As Shahid Siddiqui points out such block-voting has come at a great expense of economic and social backwardness- which suits both the political masters and community leaders just fine. And ironically it has not even helped in making muslims feel secure (which is the rationale for Jaziyah).
But things may change. The worm will eventually turn. Muslims will reject the false choice of security and progress. They will demand both which they are fully entitled to, as citizens of India, regardless of caste and creed. That will hopefully be the beginning of a new India.
Jaziyah is the protection tax that non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic
state have to pay to the Islamic government for their safety and
well-being. In independent India minorities, especially Muslims, have to
pay Jaziyah of a different kind. This Jaziyah is in the form of votes,
paid to so-called secular parties, especially to Congress for ensuring
protection to them, for not letting India become a Hindu nation and
keeping it secular.
Since Independence this game has been
played both covertly and overtly. Media and intellectuals have,
knowingly or unknowingly, helped these parties in extracting this
‘electoral Jaziyah’ from insecure minorities. After partition, Muslims
who remained in India were told both by Muslim and ‘secular’ leadership
that if they wanted to survive in Hindu India it was their duty to
protect secularism, which in real terms meant voting for one party,
which in return would keep India secular.
In India’s political
lexicon, thereafter, ‘secularism’ became synonymous with ‘Muslim vote
bank’. The Sangh Parivar parties used it conversely to mean ‘appeasement
of Muslims’. Indian ‘secularism’ therefore was neither ‘sarva dharma
samabhava’ (equal respect for all religions) nor the European concept of
state above religion. It meant protecting minorities from possible
violence and discrimination. In practical terms it meant verbal
appeasement of Muslims, especially before elections.
socio-economic condition of Muslims deteriorated after Independence,
riot after riot made them more insecure, their representation in
government and private services declined, they became economically more
vulnerable. They went into a shell and their sense of victimhood made
them withdraw into a social and political ghetto.
which claimed to be secular, took the service of maulanas, political
ulemas and other conservative elements instead of educated liberals to
garner Muslim votes. In other words communal leadership was imposed on
Muslims by ‘secular’ parties.
Liberal Muslim leaders demanded
economic and social rights while religious leaders were more concerned
with Muslim personal law or protection of madrassas or perceived notions
of ‘Islam in danger’. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi,
‘appeasement’ of Muslim communal leadership, at a heavy cost to the
educational and economic growth of the community, took place.
Other ‘secular’ parties followed the same path of appeasing the
religious/communal leadership to garner the Muslim vote. ‘Secular’
leaders made a beeline to get political fatwas from Madanis of Deoband,
Ali Mian of Nadwatul Ulema, Shahi Imam Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid to
Arshadul Qadri and Tauseef Raza of Barelvi school, so that Muslims were
herded like sheep to vote for saving secularism.
that these ‘secular’ parties only cared for and promoted narrow
religious leaders, even educated liberal and secular Muslim leaders
started speaking the same language. Those like Azam Khan, Syed
Shahabuddin and the Owaisis replaced others like Dr Faridi, Karim
Chhagla, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad or Arif Mohammad Khan.
have been carrying this cross of secularism on their feeble shoulders
for the last 67 years. From my student days when we campaigned for
Subhadra Joshi and D R Goyal, great crusaders for secularism, we saw
that all meetings for ‘secular democracy’ were organised only in Muslim
localities, as if only Muslims were required to be educated about
Later we realised that it was not to educate
Muslims about secularism but to create the fear of Jan Sangh and Balraj
Madhok, making Muslims vote for Congress unquestioningly. The same game
has been played over and over again and gullible Muslims as well as
their intelligentsia have carried this cross as an honour and privilege
As chairman of Congress’ Minority Cell in
1996, I was surprised to discover that all its meetings began with
recitation of Quran. I stopped this practice as I considered it a
religious activity not suitable for a secular party. However, this was
held against me by my secular colleagues in the party. Whenever i spoke
about socio-economic and educational problems faced by the community, i
was told by Congress’ highest leadership that Muslims voted out of fear
and not for development.
The same attitude prevails in other
‘secular’ parties like SP or BSP. They believe in taking the Muslim vote
for granted. Muslims had no ‘option’ but to vote for these parties if
they wanted India to remain secular.
Any group or community
without an option in a democracy is a bonded slave of certain parties
and politics. There are regional alternatives like SP, Trinamool
Congress, RJD and so on — but their attitude is the same. They all
expect Muslims to pay protection money in the form of their votes, the
secular ‘Jaziyah’ of modern democratic India.
How long and for
how many more elections will this continue? When will secularism be the
need for a modern state which treats its citizens equally, rather than a
burden to be carried by minorities of this great nation? The enemies of
secularism are not those who have opposed it but those who have
manipulated it for their electoral benefit, looking to get Muslim votes
out of fear rather than from conviction.
The writer is a former MP and editor, Nai Duniya.
If our leaders had any sense (and shame), INS Vikraant would be converted into a museum and the history of the Bangladesh war should be re-told with a focus on the victims (all of them) not victors. While all groups suffered it was primarily the Hindus who were exterminated or driven out of the country to lead life as refugees in India (where they would face extreme prejudice in Dandakaranya and elsewhere). Hindu homes even had charming yellow stars painted on them. People were shot on the spot depending on whether they were circumcised or not. The powers that be kept quiet at that time because they wanted to focus on bangla nationalism (and punjabi racism) and not the hindu-muslim divide. But why the silence after such a long time?
To be sure all this is not conspiracy just incompetence on a grand, incomprehensible scale.
decommissioned aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, INS Vikrant, which
played an important role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, has been sold for Rs
60 crore. “The auction process of INS Vikrant was completed
last week and a company named IB Commercial Pvt Ltd won the bid,” said a
defence source here tonight.
Earlier, the Maharashtra
government had expressed its inability to maintain Vikrant, the Indian
Navy’s first aircraft carrier which was commissioned in 1961. It was
decommissioned in January 1997.
In January 2014, during the hearing of
a public interest litigation which opposed the plan to scrap the ship,
the Union ministry of defence told the Bombay high court that it had
completed its operational life. While the Maharashtra government stated that to preserve it as a museum would not be viable financially. The high court subsequently dismissed the PIL. The Majestic-class
aircraft carrier, purchased from Britain in 1957, played a key role in
enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan
War of 1971.
administrators and computer security researchers on Tuesday scrambled to
fix a serious vulnerability in OpenSSL encryption used by thousands of
web servers, including those run by email and web chat providers. The
bug, dubbed Heartbleed, “allows anyone on the internet to read the
memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the
In other words hackers or cyber criminals
can use the Heartbleed bug to steal private encryption keys from a
server that is using OpenSSL protocols of SSL/TLS encryption and then
snoop on the user data, including passwords. There are reports that
servers of Yahoo, Imgur and Flickr have been affected. However, this is
around two-year-old bug and hence no one knows for sure how many people
have exploited it at how many servers have been compromised.
The bug is so serious and widespread that Tor Project, which manages the
anonymous Tor network, has advised web users to go offline for a while.
“If you need strong anonymity or privacy on the internet, you might
want to stay away from the internet entirely for the next few days while
things settle,” it said in a blog post.
Sometimes the blows have been real and deadly, and they have been directed towards the aforesaid pure people, thereby stopping the zealots in their bloody tracks. That in our opinion is what is so wonderful about this story.
That said our overlords will always find a way to ensure that defeat will be snatched from the jaws of victory (and progress). It is not realistic to expect leopards to change their spots, it will take a new generation of leaders to place the abstract notions of liberty, equality and fraternity on a firm pedestal. Here is hoping.
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan has
kicked up another controversy when he said it was “Muslim soldiers” who
fought for India’s victory in the 1999 Kargil war against Pakistan.
