Indians as Over-cooked Rotis

Once Dr Radhakrishnan went for a dinner. There was a Briton at the event who said, “We are very dear to God.” Radhakrishnan laughed and told the gathering, “Friends, one day God felt like making rotis. When he was cooking the rotis, the first one was cooked less and the English were born. The second one stayed longer on the fire and the Negroes were born. Alert after His first two mistakes, when God went on to cook the third roti, it came out just right and as a result Indians were born.”—Page 8, Prernadeep -3. (Dr Radhakrishnan was the second president of India.)

This and several other bizarre passages are part of books that school children are being encouraged to read by the education department in the state of Gujarat. These books instruct students to look down upon foreigners, worship cows, die for their religion and shun “western practices” such as blowing out candles on birthdays. A senior official in the education department said these books were “reference material” for primary and secondary schools in the state.
Of course, most Indians are black- not “wheatish”. This book, supposedly written to instill national pride, ironically reinforces the deep-seated Indian inferiority complex of never being pale enough.

More here.


180, 900, 180,000

That is to say: 180 days, 900 posts, 180,000 page views.

The new BP kicked off during snow-showers in Wisconsin (hyperbole?). Right now, intense rain showers in Mumbai (fact).

Backed by a top-drawer management that knows all the trapeze-ing tricks on the metaphorical spider-webs and with our blogger-badshah(TM) leading from the front (assisted by many contributors), the BP ship is on full-steam ahead mode.  
The pace has been truly intense.  
The top three posts presently add up to more than 20,000 views (twice the page-view total for entire Feb)!!
Thanks also to our reviewers (Asok, Shah Alam, Prashanth,….) for just-in-time alerts so we steer clear of them icebergs.

For people who prefer a more dignified pace and a monochromatic show (and less hyperbole), not to worry, achhe din (good times) will come in a short while.

Lastly, we would love to have some ladies on board. Equality and all that- it is also a responsibility (for you and people behind you).

Now onwards to Mission-1000!!!

thanks and regards


Xinjiang (again)

The night (and also day) of the long knives continues apace. March, May, and now July (next month with 31 days is….August).

Remember, when MH-370 vanished, there was suspicion/panic that it was an attack by the Uighurs? Turned out it was an Iranian kid traveling on a false passport. We try so hard to forget (and reality drags us back to all the fear and the loathing).

We have to say this about Islamists, they have absolutely no fear. 
Right now they are up against two of  the fiercest (ideological) adversaries: Israel and the Chicoms. But they are fighting an excellent asymmetric war with all the tools at their disposal.

The global public opinion is weak (yet) but strongly in favor, because the Palestinians and the Uighurs are so hopelessly out-matched. Everybody loves an under-dog.

Modern technology is also helping in shaping opinion. When Israel killed four boys playing on the beach the cameras were watching. And for all their famed efficiency, the Chicoms are unable to choke off (and shut up) Xinjiang. In the old days they would have simply packed off 15-20 mil people to the Gulags, and got rid of a few million young men altogether. But now it is not so easy. Thank heavens for small mercies.

Make no mistake, this is a full-on, hot
war, just like the
one in the middle-east. This one will not quietly burn off, just like the other one. Yet, there is no dandi march for peace plan from Kerry (and Ki-Moon). Why not?

More significantly, there are no protests (that we know of) in Turkey and
in Iran. Nary a rock thrown in anger in Pakistan and in Kashmir. No call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions from (Islamic) civil rights organizations. No wrist bands declaring solidarity from courageous (muslim) sportsmen……There is no Ummah Q.E.D.
Dozens of people were killed and injured in a “terrorist attack” in
China’s far western Xinjiang region, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur
minority, state media reported Tuesday.

A knife-wielding gang
attacked a police station and government offices in Shache county early
Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said citing local police, and
“dozens of Uighur and Han civilians were killed or injured”.

“Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob,” the report added.

“Initial investigation showed that it was a premeditated terror attack,” it said.
commonly blames separatists from Xinjiang for carrying out terror
attacks which have grown in scale over the last year and spread outside
the restive region.

Among the most shocking incidents was a market
attack in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in which 39 people were killed in
May, and a deadly rampage by knife-wielding assailants at a train
station at Kunming in China’s southwest in March, which left 29 dead.

Rights groups accuse China’s government of cultural and religious repression they say fuels unrest in Xinjiang.

argues it has boosted economic development in the area and that it
upholds minority rights in a country with 56 recognised ethnic groups.






Aakar Patel: Kabaddi made esay

… shortage of Punjabis who are 6’3″ and 100 kg and can
crawl 20 metres….this
height-weight thing has to do with some optimum kabaddi size….A centre
of gravity issue, a strength versus agility thing……. All the players
are medium-build and stocky….this
body type makes it easy for the South to participate……

Aakar Bhai has (momentarily we hope) switched off the political channel and activated the sports channel. And what an exciting game it is: Professional Kabaddi. There is even a Pakistani pro-k team that is expected to participate.

A few fun facts….the game did NOT originate in China. Instead it is the Dravida civilization that gets the credit. Also it is the national sports of Bangladesh where it is known as hadudu (we suspect cricket is more popular).

Did you ever play kabaddi in your youth?? We did (really), our school even had a ladies k-team (Iran vs. Taiwan, above). Why not give it a try, it is loads of fun, there is even beach kabaddi (Indian team, below). Plus the youth (in the enlightened west) are no longer encouraged to play contact sports (dodge-ball anybody???).  

So think of kabaddi as akin to bull-fighting, an art that will be forgotten in a couple of generations time as we focus on more civilized pursuits. 
Which brings us back to the original question. Why did Patel maharaj suddenly change his beat? Perhaps because only he can delve deep into sociology and bring out  the clues that point to the proper cultural environment required to create a genuine kabaadi artist. And even though we may not learn more about pro-kabaadi we will certainly learn more about the master and admire HIS craft.

Thus all in all, good news for the legions of AP fans (and also the haters). Enjoy the new avatar while it lasts!!!
There is something very warming about watching Pro Kabaddi. I
mean in the names of the players. Their origins are on display and they
are men from simple peasant stock.   

This shows also in the way that they
speak when interviewed.
Thick north Indian accents abound. “Bilkul
amajing hai” one player said before a match. Two team captains are
police inspectors from Haryana.

The other thing that is
interesting is the way they look. Kabaddi players do not resemble our
cricketers. This is not a sport where one can get away purely on talent
with the unfit and chubby Tendulkar-Gavaskar type of body.

players tend to be of a particular height, about 5’8″, and around 78
Let’s go through the list of captains to demonstrate this.
Bangalore’s Manjit Chillar is 5’7” and 80 kg, Mumbai’s Anup Kumar is
5’9” and 80 kg, Jaipur’s Navneet Gautam is 6’ and 80 kg, Patna’s Rakesh
Kumar is 5’9 and 78 kg, Bengal’s Nilesh Shinde is 5’8” and 79 kg,
Hyderabad’s Rajaguru Subramanian is 5’8” and 77 kg, Delhi’s Jasmer Singh
is 5’6” and 78 kg, Pune’s Wazir Singh is 5’6” and 83 kg.

is no shortage of Punjabis and Haryanvis who are 6’3″ and 100 kg and can
crawl 20 metres with three men on their back. That there is not a
single man of those dimensions in any team leads me to suspect that this
height-weight thing has to do with some optimum kabaddi size.

