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‘The Meerut Girl’, desperate Hindutvavaadis and their Jihad against Love

October 14, 2014

[With two updates added on October 15, 2014]

The phrase ‘Jihad Against Love’ is Janaki Nair’s in The HinduWhy Love is a Four Letter Word. I can’t think of a better description of this sick, twisted, violent campaign, in which local Hindutvavaadi thugs ally with families desperate to control their young sons and daughters from – quite simply – falling in love. Families that have no qualms in violently separating their children from relationships outside their caste or religious community, often killing one or both of them. Such murders have come to be dubbed ‘honour killings’ by the English media, but a starker, more revealing term is suggested by Pratiksha Baxi – ‘custodial deaths’. Indeed, the young people killed in such cases are in the custody, much like prisoners, of their own families.

If you haven’t had enough of tragic love stories, take a look at Perveez Mody’s book, The Intimate State: Love-Marriage and the Law in Delhi (Routledge, Oxford and New Delhi, 2008) for  heart-breaking accounts of of treachery and betrayal by parents, of their own children who fall in love with the wrong people, and the kinds of physical violence unleashed on rebellious couples by their own families.

The Hindutvavaadi campaign has an able ally in the Christian Right. A report in 2009 in The Times of India said:

‘Love Jihad’, a religious conversion racket which lures gullible girls by feigning love, has brought rivals Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Christian groups in Kerala together.

“Both Hindu and Christian girls are falling prey to the design. So we are cooperating with the VHP on tackling this. We will work together to whatever extent possible,” said K S Samson, an office-bearer of Kochi-based Christian Association for Social Action (CASA), a voluntary Christian association.

Samson said some days ago, CASA got to know about a Hindu family in a Christian parish where a school going girl was the victim. ”We immediately referred it to the VHP,” he said, adding the saffron outfit has helped them in many cases.

Read more…

Challenges to “Islamic State” from within Islam

October 14, 2014

This news was not as widely reported in the Indian media, to my knowledge, but on September 24, 204, 120 Islamic scholars wrote an Open Letter to to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic, using the most Islamic of terms.

Lauren Markoe wrote in Huffington Post a report reproduced in NewAge Islam:

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

Read more…

Letter to PM on NREGA from Development Economists

October 14, 2014

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to express our deep concern about the future of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

The NREGA was enacted in 2005 with unanimous support from all political parties. It is a far-reaching attempt to bring some much-needed economic security to the lives of millions of people who are on the margin of subsistence.

Despite numerous hurdles, the NREGA has achieved significant results. At a relatively small cost (currently 0.3% of India’s GDP), about 50 million households are getting some employment at NREGA worksites every year. A majority of NREGA workers are women, and close to half are Dalits or Adivasis. A large body of research shows that the NREGA has wide-ranging social benefits, including the creation of productive assets. Read more…

हैदर: नैतिक दुविधा का बम्बइया संस्करण

October 11, 2014


“एकतरफा,स्त्री विरोधी और अतिसरलीकृत सपाटदिमागी… रूपात्मक और सौन्दर्यात्मक दृष्टि से भी ‘हैदर’ एक लचर और बोरिंग मसाला फिल्म है जो बहुत लंबी खिंचती है.”

कायदे से दर्शन के युवा अध्येता ऋत्विक अग्रवाल की इस समीक्षा के बाद ‘हैदर’ के बारे में और कुछ  नहीं कहना चाहिए. लेकिन ‘हैदर’ देखकर चुप रहना भी तो ठीक  नहीं.

दिल्ली के पी.वी.आर रिवोली सिनेमा हाल में ‘हैदर’ देखना यंत्रणादायक अनुभव था. हाल में काफी  कम दर्शक थे. ज़्यादातर युवा थे. फिल्म शुरू हुई और कुछ देर आगे बढ़ी कि फुसफुसाहटें तेज़ होने लगीं.फिर वह दृश्य आया जिसमें हैदर का चाचा उसकी माँ के साथ ठिठोली कर रहा है.और किसी हास्यपूर्ण प्रसंग की प्रतीक्षा में बैठी जनता ने हँसना शुरू कर दिया. विशाल भारद्वाज ने सोचा होगा कि वे एक बहुत तनावपूर्ण दृश्य रच रहे हैं जिसमें हैदर में हैमलेट की आत्मा प्रवेश करती है.जनता ने इसमें ‘कॉमिक रिलीफ’ खोज लिया. ध्यान रखिए,फिल्म में अभी कुछ देर पहले इस औरत के पति को फौज उठा ले गई है और उसका घर उड़ा दिया गया है!फिर तो जगह-जगह हँसी का फौवारा फूट पड़ता था. चाहे सलमान खान के दीवाने दो सरकारी मुखबिरों का दृश्य हो या हैदर को प्यार करने वाली अर्शी का कश्मीरी उच्चारण हो! लोग जैसे हंसने के लिए तैयार बैठे थे और कोई मौक़ा हाथ से जाने न देना चाहते थे . मैंने सोचा कि फिल्म आगे चलकर दर्शकों को शर्मिन्दा कर देगी और खामोश भी. लेकिन वह न होना था,न हुआ. आख़िरी हिस्से में जहाँ बर्फ पर कब्र खोदते हुए बूढ़े नाटकीय ढंग से गा रहे हैं, फिर हँसी छूट पड़ी. बिलकुल अंत में जब इखवानियों और इन बूढों के बीच गोली-बारी हो रही है, एक बूढा उसी गीत को गाता है और हाल में हँसी तैरने लगती है. Read more…