The controversy-prone Khan, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh
government, dragged the Kargil conflict into the ongoing high voltage
Lok Sabha campaign at an election rally in Ghaziabad last night.
“Those who fought for victory in Kargil were not Hindu soldiers, in
fact the ones who fought for our victory were Muslim soldiers,” he said
in a speech laced with communal overtones.
Khan also went on to say that no one can guard the country’s borders better than those from the Muslim community.
“Recruit us in the Indian Army. No one can guard the borders of our nation better than us,” he said.
Former Army Chief Gen VK Singh, who is the BJP candidate from
Ghaziabad Lok Sabha constituency, condemned Khan’s remarks, saying the
Kargil war was “won by Indians”. “Anybody who talks of caste, creed and religion in the army needs to
be condemned. He may be anybody. The war was won by Indians and not by
any caste, creed, society, religion,” he said.
The religious mafia(s) are making it clear that they are hurt by every spoken word and will inflict maximum pain in return. It is time for the intellectuals to lead the battle but they have remained passive (unless some Hindutva angle is present). Why not demonstrate some principles for a change and stand up against intimidation by the bullies??
If Narendra Modi moves to Race Course Road this summer, India is set
for an epic culture war. Even if he remains as cautious in office as he
is being as a prime ministerial candidate, a future BJP-led government
in New Delhi would chill India’s beleaguered liberals to the bone. They
are already on the backfoot, since over the last ten years Congress has
not shown the slightest interest in protecting, for example, the
individual’s right to free speech. Nor has it reconsidered how a
commitment to the separation of State and religion might be updated for
the 21st century.
The idea of offense and blasphemy in India remains
old-fashioned, with both offenders and offended following an imported
19th century script. As the original Penal Code of 1860 states,
imprisonment will be the punishment for anyone who ‘with the deliberate
intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any
word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person’.
For decades now, the idea of personal liberty in the form of
Nehruvian secularism and freedom of expression has failed to gain much
popular traction. This is not to suggest any infringement of freedom of
belief would ever be tolerated by India’s citizens, or that Indians lack
the right to openly express an opinion in a way that remains forbidden
in many countries, but rather that the current form of the debate
remains elitist and abstruse, and is often confined to the
Thus a ban on a film or book may get reported
around the world as an attack on freedom, but it will rarely draw an
Indian crowd onto the streets. A dispute over the upkeep of the Dargah
Shah-e-Mardan, on the other hand, will, for example, produce over 25,000
passionate protestors, as happened earlier this month in Delhi; but it
will barely be reported in India and will be ignored internationally, as
if it were of no consequence.
What passes for secularism in India—which in practice is often a
system whereby political parties secure Muslim votes by wooing
hereditary and religious leaders—has its roots in the shift away from
reform and conversion in the wake of the great rebellion.
Queen Victoria, influenced by her well-educated German husband
Albert, had an aversion to Christian bishops and a great dislike for
missionaries. She even objected to her children’s governess telling them
to kneel while saying their prayers in the evening. Why couldn’t they
just lie in bed and pray? The settlement after 1857, with power passing
from the East India Company to the British Crown, was a way to maintain
British power at a time of weakness, but it was also a statement of
Victoria’s own beliefs.
Against the advice of her ministers, Queen Victoria made amendments
to a proclamation of future government policy, stating that from now on,
nobody in India would be ‘in any wise favoured, none molested or
disquieted by reason of their religious faith or observances, but that
all shall alike enjoy the equal and impartial protection of the law; and
we do strictly charge and enjoin all those who may be in authority
under us that they abstain from all interference with the religious
belief or worship of any of our subjects’. This was—in an era when
Britain still had legalised discrimination against Jews and
Catholics—quite a step to be taking.
Individual freedom of conscience came first: missionary organisations
quickly flooded Windsor Castle with letters of complaint, but Victoria
did not budge. The toleration of the Indian state was guaranteed. More
than 150 years later, the royal proclamation of 1858 forms the basis of
India’s policy of freedom of belief. In Pakistan, the situation
reversed: the state legally discriminates against heretics.