A centre
of gravity issue, or a strength versus agility thing. All the players
are medium-build and stocky and – here’s some armchair sociology – this
body type makes it easy for the South to participate. There are quite a
few Southerners,
including a 39-year-old (inevitably nicknamed Anna) in
the Bangalore team.

Something else struck me after watching
kabaddi for a second night. Here is a game that could become our version
of basketball. A made-for-TV sport that is tough and exciting and
followed nationally, with encounters short enough to be watched over a
couple of beers.
A physical sport that leaves one with a sort of
satisfaction that cricket often doesn’t. This was especially true after
watching the first match on Sunday, a terrific contest between Bangalore
and Pune.

The show opened with the usual celebrity interviews.
After the Khans and Big B on Saturday, however, the standard plummeted
and we had Rakesh Omprakash Mehra and Nakul Vaid (I don’t know either)
and Karan Patel (no relation).

Of course there also was the one
celebrity who could be relied upon for a quote. “Although the Pink
Panthers aren’t playing today, we’re here for Ronnie, and for the U
Mumbai team and to support kabaddi,” said Abhishek Bachchan. Achcha. I
was clearly wrong to think he came because he doesn’t have much work.

other irritating thing is that Star has decided to play the national
anthem before every match, so that is twice in one night. As a result,
the chanting is in the same dreary atmosphere as in cinema halls, where
it is inflicted on revellers who have gathered for something else.

it began, however, as I said, it was an outstanding match and had me so
riveted that the ice cubes melted and diluted the good liquid in my
untouched glass.

The match was won by Bangalore, the work of a
superb raider called Ajay Thakur, who did most of the offensive work for
his team. He had a calm and lethal manner, picking up a point or two
every time he went over. Explaining his team’s win on Saturday, Thakur
said simply: “Hum sab 80-up the”. (We were each of us over 80 kilos). A
man to watch out for in this tournament.

Sunday’s match was
actually a close run thing and with 10 minutes to go, Pune were tied
30-30, mainly because of plenty of penalty points picked up in the first
half. But then some tactical play by Bangalore (explained lucidly by
commentator Suhail Chandhok, racing driver Karan’s brother) took the
match away.

You should give watching Pro Kabaddi a try. Though
some of the rules are recent inventions, and sometimes things are not
easy to understand, the game is never boring. I thought it might be,
when I saw Saturday’s matches, but Star appear to be cleaning up their
act and telecasting it the right away.

Rule of the day: When a team down to three men catches a raider, it wins two points instead of one.

[ref. Wiki]  

Kabaddi is a contact sport based on wrestling originated from
very early (Tamil) Indian civilization. The word Kabaddi is derived from
the Tamil words Kai-pidi,which literally meaning “(let’s) Hold Hands.”

Kabaddi is popular throughout South Asia, and has also spread to Southeast Asia, Japan and Iran. It is the national game of Bangladesh where it is known as Hadudu. It is the state game of Tamil Nadu where it is said to be founded as Sadugudu, Andhra Pradesh,Punjab and Maharashtra in India. 

It is played by the British Army
for fun, to keep fit and as an enticement to recruit soldiers from the
British Asian community. The game is also played extensively in the
small town of Peebles
in the Scottish Borders, mainly in the local primary school playground,
where it is favored to more traditional childhood past-times such as ‘British bulldogs’ and ‘Kiss, Cuddle and Torture’.

India won World Kabaddi Cup in 2013 held at Guru Nanak Stadium, Ludhiana, (Punjab) India.

In the international team version of kabaddi, two teams of seven
members each occupy opposite halves of a field of 10 m × 13 m in case of
men and 8 m × 12 m in case of women.
Each has three supplementary players held in reserve. The game is
played with 20-minute halves and a five-minute halftime break during
which the teams exchange sides.

The rules of the game are as follows. The teams take turns sending a
“raider” into the other half. To win a point, the raider must take a
breath, run into the opposing half, tag one or more members of the
opposite team, then return to his home half before inhaling again. The raider will chant “kabaddi, kabaddi” with his exhaling breath to show the referee he has not inhaled.

The raider will be declared “out” and will not gain the point if he
inhales before returning to his side, or returns without touching an
opponent. The tagged defender(s) will be “out” if they do not succeed in catching the raider who tagged them. Wrestling the raider to the ground can prevent him escaping before he needs to inhale.

Defenders may not cross the centre line (the “lobby”) of the field
and the raider may not cross the boundary lines. However, there is one
bonus line which can grant extra points for the raider if he manages to
touch it and return successfully.

Players who are out are temporarily sent off the field. Each time a
player is out, the opposing team earns a point. A team scores a bonus of
two points (called a “lona”), if the entire opposing team is declared
out. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

Matches are categorized based on age and weight. Six officials supervise a match: one referee, two umpires, a scorer and two assistant scorers.






The Great Sindhi Exodus (Nakba??)

……When I rose to touch his feet and take his leave, he clapped me
firmly on my back. This clap on the back used to be his blessing…..‘Now you go and evacuate people from Sindh. You leave only after
evacuating everyone else. Make sure you don’t leave before that…..
I saw what appeared to have been flourishing
townlets before, complete with houses, temples, fields, now entirely
deserted, the whole of the population – evidently all Hindu – gone to
the last man.’


We mean Sindhi Hindus of course, driven out by the irreversible logic of the two nation theory. 

If it is any solace, in two generations time-span they have occupied the first row of Indian business, politics, art….one giant Sindustrialist called* the late, lamented C-Sarkar as “apni dukan.” Also the fact that BJP has conquered Delhi today is because of the effort of these four (horse) men: AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, MM Bhagwat, and ND Modi. Such a transformation from rags to riches is nothing short of astonishing.
…Narayandas Malkani was then a 57-year-old Congress worker, who had
worked closely with Gandhi in Delhi’s Bhangi Colony.
He had narrowly
escaped being attacked during the Karachi pogrom. After this, he and
Govardhan Vazirani, secretary of the Congress, were deputed to fly to
Delhi to convince the Congress high command to evacuate Hindus from

Narayandas Malkani recalls:

“On arrival, I met Gandhiji
and other senior leaders and I told them face to face about the Karachi
riots. I was there for a week, and I met everyone about two or three
times. Pandit Nehru told me to go meet Bajpayee, the secretary general
in the main office. I met him, and I briefed him about the conditions in
Sindh; I told him that the time had now come for the Hindus to be
evacuated from Sindh and resettled in India by the government. He
listened to everything attentively and then I took his leave.

Vazirani and I came to the conclusion that our work was done and that
we could return to Karachi by air the next morning, that is 31 January.
Before returning, I went to meet Gandhiji for the fourth and last time,
to take his leave. It was about four in the evening, and he was sitting
outside Birla House in the sun, with a straw hat on his head.

voice was not weak any longer, and his bare body shone, burnt in the
sun. When I rose to touch his feet and take his leave, he clapped me
firmly on my back. This clap on the back used to be his blessing. He
said, ‘Now you go and evacuate people from Sindh. You leave only after
evacuating everyone else. Make sure you don’t leave before that. Give Mr
Khuhro a message that I will come to Sindh and make efforts towards
securing peace in Sindh. But for that, he will have to take Mr Jinnah’s
permission and send me a telegram.’”

Malkani used to stay with
Gandhi’s son, Devdas, whenever he visited Delhi. Shortly after he
returned to Devdas Gandhi’s home, they were informed of Gandhi’s
assassination. A grieving and distraught Malkani flew back to Karachi
the next day, where he was astonished to find that staff from the Indian
High Commission had come to receive him in a car, and that he had been
appointed additional deputy high commissioner in Karachi, specifically
for the purpose of evacuating Hindus and Sikhs from Sindh. Malkani
supervised the work of evacuation in Karachi and Hyderabad, by turns,
and also toured other towns in Sindh, to assess the situation of the
Hindus there.

Special trains were run from Hyderabad and Mirpur
Khas to Pali and Marwar Junction in present day Rajasthan, where refugee
camps were set up. These trains went directly – and safely – from Sindh
to Rajasthan and had no need to traverse Punjab, with its history of
violence. Moreover, the organised evacuation of Hindu and Sikh refugees
from West Punjab by rail had been completed by the first week of
December 1947,and now the Indian government could divert its attention
and resources towards refugees from Sindh.

Owing to the
determined intervention of the Indian government, and the assistance of
Sri Prakasa, the Sindh government was obliged to facilitate the
relatively smooth departure of non-Muslims from the province. The Sindh
government announced that there would be no more searches of women among
the departing Hindus and Sikhs.

Also, a large number of Hindu
government employees now wanted to either resign or to go on leave. The
Sindh government relaxed its rules, permitting these employees to
withdraw advances from their provident fund, and granted them long
leave, thus enabling them to escort their families to India.

The Sindh government was keen to avoid congestion in Karachi of Hindu
emigrants from the interior of Sindh: by the end of January 1948 there
were about 40,000 Hindus in the city waiting for passage to India, and
many more in the hinterland. In order to control and slow down the
passage of Sindhi Hindus through Karachi, and so minimise chances of
renewed violence, [Chief Minister] Khuhro imposed a permit system on 15
February 1948, whereby no Hindu could leave his or her town of origin
without a permit issued by the local authorities. While this was meant
to preserve law and order, it only caused greater distress to the
Hindus, impatient to leave.

More often than not, local officials
demanded bribes in order to issue permits. Sri Prakasa [India’s High
Commissioner in Pakistan] recalls the flood of Sindhi Hindus who came to
his office, requesting permits to travel to India:

“In the
office of the High Commission, we had to encounter heavy crowds. It was
difficult to regulate them. Everyone wanted to get a permit as soon as
possible so that he could go away. Everyone wanted to reach India […]
as soon as possible.

“The High Commission, however, had to act
warily and to keep all practical considerations in view. We could give
permits at a time only to as many persons as could be provided with
trans-port. Even this tragic scene was not without its lighter side.

day I was looking after the arrangements myself. A woman came up to me
and quietly told me that a particular young lady of her family was in an
advanced stage of pregnancy. The child may be born any day. In these
circumstances, would I think of giving priority to her? I did so; but
the very next day, a strange scene presented itself before me. I found
that all women suddenly found themselves in an advanced stage of

“They came to know that the High Commissioner was
partial to women in that condition, and was willing to treat them with
particular consideration. They thus found a good opportunity of saying
that all of them were in the self-same condition. It was obviously
impossible for the High Commissioner to get them medically examined!

had smilingly to tell them that I did not think it was possible that
all of them would suddenly find themselves in such a delicate condition,
and I was therefore compelled to give these permits in the ordinary
course without making any distinctions between one person and another.”

the middle of June 1948, 10,00,000 Hindus had been able to migrate to
India; 4,00,000 more remained in Sindh. In August 1949, there were
incidents of renewed communal violence in Shikarpur and Sukkur, giving
new impetus to the exodus. Evacuation continued for three whole years,
finally tapering off in 1951. By this time, the transit camp set up at
Karachi still had 644 evacuees waiting to leave, but Sindh was largely
emptied of its Hindus: It was estimated that a scant 150,000 to 200,000
remained in their home province.

Sri Prakasa tells us, ‘On my
tours in the interior, I saw what appeared to have been flourishing
townlets before, complete with houses, temples, fields, now entirely
deserted, the whole of the population – evidently all Hindu – gone to
the last man.’

Yet, it should be noted that the stream of Hindus
fleeing Sindh only thinned down to a trickle by 1951, and never dried up
entirely. There has been a continuous migration of Sindhi Hindus from
Pakistan to India from the 1950s to the present day, varying in
intensity over the decades.
Here is the narrative of a Sindhi
Hindu’s departure in 1949, which depicts the large crowds still in the
process of migrating to India. Kirat Babani, the prominent Sindhi author
and journalist, was a young man of 25 in 1947, working with the
Communist Party in Karachi. He and his other Communist friends decided
not to migrate, but many of them were arrested in 1948. Babani was
jailed for 11 months and released on the condition that he would be
externed from Karachi.

Later, in 1949, he thought he would visit
his family, which had migrated to India, and then return to Sindh. When
he boarded the ship at the Keamari docks, government officials searched
his belongings extremely roughly, and then served him a legal notice of
exile from Pakistan. He recounts his departure from Sindh in his

“Evening has fallen as I sit on the empty steel
trunk. I have no idea when the ship weighed anchor and set sail towards
its destination. My belongings are still scattered around me, and there,
on the entire deck, people are scattered. Entire families, mostly from
villages in the interior of Sindh, have been thrown here.

are from the poor and middle class, their dress and behaviour is Sindhi.
Some mothers also have suckling children with them, whom they are
nursing, covered with their dupattas, and with their backs to the men.
This transgression of custom must cause them mental agony. […]

night falls gradually, and as the ship starts to careen up and down and
sideways like a rocking horse, subjected to the blows of the forceful
waves of the deep sea, the condition of the travellers on deck begins to
worsen. Many begin to feel dizzy and their stomachs start to churn.
Many are retching, and some are actually vomiting. The crying and
wailing of the children has cast a pall of gloom everywhere.”


Link (1) :

* Mukesh Said, Haan Yaar, Ranjan, Congress To Ab Apni Dukaan Hai’.

Link (2):




“Crossing the river by feeling the stones”

…..what Zia claimed to base his economic policies was ‘social
involve economic growth…..stable prices and macroeconomic stability… nets such as
food vouchers for the needy….programmes for human development….development of the marginalised sections.
….Social justice, I would contend, is what Sen says Bangladesh is better at than India……

Blogger-badshah and king of economists Jyoti Rahman makes the (convincing) case that Ziaur Rahman is the true father of modern-day Bangladesh, whose efforts have directly contributed to the (relatively) advanced social parameters as well a number of foreign policy achievements.  

