language is different and their culture is distinct from mainland Gujarat…But if events unfolding over the last week have shown anything, Kutchis are distinct from Gujaratis even in their thinking. This vast district having the biggest percentage of Muslim population (almost 35 per cent), has remained an island of peace in this ocean of violence that Gujarat has turned into. For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with KUTCH as its subject.
*Secularism GARDEN at Ayodhya, By Prof. Chithra KarunaKaran, New York, March 3, 2002
Let us build a Secularism Garden at Ayodhya. Let us build a place of beauty, to remind ourselves daily that DEMOCRACY is a journey, a process as well as a destination, that SECULARISM is a journey, a process as well as a destination. If Secularism is a process, then we can understand that all processes involve trial and error.
Sometimes we try and we fail. Sometimes we try and we succeed. We failed when we destroyed the Babri Masjid. We failed when we killed innocent women and children traveling on the Sabarmatic Express, ironically named for Gandhiji's sanctuary of peace by the river of the same name. That Prince of Peace would have been saddened by the Godhra events, and the retaliation thereafter…Perhaps he may have even consider the building of a Secularism Garden at Ayodhya. For full text email a request to email@example.com with GARDEN as its subject.
*Some Hindus RESCUING Muslims, By Beth Duff-Brown, Associated Press Writer, Mar 4, 2002
India (AP) - …
Still, India's 120 million Muslims live in relative harmony among the 1 billion Hindus and other minorities of India….In Ram-Rahim Nagar, a teeming slum in the heart of Ahmadabad where Hindus and Muslims have lived and worked together for decades, residents say humanity is their religion and poverty their common bond….Ram-Rahim residents insisted Monday that not one person was killed, nor was one shop burned down in the community where 20,000 Hindus and Muslims have lived together in peace since 1964. For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with RESCUING as its subject.
*A Calm CORNER Keeps an Eye on a Violent Subcontinent, By Aseem Chhabra, The New York Times, March 10, 2002 Via South Asian Journalists Association http://www.saja.org
Violence between Hindus and Muslims may be raging in India, where hundreds have died in a conflict that has become increasingly bloody. Yet in the mini-South Asia known as Elmhurst, Queens, the echoes of this turmoil are heard but faintly….
"I have Muslim friends," says Vishal Vakani, a 15-year-old. Although his family worships Hindu gods, two of his closest friends are from Bangladesh and Pakistan. After school the boys play basketball at Moore Homestead Playground, a block away from his home.
The two teenage sons of Khaqan Hasan, who is Pakistani, bring their Indian friends over to their apartment. "Sometimes we talk about what is happening in India," said Mr. Hasan's daughter, Sana. "But we never pursue it too much." For full text email a request to email@example.com with CORNER as its subject.
LETTERS & OPINIONS
*Let's Kill Religion, Subramony Sesha Via AsiaPeace http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AsiaPeace
I wish to be reborn in a world where there is no God. I am tired of explaining to Christians that Jesus would never have said, "Do not worship anyone other than me." I am amused when I see Jesus, the epitome of simplicity, made to live in multi-million-dollar churches, each trying to outdo its neighbour. Do you think Jesus lives there? If He lives anywhere, it would be in the poorest of slums, among the poorest of the poor. People remember everything other than the three most important words in the Bible -- God is love.
I am tired of explaining to Muslims that Allah would never have advocated jihad. It is sad to see Muslims trying to find the formless Allah within the confines of a mosque. His very form -- or lack of it -- suggests He is to be found everywhere, not just in the confines of a Babri Masjid.
Who is to understand or listen?
And finally, I am tired of explaining to Hindus that the Upanishads say Aham brahmasmi and Tatvam asi. Roughly translated, it means God lies within you: You are God. Idol worship was introduced in the Vedic age to make it easier for the common man to grasp the concept of God. Lord Ram's life shows how an ideal man -- maryada purushottam -- should live. Rather than following the ideals expressed, people seem to think that building temples to Him is the best thing to do.
When will they ever learn? Man always wants better things for himself. And he thinks that by
worshipping -- or, should I say, bribing? - God, he can achieve what he wants. Pathetic!
Man only understands the principle of give and take. In his weak-minded interpretation of God, he reduces God to his level. All that God wants you to do is live a good life. Instead of doing that, people sing hymns and bhajans at the top of their voices... They think God will hear them, and reciprocate their efforts with what they want in life. Pitiable!
I want to live in a world where there is no God. Let there be no worship or places of worship. Indeed, let there be no religion. Let there be no believers. For, every believer can turn into a fanatic with the right amount of provocation.
