The government in Kashmir has fallen. What’s next for this troubled province?

As an aside my own preference is the LOC is a soft border between India and Pakistan. I don’t want any redrawing of the map whatsoever. I would rather Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan be able to act in Bollywood and Pakistani players play in the IPL. I can understand that for some Kashmir is a hot topic but I’m far too invested in Rising India as it is.

However if I see this post degenerate into low quality jingoism on either side; I’ll arbitrarily delete comments.

Comments are free but facts are sacred. If I see unnecessary emotionalism I’ll just remove it- the BP threads have turned into an Indo-PAK flame war and I have stayed my hand but in my own threads I’m going to be much more pro-active.

Wild natives and the white Man’s burden

I was hearing a few stories about the ivory towers of academia and some of the micro-aggressions on display was just shocking. Two that immediately come to mind are:

(1.) there was a particularly famous Desi academic who was holding court in one of the colleges. Many desis came to pay homage to him prompting one (white) academic to sniff to another, “it feels like a Delhi saloon bar here.” This was in full hearing of the coloured academics.

(2.) a particularly (in)famous colonial administrator had visited a college in the 50’s and noting the wild behaviour of the undergraduates, joked “I thought the natives came only in shades of brown.” The implication being that the undergraduates were acting like careless natives in the sun. This is an oft-repeated and humorous joke in certain rarefied circles.

I was livid when I heard this but it prompts me to reflect that regardless of the stress on equality and fairness; the elite churn only enough to preserve their power structure.

What makes micro-aggression so powerful of course is that it is the aggressed who feels trapped. How does one respond since the Model Minority Asian is far too busy assimilation/integrating/succeeding and doesn’t want to cause a fuss. It’s all well and good having a rant on Twitter or a blog but it’s not very likely that a #metoo movement is going to emerge vis a vis micro aggression.

Another interesting observation is that Asians are particularly vulnerable to micro-aggressions because we are a longer-term delayed gratification sort of population; we are looking at that promotion, salary raise to ever truly want to make a commotion.

The art of pushing back banterously without escalating the matter too much should be taught in all citizenship classes..

After the jump my own short thoughts on the staying power of elites.

Continue reading “Wild natives and the white Man’s burden”

The Grand Punditess of Them All

Sharing LV’s recent talk at CogX. Of the 300-400 speakers she was, I believe, the only women (correction – handful of women) speaking on a technical subject so a huge stride forward for #WomenInStem and #IndiansInAcademia (academia in Britain especially in the higher and more complex echelons is astonishingly white). It might be shirk to say so but I suspect Vidhi might be Lakshmi in human form..

Judging from what our beloved commentariat constantly snark about me in the threads it’s astonishing she married a lightweight like me 😉

LV's Talk at CogX on Gaussian Processes

Facebook Live of Vidhi Lalchand's Talk at CogX for the ATI (Alan Turing Institute) on her research area, Gaussian Processes.

Posted by Zachary Zavidé on Monday, June 11, 2018

Shujaat Bukhari, Editor of ‘Rising Kashmir’, Shot Dead in Srinagar

From TheWire.in

[Kabir’s Note: This is extremely tragic. We don’t know who the gunmen were. But this is an attack on freedom of expression and a great loss to Kashmir’s media fraternity]

New Delhi: Veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari, editor-in-chief of the Srinagar-based newspaper Rising Kashmir, was shot dead on Thursday by unknown assailants.

Two personal security officers were also critically injured in the attack that took place in Srinagar’s Press Colony. While one succumbed to his injuries, the other is battling for his life at SKIMS hospital. According to local reports, the journalist “received multiple bullets in the head and abdomen”.

None of the terrorist groups active in the Valley have so far claimed responsibility. The last time a journalist was killed in Kashmir was over a decade ago. Srinagar itself saw killings in 2003, when Parvaz Muhammad Sultan, a reporter for a local news agency, was shot dead by gunmen in his office, and August 2000, when a bomb blast killed Pradeep Bhatia, a photographer with the Hindustan Times.

It is possible that Bukhari’s assassination is also linked to efforts by terrorist groups to disrupt the ceasefire Delhi has declared for the month of Ramzan. Last week, Bukhari wrote an article welcoming the ceasefire and expressing the hope that it could break the cycle of violence.

Bukhari, who had been based in Srinagar, had been running the Rising Kashmir for a little over a decade. Coming from an illustrious family of Kashmir – with a journalist as father,  his elder brother Syed Basharat Bukhari serving as law minister in the Mehbooba Mufti government and another a government servant – Shujaat was one of the most respected names in Indian journalism.