Indeed JR goes so far as to state that Bangladesh can be an inspiration to all the struggling Arab countries/people.

Paraphrasing JR, while ZA Bhutto promised Islamic socialism in Pakistan, Ziaur Rahman actually implemented the same in Bangladesh; Sheikh Hasina (current PM) is now promising Islamic secularism. Perhaps Imran Khan will be better inspired by looking east instead of west.

The problem we have with Zia (and the other Zia as well) is that he rejected the concept of a secular republic. [ref. Wiki] The secularism principle was removed from the constitution in 1977 by Ziaur Rahman and declared Islam as the state religion. In 2010, Bangladesh Supreme Court restored secularism as one of the basic tenets of the Constitution but also kept Islam as the state religion.  

While such a step may have been considered to be pragmatic (80% muslim pop) the practical impact has oscillated between bad and (mostly) worse.

While Islamic socialism/secularism has been good for Bangladesh it has not been so good for its Hindu minority which has pretty much one viable option: surrender your property and move to India. It has not really mattered which regime was ruling, military or civilian, Begum (1) or Begum (2). At least when the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) is in power, the atrocities against Hindus are highlighted (by Awami League aligned liberals). In contrast when the communal fires burnt recently in Jessore and in Chittagong there was not much ink spilled (analog or digital).

Also this. The only people in India who care to talk about ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh are the Hindutva brigades. The fall-out from this (in the states/districts bordering Bangladesh) has been fairly predictable. As the (mostly) secular left fades away, the communal right is taking its place. Today, migrants from Bangladesh are under the gun everywhere (often literally, as in Bodoland).

Unless people find a way to reconcile thousand year old hostilities and neutralize poisonous ideologies, things will go from bad to worse, everywhere.

Had he not been killed in 1981, Ziaur Rahman would have been 76
today.  Despite the twists and turns of politics, over three decades
from his death, when things actually work in Bangladesh, they work along
the path set by this military strongman turned a very popular
politician.  And they work because the politics of synthesis crafted by
Zia had continued from the work of his predecessors, and his successors
saw the merit in keeping them.

Amartya Sen has noted how Bangladesh has better social indicators than
India despite having only half the per capita income.  This theme has
been picked up by a number of 40th anniversary pieces that note that
Bangladesh has done pretty well when it comes to human development,
despite unfriendly nature and dysfunctional politics.   

As it happens,
the beginning of pretty much all the examples of ‘good results’ recorded
by Bangladesh can be traced to the Zia era.

population control for example.  In the 1970s, population was growing
by 3% a year, and was expected to double to 150 million by the
mid-1990s.  That has been delayed by well over a decade, and population
growth rate is now between 1-1.5%.  At the time of
independence, Bangladeshi women on average had 7 children.  By 2008,
according to the World Bank, fertility rate had fallen to 2.3 — close to
replacement level that stabilises population.  

And unlike in China or India, the decline in fertility rate hasn’t
been accompanied by grotesque discrimination against female infants
(effectively female infanticide in places). 
In fact, on metrics related
to living standards of poor women, Bangladesh tend to pretty well
compared with its peers.

The reason for this includes concerted government efforts — something
again initiated by the Zia regime, and continued by everyone since. 
But activities of the NGOs and the emergence of the ready made garment
sector have also played their part.   

Of course, both the first Aarong
shop and Desh Garments (first RMG factory) started when Zia was the

What about self sufficiency in food?  The green revolution came to Bangladesh under Zia.

What about the remittance boom that has kept Bangladesh afloat for the past decade?  The Gulf labour market opened under Zia.

I would contend that Zia succeeded not because his task was easier,
but because he was a pragmatic technocrat who eschewed ideology and
grandiosity, and adopted ‘whatever works’.  Thus, for example, he
facilitated the NGOs to expand not because there was an ideological
dispensation for it, but because he recognised that these agencies were
providing a service that the state machinery was incapable of

From all accounts, Zia’s pragmatism seems to be
heavily influenced by Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy of ‘crossing the river
by feeling the stones’.

Instead, what Zia claimed to base his economic policies was ‘social
– সামাজিক ন্যায়বিচার in Bangla.  Now, social justice has never
actually been defined formally.  But we can guess what he would have
meant by this from the policies and developments adopted and initiated
under his watch.

I would contend that social justice would involve economic growth,
which translated into jobs and income from the rural and urban poor and
less affluent classes.  I would contend that social justice would mean
stable prices and macroeconomic stability.  I would contend that social
justice would mean government programmes that ensure safety nets such as
food vouchers for the needy. 

Social justice, I would suggest, would
involve active government programmes for human development, and
particularly development of the marginalised sections of the society.

Social justice, I would contend, is what Sen says Bangladesh is better at than India.

Interestingly, across the Muslim world, parties that are coming to
power with popular mandate seems to contain ‘social justice’ or related
terms such as welfare or development in their names.  It seems that
Ziaur Rahman pioneered a synthesis that is still all too relevant not
just in Bangladesh, but in other similar countries too.






The Fiddler (on the Roof) and his son

…..At the service, I began my eulogy with an anecdote from a few years
earlier…..My father and stepmother were en route from New York to
Westport, Connecticut, when he began feeling ill……by the time they
arrived, an EMS crew was waiting……
“How do you feel?” asked the head EMS guy.“I don’t feel so good.” “What hurts you?” “It hurts me that George Bush is president.”…..
Dad, Joel Stein, was a (jewish) communist then a (jewish) progressive in middle-class America. Son, Harry Stein, was a (jewish) lefty and switched over to the evil (jewish) neo-con side. Dad would be asked by his friends: when did your son become a fascist?

The life-story of dad, famous playwright, memorable for his creation: Fiddler on the Roof, where crisis overtakes a tradition bound (jewish) family when a daughter falls for a gentile boy.

As Stein explains reality was not so different after all: My parents never cared that I dated out of the faith or that the
woman I married is about as Jewish as her Mayflower forebears. The only
remark on the subject I ever heard from my father (for whom the closer
to the truth, the funnier) was: “Why don’t you ever bring home a black
girl, so we can show how liberal we are?”

What we liked best was this death-bed humor from an old, tired man: It was Carl Reiner….“It’s
incredible, it should be in the Guinness book of records! I told Mel
[Brooks], and he said, ‘It’s impossible, no 98-year-old could possibly
fall down 14 steps backward and survive!’ ”
…..He listened for a moment as Carl repeated
what he’d told me.
….“Tell Mel,” he replied wearily, “that not only is it
possible; there are several people to whom I’d highly recommend it.”

My father, playwright Joseph Stein, was so vital for so long that when
he died in October 2010, at 98, some people were actually taken by
surprise. Nearly half a century after his greatest success, Fiddler on the Roof, he had been hard at work on a new musical.

At the service, I began my eulogy with an anecdote from a few years
earlier. My father and stepmother were en route from New York to
Westport, Connecticut, where one of his old shows was being revived,
when he began feeling ill. They called ahead, and by the time they
arrived at the theater, an EMS crew was waiting.

“How do you feel?” asked the head EMS guy.

“I don’t feel so good.”

“What hurts you?”

“It hurts me that George Bush is president.”

