Tampering with nature is sure to bring serious consequences. Nature has no compassion and accepts no excuses. The only punishment it knows is death and devastation. That is how it punished it violators in Uttarakhand some years back. More than 1000 people were reported dead in the nature’s fury in the hill state besides rendering populous and prosperous cities and localities into ruins and wrecks. There is common agreement among all shades of opinion and administration that the worst-ever tragedy was the outcome of man’s fight with nature. There is another fight going on between nature and man in Kashmir as the Himalayan hill state is playing host to lakhs of people for Amarnath pilgrimage. The misplaced religious passion driven by long arm of political and communal considerations has turned this otherwise a low-key religious affair into a great show of state and majoritarian power. Until some years, Amarnath pilgrimage was a monotonous modest religious event, which would last for less than two weeks. But over the years, the event has turned into a political one where the state is using it as a means to demonstrate its power and prowess. People in lakhs are motivated and facilitated to take the pilgrimage to the cave temple in the serene and ecologically fragile mountains through Pahalgam and Sonamarg.
It is quite sad to note that every unique setting—quiet valleys, lush green locales and gushing streams of chaste mineral water all have been put to huge threat of human intervention. Last year around over 3 lakh pilgrims kept on disturbing the ecological balance in the region for 39 days. This year the pilgrimage has been lengthened to two months, and the number of pilgrims is sure to be more by another two to three lakhs. Imagine the spoil and smash, the prolonged and massive human intervention is likely to cause in the sensitive environs. Some years back the state government formed a Board, through legislation, to regulate and discipline the yatra with Governor being the ex-officio chairman of the Board. But it is a grim reality that the Board worked as a state tool to politicize the pilgrimage. Former Governor S K Sinha tried his every nerve to spin the religious affair into a colonial master plan, where political considerations ran supreme with no regard to ecological concerns. Unfortunately, this mindset still persists, and the managers of the pilgrimage are still guided by political considerations. This is bound to have a disastrous effect on the ecological balance in the area. Glaciers in the area are melting. Wild animals have shifted from the habitats and the water resources and the gushing streams have got polluted. Environmental experts have already sounded caution of the looming disaster.
But the politics behind yatra continues to be on the mind of powers that be. It is generally understood that this is an attempt by communal forces to establish their writ on Kashmir, where voices of political dissent are often ardently raised. The way the political and power establishment is trying to meet the Kashmir voices is in all probabilities fraught with serious risks. It appears that a psychological war is being waged against people of Kashmir. Given the fears among people and unnecessary intervention in nature’s set-up, one has every reason to feel frightened. The tragedy in Uttarakhund should serve as a food for thought for the powers that be and instead of moving on the issue politically, they should have taken into consideration, at least, environmental concerns while executing their political plans in Kashmir. It is time to take a politics-free call on this grave issue and instead regulate the Amarnath yatra, and limit the number of yatris and yatra period to safeguard the environment in the best interests of overall humanity.
India-Pakistan battle royale
The battle for ICC world cup going on currently in United Kingdom has caught the imagination of cricket fans world over. Even as around a dozen matches have been played between playing teams so far and keen battles have been witnessed in them but what makes the tournament most interesting is the match between India and Pakistan. The match is scheduled to be played on Sunday—the 16 of June. The dismal performance of Pakistani team has disappointed them hugely. It appears that the Pakistani cricket has reached to its proverbial ‘nadir’. The loss of Pakistan against Australia and West Indies is a case in point. Losing or wining is a part of the game but the way Pakistan lost was abject surrender. Pakistan displayed the most disappointing performance in their opening match against West India. Its batsmen fell like pack of cards just for 105 runs. The Pak batsmen fell within 22 over. Pakistan’s bowling attack is considered one of the best in the cricket world. But against the West Indies batting line, they proved no more than club cricketers, and West Indies won by seven wickets. Pakistan’s second match was against mighty and the cup-favorite England. As unpredictability is part of Pak Cricket teams psyche, they trounced England harrowingly. England might not have expected Pakistan’s brilliant performance, both, with the bat and the ball given their abject surrender before not-so-powerful West Indies team. As the win against England gave one a reason and confidence to believe that the Pak team might make it a habit of winning, it faced yet another defeat at the hands of Australia. Its fourth match against New Zealand was canceled due to incessant rains on the venue. This way Pakistan’s performance has been quite erratic so far.
As against this, Indian team is in high spirits. India has won all the two matches it has played so far. The third one washed out by rains gave one point to each team. India’s opening pair is in terrific form. Shekhear Dhawan scored a century in the last match against Australia helping the team to score 352, which made the team ultimately to win by 34 runs. But the bad news for Indian team is that the prolific opener suffered thumb injury in the match which made him unfit for other three or four matches. However, India has no dearth of talented batsmen. Right from up-line to middle order to down-line India has long line of batsmen who can score runs.
Pakistan’s worry stems from yet another source. Its captain Sarfaraz Ahmad has proved an average player. He not only lacks the qualities of a good captain but his batting power too is below the mark. His leadership moves during the match with Australia were poor. He let his tail enders to face the wrath of Australian bowling attack by taking single run on the very start of the every over resulting in the easy dismissals. But still everything has not been lost for Pakistani team. It has still a chance to bounce back. Pakistan has some talented players in the team who have the potential to turn the tables against any team. In Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riyaz, Shaheen Afridi, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Imad Waseem, Pkistan has a great bowling attack. They have the ability to undo any bating line. The Sunday clash would be between the best bowlers and the best batsmen. The Pak team needs to forget their differences and come with a single unit to take on their opponents in the remaining games. That is the only thing that can keep the hope of Pakistan’s comeback alive on Sunday.
