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Political Islam: A history, from right to left

The Kashmir Monitor




By Nadeem Farooq Paracha

The term ‘Political Islam’ is an academic concoction. It works as an analytical umbrella under which political analysts and historians club together various political tendencies that claim to be using Muslim scriptures and historical traditions to achieve modern political goals.
The term first emerged in Europe soon after the First World Warto define anti-colonial movements that described themselves as Islamic in orientation. The term is a 20th century construct and its first prominent expression is believed to be Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, formed in 1927.
Political Islam covers a wide range of ideas and movements, emerging from within various Muslim sects, sub-sects and ethnic groups. These can be leftist as well as rightist in orientation.
Islamic Fundamentalism
Islamic Fundamentalism is a vague term. It is largely associated with various radical and militant tendencies found in the Muslim world. But critics of this definition claim that it only means the observance of the fundamentals of Islam.
So, even though it is usually attributed to the beliefs of modern-day extremist movements in the Muslim world, Islamic Fundamentalism is basically a firm belief in the theological musings of classical Islamic jurists and the reported traditions and sayings of the faith’s leading luminaries.
Initially, the term was largely understood (in the West) as the Islamic equivalent of the 19thcentury Christian Fundamentalist Movement in the United States.The movement believed in the literalist understanding of the Bible and was a reaction against modernism.
There is no clear consensus among historians on exactly when the term Islamic Fundamentalism began being associated with radical Islamic political movements. However, Western as well as Arab media had described the radical Egyptian Islamic activist and author, Sayyid Qutb, as an Islamic Fundamentalist when he was executed by the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966.
More than a political doctrine, Islamic Fundamentalism is a theological tendency that is opposed to modernist/rationalist interpretations of Islam’s sacred scriptures. From the 12thcentury Islamic scholars who dealt an intellectual blow to the faith’s early rationalists (the Mu’tazilites) to present-day Islamic literalists and apolitical Islamic evangelicals, Islamic Fundamentalism has largely remained frozen in an understanding of the faith developed centuries ago by ancient Islamic scholars and jurists.
Even though many Islamic Fundamentalists are vocal about their rhetorical demands for the imposition of ‘Islamic laws’ (Sharia), Islamic Fundamentalism has little or no political agenda.
It remains largely associated with apolitical conservative ulema, the clergy and Islamic evangelists.
Early Manifestations: Ahmed Ibn Hanbal (9th century Arabian scholar and theologian); Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi (16th Century Islamic scholar in Mughal India); Ibn Taymiyyah (12th/13th century Arabian theologian).
Cotemporary Manifestations: Tableeghi Jamat (Pakistan/India/Bangladesh/Indonesia); Farhat Hashmi/Al-Huda (Pakistan); Zakir Naik/Islamic Research Foundation (India); Dawat-e-Islami (Pakistan).
Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism
Term coined by acclaimed French expert on Political Islam, Oliver Roy,in 1998. Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism is not only a reaction against modernity but also a critique of traditional Islamic Fundamentalism.
Like traditional Islamic Fundamentalism, Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism too is literalist in its understanding of Islamic scriptures. But unlike Islamic Fundamentalism, Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism looks to impose various modes of social morality and piety through force. Neo-Islamic Fundamentalists are known to have used coercion and mob violence to achieve this.
Therefore Neo-Islamic Fundamentalists are more likely than traditional Islamic Fundamentalists to use political means to achieve their social and theological goals.
Early Manifestations: The Kharijites (7th/8th century Arab puritans); Ibn Abd Al-Wahab (18th century Arabian theologian); the Ikhwan (early 20th century Saudi militia).
Contemporary Manifestations: Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (Pakistan); The ‘religious/moral police’ Basji, Mutaween and Wilayatul Hisbah in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia; the Lal Masjid clerics (Pakistan).
The term Islamism is derived from the 17th century German word, Islamismus, which, in the 18th century, was translated into English as ‘Islamism.’ Till the early 20th century it simply meant Islam.
However, when in the 1970s, the Muslim world at large began witnessing the emergence of various social and political Islamic movements, the term Islamism was revived by certain French academics studying these movements.