Prior to launching his own newspaper, he was bureau chief of The Hindu in Srinagar for nearly 15 years. Widely travelled, Bukhari used to write in Kashmiri and Urdu as well as English. He was also the president of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, the biggest and oldest cultural and literary organisation of the Valley.

A voice of reason and sanity, Bukhari did not flinch from highlighting human rights abuses and consistently advocated dialogue as the way for resolution of Kashmir’s problems.



Guest post: Why do Indians speak English with a strong accent?

Everyone needs to take Chill Pill

None of us here on this blog can claim to be from some discriminated class/religion whatever.  Just the ability to write (and have the time) to write in fluent English means you are one of the top 5% in opportunity in the world.

I like to identify with Shudra/Dalits, and can justify bcos my genetic inheritance has a large component of ASI.   Then equally well I id with African Americans in when in the US.  That said will I invite a US gang banger into my house. Or a Sri Lankan gangster. I knew a few when I was young.   Now I cant deal with that type of young people as in guests to my backwater.  On the streets a many chats/words and thats it.

Anyway, all this caste/religion is academic to the commenters in this blog. But still good.

As they say a picture is a worth a thousand words, the Bauls of Bengal.
Whats with the guy (whose voice I love) with an Afro. Where the heck did he get an Afro. The whole crowd looks like our generic Sri Lankan.

Hopefully some recall my comment everyone is Sri Lankan Dalit/Shudra. Kabir obviously has to deny Pakistani Christians look like Sri Lankans, and said they looked like Punjabis.  Maybe Punjabis look like Sri  Lankans, for sure the eat and drink like Sri Lankans.


Pakistan’s attempts to secularise qawwali are unnecessary – it has always been pluralistic

By Hammad Khan in Scroll. in

[Kabir’s note: A nice change from geopolitics and caste]

One of the characteristics of the modern weltanschauung (worldview) is to identify religion as distinct from culture.

Islam, and Islam in Pakistan, doesn’t escape this bifurcation either. One popular example is qawwali.

The recent secularisation of qawwali – the shift away from Sufi dargahs to concert halls and recording labels – has led to a re-imagining of qawwali as expressive of the cultural traditions of Pakistan and (North) India, related only marginally and incidentally to the religion in whose cradle it developed.

Such a secular understanding of qawwali is anachronistic to the pre-modern progenitors of the art form.

The Chishti order, the most prominent Sufi brotherhood in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, has long celebrated the normativity of qawwali as an expression of divine love. Annemarie Schimmel has noted the phenomenon in the Mystical Dimensions of Islam as “the most widely known expression of mystical life in Islam.” American author Leonard Lewisohn, in his article “The Sacred Music of Islam: Sama in the Persian Sufi Tradition”, points out that qawwali is stressed upon by some South Asian Sufis not only as legally permissible (halal), but as a required religious practice (wajib).

Inherent religious pluralism

Qawwali also has a long history of engaging with multiple religious traditions. The religious landscape of North India and Pakistan provides a literary context of diverse religious motifs, metaphors and symbols.

Such a pluralistic approach is evident in a representative qawwali, Kanhayya (Krishna), composed by Nawab Sadiq Jung Bahadur Hilm and performed by Abu Muhammad and Fareed Ayaz. The qawwal sings of his love for Krishna and relates a heart-wrenching account of the afflictions he endures through separation with his beloved.

Kahuun kyaa tere bhuulne ke main vaarii
Kanhayya yaad hai kuch bhii hamaarii

What can I say, even for your neglect
I could give my life.
Do you remember me a little,
O’ my tormenting Kanhayya!

Radha-Krishna as the archetype of spiritual love is based on the 12th century lyrical epic, Gita Govinda (Love Song of the Dark Lord), composed by the saint-poet Shri Jayadeva of Bengal, and is considered a religious work in the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism.

You can read the rest of the article at the link above.

Caste in Pakistan

I disagree with this notion completely. Caste matters a lot in Pakistan, especially when you need to get something done at a government office. A lot of ‘untouchables’ who converted to Islam still are known as ‘chuhras’ which literally means untouchable. For more information, you can read ‘The Unconquered People: The Liberation of an Oppressed Caste’ by John O Brien. If you go beyond the PakNationalist view of history, Sir Syed was a caste chauvinist, Ali Garh School and later college were reserved for Higher caste Muslims. Religious leaders like Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi, Qasim Nonotwi (founder of Deoband), Mufti Shafi Osmani, Hussain Ahmad Madni were also against teaching ‘lower-caste’ muslims.