The old Gods haven’t fled: Sankar Radhakrishnan

October 11, 2014


On a morning not long ago, chaya cup in hand, I was getting my regular Kafila fix, when I paused mid-click. What caught my eye was a headline with ‘Gods, Own and Country’ in it. Now that combination of words could only mean one thing — a piece on Kerala. It helped though that right below the headline was a picture of a Kathakali artist in sthree vesham or female makeup.

So I dived right into the essay on Thiruvananthapuram by Professor Mohan Rao. The first couple of lines had me grinning with delight for he wrote of his “four wonderful days” in the city, one that’s been my home for much of the past three decades.

I was so pleased by this that I skimmed the next few lines. Only to be stopped in my tracks, almost spilling some scalding chaya on myself in the process, by the Professor’s declaration that “… Ganesha is not a deity widely worshipped in Kerala.”

Now I’m no expert in Hinduism, but I do know that my extended, and very Malayali, family used to perform a ‘Ganapathy homam’ on a number of specific occasions; before moving into a new house, for instance. And this has been going on for decades. I also remember that both my grandmothers had an image of Ganapathy in their personal pooja spaces. Just to make sure that I hadn’t got my wires crossed, I checked with a couple of Malayali Hindu friends who confirmed that Ganapathy and Ganapathy homams were an integral part of their families’ religious landscape too.  Read more…

I am a Muslim, an Atheist, an Anarchist: Salmaan Mohammed

October 11, 2014

Guest Post by Salmaan Mohammed

[ Salmaan Mohammed, a twenty five year old philosophy student was arrested in Thiruvananthapuram on 19 August 2014 for sedition, and for allegedly dishonouring the national flag and national anthem. The complaint against him originated as a response to his refusing to stand while the national anthem was played in a cinema during a screening. Salman is currently out on bail, but still faces the prospect of a life term in prison if he is found guilty of sedition by the judicial process. We at Kafila have been in touch with Salman and he has recently sent us a translation of an audio interview he did after coming out of prison on bail so that the world outside Kerala (and those who do not read or speak Malayalam) can understand what he has been thinking.]

Read more…

Open Letter to the Prime Minister – Stop the Dilution of MGNREGA

October 10, 2014

We are publishing below an Open Letter written by concerned citizens to the Prime Minister opposing the dilution of MNREGA

Dear Prime Minister,

We are very disturbed by impending moves of this government to undermine the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the support it provides to crores of vulnerable rural families. We write this letter to seek your immediate assurance that these retrograde, anti-poor and anti-labour measures will be withdrawn, and that every attempt will be made by your government to implement the MGNREGA in its true spirit.

Based on recent public statements from Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Rural Development, and other available information, we learn that the Central Government has initiated the following changes under MGNREGA:

  • Restriction of NREGA to tribal/backward districts of the country through an amendment to the Act.
  • Reduction of the minimum labour-material ratio from the current level of 60:40 to 51:49.
  •  Severely restricting the MGNREGA through a budget squeeze. There have been unprecedented communications by the Central Government to States capping MGNREGA expenditure for the rest of the financial year, undermining the fundamental principle of demand-driven employment.

These changes are inimical to the spirit of the Act and compromise its basic objectives. They will only benefit the contractor class and other middlemen, and severely undermine the employment generating potential of the MGNREGA. The changes are also being undertaken without any public consultation. The MGNREGA was passed unanimously by all parties and all members of Parliament. We fundamentally object to this critical social legislation being undermined through casual use of executive powers and even a parliamentary majority.

The illegal and unwarranted budget squeeze has led to widespread reports of employment rationing and acute delays in wage payments. Even as MGNREGA workers are struggling to be paid for work already done, the Central Government is sending the message that money is going to be further rationed.

The undersigned demand that your Government immediately revoke the above decisions and renounce any dilution of MGNREGA. We urge you to ensure that MGNREGA employment remains a legal right of every rural household across the country and that there is no dilution of any MGNREGA entitlements. The MGNREGA budget should be based on work demand, keeping with the spirit of the act, without any discretionary cuts. Read more…


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