By the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and start of the Mujahedeen insurgency against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in 1980, Islamism began to mean the political expression of Islamic theology.
This understanding was largely based on the writings of Pakistani Islamic scholar, Abul Ala Maududi (d.1979) and the Egyptian activist Sayyid Qutb (d.1966) both of who had described the Qur’an to be the manifesto of their respective political organizations.
Founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna (d.1949); Qutb; and Maududi interpreted the Qur’an and other Islamic texts through the prism of modern political concepts and lingo. For example, Maududi expanded the Qur’anic concept of Tauheed (oneness of God) by claiming that it also meant the (political) oneness of the Muslim ummah that can only be achieved through attaining state power and a universal ‘Islamic state’.
Qutb implied that 20th century Muslim societies were in a state of jahiliyya– a term used by classical Muslim scholars to define the state of ignorance the people of Arabia were in before the arrival of Islam in the 7th century.
Qutb suggested that an armed jihad was required in Muslim countries to grab state power and rid the Muslims from the ‘modern forces of jahiliyya’ (which, to him, were secularism, Marxism, nationalism and ‘Western materialism’).
So Islamism — as it began to be understood from the early 1970s onwards — vigorously eschewed ancient commentaries on Islamic scriptures and Sharia. It rejected these as being stuck in the mosque or undertaken to serve rulers who had divorced Islam from politics. Islamism claimed that Islam was as much a political doctrine as it was a moral and social guide.
Islamism in this context became the intellectual fodder which shaped various Islamic movements and even regimes between the 1960s and across the 1980s. These included the Muslim Brotherhood’s movement against Egypt’s Nasser regime in the 1960s; its activities against the Hafiz-ul-Asad’s regime in Syria (in the early 1980s); the anti-Bhutto movement in Pakistan by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) in early 1977; the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran; and the ‘Islamization programs’ of the Gen Zia dictatorship in Pakistan (1977-88); and the Islamization process in Sudan in the 1980s and 1990s; and the anti-Soviet Mujahedeen insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Early Manifestations: The Jamiat Ulema Islam-Hind (India); The Khilafat Movement – 1919-24 (India); Hasan al-Bana (Egypt); Abul Aala Maududi (Pakistan); Sayyid Qutb (Egypt); Nahdlatul Ulema Party (Indonesia).
Contemporary Manifestations: Muslim Brotherhood (Middle East); Hasan al-Turabi (Sudan); Jamat-e-Islami (Pakistan/Bangladesh); Dr. Israr (Pakistan); Hamas (Palestine); Islamic Republic Party (Iran); National Islamic Front (Sudan); Justice and Development Party (Turkey); Enaadha Party (Tunisia).
The term post-Islamism is often explained as a process in which Islamism’s political and ideological tendencies mutated to become more militant and extreme in nature. Soon after the Afghan Civil War in the 1980s when various Mujahedeen groups splintered on ethnic and sectarian grounds, they did not disband.
Instead, believing that it was through their efforts that the Soviet Union had collapsed, many such groups internalized their movements by trying to trigger ‘Islamic uprisings’ in their own countries. They also turned against the United States, the country that had been one of the largest donors of money, training and weapons to the Mujahedeen in the 1980s.
Various internationalist and local militant Islamic outfits emerged across the Muslim world. Much of their tactics revolved around devising devastating terror attacks through indiscriminate bombings (including suicide bombings) not only against security and political targets but also against civilian populations.
The idea was to create social, economic and political chaos in Muslim societies and then exploit this chaos to install ‘Islamic regimes’ like the one the Taliban had set-up in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.
This line of thinking narrowed the whole idea of Islamism to mean extreme displays of religious and sectarian xenophobia and violence bordering on nihilism. Post-Islamism also devoid of the intellectual tradition associated with Islamism, settling instead for radical polemical literature which advocates violent action and an extremely narrow worldview.
Early Manifestations: First incarnation of Hezbollah (Lebanon); Islamic Jihad (Egypt); Al-Gamaat Al-Islamiyya (Egypt); Sipa-e-Sahaba (Pakistan); Sipa-e-Muhammad (Pakistan).
Contemporary Manifestations: Al-Qaeda (Global); Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/Daesh (Global); Armed Islamic Group (Algeria); Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Pakistan); Boko Haram (Nigeria); Tehreek-i-Taliban (Pakistan); Taliban (Afghanistan); Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (Palestine); Al-Shabab (Somalia); Jamma Islamiya (Indonesia).