Yes, caste seems invisible in Pakistan’s bigger cities (Lahore and Karachi) and one can say that caste doesn’t play a role in daily life BUT it matters during elections, during matrimonial activities and during dealings with the state bureaucracy. If you ever go to a government office (Police, Judiciary, Income Tax), try looking at the leaderboard of that office’s previous incumbents there and notice how most people on that list have their caste listed after their name. Also, go to the district courts in Lahore or any city and see how many lawyers have mentioned their caste after their names.

Abdul Majeed

As an aside I was googling John O’Brien and came up with a few interesting snippets about the Pak Christian community:

c) Great honour is given to the Bible and compared with many older and more developed Churches in other countries, there is real familiarity with its text and message. There is a richness here which cannot be overlooked. In fact it cries out to be contextualised and deepened. The singing of the Psalms in Punjabi is a very distinctive and enriching feature of church life here. Yet this esteem for Sacred Scripture could be undermining of a real sense of Church inasmuch as it is conceived in rather Islamic terms: there is an unspoken assumption (a false one) that the Bible functions in Church life and theology as the Quran sherif does in Islam. This leads to and is further exacerbated by the prevalence of a literalist and fundamentalist reading and preaching of the text. As a result, all sorts of self-appointed preachers abound, each offering a more exotic explanation and application of the text. Rivalries increase and with them, factionalism. There seems little sustained effort to promote a communitarian reading of Scripture, contextualised on the one hand, by the living tradition of the People of God and on the other, by the concrete struggle for justice and dignity which is the daily bread of our people.

A) Strengths:

The Church which under God’s grace, has come into being here in Pakistan has many fine qualities and strengths:

i. It continues to exist and grow in a non-Christian and non-supportive environment:

ii. It is very much a Church of the poor, God’s chosen ones:

iii. It is engaged in an on-going and far-reaching practical ecumenism:

iv. It is a Church with a profound religious sensibility:

v. There is a growth in local vocations to ministry:

vi. At all levels it is socially involved; both “religiously” and “developmentally”:

vii. It has a highly developed organisational infrastructure:

viii. Among the People of God there is a tangible love for “The Word”:

xi. The Church membership has retained a strong cultural identity: the Church in Pakistan is very much a Pakistani Church.

x. The communities have a very strong identity as “Christians”

xi. Among Pakistani Christians there is a very solid sense of family and kinship.

xii. There is a strong devotional life with many indigenous resources; songs, pilgrimages, Marian meals etc.

This is the light; if there is light there is also shadow!

B) Shortcomings:

i. At nearly all levels, the Christian community can be easily divided by the factionalism (partibazi) which characterises social relations and by the consequences of other internalised oppression:

ii. It is a Church massively reliant on foreign money:

iii. It is constantly under threat externally and internally from fundamentalism and sectarianism:

iv. The Liturgy has been translated but not inculturated:

v. There is an impoverished Eucharistic sense:

vi. A dependency mentality is still very stong:

vii. Politically, psychologically and even physically it tends to be ghettoised:

viii. The culture is consolidated but seldom critiqued by ecclesial praxis and therefore not sufficiently enriched by faith:

ix. In general terms, the leadership remains authoritarian or patenalistic, reinforcing the dominant socio-political pattern rather than offering an evangelical alternative to it:

x. The dignity and role of women are scarcely recognised:

xi. There is little or no missionary outreach:

xii. It mirrors the society in that personal freedom and responsibility are not really valued above conformity.

Book Review: The Sensational Life & Death of Qandeel Baloch

Qandeel baloch was murdered in cold blood two years ago. She had rose to prominence as a ‘bold’ social media personality, challenging Pakistani society’s consensus on ‘morality’. Her selfies, vlogs, Live videos and twitter posts were shared and re-shared thousands of times as soon as she posted them. Sanam Meher’s book on her life is a poignant portrait of Qandeel’s (real name: Fauzia Azeem) life, where she started, whom she encountered on her ascent up the ladder of popularity and the obstacles she faced by Pakistan’s entrenched patriarchal culture. The book is important not only because of Qandeel’s story but because it focusses on other people, such as Digital Rights Activtist Nighat Dad and a female police officer who was tasked with investigating Qandeel’s murder. While she was alive, I personally didn’t care much for her but I remember receiving the news of her killing while I was in a library preparing for my USMLE Step 1 and the shock that I felt. She has been re-branded as an icon of feminism after her death and the National Assembly closed a loophole in the law regarding ‘Honour Killings’ soon after her death.


Islamabad-based band Bambu Sauce sang a song titled ‘Wazir-e-Azam Qandeel Baloch’ a few days before she was killed. You can listen to it here: