By Dr Mahboob A Khawaja
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Albert Einstein
The global systems of political governance are dominated by the power politics of the few and fast becoming irrelevant and unrepresentative of the primary concerns and priorities of the vast majority of global humanity. The UNO or superpowers take no preventive measures to protect the mankind in critical situations like Myanmar-Burma (Rohingas), people of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Yemen and Palestine, the global governance tends to be a fantasy than a reality. You wonder if the UNO has lived up to its role and the Charter-based responsibility to safeguard the people of the world from the ‘scourge of wars’, horrors of planned violence, devastation of human cultures and habitats in good many raging conflicts. All in all, it is the humanity subjected to untold miseries, bloodbath and catastrophic consequences lingering on and unending for the generations to come. These few are the source of evil driving the mankind to unrestrained tyranny. The Statute of the International Criminal Court states “planning and waging a war of aggression is a crime against humanity.”
The author intends to share a critical analysis of some of the contemporary issues and to inspire global rethinking for a navigational change of the redundant structures and role of the international institutions, inept leadership, obsolete systems of power politics and approaches to peace making, security and conflict management. Perpetuated fear and political chaos overwhelms the obsolete global political governance. The war-agenda has shifted actions from the Western industrialized societies to the oil producing Arab world. The Middle East is in ruins by the sectarian warfare, indiscriminate bombing, terrorism, destruction of life and habitats and the natural environment. Nobody can rebuild, what has been destroyed by the war agenda.
To us – the living and conscientious humanity, image of time and accountability makes it clear that global systems are operating contrary to reason. Amongst all the creations on Planet Earth, humans are the only one equipped with thinking, language and intelligence to claim morality as an attribute of life and value. This reality emphasizes and differentiates us from the other creations of God. If we propel uncertainty in our thoughts and behaviour, nothing can stop us from surpassing the limit of immorality and insanity. With knowledge-based 21st century human communications improving global collaboration, we are not moving in the right direction that human logic and truth spell out for our conduct in peaceful relationships. The impulse and actions for cruelty and sadistic behaviour are increasingly sending alarming trends for the present and future generations to be informed of our implicit wickedness and resulting failure in global affairs. As humans, we are not thinking or moving for the unity of mankind to be at peace and harmony being the chief creation of God. Unless, we are overwhelmed philosophically to imagine that we are something else than humans populating the Earth by chance.
The 21st century knowledge-based critical thought highlights the unilateral absolutism as the corner stone of superpower’s policies and practices. David Armstrong (“Dick Cheney Song’s of America”: Information Clearing House: 09/19/2011), points out how the US politicians view the world to be governed by the American strategic dictates:
It was published as Defence Strategy for the 1990’s…. The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful. The Plan is disturbing in many ways, and ultimately unworkable. Yet it is being sold now as an answer to the “new realities” of the post-September 11 world, even as it was sold previously as the answer to the new realities of the post-Cold War world. For Cheney, the Plan has always been the right answer, no matter how different the questions….Another new theme was the use of pre-emptive military force. The options, the DPG noted, ranged from taking pre-emptive military action to head off a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack to “punishing” or “threatening punishment of” aggressors “through a variety of means,” including strikes against weapons-manufacturing facilities.
Under George W. Bush administration, America continued the same approach to global affairs. Reasoned politics and safeguard of the global humanity were not the purpose of such a belligerent plan. The USSR was already dismantled as a challenger and the US politicians saw the opportunity to determine the future of the global mankind by militarization and occupation of the poor and vulnerable nations. Its first victim was Afghanistan, then Iraq and Libya and onward to whole of the Arab world. Under NATO, America continued its influential role to destabilize the USSR and former allies of the Eastern Europe. There was no balancing of reason. Where power beyond human capacity is entrusted to the few, the chances are it will be misused against the people. The political tensions of militarization of the globe led to oppression and miseries for the people of the world. We have not seen any tangible movement in political behaviour to lessen the unstable clash of fanaticism and evil imposed on the innocent victims of humanity. The UNO was overwhelmed by the same scenarios of inept outcomes in situations that warranted urgent and swift humanitarian action to safeguard the civilian population in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Palestine and Kashmir. Why the prevention of man-made tyranny, oppression and conflicts are fast becoming acceptable norms in global systems of governance? Should the contemporary leaders of the world answer this vital question or should it be left to the impulse of history to explain it to the futuristic generations?