The difficulty with the shape that toleration now takes in India is
not the theory, which remains admirable, but the practice. If artists
are in trouble with outraged members of a religious group, they are at
risk. If a film or a book is suppressed for spurious reasons by a
politician or a court order, the state will do nothing at all to protect
the right to liberty of expression. If Salman Rushdie appears at a
public event, no ‘secular’ leader will go near him, for fear of
contagion. A supposedly representative Hindu opponent of an academic
book will use outmoded and imported Christian arguments against impiety,
and ignore the expansive, eclectic traditions of Hinduism—in which
devotion is too intense to be troubled by the petty misrepresentations
A beleaguered liberal, asked what should be done about this impasse,
will generally answer that the Indian state needs to intervene legally
or physically at times of threat, and securitise the right to freedom of
speech—while knowing this is a political impossibility.
What seems to
happen remarkably rarely (and much less, I think than it used to in the
post-independence years) is direct engagement between the opposing sides
of such arguments. It is striking that both Hindu and Muslim
traditionalists complain privately of being excluded from any
opportunity to discuss what it is that offends them, and feel they
suffer if their command of English is shaky.
When it comes to electoral politics, the assertion of secular values
is even more skewed. Indian Muslims still suffer from social exclusion,
lack of secure employment and chronic tokenism.
Earlier this year, I spent time with a Muslim leader in central India
who had an iron grip on his community: he, or his family, had control
of access to places at an engineering and medical college, the
opportunity for individuals to stand for election, and even the chance
to start a business. If an outside politician wished to hold a meeting
in the local areas under his control, they had first to seek the
leader’s permission. In his own view, and it was not wholly without
foundation, the power he wielded was necessary to protect the minority
community from hostile communal forces.
He spoke of progress. Would it not be helpful, I asked, if India had a
single law that applied equally to all citizens on matters such as
marriage, inheritance and the adoption of children? Absolutely not, he
answered, as I had expected. But the present divided system, a leftover
from earlier times, significantly weakens personal liberty by subsuming
individuals into a system of control based on compulsory group identity. Indian Muslim women, for example, can still be divorced by the utterance of the triple talaaq.
In many Islamic countries, this has been prohibited as archaic. Even
across the border, the triple talaaq was abolished under the Pakistani
Muslim Family Laws Ordinance in more liberal times in 1961. In India, it
remains firmly in place.
If any of these myriad areas of contention are to be improved, the
change has to come from what in India is perhaps inaccurately called the
left: secularists, progressives, liberals and former and current
communists. Were a BJP-led administration headed by Narendra Modi to try
installing a uniform civil code, for instance, the country would turn
into a sea of protest; coalition partners would fall away, probably
bringing down the government.
Each bottle contains 10 ml of indelible ink.
“The contents of the bottle or the chemical formula used in its
manufacture is a State secret. Otherwise, people will start making
efforts to wipe the ink away and subvert the democratic process,’’ says
Hara Kumar, managing director, marketing, of the company.
Five years ago, the unit dispatched 1.9 million bottles to the EC. In
2014, the demand is up by almost 20 per cent. “Around 70 per cent of the
total order has already been transported to various state capitals
while the rest is being manufactured using a single shift,” says Kumar.
In the last financial year, the company’s turnover was Rs 18.92 crore
with a net profit of Rs 2.29 crore; 50-70 per cent of its total sales
can be attributed to indelible ink. Moreover, the company earns foreign
exchange too. It exports indelible ink to 28 countries in Asia and
Africa, including Turkey, Bhutan, Malaysia, Nepal, South Africa,
Nigeria, Ghana, Papua New- Guinea and Canada. It also supplies voters’
ink to the United Nations.