Pan-Islamism was a reaction against the 19th century consolidation of European colonialism. This idea, which propagated the formation of a centralized universal Islamic caliphate, was initially seeded by the Istanbul-based Ottoman caliph Abd Al-Hamid II.
The leading intellectual proponent of early Pan-Islamism was Jamal al-din al-Afghani, a man of Persian decent. Afghani’s 19th century Pan-Islamism wanted to discard the political and intellectual lethargy that had crept in the Muslims’ way of thinking so that a more intellectually robust and politically modern universal Muslim polity could be built that was then able to challenge European imperialism and erect a universal Islamic caliphate.
Even though Afghani’s ideas did get some traction, by the late 19th century they largely faded away. However, these ideas returned to the fore with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War in 1919.
But by then Pan-Islamist ideas were largely adopted by radical Islamic outfits and individuals who eschewed Afghani’s modernist dimensions of Pan-Islamism and replaced them with more theological tendencies.
During the tussle between Egypt and Saudi Arabia between the 1950s and 1960s over the issue of which Arab country was to exercise more influence in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia adopted a Pan-Islamist line to overcome the growth of Arab Nationalism and Islamic Socialism.
Pan-Islamism in the 1960s and 1970s meant the acquisition of western technologies and also the creation (rather, concoction) of ‘Islamic’ economics and even sciences largely financed by the Saudi monarchy and proliferated across the Muslim world.
This idea of Pan-Islamism began to flounder with the rise of Neo-Fundamentalism and Post-Islamism. It was however adopted by certain groups who retained the idea’s need to absorb academic and technological modernity, but intensified its anti-democracy tendencies.
From being a modernist intellectual tendency in the 19th century, to being a reactionary activist idea in the early 20th century, to becoming a Saudi-backed initiative between the 1960s and late 1980s, Pan-Islamism became a clandestine maneuver which wanted to infiltrate the militaries and intelligentsias in the Muslim world as a way to enact a new Muslim world order.
Early Manifestations: Jamal al-din al-Afghani; Maulana Abul Kalam Azad; Khilafat Movement (India, 1919-1924); Ubaidullah Sindhi; Abul Ala Maududi; Muslim Brotherhood.
Contemporary manifestations: Hizbut Tharir (Global); Islamic Salvation Front (Algeria).
From The Left
Islamic Modernism
Islamic Modernism is a broad-based term. Its ideological core is fluid and can shift both ways, to the left or the right. Yet, historically, it has always felt the most comfortable sitting at the centre.
Islamic Modernism is a 19th century construct. More than a reaction, it emerged as a measured and pragmatic response to the rise of European colonialism and the political, social and economic modernity which accompanied this rise.
The term Islamic Modernism was probably first used in Russia. In the late 19th century a group of Muslim activists and intellectuals in Czarist Russia who wanted Russian Muslims to adopt European Enlightenment ideas began to call themselves the Jadeeds or the Modernists.
The Jadeeds explained themselves to be progressive Muslims who were formulating an usus-ul-jadid or a modern methodology to reinvigorate Islam as a contemporary, living faith. Henceforth, many 19th century Muslim modernists elsewhere too began being known as jadeed Muslman.
The most politically and intellectually fertile years of Islamic Modernism were between the 19th and mid-20th centuries.
Islamic Modernism advocated a rational and contemporary interpretation of Islam’s sacred texts; the adoption of a scientific mindset; and the pragmatic absorption of social modernity. Islamic Modernists believed Islam to be a flexible and an inherently progressive and democratic faith.
The aim of Islamic Modernism was to make Muslim populations (who were disoriented by modernity) to embrace modern thinking and political institutions, and pragmatically adopt social modernity without compromising their Muslim identities.
Islamic Modernists also tried to contemporize Islam’s sacred texts and rationalize and express them in the context of modern political ideas such as democracy, capitalism and socialism; and of other more life-style-related aspects of modernity.
During the early and mid-20th century, Islamic Modernism shaped various powerful political movements, especially in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia and India/Pakistan. It began to decline as an idea from the late 1970s onwards, especially with the rise of Islamism and Saudi-backed Pan-Islamism.
Many historians and scholars perturbed by the rise of extremist ideas and consequent acts of violence in Muslim countries have begun to look back at Islamic Modernism to see if a contemporary and updated version of it could be revived.