The global institutions were aligned to the formative history at the end of the 2nd WW, not to the knowledge-based proactive 21st century of technological innovation, reason and change. The global leadership and systematic working of the international political affairs are managed by wrong thinking, wrong people and wrong priorities. None seem to have the capacity to further the cause of global humanity, peace, conflict resolution and security. The global humanity looks for change but there seems to be no systematic mechanism for integrated change to ensure continuity of encompassed human thoughts, hopes and ideals for tomorrow, the near future or distant future. Despite the sketchy illusions of freedom, democracy, human rights, liberty and justice, we are encroached, stuffed and at terrible risk of annihilation more accidental and by error of judgment than planned scheme of things by Man against Man. The Western political mythology enflames hatred against Islam and blames Muslim as being “terrorists.” The raging wars in the Arab Middle East are a net outcome of ignorance and lack of wisdom against Islam. Western installed puppets Arab leaders do not represent the masses. Often false propaganda, deception and prejudice are combined in a trajectory of plans to sell weapons and console the egoistic leaders as allies of the Western military alliance. This political delusion is full of inherent inconsistencies. Gary Wills (What the Qur’an Meant and What It Matters. Viking, NY, 2017), a leading American scholar explains the reality in his new book:
Our enemy in this war is far less localizable than it was in the World War 2 or the Cold War. Terror is a tool, not a country. Declaring a war on it is less like normal warfare, country versus country, there is No VE Day or VJ Day in such wars… living with fear is corrosive…the less we know about the reality of Islam, the more we will fight shadows and false emanations from our apprehension. Ignorance is the natural ally of fear. It is time for us to learn about the real Islam beginning with its source book – The Qur’an.
That conscious realization is absent from the global thinking and observations of the outcomes of the major international institutions. None of the global institutions seem to reflect the sacred nature of life and the role of Man (human being) in preserving life and its encompassing standards as the pivotal role of obligations on the planet. What is the cure to the raging indifference and embolden cruelty to the interests of the people of Syria, Iraq, United States and Western Europe and for that matter to the whole of the mankind?
Remember that civilizations and humanity are not developed by the political-military-industrial complexes led economies, or IMF operative bankers, ruling elite, speculatory stock markets, legal judgments, kings and queens, morally and spiritually decadent generations and crime riddled authoritarian ruler, but are the tangible progressive outcomes of the proactive intellectual and moral visions of the societal thinkers, poets, philosophers, knowledge, truth, compassion and continuous movement by man to support the humanity and its natural strive for new thinking, change and progress. Politics is problematic and increasingly becoming irrational and a burden on man’s conscience. Now, it is up to the focused mind of Man and the spirited Humanity to assume the new-age responsible leadership for a navigational change. We, the People, We the Humanity are capable to envisage a navigational change for a reasoned dialogue to change and a sustainable future – new proactive visions and new reformed global systems of the working of international institutions to unite the humanity and contribute peace, harmony, security and respect amongst the diverse fabrics of mankind.
Growing crimes against women
By Aritry Das
For years India has grappled with the tag of being the ‘most dangerous country for women‘. Successive governments introduced measures, but there is increasing evidence that they don’t work – and are counter-productive. Indeed, in key Indian states, cases of sexual violence are on the rise.
The Constitution of India mandates that as a federal union of states, law and order issues remain primarily with state governments, unless there are overarching issues such as terrorism. This results in many states trying different methods to tackle growing violence against women, and creating a range of other problems rather than solutions.
States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the top states for registered rapes and sexual assaults, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a federal body that collates statistics across states. These state governments are introducing new measures to increase women’s safety, but experts say their moves are not addressing root causes and systemic failures in India’s creaking criminal justice system.