The line drew a roar from the huge crowd at Riverside Memorial
Chapel, as I knew it would. These were his people, New York theater
folk, as reliably left a bunch as you’re likely to find anywhere outside
a university campus.

It was my parting gift to a man I’d loved greatly and—over the
previous decade or so, since moving to the right—had argued with
incessantly. Though anyone with a passing acquaintance with my father
knew that he was almost preternaturally good-humored, someone able to
wring a laugh from even the direst of circumstances, this was something
he just couldn’t wrap his head around.

It was a situation surely familiar to others in families sharply
split along ideological lines, though the generational divide generally
runs in the opposite direction. My father simply couldn’t fathom how any
thinking person, let alone someone who’d imbibed politics at his knee,
could have ended up a . . . well, he never actually used the word, at
least not directly. The closest he ever came was reporting the reaction
of a friend, one of Broadway’s better-known composers, who had come
across something I’d written: “When did your son become a Fascist?”

For my part, I understood his worldview far better—a Communist in
young adulthood, he’d been a proud progressive ever since—but I found
him no less frustrating. In other respects thoughtful, even wise, how
could he not see the damage that today’s aggrieved and self-righteous
Left was inflicting on the country we both loved?

To the contrary, having lived to see Barack Obama elected and his
health-care plan bludgeoned to passage, my father was delighted with the
drift of things. Indeed, a few months before he died, he confided, only
partly joking, what few others on his side of the political spectrum
would be honest enough to admit, assuming that they were astute enough
to grasp it: “I never moved, the Democratic Party came to me.”

On September 22, 1964, when Fiddler opened
on Broadway, I was two months shy of my 16th birthday. For a
stagestruck kid, the timing was perfect—I was old enough to sneak into
rehearsals on my own but innocuous enough that no one seemed to care. 

I’d watched the show’s development pretty much from the beginning;
watched my father labor over the initial drafts of the script in his
office in our suburban home and rush off to meet with his collaborator
buddies, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick; sat in on backers’ auditions in
our living room; slipped into those rehearsals, evading the laser gaze
of the martinet/genius director, Jerome Robbins; attended, along with my
then–best friend, Frank Rich, every performance of the show’s
Washington tryout, as new material came and went almost nightly; and at
last, sat thrilling at the New York opening—and then, the next morning,
with the appearance of the first reviews, watched the line snaking down
West 45th Street from the Imperial Theater.

By then, I figured that I knew everything there was to know about Fiddler, including every word of dialogue and every song cut from the production. So I was caught short by much in Wonder of Wonders,
Columbia Journalism School professor Alisa Solomon’s exhaustively
researched account of the show’s history and cultural influence, one of
several books timed to its 50-year anniversary. 

Solomon uncovered memos
between my father and the composers as they struggled with the daunting
task of moving Sholem Aleichem’s Old World characters from the page to
the Broadway stage. I never knew they’d considered replacing the story
line of Chava, the daughter who breaks her father’s heart by marrying
out of the faith, with an even more tragic one about another daughter,
Sprintze; or that my father, aware that everyone in the business,
including his agent, regarded the material as “too Jewish,” toyed with
giving the daughters less “exotic” names like Rachel and Sarah; or that
early on, the show’s ending had Tevye’s family moving to America while
he, “too old” and “afraid of new things,” and knowing that “survival is
his strongest trait,” stays behind in Anatevka. 

I’d long known that it
was director-choreographer Robbins who instinctively grasped that Fiddler had
to be not just about a family with marriageable daughters and unlikely
suitors but also the story of an entire people; and that, in a flash of
inspiration, he seized upon the unraveling of long-standing traditions
as the backdrop against which such a theme could play out. But the
eye-opener was how explicitly anti-tradition the show was meant to be.

The show left no doubt as to how vital had been the rites of the
shtetl, both secular and religious, in preserving the identity of a
despised and beleaguered people. Yet the most fiercely adhered-to
social/religious tenet of all—the injunction against marrying outside
the faith—was meant to be depicted, in a changing and more sophisticated
world, not merely as outmoded but as outright bigotry. In fact, wrote
Robbins of Tevye’s initial refusal to accept Chava’s Gentile mate, the
conditions “he has lived under have made him become as prejudice[d] as
his attackers.” 

In early rehearsals, the director—who, during the run-up
to West Side Story, had segregated the actors playing Jets from
those playing Sharks—even instructed the mixed religious couple to think
of themselves as Southern blacks “buying a book in a bookstore where
blacks are not allowed.” 

He told Bert Convy, the actor playing Perchik,
the revolutionary who embarks on a dangerous anti-czarist mission, to
imagine that he’s setting off to register black voters in Mississippi.
As those familiar with the show know, Tevye mostly comes around in the
end, giving his grudging blessing to the union as he and the rest of the
family embark for America. It’s a deeply affecting moment, one that, as
Solomon observes, in its depiction of “tolerance and equality as
supreme values,” nightly moved the overwhelmingly secular Jewish
audience whose experience it affirmed.

True to form, my father, always averse to the merest hint of the
maudlin, followed up that moment with a laugh—one equally telling, in
its way. As the two youngest daughters begin dancing about, chattering
about the trip they’re about to take, their sharp-tongued mother cuts
them off: “Stop that! Behave yourself! We’re not in America yet!”

The show’s ending worked, of course, Robbins’s staging of the
departure scene making it one of the most effective in musical history.
That Tevye’s love for his child finally outweighed all else gave the
show a remarkable universality. My father often described the reaction
of an audience member in Japan, where the conflict between old ways and
modernity had particular resonance: “Do they really understand this play
in America? It’s so Japanese.”

Of the more than a dozen Broadway shows—musicals and
comedies—that my father wrote over his long career, none ever sounded
more like him or more fully reflected his social and political views.
Every time I see the show, I’m struck by how much he’s there in
Tevye—his playfulness, his sardonic optimism, his habit (so irksome to
Golde, as it could be to my mother) of kidding around even when the
occasion calls for the utmost seriousness. But I’ve no doubt he
identified equally with Perchik, the young revolutionary and
good-natured smasher of tradition—in many ways, the noblest character in
the piece.

PERCHIK: In this world, it’s the rich who are the criminals. Someday, their wealth will be ours.
TEVYE: That would be nice. If they would agree, I would agree.

One of the odder ideological back-and-forths I had with my father
involved his abiding contempt for business and businessmen. “You make
them sound,” I laughed, “like the little guy with the monocle and top
hat in Monopoly.” For once, he didn’t smile back. “Exactly! That’s just
who they are!” 

Knowing how much he’d have enjoyed it, I regret that he
didn’t live to see Occupy Wall Street.

My parents never cared that I dated out of the faith or that the
woman I married is about as Jewish as her Mayflower forebears. The only
remark on the subject I ever heard from my father (for whom the closer
to the truth, the funnier) was: “Why don’t you ever bring home a black
girl, so we can show how liberal we are?”