Early Manifestations: The Mu’tazilites; Muhammad Abduh (Egypt); Rifa’a Al-Tahtwai (Egypt); Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (South Asia); Syed Ameer Ali (South Asia); Chiragh Ali (South Asia); Abdul Rauf Fitrat (Uzbekistan).
Contemporary Manifestations: Muhammad Iqbal (South Asia); Kamal Ataturk (Turkey); Muhammad Ali Jinnah (India/Pakistan); Ayub Khan (Pakistan); Dr. Fazal Rahman Malik (Pakistan); Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim (Pakistan); Ali Shariati (Iran); Farag Foda (Egypt); Habib Borguiba (Tunisia); Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (Pakistan).
Islamic Socialism
Islamic Socialism emerged as a branch of Islamic Modernism. Whereas Islamic Modernism had largely been sympathetic towards the idea of capitalism, a branch of it broke away after the 1917 communist revolution in Russia, to become known as Islamic Socialism.
Islamic Socialism attempted to equate Qur’anic concepts of equality and charity with modern Socialist economics. This idea when merged with active politics was aimed to trigger a cultural, intellectual and political renaissance in the Muslim world through whichever means necessary: revolution, the democratic process or through a military coup.
Islamic Socialism was also anti-clerical, socially liberal and mostly sympathetic towards communist powers, the Soviet Union and China. But it was not secular, as such. Islam was an important aspect of the idea. However, ideologues who shaped Islamic Socialism saw the ulema and clerics as agents of backwardness and exploitation. They insisted that there was no room for a theocracy in Islamic Socialism.
Islamic Socialism was a powerful populist idea in various Muslim countries from the 1930s till the early 1970s, before fading away.
Early Manifestations: The Waisi Movement (Soviet Union); Ubaidullah Sindhi (India); Ghulam Ahmad Parvez (India/Pakistan); Tan Malaka (Indonasia).
Contemporary Manifestations: Hanif Rammay (Pakistan); Pakistan People’s Party (Pakistan); Ali Shariati (Iran); Mujahideen-i-Khalq (Iran); Muammar Qaddafi (Libya); National Liberation Front (Algeria); Peoples Democratic Party (Afghanistan); Palestine Liberation Organization (Global).
Arab Socialism/Ba’ath Socialism
Arab Socialism and Ba’ath Socialism both evolved from Pan-Arabism or Arab Nationalism which began being formulated from the early 20th century as the Arab response to the rise of European colonialism. Both were also influenced by Islamic Socialism and Islamic Modernism.
In the Middle East, Islamic Socialism evolved into becoming a more nationalistic and revolutionary idea, mainly due to the creation of Israel (in 1948) and the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from the area.
Syrian Arab nationalists, Michel Aflaq, Salah ad-Din Bitar are believed to be the originators of the Middle Eastern strain of Islamic Socialism that expressed itself as Arab Socialism and Ba’ath Socialism.
After studying the economic and political decline of the Arab peoples around the world, Aflaq and Bitar advocated the creation of a united Arab state.
For this they recast Arab nationalism by infusing into it a heavy dose of socialist economic ideas, progressive cultural and social outlook, and by reworking the idea of Islam inherent in it by evoking ‘Qur’an’s revolutionary spirit’ to counter injustice and inequality.
Aflaq and Bitar claimed that this would lead to a renaissance in the Arab world, turning it into an economic and political power.
Arab and Ba’ath Socialism appealed to the unity of all Arab nations on the basis of language/culture (Arab) and on the faith most Arabs followed (Islam).
They suggested that the Arab nations were being undermined by five forces: European colonialism (driven by capitalism); Soviet Communism; ‘decadent monarchies’ in Arab countries; Islamic conservatism; and the clergy who were keeping Arab societies in the clutches of backwardness.
Both the ideas offered a path between Western capitalism and Soviet communism by suggesting that all Arab nations come together as one state under a single ‘vanguard party’ of Arab nationalists who would impose socialist economic policies, modernize society through education, science and culture, separate religion from the state but continue being inspired by the egalitarian concepts of Islam.
In spite of being staunchly secular, Arab and Ba’ath Socialism celebrated Islam as proof of ‘Arab genius’, and a testament of Arab culture, values and thought.
Both the ideas flourished in the Middle East between the late 1940s and early 1970s, inspiring and enacting Arab Socialist regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, North Yemen, Sudan and Somalia before receding from the early 1970s onwards.
Early Manifestations: Michel Aflaq & Salah ad-Din Bitar (Syria); Gammal Abdel Nasser (Egypt).
Contemporary Manifestations: Arab Socialist Party (Egypt); Syrian Ba’ath Socialist Party (Syria); Iraq Ba’ath Socialist Party (Iraq); National Liberation Front (Algeria); National Liberation Front (Yemen); Muammar Qaddafi (Libya); Sudan Socialist Union (Sudan); Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (Somalia); PLO.


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Some baffling decisions of the SC

The Kashmir Monitor



By Manini Chatterjee

Of the three pillars of the state, the judiciary has always evoked much greater respect from ordinary citizens than either the legislature or the executive. Since the legislature comprises elected representatives of the people, we — the people who elect them — feel justly entitled to criticize them at will. The executive, similarly, is more often pilloried than praised when it fails to deliver on its many promises.

The judiciary, on the other hand, has usually been treated as a hallowed institution. Judges, unlike politicians, are seen not only as wise but also possessed of thinner skins. The fear of being hauled up for contempt of court (what construes contempt remains a mystery to most of us) acts as a deterrent to commenting on the judiciary.


But that silence was broken last year. And not by an irreverent media or crusading activists or outspoken lawmakers. It was members of the highest judiciary who dealt the blow, coming out with home truths whose reverberations have yet to subside.

On January 12, 2018, the then four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court — J. Chelameswar, RanjanGogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — held an unprecedented press conference in the capital. In the course of the press conference, they revealed the letters they had written to the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, questioning his style of administration and the manner in which he allocated cases to difference benches of the court. Expressing dismay at the CJI’s refusal to address their grievances, they said, “Unless the institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in the country.”

That press conference, which alluded to government interference in the workings of the court, was not a one-off affair. Soon after, in separate letters to the CJI, J. Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph expressed concerns about the judiciary’s independence in face of the executive’s encroachment.

But what made waves in circles well beyond the judiciary was RanjanGogoi’s speech on July 12 to a packed auditorium in Delhi.Delivering the RamnathGoenka memorial lecture, Gogoi spoke at length on the “Vision of Justice” and the role of the judiciary in upholding constitutional ideals.

In the course of the lecture, he quoted an article from the Economist which said, “…independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy’s first line of defence.” Gogoi went on to say, “I agree but will only suggest a slight modification in today’s context — not only independent judges and noisy journalists, but even independent journalists and sometimes noisy judges.” Those words made headlines then and have been quoted frequently since.

Pointing out that the judiciary had been endowed with great societal trust, he said, “This very fact gives it its credibility and this very credibility gives it its legitimacy… I will only say that if it wishes to preserve its moral and institutional leverage, it must remain uncontaminated. And, independent. And, fierce. And, at all times. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So is an institution.”

Gogoi’s speech was remarkable because he was in line to be the next Chief Justice. In fact, many feared that he had risked his career with that speech and the government might not elevate him to the post of the CJI after Dipak Misra retired.

Those fears were belied. Gogoi became the Chief Justice of India in early October. But, truth be told, hopes that a feisty judiciary would force more transparency on opaque and questionable executive decisions have also remained unfulfilled.

Some of the Supreme Court’s decisions, such as in the case relating to the removal of the Central Bureau of Investigation chief, has left even retired judges puzzled.

On October 23, the government conducted a midnight raid on the headquarters of the CBI and seized a whole lot of material related to pending investigations. It then summarily removed the CBI chief, AlokVerma, from his post. Since Verma had been appointed by a three-member selection committee (comprising the prime minister, the leader of the largest Opposition party and the CJI), he contended that only that committee could remove him — and not the central vigilance commissioner. Verma moved the Supreme Court with alacrity against his arbitrary removal.

The apex court chose not to adjudicate on the removal. Instead, it appointed a retired Supreme Court judge, A.K. Patnaik, to supervise a CVC probe into the allegations of corruption levelled against Verma by his bête noire, the then CBI special director, Rakesh Asthana. It directed the probe be completed within two weeks. The three-judge bench of Gogoi, Sanjay KishanKaul, and K.M. Joseph passed no strictures against the manner in which the raids were conducted by the government nor asked why and what materials had been seized.

Although the probe was completed in two weeks and the report presented to the court, it was not till January 8 that the judges delivered their verdict. On the face of it, the verdict was a victory for Verma. It said that only the three-member selection committee could transfer or divest Verma of his powers, and not the CVC or the Centre.

Again, puzzlingly, it passed no strictures against the government for removing him in the manner it did. Instead, it asked the selection committee to go through the contents of the CVC probe report and decide in a week whether Verma should be exonerated or indicted.

The government convened a meeting the very next day and less than 48 hours after he was reinstated as CBI chief, Verma was once again given marching orders. The CJI had recused himself from the panel, and appointed the judge, A.K. Sikri in his stead. Sikri and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, voted to remove Verma while MallikarjunKharge dissented.

What followed has been extremely unflattering for the apex court. A.K. Patnaik, the judge who had supervised the CVC probe, told The Indian Express that “[t]here was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption”, that the decision to remove him was “very very hasty”, and that the committee “should have applied their mind thoroughly, especially as a Supreme Court judge was there.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, two highly respected former Chief Justices of India also expressed misgivings on the way the committee took the decision without giving Verma a chance to present his side of the case. Former CJI, T.S. Thakur, underlined that if a decision was being taken on the basis of an adverse report against an individual, that individual must be given an opportunity to present his point of view. “If that process has not been followed… then any decision based on such adverse findings will be contrary to the principles of natural justice.”

Another former CJI, R.M. Lodha, said much the same thing: “He (Verma) needs to be heard. Ordinarily, he should be heard. Principles of natural justice deserved to be followed.”

In other words, the Supreme Court’s failure to explicitly state that Verma should be given a hearing violated the principles of natural justice.

Similarly, a CJI-headed bench’s verdict on the Rafale deal has also raised eyebrows. While the government, understandably, has hailed the verdict as a “clean chit”, the detailed review petition filed by ArunShourie, Yashwant Sinha and Prashant Bhushan points out how the “the government has blatantly misled the Hon’ble Court and the Hon’ble Court has grossly erred in placing reliance on false averments in the note not even supported by an affidavit.” In layman’s language, it questions the touching faith the apex court placed in the assertions of the government in spite of evidence to the contrary.

The Supreme Court collegium’s decision to appoint two judges to the apex court after retracting an earlier selection of two other judges is the latest controversy to hit the judiciary.

The CJI, reportedly, is “very upset” over the “media leaks” on the collegium’s functioning. Last week, he also advised the advocate, Prashant Bhushan — who wanted the government to disclose the names shortlisted by the search committee for the post of Lokpal — not to “look at things from a negative point of view” and to “be positive” instead.