As many as 38,947 rapes were reported in 2016, which was a rise of 12% from 2015. The number of cases reported under “sexual assault, harassment and molestation”, was 84,746 nationally. This is the second-most common crime against women after “domestic violence” cases.
When Uttar Pradesh chief minister Ajay Singh Bisht, (Yogi Adityanath) came to power in 2017, he decided to tackle the problem of women’s safety by creating the controversial ‘anti-Romeo squad’, with police roaming in civil dress to surveil public spaces to keep a check on street harassers (also known as “roadside Romeos”).
The squad was eventually disbanded. But following a spate of rapes of minors, Bisht directed the police to revive the squad with the new power to issue a warning ‘red card’ to ‘suspected harassers’. If a person is caught twice doing a similar act, he will face criminal proceedings.
The squad had earlier drawn flak after reports surfaced about them targeting and publicly shaming young men, giving moral advice to couples, while some were made to do sit-ups or had their heads shaved in public.
Vaibhav Krishna, a Senior Superintendent of Police in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, told Asia Times that police officers for 23 anti-Romeo squads were receiving gender sensitization and training programs to help them handle cases better.
The squad’s further empowerment has raised concerns. Reports of the squad “moral policing” couples and a subsequent increase in sexual violence cases indicated that the measure was not working, according to PoonamKaushik, a women’s rights activist and general secretary of PragatisheelMahilaSangathan.
In the neighboring state of Rajasthan, crimes against women under all sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) jumped by around 40% and rape cases rose by 30% in the first five months of this year compared to the same period last year. This happened despite the government setting up its own version of the anti-Romeo squad in 2018 with policewomen on two-wheelers.
“In Rajasthan, the government has not set up enough women’s help desks or One-Stop Crisis Centers [to assist rape victims]. Instead, they are trying to create these mechanisms [anti-Romeo squad] that are working against women being in public spaces due to moral policing,” said women’s rights activist KavitaSrivastava, who played a key role in the framing of the Vishakha guidelines to address sexual harassment at workplaces.
Now the Rajasthan government plans to set up special investigation units for crimes against women.
Delhi, meanwhile, had at least five rapes reported every day last year, according to NCRB data. So, the state government wants to boost safety by bringing more women into public spaces through free metro and bus rides, and installing 300,000 CCTV cameras. The Delhi Police, which reports to the Home Ministry, also launched a motorcycle-fleet of female cops to patrol the streets called Raftar.
But it is hard to spot this patrol squad on the road, according to Jaya Velankar, director of Jagori, a women’s organization that works to make city spaces safer. She also pointed out that unless roads are safe, free public transport won’t work.
Data from Delhi Police shows that sexual violence against women has only marginally decreased in recent times. In the first six months of 2019, reported cases of rape (IPC 376) were 973, down from 1,005 cases in the same period in 2018, while cases of assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC 354) decreased by 172 and insults to the modesty of women (IPC 509) decreased by 101.
Madhya Pradesh was the first state to propose the death penalty for men who rape girls under the age of 12, back in 2017. But violence against women has not gone down. Rape of minor girls in the state made headlines throughout June this year. Now the government has taken an initiative to introduce GPS tracking devices and emergency “panic buttons” in passenger vehicles such as buses and taxis.
Maharashtra assigned a 2.5-billion-rupee (US$36 million) budget for women’s safety initiatives. But sexual violence cases have risen despite this. But a survey by non-government groups Akshara and Safetipin found that 44% of areas in Mumbai, the state capital, were unsafe. It said women were only safe to walk on 22% of Mumbai’s streets.
This year the Maharashtra government finally proposed safety measures such as setting up SOS hotspots, tracking apps and installing more CCTV cameras.
However, feminists are not convinced that surveillance leads to greater safety for women or a loss of autonomy.
The rising number of crimes has put state lawmakers in a difficult position and they have criticized the police, who then discourage women from filing cases, Velankar claimed. But a higher number of reported cases also meant that more women were coming out to report violence and governments now had greater responsibility to assure they get justice, she said.