This company was started by the Mysore Royal family in 1937 and was
once called Mysore Lac and Paint Works Ltd. At the time, the company
also made special paints for application on war tanks. It was in 1962
that the company was granted an exclusive licence to manufacture and
supply indelible ink to the EC by the National Research Development
“Indelible ink was used for the first time in the 1962 election.
Kumar says that over the years, the company has changed the
composition of the ink to address complaints that it can be easily
rubbed off. “Technically, once applied it will stay bright for more than
ten days and start fading only afterward. There is no chance that a
person can rub it off immediately and go to another booth to cast a
second vote,’’ he says.
Regardless of what Kumar or the teacher say, booth-level political
workers admit that the ink can indeed be erased. Assorted cleaning
agents may be used for the job: anything from toothpaste, hand
sanitisers, nail polish removers to dish washing liquids and alcohol.
And if those don’t work all that well, there are several YouTube videos
that demonstrate how to unmark your finger.
Kahar Zalmay has an excellent report about how he traveled with friends who wanted a small property dispute in Karachi to be solved and had to go to North Waziristan to the court of Khan Said aka Sajna, local Taliban commander. Its a must read.
Part two is here
Our business was related to the Sajna group of the Mehsud Taliban but there was another group too, the Hakimullah Mehsud group. I was focused on the Sajna group to get to know how it operates. For Mehsud tribesmen, there were separate offices in Miranshah, which would deal with their matters like land disputes, business disputes and family issues. Areas like Saanp, Makeen, Ladha, Speenkai Raghzai, Baarwan, etc, had their separate offices (markiz) with landline telephone numbers, which the Taliban would openly use to dial numbers across Pakistan. There were around 17 offices for different areas in the main Miranshah bazaar.
Read it all.
It also reminded me of something I wrote 6 years ago after a trip to Karachi. I am posting this unchanged (from an email I wrote at the time). It seems to me that the heroic and optimistic phase of Taliban justice may be over (comparing my 6 year old report to the new one by Kahar Zalmay). Anyway, I think it gives a good idea of how things looked on the ground to at least one pair of drivers who lived in Karachi in 2008.
I interviewed two pathan drivers from Waziristan and got identical replies from both (the affair with the sister obviously applies to only one of them), so I am posting the rough translation and leave any
conclusions up to you:
Q. Who is now ruling waziristan?
A. The Taliban, led by Baitullah Mehsud.
Q. What if he is killed?
A. He will be replaced. This is an organized movement. It is not dependent on any one person. If he is killed, someone equally capable will replace him, inshallah.
Q. How do you find their rule?
A. Much much better than the rule of Pakistan used to be.
Now, there is peace among the tribes and hundred year old disputes have been settled honorably and all parties have accepted the settlement because they all know that it is according to shariah and is fair. Now there is rule of law instead of rule of the gun. Anyone who violates the shariah will face justice. All those who live by the rules have nothing to fear.
Q. What about the war on terror?
A. Yes, the war is a problem and this will continue for some years. We expect that the Pakistani army will continue to fight us because their generals have abandoned Islam and become slaves of America. But still, rule by the Taliban is better, even with the war. Better than the rule of the political agents and their sardars.
Q. What about development work?
A. Development work increased in the last few years, thanks to the Taliban. In the past, the sardars and the poltical agents would steal all the money meant for development. But in the last 2 years, they
were warned by the Taliban to spend those funds fairly, So roads and colleges have been built. There is some problem because of the war now, but we hope there will be more development when peace is
restored. Of course, no behayaaee (shamelessness) is allowed. Half naked women and music and other abominations will not be allowed.
Q. What about your own life in Karachi?
A. The Taliban rule here too. The pathan colonies have many ANP and PPP supporters but they also have taliban representitives to handle legal disputes. We had a problem. our sister was married at an early age, but then there was dushmani and she was sent home and is now at our home. But the man
would not grant a divorce, so we could not marry her anywhere else. It was a big problem. We got a degree from a Pakistani court, but nobody could enforce it for us. We got a fatwa from the local mufti, but still the man would not give her a formal divorce. Then we went to the Taliban court here in Karachi. They called that man in. He said he needed to consult relatives in Waziristan, so the Taliban court gave him 3 days. In 3 days he came back. The taliban heard the whole case and gave a
judgement. He had to divorce her. He gave the divorce right there and then. RIGHT THERE IN THE COURT! Where else can you get justice like this?