Until man has the sense to understand God, let there be no God. Indeed, a Krishna, Jesus or Allah would be willing to die a thousand deaths if that would bring peace to this world.
Let us kill religion so that, humans can live. Yes, I want to live in a world where there is no God.
*Religion may have outlived its utility, Dhanyal Sahibzada, Via Asiapeace http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AsiaPeace
As a young man Marx became quite interested in the CAUSAL explanation of the positing of transcendant objects. Feuerbach viewed them as rudimentary projections of an "ideal self" displaced into another realm because of restrictions placed - generally by nature dominating humans - on the validation and recognition of self in this world. Furthermore Feuerbach goes on to state that these restrictions arise more particularly when men systematically dominate others.
an artificial division as such takes place in humankind, according to
Feuerbach, individual human beings are prevented from seeing within themselves
what is characteristic of all men and seeing in all men what is characteristic
of themselves. Thus a full expression and recognition of
one's "species being" is blocked. The blockage then finds expression by the ascription of ideal human characteristics to divine beings in Feuerbach's view. In accordance with this perspective we can see history marked by stages in which men take back representations of the self that had previously been projected onto greater/divine beings.
differ on how much religion has contributed in the past to our well being, but
by nature most religions are static, because they, in themselves, do not change
its characteristics, leaving to humans the task of redefining it towards
progression or digression, if any attempt towards a dynamic in conjunction with
time is to be attempted, this being my contemporary opinion of
Having said this, I can only say that today the more we progress in other areas based on a multitude of ideas and experiences in rational thinking, logic, intuition, history, philosophy concerning various subjects, plus other areas, brings us to different perspectives upon religion rather than the other way around. With this in mind, and the nature of religion in imposing an inclusive rather than universal environment of inquiry, religion, on an organized, society-governing- scale, may have outlived its utility but as a personal exploration or spiritual solace, it may continue to yield purpose for the individual.
Dhanyal Sahibzada Sahib has done a great service to us by referring to one of the classical works on religion. Indeed the conclusion is most convincing. Individuals are likely to find great solace in religion especially when dealing with traumatic situations, spiritual crises and a general search for a meaning in life. The problem is that it is religion in the public sphere and in the political arena and as a collective activity that is problematic.
As far as I understand, Feuerbach was an arch materialist and employed a mechanical approach to the study of phenomena while Marx looked at things in their dialectical relationship. Accepting the philosophical implications of Feuerbach's thesis on religion he typically tried to explain religion's role in society in functional terms. According to him, alienation and dehumanization under capitalism could be borne with greater forbearance by the working people if they sought refuge in religion.
metaphor of 'opium of the people' for religion has been grossly distorted by
detractors. In the 19th century opium was the main anaesthesia used in hospitals to curb pain and suffering. Marx was using opium in a sophisticated sense, in fact in a positive sense. At other places he did mention the connotation of religion being exploited by the ruling class to inculcate despondency and resignation among the working people. Thus we find a double meaning and function attributed by Marx to religion.
His collaborator and close friend Fredrich Engels looked at another social character of religion: that of an ideology of the oppressed classes to challenge the ruling class. He referred to the peasant movement in Germany in the 14-16 centuries as radical movements for change launched in the name of Christianity. However, the main thesis advanced from all angles was that once poverty, ignorance and other forms of oppression have been removed religion will cease to have a social function and may remain a personal, private affair. I think that position remains quite convincing in general except that the overly materialistic and rationalistic underpinnings of Feuerbach, Marx and Engels' theories are unable to explain the relationship between identity, historical experience and religion. Given the enormous wealth of the USA, Saudi Arabia and Iran one would expect them to be on the way to successfully transcending religious cultural traits.
think the USA inherited a very strong tradition of churchgoing because people
who fled from Europe during the 15-17th centuries were seeking religious
freedom, which was denied by the fundamentalist regimes in Europe at that time.
This tradition became a part of American identity and was reinforced by the USA
assuming the role of the leader of the Christian world against Godless
communism. On the other hand, Europe went through the rationalist
transformation initiated by the Enlightenment in a more thorough manner and
after the Second World War
and the holocaust felt greater need to move away from established Christianity.
Although Islam in general and the Sufis in particular introduced the notion of equality before God and the Bhakti and Sikh movement promoted pluralism and a sense of equality, I may dare say that the most positive role of religion as a means of social reform was introduced by some British colonial rulers, They were liberals and rationalist Protestants. It was through their efforts that public works including education, health care and other reforms were undertaken by the state.
They believed that God wanted man to gain knowledge to understand His will and therefore education based on rationality should be provided to people. It was through their efforts that many progressive changes took place in the Subcontinent. Of course the main interest to draw revenues and profit from India was never compromised but in that sense they were not different from the Mughuls or earlier Hindu rulers.
Asian rulers were rarely fired by a sense of public duty. The tradition of
working for the good of the poorest human beings was initiated by Catholics. Of
course Muslim Sufis (not all, usually those from the Chistia order) and Sikh
Gurus had introduced free meals or langar, but going and living with the abject
poor and helping them change their life for the better has been mainly a
Catholic way of making religion serve humanity. Of course this has resulted in
conversions and that is a matter one can discuss too.
*Communal tensions in India, Kushanava Choudhury, Calcutta Kushanava Choudhury
I've been on your mailing list for a number of years and have always been grateful for the service you provide, especially as a source of quality articles on South Asia.
I write this as someone who has grown up in the States and now lives and works at a newspaper (The Statesman) in India.
I think that aside from condemning the incidents of the last month, the NRI community needs to do a great deal of self-critique.
It is clear that inter-community relations in Gujarat are far worse than in other states. In the past decade, riots have become an annual affair in Ahmedabad. Housing has become entirely segregated. Communalism has flourished here as it has nowhere else. The VHP, which has offices in nearly every neighbourhood in the state, can take pride in having created this current scenario. And it is NRI money, which funds the VHP.
Nowhere is there more NRI money than in Gujarat, and so it is not surprising that the VHP has flourished here. There may be quite a number of reasons why those who have opted to migrate out of their homeland would choose to fund and support a narrow brand of religious nationalism. But one thing is clear: non-resident dalliances in Hindutva are no longer an amusing, harmless exercise. There are over 600 dead bodies to account for, and the VHP (and those who buoy it with dollar donations) is to blame.
The time has come for NRIs to ask themselves some tough questions.
*My grandfather would sometimes say, Omar Ali <firstname.lastname@example.org
My grandfather (who was an SP of police in British India) would sometimes say:
1. Pakistan has no future because its based on a faulty ideology...pehlee eent being crooked, the wall will never be straight and so on.
2. India has no future because they are trying to make western democracy work in a country and culture not yet ready for it....the "natives" will sink to their own level in time.
Needless to say, we disagreed on both counts. But, thanks to the Pak army, I think No. 1 has some truth in it.... and now I think No. 2 may not be far off the mark either.
Right wing Hindu terrorists tend to be the cruelest in a cruel country because their fascism is wedded to a curious belief that THEY and not the Muslims are somehow the "victims" in this case. Being convinced that they are "overly tolerant Hindus, bravely resisting Muslims much stronger than themselves" they are capable of amazing cruelty to their helpless victims.
If they continue on their present path, they will doubtless kill many more poor Muslims before it ends in civil war and the collapse of India. India is far from finished yet, but this kind of state sponsored terror is becoming harder to conceal in the internet age.....non-believers may have their ideas, but I personally believe God is keeping karmic accounts pretty much in balance..He/She just tends to take Her time about it.
*Hindu majority has taken a self righteous stance, By Kanak Ravel, ACHA Member
If we want to save our country from further fragmentation, we must get a better understanding of aspirations, fears and past history of our minority groups. And some of them have given an excellent account of them e.g,charities by Vhoras and Parsis.
Most of the Hindu majority has taken a self-righteous stance. Not even once we question why we lost our flexibility and openness in dealing with the non-Hindus? Why our own people accepted another faith? Even if they did so under duress (say during the Muslim rein in India), why we cannot accept them back? Or Hindus are born only? Not one of the many religious leaders has offered this to others. We need more of leaders like Sw. Dayanand Saraswati and the present Sw.Sacchidand of Dantali, Gujarat.
Look at our pervert attitude. A Brahmin would get polluted if touched by a Harijan but if he then touches a Mallecha (mostly a Muslim) his polluted state gets 'neutralised'! A village Bania would not hesitate accepting money from a Harijan but he would wash it with water before bringing it home!
I come from a Brahmin family and I value the Upanashid age wisdom and the Yogic heritage. But somewhere we lost our vitality and became slaves of wooden institutionalized Sampradays.
Our sears are gone and we have wound up with opportunistic Purohits and Kathakars. They brag about spirituality and practice like a moneylending Kabuli! Go and visit Badrinath and Tirupati (I have done it) and experience the monetary tarrifs of various Darshans and Pujas!
In Gujarati press why we have not seen even one outcry against the mass violence and fire by the M-Bapus and Swamis and Goswamis?
Foreigners ruled us not because they were strong but we were weak and divided. This can happen again if we do not clean up our act!
Toronto, ON, Canada: MUSLIM ARTISTS are invited to submit work for an art
exhibition as a part of the Milad celebrations. More info from Shahnaz Suteria
416-444-8587 or email@example.com
*June 23-30, Singapore: KASHMIR is the theme of a special conference being organized by Initiative for Peace www.initiativeforpeace.org. The purpose is to bring 40 students (20 from India and 20 from Pakistan) together to engage in various peace building, as well as conflict resolution programs to help build understanding and trust and create new action initiatives for them to implement upon their return to their respective home countries. They need help in recruitment of participants (boys and girls 16-19 years of age with activist orientation; English language ability preferred but not necessary) and need suggestions regarding the program. More info from Franciska Wihardja firstname.lastname@example.org Initiative for Peace, United World College of South East Asia, Pasir Panjang, P.O. Box 15, Singapore 911121
*August, Toronto, ON, Canada: New South Asian artists wishing to exhibit their work at the MASALA/MEHNDI/MASTI, a South Asian arts and music festival at the Harbourfront Centre, are invited to contact Sejal Purewal email@example.com,Curator for the Artist Gallery at the festival.
*Political Islam in the Indian Subcontinent: The JAMA'AT-i-Islami, By Frederic Grare; Manohar and Centre de Sciences Humane, New Delhi, 2001; pp 133, Rs 200. Review by Kalim Bahadur
Maududi follows the line of all fundamentalists, which according to Grar stems from a dialectical concept of history. Maududi puts Islam against all that is non-Islamic. The struggle between the two must inevitably culminate in an Islamic revolution and in the creation of an Islamic state, which will initiate in society large-scale reforms leading to an utopian Islamic order…. The entire history of the Jama'at shows the contradictions that almost all fundamentalist parties face in the context of the socio-political situation in their respective countries. These are reflected in their attitude to democracy, nation state, economy and social issues. For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with JAMA'AT as its subject.
*HEIR To A Silent Song: Two Rebel Women Of Nepal, By Dr. Barbara Nimri Aziz (PO Box 721 Roscoe, NY 12776, Email: email@example.com), Published by the Center for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. $17.00. Pp 267, September 2001.
is a short history of two women from Nepal, Yogamaya (~1890-1940) and Durga
Devi (~1930-1973). Yogamaya was a revolutionary fighting one tyrant, Durga a
reformer challenging his successor. Each woman emerged from rural obscurity to
oppose Hindu caste privilege, dictatorship, and corruption at the heart of the
nation. Because these rebels were women, because they challenged authority, and
because each pursued justice by radical means, the
accomplishments of Yogamaya and Durga Devi were undervalued, then hidden. For full text email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org with HEIR as its subject.
*India Briefing: Quickening the Pace of Change, Edited by Alyssa Ayres and Philip Oldenburg, M. E. Sharpe csandorf@mesharpe and The Asia Society. Via South Asian Journalists Association http://www.saja.org
The book includes chapter
contributions by John Echeverri-Gent (University of Virginia) on Politics;
Joydeep Mukherji (Standard & Poors) on the Economy; Sadanand Dhume (FEER)
on "From Bangalore to Silicon Valley and Back: How the Indian Diaspora in
the United States is Changing India"; Christopher Jaffrelot (CERI, Paris)
on "The Subordinate Caste Revolution"; Mark Nichter and David Van
Sickle (U of Arizona) on Health; and Alok Rai (IIT, Delhi) on Literature.
*Through April 12, Houston, TX, USA: COLORS OF THE BINDU, an exhibition of South Asian photographers, featuring themes of identity and religion: South Asians living abroad and religious violence, at Mother Dog Studios, 720 Walnut Street. A part of Fotofest 2002, the exhibition is curated by Amita Bhatt, All sale proceeds will be donated to the welfare of the recent communal violence victims in India. More info from Charlie Sartewelle 713.229.9760
*April 14, Los Angeles, CA: KASHMIR: WAYS TO HELP RESOLVE ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS CONFLICTS, a full-day conference, sponsored by the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, to arrive at an agreement among the local Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani at a number of practical proposals to help resolve the Kashmir conflict, at the UCLA Faculty Center. More information from Leah Halvorson 310.825.0604 email@example.com or Rafi Khan 323.662.6163 Rafikhan@aol.com
*May 24-27, Atlanta, GA, USA: YOUNG SINDHI ADULTS will gather here to participate in a program includes sessions about history of Sindh, a forum to express their creativity, and discussions about gender and other issues they face. More info from www.youngsindhiadults.org
U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights Abuses in