The implementation of a major national scheme to increase women’s safety is also not faring well. Recent reports revealed that between 2015 and 2018, states and union territories used less than 20% of the 8.5-billion-rupee ($124 million) budget allocated to them under the Nirbhaya Fund, which supports schemes for women’s safety. The fund was set up in the aftermath of a brutal gang-rape of a paramedical student in New Delhi in December 2012. Delhi, which has the highest rate of crime against women, fared the worst by using only 0.84% of the 350 million rupees it received.
“The Nirbhaya Fund is used as per proposals from different departments of the central and state governments. It will not be implemented if there is no will to do so,” a senior federal official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development told Asia Times on the condition of anonymity.
Experts say government initiatives and implementation of laws won’t create change if a culture of impunity has made the criminal justice system weak. Kaushik noted that some of the worst accusations against the police stem from recent rape cases of minors in Unnao and Kathua, where they are alleged to have bowed to pressure from people of influence to bury cases and evidence.
The Unnao rape victim, who claimed she was a minor at the time of the incident, tried to self-immolate last year due to the police not registering her complaint against a BJP lawmaker. In the Kathua case verdict, four police officers were convicted among the six accused in connection to rape and murder of an eight-year-old Kashmiri girl.
Another major hurdle that stops victims of sexual violence from getting justice is the low conviction rate in India, which is a mere 25.5% for rape and just under 22% for sexual assault and harassment, according to NCRB data.
Why justice matters in Jammu and Kashmir
By Harinder Baweja
Pakistan has for long sponsored terrorism in?Kashmir. But is it enough for India to point to “causality”, without introspecting on the fact that Kashmir has a long litany of documented human rights violations that have gone unpunished?
Think about it. Why does India get prickly each time allegations of human rights abuse in Jammu and Kashmir are placed at its door? Is it because there is some truth in the allegations? Does India have a lot to hide when it comes to violations committed by its men in uniform?
Dismissing an updated report by Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which faulted both India and Pakistan for not improving the situation in Kashmir, a ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson said last week, “A situation created by years of cross-border terrorist attacks emanating from Pakistan has been analysed without any reference to its causality.”
Reflecting India’s indignation at being called out, the spokesperson said, the report “seems to be a contrived effort to create an artificial parity between the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy and a country that openly practices state-sponsored terrorism.”
Let us get this out of the way first.
Yes, it can be said, with no hesitation at all, that Pakistan has for long sponsored terrorism and will likely continue to practise its “bleed India through a thousand cuts” policy. It has suffered humiliation at the hands of the United Nations Security Council, which recently declared Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, MasoodAzhar, a global terrorist. But that tag too is unlikely to lead to the Pakistani deep State severing its ties with the jihadi outfits it sees as “assets.”
But is it enough for India to point to “causality”, without introspecting on the fact that Kashmir has a long litany of documented human rights violations that have gone unpunished? The Valley, in fact, has erupted in anger each time the men in uniform have crossed the line, but justice – that ever so important balm for a population as alienated as Kashmir’s – has mostly stayed elusive.
Let’s talk about the two occasions when the Valley boiled over with anger.
First, in 2010, Kashmiris took to the streets after the Indian Army, in a fake encounter, killed three civilians and passed them off as infiltrating terrorists. The gross violation was proved beyond a doubt. The unsuspecting civilians had been lured to Machil, a forward sector along the Line of Control, and killed in cold blood. Despite an Army court martial pronouncing five of its men guilty and sentencing them for life, the Armed Forces Tribunal suspended the sentence, arguing that civilians ought not to have been in a forward location, wearing “pathan suits”.
Just like in 2010, when over 100 protesting youth were shot dead, in 2016 too, the civilian toll crossed 100 after stone pelters – angry with the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani – took to the streets. Kashmir gave vent to deep anger and betrayal – not only because Wani was eliminated – but because the trust deficit between the Valley and Delhi had eroded over years, and reached break point.
The pellet gun became the symbol of oppression. It blinded, maimed and killed. The OHCHR report that India summarily dismissed, pointed to the basic tenets of injustice: “There is no information about any new investigation into excessive use of force leading to casualties. There is no information on the status of the five investigations launched into extrajudicial executions in 2016… No prosecutions have been reported.”