That is fine advice from a spiritual guru. But advocating such a course in today’s India can also be construed as unquestioning faith in a majoritarian government’s intents and actions. The apex court has baffled us on many counts in the last few months. But that someone who spoke in praise of noisy judges and independent journalists should now worry about adverse media reports and negative attitudes to the government is, perhaps, the most bewildering of them all…

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Growing menace of corruption

The Kashmir Monitor



By Tawfeeq Irshad Mir

“One who listens to truth is not less than one who utters the truth”

With glued memories of my infantile period, hardly I could retrieve the surroundings and the events happening around, Brought up in a very small village “Goripora” in Sopore town of Kashmir, a village with meticulous presence, conscious, a mixture of intellect and a think tank of its own, whenever I revert my memory lane through times, I find myself in the nap of my grandfather, an image of an old man enveloped in “chadar” yet young by mind, he was the then head of village, people of all ages enjoyed his presence, igniting the debate pertaining to different issues, being the head of the village, so mostly revenue matters were discussed and the consistent content of all debates used to be “corruption” the word that recurrently vibrated my neurons and propelled me as to what is this corruption all about, initial understanding was like this, “to get your work down, have a chicken to please” and sometimes “the person inflated the pocket to get the work down” in common Kashmiri language, you might have encountered the word most frequently “channel, like the person has channel,designated to corruption. As being in rural area, the incentives for corruption used to be” chicken “an apple box” sometimes red beans “probably due to lack of money as people used to exchange their daily needs rather than money. As I grew up, exposed myself to the environment, what I found was interesting, now an updated version of corruption :every now, people discussing the scourge of corruption, as like a curse, preferably in revenue department, to have an income certificate, an amount of 2 to 3 hundred rupees was a prerequisite, with the time I found people paying huge amounts to get their land acquisitions settled, even to get a driving licence, driving skill hardly mattered, as the time passed by, now the word “corruption” was a constant encrypted into the minds of people, a peculiar picture of engulfing in corruption was most obvious from electricity department, then it was not digitalized, the new house holder enjoyed the bless even without registration by simply paying a meagre amount to officials in the department. “Not a single institution is prone to corruption” but it’s deleterious effects on education and recruitment system “has perturb and monstrous consequences. As I observed during the years, it was evident during the board exams, every one among us might have witnessed the special privilege being offered to some students in the examination Hall, a corruption of intimate level, eventually with the enlightenment of newspapers, social media, the youth Began to lay their repercussions on corruption pertaining to selection process whether it be for further education or selection of job process, like the ‘x’ person got selected because the said person had paid a huge amount for it, it swept the general consensus of youth, dredging them to denial resorting to premature statements that “now this education is futile as you won’t get any things unless you don’t have enough money, there is no place for poor fellows, we can’t continue with this” and the consequence was such that many talented ones dredged in drug dependency, heralding their further education.


Here I am talking about corruption on the local level, attached to the ground where I am the self-observant of this scourge, many a times I have been a part of discussions locally regarding this remorse, but in an alienated elite.

Social networking sites are filled with tons of data regarding corruption, gallons of ink have been spent on news papers to reflect this horror, while everyone apparently and seemingly attacking the subsequent political discourse and the concerned administrative systems,

“I have a virtual opinion, I believe, “every human being has encoded traits, and has a natural tendency to express these traits, both positive and negative as like in all other animals, but the best thing about humans is to differentiate between right and wrong and the ability to direct their energies toward humanity, that’s why called humans, but one’s the person is exacerbated by materialistic influence, the person tends to express the negative trait to fulfil the Ill designed desires, and simply the person who endorses or resorts to such mischievous act of corruption, the person is engulfed my this wild trait “
Now what astonishes me the most,” while everyone seemingly denigrates this scourge, then who supports it, I mean everyone is raising in objection to it, then who constitutes to the corruption.

I would like to prove my content with objective analysis, suppose I am the person, and I am asked to give some amount to secure a place in any govt. department, despite irrelevant educational qualifications and out of any fearful selection procedure, now it’s all about me, would I agree or not, so surely the moment I am in such a position, I will surely opt for it, likewise I believe every single person on the planet not only in the valley, will opt the same, I jus made an analogy and it almost pertains to every aspect. So literally, I mean to say that corruption is from within, not a system is corrupted, in fact the people with this thinking make the system corrupt and that’s how it seems that the whole system is overwhelmed with corruption, it is engrained in the minds of people, “the humans have rbcs, wbcs, and platelets in blood, but I suspect we have one more” corruption cell “in our blood and we have genes encoded with it dominantly.

