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Editorial

What’s in a name?

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The RashtriyaSwayamSewakSangh (RSS), through its sectarian policies is creating conditions of the division of India on the basis of caste, religion and ethnicity. By renaming that sounded non-Brahman or non-upper castes the organization that has its strong presence in all aspects of Indian life is sending a clear message to minorities and Hindus who do not share its version of history that India is not for them and if they have to live in the country, they will have to submit to RSS vision of nationalism.

Its campaign to change Muslim or Christian sounding names is not different than what Taliban did in Afghanistan when they destroyed Buddhist structures or the ISIS did in Iraq and other places when it demolished historical monuments reminiscent of other religions. The RSS is doing exactly the same by changing names and removing all traces of history that contradicts its views on India.

The policy which is no different cultural genocide would leave few options for India’s Dalits, non-upper caste Hindus or Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Jains and even non-RSS Hindus. In India’s six out of 29 states the Brahman or the upper caste of Hindus are between 10 and 20 percent of the population. In the remaining states they are between one and nine percent, Uttarakhand has 20 percent while Andhrapradesh has one percent of Brahmans.

 

The caste with highest population in India is known Other Backward Class or Castes. They account for more than 70% of the total Indian population. The lowest of the castes are described as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. They are about 16.6% and 8.6%, respectively, of India’s population The states with highest number of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh
Despite the fact that lower castes and backward communities suffer the worst treatment socially and religiously, the RSS and its political leadership has cleverly projected itself as a party of Hindus trying to save India from the culture of Muslim and Christian invaders and from the deviant behavior of religions that emerged in opposition to caste hierarchy perpetuated by Brahman.

Even though scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no single founder, the RSS view India as a special place in the world of Hindu deities, a place that India never achieved under its political rulers who despite sharing the same religious traditions never created a united India. The RSS believes that it has a divine mission to accomplish by turning India into a pure Hindu state in the image of its ideal.

Not all Hindus agree with that vision. Certainly, non-Hindus such as Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims and pagans have different perspectives on India and its history. Yet, the RSS asserts that it owns India and if anyone claims to be Indian must accept its vision of the country.

The RSS and its political wing BJP are not only aware of the electoral advantage they might gain through this campaign but are also clear of their policies especially towards Muslims. The RSS view Muslims as invaders who challenged India’s caste system and Brahmanical hegemony. They blame Muslims for conversion of Dalits and other lower castes to Islam. They accuse Muslims of abducting their women and molesting them. They propagate that Muslim rulers during their rule in India demolished Hindu temples and subjugated Hindu masses. They even say that culturally, Muslims did everything to humiliate Hindus either in the form of beef eating or adopting a life style that was different than the Brahmanical domination.

The RSS believes that without humiliating Muslims and reducing them to a non entity, Hindus dignity cannot be restored. Brahmans and other upper castes are aware of their numerical weakness. They know that without the strength of Dalits and other backward communities, they cannot impact India’s electoral politics. Hence they poisoned the minds of Dalits and backward communities by projecting Muslims and Islam as enemies of India and Hinduism. In their effort to win over Dalits, they always use the Pakistan card saying that Muslims opted out of a united India by carving their own state in the name of religion, thus, forfeiting their right to live in India. They should either convert to Hinduism or settle in Pakistan. They have always questioned the loyalties of Muslims to India and projected them without any evidence as traitors.


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Editorial

Missing opportunity

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India and Pakistan have missed yet a key opportunity to build relations. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting held last week at Bishkek had brought together the Prime Ministers of the two countries. They could have turned it into a historic opportunity by laying foundation for a road to peace and friendship in the subcontinent. But the two leaders demonstrated the immaturity and juvenile behavior of college naughties by avoiding each other during the meeting. Both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, along with other leaders, attended the opening ceremony of 19th meeting of the council of the heads of state of the SCO. Imran Khan and Narendra Modi entered the hall together however, they avoided each other while entering the meeting hall.  Both the leaders also attended the dinner reception hosted by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov in honour of leaders participating in the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But they allowed this opportunity to go waste. Both the leaders were sitting a few seats apart at the dinner in the Kyrgyz capital. However, both of them didn’t exchange any pleasantries even as they greeted other world leaders at the multilateral engagement. It was on the second day of the meeting that Khan and Modi found some moments to shake hands and exchange some pleasantries. The two Prime Ministers had meetings with the leaders of all other participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting but avoided what could have proved crucial and historic. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. He underlined the need for Pakistan to take concrete action in order to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Imran Khan is reported to have raised the issue of Kashmir with Russian President Putin during sideline meetings. This is sheer childish and infantile that the two Prime Ministers talked to other leaders but avoided talking with each other.    

It goes without saying that India and Pakistan have some simmering problems that are weighing heavily on their relations. These issues—Kashmir being the main one—have potential of pushing the two countries to a devastating war as was seen in February in the aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack. But the leaders and people of both the countries know that they cannot afford war. Since both the countries are nuclear, there can be no limited war. It would be full-fledged nuclear war. Recent warnings by some keen experts have said that, at least, 10 crore peoples with die in a war between India and Pakistan. They have also warned that besides mass death, there could be a nuclear winter for at least three to four months in the subcontinent which could have furthermore deadly consequences. When war is not an option, the Indian and Pakistani leadership have to realize the importance and urgency of dialogue. They cannot live with problems for ever. Problems are to be sorted out and resolved through sustained dialogue. It is unfortunate that despite knowing the importance of dialogue, the two countries are avoiding it. Some recent gestures when Pakistan opened its air space for over-flight of former Indian foreign minister Suhsma Swaraj and its willingness to open the space again for Prime Minister Modi on way to Bishkek, had generated a glimpse of hope that the two countries were opening up for each other but Prime Minister Modi avoided to use Pakistani air space that further dampened the already murky atmosphere. India and Pakistan have to rise above the domestic requirements and compulsions of politics and realize the importance of dialogue in larger perspective. It is anybody’s guess that this compulsion will force the two countries to sit on the table. But earlier the better  

 
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Editorial

India-Pakistan battle royale

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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.

 
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Editorial

Let the Spirit of Ramadan remain

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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

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