Kashmiris live with this reality every day. Why must brazen killings go unpunished? More importantly, why lash out at a report that questions excessive use of force?
The Kashmiri wound is deep and it has festered for too long. One major step forward would be to reduce the repressive security measures. Instead of negating charges of abuse and human rights violations, India ought to take steps towards setting up a truth and reconciliation commission. Why not encourage public hearings in which victims and their families are encouraged to speak?
Reaching out and admitting to violations will help rebuild trust. It is not enough to merely look at figures that point to a reduction in infiltration. The problem now centresaround home-grown militants. Violations only fuel the cycle of violence.
Admit, address and provide justice, for Kashmir is not a piece of real estate, to be ruled by force.
(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)
Remove stigma, report psychiatric ailments
By Dr Arif Maghribi Khan
“All patients are mad. All psychiatric medicines cause sleep.” Yes, this is the common perception in Kashmir. While the fact remains that according to easiest classifications of diseases, there are two types of psychiatric ailments – neurotic and psychotic. In neurotic diseases, patient does not lose contact with reality.
The patient can tell you his or her name, address, locality correctly while in psychotic ailments, patient’s contact with reality is lost and he or she lives in world of their own. Such patients often report seeing angels, strange figures, or hearing voices or sounds, which nobody else sitting with the patient sees or hears.
One example of psychotic ailments is schizophrenia, the prevalence of which is as low as 0.5 per 1000, while ailments like depression, anxiety, phobia form the bulk of psychiatric ailments. Even in this day and age, when all the world of knowledge and information is at our fingertips, we as a society have not been able to differentiate between the two.
So the stigma remains attached with psychiatric ailments thus delaying diagnosis and treatment. It is because of this stigma, people visit psychiatric settings with faces covered or masked. Young adults and children fear to disclose to their parents if they suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, which leads them to live an impaired life, wherein they struggle with issues like loss of interest in studies or even loss of employment as their inability to concentrate consistently tears apart their social and professional lives.
Parents are there to discipline and guide children but not to make them fear depression. Another problem hitting psychiatric healthcare in Kashmir is the myth that all medicines prescribed by psychiatrists cause sleep, while the fact is that psychiatric medicines work by increasing, changing or blocking activities of neurotransmitters.
Nerves carry information from the body to the brain and vice versa. The brain is composed of roughly 86 billion neurons. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters carry messages between neurons to help the brain receive the information, decide what it means and execute a reaction. Neurotransmitters are responsible for emotional regulation, pain perception, motivation, concentration, memory energy, mood, sleep patterns, libido. Any imbalance can result in Depression, Nightmares, Mental Fatigue, Anxiety, Impaired cognition, attention, and arousal, Apathy, Lack of motivation, Poor attention, and Fatigue. Most of the time a qualified psychiatrist uses anti-depressants which do not cause sleep, in first few months of treatment depending upon the psychiatric ailment anxiolytics, also known as ‘tranquilizers’ are used.
So let’s stop assuming that all medicines cause sleep and we will be dependent on them for rest of our life.
The biggest challenge faced by doctors today and specially psychiatrists is that due to easy availability of internet most patients start Google searching medicine for 8 minutes prescribed by a doctor who studied medicine for 8 years, fact is that not all information surfers get on medicine by Google search is authenticated. Patients are well advised to seek such information from doctor rather than what is searched on internet or what a specialist from other field like education or engineering has to say!
We need to fight epidemic of psychiatric ailments including drug abuse on basis of science and not search on internet. It’s as simple as that, to aware common people doctors, counsellors from field of mental health need to work vigorously in community to clear myths and mist surrounding psychiatric ailments. We need to give patients of anxiety disorders or drug abuse respect and not scare them with unfounded information. Also next time we label some person as mad for being stressed kindly read this survey of again “Nearly 1.8 million adults (45% of the population) in the Kashmir show symptoms of significant mental distress according to a comprehensive mental health survey conducted by the medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) between October and December 2015. The research was done in collaboration with the Department of Psychology, Kashmir University and the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHANS).
(Author can be mailed at [email protected])