” We have to deter this menace from within, the moment we object to this greed, it needs to be abolished from within, sanitising the systems won’t yield any results, because it’s already ingrained in the minds of people, so we have to interpret and analyse and suppress this wild trait only then we will get rid of this wild menace infesting our spirituality, ethos”

(The writer is pursuing graduation in Nursing at G M C, Srinagar and can be reached at: [email protected])

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Why the JNU story won’t die

The Kashmir Monitor



By Rakesh Batabyal

Not too long ago in the history of the Republic — 1974 to be precise — a large body of students entered the lobby, and later the room of Vice-Chancellor G Parthasarathy, the founding head of Jawaharlal Nehru University, a man charged with the setting up of a world-class university, and announced that they were gheraoing him. They wanted the barriers of gender separating the girls’ and boys’ hostels to be done away with, as it smacked of a feudal society based on patriarchy. They were expressing the most progressive ideas agitating the young mind — the gendered barricades encompassing society. Parthasarathy, who had interacted with the most powerful people in the world, found this group of students, many of whom did not even speak English (the language of the diplomatic elite that he was familiar with), more powerful than all who had come before — they were students, yet their demands were not for their own interests, nor even for something euphemistically called national interest. They were protesting for something which in their minds they thought would make society better all-in-all. He did not ask for the police, did not chide them, neither was he demurred — he talked to them about social, bureaucratic and other miscellaneous issues that would not permit such a great idea to be immediately pursued in a traditional society; it would in fact be harmed through the vicious constrictions of traditional society. Its time would come, though, one fine day, and then the society would remember the pioneers — those JNU students. Such was the spirit embodied in the foundation of the university that is JNU. There are many other instances that reinforced these values and established the spirit of dissent and dialogue that became the signature of this great institution.

In the mid-1980s, a Dean of Students introduced a register for women students/ guests entering the men’s hostel, where the purpose of visit was to be recorded. Many uncharitable remarks made the administration understand its own lack of practical wisdom, and this rule was never strictly enforced.


Then, in the late 1980s, an ever-watchful body of students discovered that a senior official was drawing salary from two sources. In the pre-RTI age, they made efforts to get at the source. The Vice-Chancellor, a stickler for rules, had to disown the officer; at no point was a student either issued a show-cause notice or shown the door.

In the early 1990s, students wanted to strike against the administration and they were sitting on a hunger strike when the Vice-Chancellor himself joined them in the strike, saying this was his cause too. Professor Yoginder K Alagh, the Vice-Chancellor, was no mean scholar and knew that the students were not demanding something out of the world.

Thus, through such acts, the young were indicating the new and emerging mores, which led to the university not being ossified. Teachers had their individual political and intellectual predilections and students too had their own, but one saw the campus, like the nation, carry on with the variety and colour of these differences.
There were shouts and slogans to drown the other, but they were more a demonstration of intellectual prowess than threats to physically eliminate the other. When the State imposed Emergency in 1975, JNU students became part of street agitations. Their refusal to allow then prime minister Indira Gandhi into the campus is the stuff of legends.

The story of an institution is a story of shared memories and shared ideals. JNU, as it has grown in the last 50 years, is one such great story. Within this story lay millions of small lives and their careers as they have woven the narrative of this country in the last half century.

A university reflects the character of a nation: its moral self, its confidence and its resolve to face the world. When we sat at the table in our hostel mess, when we all talked about our larger vision and smaller plans — about fighting the capital and its sway, our resolve to finish off shades of Apartheid or the discriminating caste hierarchies — we were speaking of the society and for a future society. The shared memories of those talks, of the politics that gave us the language to express those visions and plans, are small stories in the big world.

As the University celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is these shared memories of the collective self that will keep the beauty of the institution intact. All that is beautiful needs to be cherished and the memories are those beautiful things that direct us towards a great future. It is unfortunate that those who do not cherish the memory and what JNU stands for, are at the helm of affairs today. But memories fortunately cannot be killed, only repressed in some circles.

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January 2019
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