Let the Spirit of Ramadan remain
We observed Eid-ul-Fitr by saying farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan and reflect on how our devotions through Ramadan have effectively impacted on our attitudes, our relationships, our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our souls.
As Muslims, we are well aware that Islam has always been a comprehensive and an all-embracing movement. It has at the head of its program spiritual development, sincere devotion, observance of divine guidelines, sustaining a wholesome environment, reform of human society and empowering of human beings. An essential component of the mission of all prophets has thus been reinstituting of the natural balance and the implementation of social justice [Qur’an 57:25]. We are inheritors of that prophetic movement; a movement that, of necessity, has to be relevant.
We need to realize that the relevance of Islam is not determined by the importance we as the “faithful” assign to our faith, but rather how our all-embracing faith responds to the realities of our times.
Relevance is not measured by teaching the shahaadah (testimony of faith) to a starving person, or merely praying for those who are impoverished or simply by cutting off the hands of the thief. Relevance is rather determined by the desire to feed the hungry at the time of need, alleviating the suffering of those in pain at the time of hurt and the general commitment to remove the need to steal. The relevance of Islam depends on how the ummah practically engages the world. Other people see Islam through the Muslims, and if Muslims fail the world then Islam would seem to have failed.
We often feel a sense of ascendency primarily because Islam (in some areas of the world) is the fastest growing religion. But it has never really been about numbers, it has rather always been about ihsaan (goodness) and itqaan(excellence).
It is not what quantitative numerical position we occupy, it is what qualitative contribution we make. It is about bringing hope to those people or situations that may seem helpless. Prophet Muhammad advised; “Allah disdains hopelessness. It is incumbent upon you to take a hopeful stand with an intelligent resolve.” [Abu Dawud]
Nothing affirms our humanity more than our capacity to empathize. It is this frame of heart that enables us to feel the agony of the pains experienced by others, and to treat others as we would like to be treated, and to do our best to make the world a better place; one good deed at a time. Faith and religion can only truly manifest as leading positive forces if we as people of faith realize the need for the spiritualization of our being, the moralization of our consciousness, empathy in our attitude, and goodness in our conduct. Wise ones have said that faith is not manifested by mere wishing; rather it is rooted in the purity of heart and verified by beneficial action.
Ramadan is a level playing field wherein people compete with each other in good deeds and benevolence. During this blessed month, souls are trained in virtue and accustomed to dignity, they learn to disdain vices, sins and acquire all good attributes.
Whoever witnesses this month without gaining any of its rewards is indeed poor, and nothing cripples him other than negligence, laziness, procrastination, and false hopes.
However, what is appalling is to see some of those who were guided to do good deeds and take provisions from virtues during this month hastily destroying what they had built, and replacing good with evil. This is a gross mistake and shameful act in the true sense of the word and no remorse or apology will revoke it when you stand in front of your One Lord.
We must continuously be in the state of obedience of Allah, firm upon His Sharia, steadfast upon His Deen, so that he or she is not of those who worship Allah only during one month or only in one place. Rather, the believer knows that the Lord of Ramadan is also the Lord of other months, and that He is the Lord of all times and places, so he is steadfast upon the Sharia of Allah until he meets Him while He is pleased with him
Extra care needed
In a sudden and surprising move, the Governor led administration Saturday removed Jammu & Kashmir Bank Chairman and CEO Parvez Ahmad and appointed executive president RK Chhibber as the bank’s interim Chairman. A government spokesperson said that the move to sack Parvez was one of the “long term measures to improve the functioning of the Bank.” Besides, the government said that there were “concerns expressed in various quarters regarding the governance and functioning of the Bank.”
Soon after, sleuths of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) raided the corporate headquarters of the bank. An ACB spokesperson said the bureau registered a case under Prevention of Corruption Act on outcome of a written complaint to look into the “allegations related to illegal/fraudulent appointments made in JK bank.” Parvez, for his part, said that he had no regrets, did his job “honestly and diligently” and was “open to scrutiny”. As long the move is aimed at cleaning the system of corruption, one should have no objection to it. In fact, it is high time that the system gets rid of this malaise. That said, in a conflict zone that Kashmir is, one needs to tread a bit cautiously while taking such decisions and ensure that the reasons for taking such radical steps are made crystal clear to avoid rumour-mongering. In conflict zones, motives, right or wrong, are always attributed with moves howsoever honest or sincere those might be. Add to it the existing mistrust between the state and the subjects and the results can be quite the opposite than expected. The government should understand that while taking tough measures, it must do everything possible to avoid suspicion. The government should ensure that whatever trust people have on it remains intact. The Governor’s administration needs to keep in view this historical truth while taking decisions on matters of crucial importance.
The J&K government owns 59% shares of the J&K Bank. Incorporated in 1938, the bank is listed on both NSE and BSE. This is the only private sector bank designated as the Reserve Bank of India’s agent for banking business and carries out the banking business of the Central government besides collecting central taxes for CBDT.
On Saturday when the Governor-led administration removed Parvez, some sections among the common people had genuine questions. They connected it with the larger political narrative that has been recently building up with respect to Kashmir. Some sections on social media called it as move to end valley’s domination on the state affairs. Governor Satya Pal Malik owes it to the people of the state to clear the atmosphere of suspicion gathering around his moves. Since the ACB has registered the case, and considering the sensitivities involved, one hopes that the probe body would expedite their investigation and uncover the truth which triggered Parvez’s unceremonious departure. If there are irregularities, they should be thoroughly investigated so that the common people retain the confidence in the historic institution they trust their money with and the administration they trust to govern the state. The people of the state have every right to seek explanation from the administration for all the moves and initiatives it takes in the interest of the state. One believes that Governor is not oblivious of the sensitivities and sensibilities involved here. It is expected that he would take the people of the state into confidence for all the administrative measures he deems fit to be taken.