What might seem odd about this is that my
father’s own life was the very essence of the American dream—a Horatio
Alger tale if ever there was one, the poor, scrappy kid making it big in
America by virtue of talent, hard work, and moxie. A child of
immigrants who never mastered the language or any but the rudiments of
American life—and never had to, so self-sufficient was their
Yiddish-speaking neighborhood—he was passionately engaged by this
wondrous country from the start. I have a diary he began at 15, in 1927.
On page after page, he goes on excitedly about the events of the day,
the plays and novels he’s been reading, the latest bon mots of columnists in the New York World, and the fortunes of his beloved New York Giants.

Then, again, the explanation is pretty straightforward. To be New
York Jewish in the first third of the twentieth century, living entirely
among refugees from the poisonous anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe and
their offspring, was by definition to wind up on the left—accepting as a
given that the world was basically divided into exploiters and
exploited, the selfish and those working for the betterment of all; the
only question was how far one wished to go.

It wasn’t until my father graduated from James Monroe High School
(class of ’29) and started commuting to City College that, having
rejected his parents’ religious orthodoxy, he adopted leftist politics
as his defining creed. In those Depression years, CCNY was the
campus for radical activism, with Communists in the lead. My father (and
mother, and everyone else in their circle) seems to have uncritically
accepted that, if perhaps not the paradise on earth proclaimed by some,
Stalin’s Russia was certainly the best hope for humankind.

Four decades later, when, though still on the left myself, I’d ask
them how they could have been so credulous as to accept the approved
line on the Soviet show trials of the 1930s or gone along with the
Party’s about-face on the Nazi threat after Stalin’s notorious pact with
Hitler, my father would revert to jokester mode. How could anyone not
trust Stalin, he would ask, with that “cute mustache”? 

But my mother
would get wistful, talking about the idealism of those years and how far
ahead the Communist Party was on civil rights—with its defense of the
Scottsboro Boys and other victims of virulent racism—and on women’s
rights. In fact, it was the Communists who’d coined the term “sexism,”
she said. More than a few in their crowd underwent abortions—including
her. Once, when I asked her what she thought of Gone with the Wind, she said she’d never seen it. “I was out front picketing.”

Little wonder that, within a few years, like so many other “red
diaper” babies, I emerged as a leading troublemaker on my college
campus; or that, a few years after that, just out of journalism school
and intent on writing a book, I chose as my subject an oral history of
the American Communist Party. Tentative title: Saving the World Together.
Thankfully, it never came to pass. 

But I do have to live with the
embarrassment of my first published magazine piece, an interview with
Earl Browder, the Party’s elderly former head. It appeared in the
December 1971 issue of my favorite magazine, American Heritage.
Having dragged my reel-to-reel tape recorder out to Princeton, where
Browder lived with his son, the head of Princeton’s mathematics
department, I sat nodding as he lied to me about everything from the
Party’s independence from Moscow (total!) to the innocence of the

Since, by the 1950s, my parents were basically Stevenson Democrats,
it had taken me a while to learn about this aspect of their past. It
began to come out when I was in sixth grade. I had a wonderful teacher,
Mr. Hubley, who would often fulminate about the evils of Communism, with
particular emphasis on Nikita Khrushchev—regularly identified as “a
cold-blooded murderer”—and the Red Chinese. 

I was going on about the
Chinese one evening at dinner when I noticed my parents exchanging
concerned looks—red-baiting at their own dinner table!—after which they
cautiously explained how, not long ago, the people of China had been
starving. So I should bear in mind, they counseled, that Mao Tse-tung
and Chou En-lai had also done some very fine things.

My political education continued in 1960, when I was called upon to
debate on John Kennedy’s behalf in history class against some kid
representing Nixon. The night before, my father offered a primer on what
a vile monster the Republican candidate was, closing with a key piece
of advice: “If you get in trouble and don’t know what to say, just ask,
‘What about Alger Hiss?’ ” 

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the next
day, I used the line—and was gratified to see our teacher nodding in
agreement, before declaring me the winner a few minutes later. This was
my first clue about how much it can pay off to be on the left.

Within a few years, I was savvy enough to challenge my father, or at
least give him a hard time. There was, for instance, the evening I first
ran across that old diary of his in the bottom drawer of a filing
cabinet. I read it in wonder, startled that at my age, he could know so
much and write so well. 

Wandering to my parents’ bedroom, I found my
father watching TV and asked, “Dad, do you remember the Sacco and
Vanzetti case?”

“Of course I do.”

“What did you think at the time?”

“What do you think? I was a good left-wing kid—I completely supported them.”

At which point, I started reading him entries from the diary, starting with:

“Aug. 10, 1927. A subway station has been bombed in London. This is
the sixth of a series of bombings this week, a protest against the
sentence against Sacco and Vanzetti. . . . The efforts to save them have
resulted in damage more costly than the lives of these two men, it
seems. Editorial writers are storming about ‘Justice for all’ and
‘reasonable doubts,’ radicals are threatening destruction to the nation,
lawyers are arguing about ‘constitutional rights.’ . . . I cannot see
the reason for terming the guilt ‘reasonable.’ I would call this ‘Much
ado about nothing!’ ”

By now, my father was fuming, demanding that I hand over the diary,
but I skipped away, keeping it at arm’s length. “Aug. 23,” I continued.
“Sacco and Vanzetti are executed at last. It is about time. All these
reprieves only excited radical sentiment all the more. Now there will be
a hubbub which will gradually simmer and die down. Then, the case will
be generally forgotten. This should have been done a long time ago.”

That my father wasn’t blacklisted was
largely a matter of happenstance. He originally wanted to be a
journalist, but as the Depression deepened, he instead became a social
worker, remaining one for nearly a decade. He didn’t so much fall into
comedy writing as grab at the flimsiest reed of possibility. 

At a Bronx
dinner party of fellow thinkers, another guest, a small-time comic named
Zero Mostel, mentioned that he’d just landed a local radio show and
could use some funny sketches. “I write those,” my mother was astonished
to hear my father pipe up. Back home late that night, he wrote his
first. Within a few years, he’d quit social work and was writing for
radio full-time, and several years after that, with TV taking off, he
joined Sid Caesar’s legendary writing staff.

By then, the blacklist was established fact, but in Caesar’s shop, at
least as my father told it, it was less a source of terror than a game
of keep-away, with the willing participation of the network brass. 

“Every so often, some NBC functionary would call asking why no one had
signed the loyalty oaths, and we’d say we lost them, so they’d send over
another batch, and we’d immediately lose those.” 

Presumably, my father
never found himself under more direct threat because, as a social worker
during most of his time in the Party, and a member of the Bronx rather
than the Manhattan branch, he was not well-known to many in the business
(including those naming names).

Not everyone we knew was so lucky. One of my earliest memories is of a
writer-director named Aaron Reuben, a close friend of my parents and
one of the sweetest guys in the world, hiding out in our suburban home
to avoid a subpoena. Aaron would go on to produce such subversive
programming as The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, and Sanford and Son.

This is the conception of the blacklist with which I grew up, and the
one that has generally taken on an aspect of religious truth in the
decades since: that it was an unconscionable targeting by the
reactionary Right of entertainment-industry progressives, singled out
for their enlightened views. 