Q. What if he did not obey them?
A. (laughing) Then he will pay a very heavy price. No one can disobey them. They are strong and they have justice and Islamic law on their side. Why would anyone disobey them?
Q. What if they start passing bad orders?
A. Sahib, you think this is a joke, but this is not a joke. They are good people and they have changed the face of Waziristan. They are organized. They follow Islamic law. Why would they give bad orders?
anyone can make one mistake. but if they stop following Islamic law, we would all stop obeying them. After all, we know what Islamic law is. Disputes going back centuries have been settled in days. It is
almost like what you hear about the coming of Islam in Arabia. You too should do dawah and convert some kafirs in America to save your akhirat (afterlife). We Muslims should have rule of law. Look at the kafirs, they have rule of law, even though those are man-made laws, not the laws of Allah. We
should not be ruled by corrupt generals or other self seeking persons. Wouldn’t it be better to be ruled by Islamic law? Wouldnt it be better to have real justice? under the Taliban, even the weak have rights. Alhamdolillah.
One of the unexpected pleasures of modern parenthood is
eavesdropping on your ten-year-old as she conducts existential
conversations with an iPhone. “Who are you, Siri?” “What is the meaning
of life?” Pride becomes bemusement, though, as the questions degenerate
into abuse. “Siri, you’re stupid!” Siri’s unruffled response—“I’m sorry
you feel that way”—provokes “Siri, you’re fired!”
Earlier this year, a
mother wrote to Philip Galanes, the “Social Q’s” columnist for The New York Times, asking him what to do when her ten-year-old son called Siri a “stupid idiot.”
Stop him, said Galanes; the vituperation of virtual pals amounts to a
“dry run” for hurling insults at people. His answer struck me as
clueless: Children yell at toys all the time, whether talking or dumb.
It’s how they work through their aggression.
were human, no matter what device it comes out of. Evolutionary
theorists point out that, during the 200,000 years or so in which homo
sapiens have been chatting with an “other,” the only other beings who
could chat were also human; we didn’t need to differentiate the speech
of humans and not-quite humans, and we still can’t do so without mental
effort. (Processing speech, as it happens, draws on more parts of the
brain than any other mental function.) Manufactured speech tricks us
into reacting as if it were real, if only for a moment or two.
today will be the first to grow up in constant interaction with these
artificially more or less intelligent entities. So what will they make
of them? What social category will they slot them into? I put that
question to Peter Kahn, a developmental psychologist who studies
child-robot interactions at the University of Washington.
Kahn analyzes how children relate to cumbersome robots whose
unmistakably electronic voices express very human emotions. I watched a
videotape of one of Kahn’s experiments, in which a teenaged boy played a
game of “I Spy” with a robot named Robovie. First, Robovie “thought” of
an object in the room and the boy had to guess what it was. Then it was
Robovie’s turn. The boy tugged on his hair and said, “This object is
green.” Robovie slowly turned its bulging eyes and clunky head and
entire metallic body to scan the room, but just as it was about to make a
guess, a man emerged and announced that Robovie had to go in the
closet. (This, not the game, was the point of the exercise.)
fair,” said Robovie, in its soft, childish, faintly reverberating
voice. “I wasn’t given enough chances to. Guess the object. I should be
able to finish. This round of the game.” “Come on, Robovie,” the man
said brusquely. “You’re just a robot.” “Sorry, Robovie,” said the boy,
who looked uncomfortable. “It hurts my feelings that,” said Robovie,
“You would want. To put me in. The closet. Everyone else. Is out here.”