And, to be sure, a great many of those
whose careers and lives were wrecked by the blacklist fit the
bill—guilty, whether Communists or not, of nothing at all, save possibly
naïveté; and, yes, often their persecutors were not just indifferent to
the constitutional niceties but, as products of the opposite end of the
yawning American cultural divide, clumsily unknowing about who or what
they were dealing with.

Only years later did I come to grasp, as the formulation has it, that
some of the witches were real; or at least, that they were less
principled idealists than pitiless ideologues and
apparatchiks-in-waiting for their dream of a Sovietized America. There
was, for instance, V. J. Jerome, who, as the Party’s longtime cultural
commissar, served as its ideological enforcer and hatchet man in

As Howard Husock has chronicled in these pages, the Communist
effort to harness “culture as a revolutionary tool,” using left-leaning
artists and intellectuals “to insinuate the Marxist worldview into the
broader culture,” found its “bluntest expression” in Jerome’s pamphlet
“Let Us Grasp the Weapon of Culture.” (See “America’s Most Successful
Communist,” Summer 2005.) 

Husock focused on Pete Seeger and the singer’s
attempts to bring that aim to fruition in the musical realm, and it’s
shocking to learn of the extent to which he succeeded; just as it is
startling (and amusing) to know that screenwriter Lester Cole,
blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten, once put Spanish Communist icon
La Pasionara’s famous cry that it was “better to die on your feet than
live on your knees” into the mouth of a high school football coach.

My father, for all his political conviction, regarded such
propagandizing as offensive and bizarre. His allegiance always was to
the work, his comic sensibility, as Solomon observes, grounded “in the
absurdity of situations and in the sure-fire Jewish outsider stance.”
While the stories he told reflected his values, his characters were his
most honest expression of what those people would say and do. 

This was
as much the case when, in late middle age, he was writing the musical Zorba—its title character intent on resisting the ravages of time—as it had been with Tevye or Perchik.

His closest friends in the business were the same way: very funny and
very liberal. Leaving New York for Hollywood, they became the
generation that revolutionized television comedy. In doing so, almost
inadvertently, by being true to themselves, they played a key role in transforming—and liberalizing—American culture.

The show that irrevocably altered the family sitcom was the one created by Rob’s father, Carl, the much beloved Dick Van Dyke Show.
As old friends and New Rochelle neighbors of the Reiners from the
Caesar years, we were fans from the first episode, and we always got a
special thrill when Mary Tyler Moore’s Laura mentioned that someone
wasn’t around because they were “over at Sadie and Joe Stein’s.” 

equally in our hometown and my father and Carl’s old workplace, the show
not only sounded like us—no talk of malt shops here—but it was also
unmistakably, if subtly, liberal in the best, generous-spirited (which
is to say, now nearly antique) sense of the term. One of its most
memorable episodes, the premiere of season three, had a younger Rob
Petrie, in flashback, nearly hysterical because he’s convinced that
they’ve brought home the wrong newborn from the hospital, their infant
having been confused with one named Peters. 

At the end, he opens the
door to greet the Peterses—and they’re black. This was still daring
stuff for a sitcom broadcast nationwide, just a month after the March on
Washington. As the New York Times observed on the episode’s 50th
anniversary, it “perhaps nudged the needle of social change toward
integration and inclusiveness.”

As Andrew Klavan observes, it is now “almost an
unwritten law of Hollywood that any glancing reference to real-life
politics in a film or television show must be slanted left.” Just as
viewers can safely assume that the straightlaced businessman on
contemporary crime shows will turn out to be a bad guy, it’s an
excellent bet that, far from knowing best, today’s sitcom dad will be a
hapless lunkhead, while his fictional kids will be gung-ho

If Ned Flanders of The Simpsons stands as TV’s idea of a do-gooding religious traditionalist, no one is fairer game on award-winning shows like 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation
than real-life conservative pols, with Sarah Palin an especially
attractive piñata. (Of course, President Obama is off-limits.)

For some of us on the right, this is a profound source of
frustration, a key reason that we are not only losing the culture war
but not even in the game. The problem is not so much a lack of comic
targets on the left—why not a sitcom set on one of today’s insanely
politically correct campuses or in a lapdog mainstream newsroom? Why no
gags at the expense of a Joe Biden or Harry Reid?—as it is a shortage of
network executives and creative types to make it happen.

I never discussed any of this with my father. While he agreed that
there was too much pointless sexual innuendo on lots of today’s shows—he
hated cheap laughs like poison—he otherwise wouldn’t have grasped what I
was complaining about. Like most everyone else on the left, he saw the
attitudes and values so pervasive on TV today as unobjectionable, since
they mostly reflected his own. And, as far as comedy was concerned, all
that mattered to him was whether something was funny—and with that,
politics notwithstanding, I wouldn’t have vigorously argued.

It’s not as if we didn’t have enough to fight about, anyway. We could
go back and forth about almost anything—Giuliani or the Clintons, the
Koch brothers or Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh or the New York Times;
global warming or the Middle East or race. For a while, the most
innocuous comment was apt to trigger an outburst. One of our ugliest
fights, over dinner in an Italian restaurant, involved the Duke lacrosse
scandal, set off by the sight of a kid at another table wearing a
Carleton College lacrosse T-shirt.

When I was a liberal, he’d taken pride in the pieces I published in places like the New York Times and
in the invariably favorable reviews of my books in that revered
publication. Now, I often maintained a discreet silence about what I was
writing; he learned of the existence of one book, a largely comic take
on conservatives marooned among the smugly intolerant in America’s
deepest blue precincts, only a month after it appeared—with predictably
unhappy results. And this time, “Relax, Dad, at least it’s funny” didn’t help.

More than once, we got into it about Israel, too. My father, who
never would have brooked a word against the Jewish State when I was
young, was now just as adamant that in its treatment of the
Palestinians, Israel had turned away from a reverence for justice that,
for him, was the essence of Jewish identity. He blamed the despicable
pols of the Israeli right, the “religious crazies,” and, especially, the
“racist” settlers.

Still, even knowing his feelings on the subject, I was caught by surprise at the premiere of Fiddler’s
2004 revival by a change he’d made to the dialogue. It occurs late,
when the Jews, expelled from Anatevka, are bidding one another farewell,
and Yente is asked where she’s going. She’d long replied: “I’m a
matchmaker, no? I’ll arrange marriages, yes? Children come from
marriages, no? So I’m going to the Holy Land to help our people increase
and multiply. It’s my mission.” But, as Solomon observes, since those
lines might have been taken “as an endorsement of the idea of a
‘demographic war,’ ” Yente is now going to the Holy Land because “I just
want to go where our foremothers lived and where they’re all buried.
That’s where I want to be buried—if there’s room.”

Indeed, each time I saw my
father, we began afresh. And particularly toward the end, we battled
less, as for different reasons—he for the fun of it, I because so much
of it was new—we were both eager to talk instead about the old days: his
start in radio, the remarkable range of showbiz luminaries he’d known,
the early years of TV comedy, the ups and downs of his many shows.

So it’s unfortunate, if oddly appropriate, that our last exchange was
an unpleasant one about politics. It was October 2010, a few weeks
before the midterm elections, and sitting up in his hospital bed, he
asked, “If you lived in Delaware, you wouldn’t vote for that idiot
Christine O’Donnell, would you?”

“Well, Dad,” I replied, “I’m afraid I’d have to.” Just as, disbelieving, he started furiously to object, we were
interrupted by a nurse, shooing me from the room to perform some tests.
The next time I saw him, he was in a coma.

That’s why I prefer to remember another episode, in a different
hospital room not long before. Trying to do too much, both hands full,
he’d fallen backward down a long flight of stairs, landing on his
shoulder. He was to have surgery the next day, when the phone on his
bedside table rang, and I picked up. It was Carl Reiner. “I heard what
happened to your dad,” he exclaimed, more excited than alarmed. “It’s
incredible, it should be in the Guinness book of records! I told Mel
[Brooks], and he said, ‘It’s impossible, no 98-year-old could possibly
fall down 14 steps backward and survive!’ ”

I tried handing the phone to my father, but he demurred, whispering
that he was too tired. But I knew his old friend would cheer him up, so I
held the receiver to his ear. He listened for a moment as Carl repeated
what he’d told me. “Tell Mel,” he replied wearily, “that not only is it
possible; there are several people to whom I’d highly recommend it.”






“Police were there but just watching the burning”

….The number of accusations is rising….In 2001, there was only one such complaint, but in
2011 there were 80…..2014 looks
set to be a record…..
In May 2014, 68 lawyers were charged with
blasphemy for using the name ‘Umar’ in protest slogans against a police
official of the same name.
In the same month, prominent human
rights lawyer Rashid Rehman defending a Pakistani university professor
accused of blasphemy was shot and killed after being threatened in court by other lawyers….

It does not matter if it is India or Pakistan or Sri Lanka, or Bangladesh, or….The news of late is remarkably monotonous and grim.

We remember the case of Rodney King from our time. He was viciously beaten up by LAPD officers, and the officers were initially let go by a white jury. The acquittals are considered to have triggered the Los Angeles riots of 1992 which were responsible for 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more
than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in
financial losses [ref. Wiki]. During the riots, King appeared on television and offered what would later be his famous plea, “Can we all get along?”

In South Asia there is not much point in asking can we all get along. The least the powers that be can do is to protect minorities by building more secure ghettos (aka open air prisons). Electrified fence, dobermans, paramilitary, whatever it takes. But please ensure safety (and a bit of prosperity). Is that too much to ask for?
Three female members of the Ahmadi community, including two
minors, were killed late Sunday and eight others were severely injured
when an angry mob attacked and burnt five houses, a storage building and
several vehicles over alleged blasphemy.
Those killed in the attack include a 55-year-old woman Bashiran, a minor girl Kainat and 7-year-old girl Hira.

The victims were rushed to the district headquarters hospital and the condition of few wounded was reported as critical.

Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the People’s Colony Circle as saying
that the trouble started with an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook
by an Ahmadi youth.

The son of a Imam of a local mosque along with
his friends reached the house of the youth where they entered into a
scuffle and were allegedly fired upon.

The Imam’s son and his
friend sustained gunshot wounds following which a mob gathered and began
protesting which eventually attacked and damaged homes and other
property belonging to members of the Ahmadi community.

CPO Waqas Nazir, Civil Lines SP Zeeshan Siddiqi and DSP of CIA Rashid
Sindhu reached the spot and began negotiations with members of both
communities to bring the situation under control.

“Later, a crowd
of 150 people came to the police station demanding the registration of a
blasphemy case against the accused,” said another police officer who
declined to be identified. “As police were negotiating with the crowd,
another mob attacked and started burning the houses of Ahmadis.”

The youth accused of making the Facebook post had not been injured, he said.

Lines SP Zeeshan Siddiqi said the victims died of suffocation and that a
woman miscarried during the riots and was being provided medical

Salimuddin, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said
it was the worst attack on the community since simultaneous attacks on
Ahmadi places of worship killed 86 Ahmadis four years ago.

were there but just watching the burning. They didn’t do anything to
stop the mob,” he said. “First they looted their homes and shops and
then they burnt the homes.”

According to police and eyewitnesses,
there were seven to eight houses of the Ahmadi community in the
vicinity. However, following the violence all Ahmadi families in the
area managed to flee.

Fearing further incidents of violence and
arson Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) suspended the supply of
electricity in the area.

Ahmadis have been arrested in Pakistan
for reading the Holy Quran, holding religious celebrations and having
Quranic verses on rings or wedding cards. Four years ago, 86 Ahmadis
were killed in two simultaneous attacks in Lahore.

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law does not clearly define
blasphemy but says the offence is punishable by death. Anyone can file a
blasphemy case claiming their religious feelings are injured for any

The accused are often lynched, and lawyers and judges
defending or acquitting them have been attacked. Rights groups say the
laws are increasingly used to seize money or property.

politicians who suggested reforming the law were killed, one by his own
bodyguard. Lawyers showered the killer with rose petals when he came to

The number of accusations is rising, according to a 2012
study by the Islamabad-based think tank, the Center for Research and
Security Studies. In 2001, there was only one such complaint, but in
2011 there were 80. No more recent figures are available but 2014 looks
set to be a record.

In May 2014, 68 lawyers were charged with
blasphemy for using the name ‘Umar’ in protest slogans against a police
official of the same name.

In the same month, prominent human
rights lawyer Rashid Rehman defending a Pakistani university professor
accused of blasphemy was shot and killed after being threatened in court by other lawyers.






The future is (of) Asia (minus MENA)

Globalization and the hunt for natural resources have made this vast continent compact enough to form competing blocks which hopefully will not fight hot wars (China just blinked on the off-shore rig off Vietnam). 

OTOH there will be plenty of hot-wars in the MENA which will make the region unbearable (for staying) and unprofitable (for trading anything except oil).

From the Pew charts we observe that for the most part Asians love the USA. The important exceptions are China, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia manages to identify USA as the biggest ally AND as the biggest threat. For Pakistan the USA is a bigger threat than India. OTOH India is the biggest threat for Bangladesh.

What is interesting will be the upcoming role of Indonesia. It has just elected a populist leader who hails from the lower ranks (sounds familiar?). Given all the provocations from the Chicoms it is still fairly positive about China. As a fellow muslim medium-weight power (also Malaysia) it has a friendly outlook towards Pakistan.

The other country of interest is Bangladesh. As patriotic Bengalis are wont to say…it can be the next Switzerland. Bangladesh can play the Big Power game to its advantage (India against China and vice-versa). But that requires fairly astute political leadership and a national sense of purpose which seems to be missing right now. Bangladesh (as we see it) will be well-positioned in the Indo-China buffer zone, not as part of a pan-Arab empire (the Bangla expat communities will OTOH integrate comfortably with their cousins in the Ummah).

Following our imagination, the China-Pakistan-Malaysia-Indonesia combine balances nicely against Japan-India-Vietnam-Philippines. Bangladesh, Burma, Singapore, Australia and Korea occupy the co-friendship zone. It goes without saying that USA will play a key role but the countries involved may not need/want hand holding.