Monthly Archives: October 2007

DONT MISS!

Today at 7 pm , on Breaking News at Headlines Today and Aaj Tak ,
The entire Exposé of the Gujarat Genocide.

It’s happening.It’s finally happening!

And it is also time to shed light on what really happened in Godhra.

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The Tehelka Story on the operation brings to us the remorseless voices that orchestrated the tragedy.

After having moved the fourth estate, lets hope and pray that this operation moves the judicial machinery into taking the right steps towards trying and punishing all the accused named and implicated in the videos.Elections are due in December and contrary to the BJP’s view that this comes as a sabotaging act to the electoral process, this is in fact an aid to the concept of free and fair democracy.

A lot of what the tapes tell us is common knowledge in Gujarat. But having perpetrators implicate themselves on film is evidence that cannot be easily denied.And for the process of trial there is this and much more.It is time for the Center and the Election Commission to step in and stop the same criminal government from coming back again, in the name of development and progress.

For the public of Gujarat that seeks to put the shadows of 2002 behind, there can be no circumventing the issues of 2002.These are glaring wounds that yearn to be dealt with.

As a people we give thanks in deference to the entire Tehelka team, to Tarun Tejpal, Harinder Baweja, Ashish Khetan and Shoma Choudary among others.

Indscribe has an account of the gruesome details that Operation Kalank has brought to light.(via Blogbharti)

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Affirmative action, Identity politics and Divisiveness.

Where is the place for looking at space defining interventions within identity politics in South Asia?

One State Solution

One often finds that the Indian political landscape or to put it largely, the South Asian Political landscape ridden with extremely tight notions of identity.Understandably because of the region’s history with the idea of religion and politics that grew around it.

As a consequence of this, people that want to speak of these ideas find themselves on a no man’s land between tight lipped conservationists and sometimes tighter liberationists.

If you don’t want speak of a revolution then where might be the space to speak in ways that are new and innovative? What is the language in which you are going to pitch your discourse of identity if you do not draw from existing discourses?

Somehow, No one wants to listen.

Read between my lines.Please.

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Image thanks to my new best friend.

from the past.


Janamatha

Rethinking previous work is necessary.This is one of the photos that spawned off the Shivajinagar Signs project that Namita Malhotra and I did.

And a similar Sarai project on Street-Signs in the city of Pune called Vaartaphalaks spawned off this train of enquiry.

We addressed questions of divisive material, but these issues come back again and again.
Living in Gujarat and then coming back to where you grew up, a largely undivided atmosphere, (although changing).

Saint God, Communalism, Divisiveness.

None of these terms have stand alone meanings.

What about terms like fundamentalism?

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Shivajinagar Signs is now a flickr pool for everyone interested in contributing to it and adding to our archive.Bismillah 🙂

Both these projects were facilitated by Sarai Independant Fellowship Grants.

One State Solution.The Blog.

It’s now a blog.

 

It’s now also a blog.

 

During OSSW’07( One State Solution Week, 2007), I wasn’t entirely for having a centralised blog because that would mean isolating audience on one portal, and this event was supposed to have happened on various blogs.

 

But for all our future campaigns in order to gather consciousness, thinking, action and people, we have a blog.

 

And it is

http://onestatesolution.wordpress.com

 

No more fear.

 

Did you hear the latest?

 

 

This time it’s not a little bird,

 

 

It’s a huge shout that rings through the air.

 

 

Women are free.

 

 

Yes. We are.

 

 

You may not have noticed. But while you were dreaming, we woke up and started to think. We have decided to let go of our inhibitions.

 

 

Our internally built rules.

 

 

We cannot pretend to ignore anymore.

 

 

We will not be apologetic about just being.

 

 

We are.

 

 

We’re free.

 

 

Inconsolably . We swear. We believe. We KNOW. For Sure. That the time has come, we will not bend. We will just swoop and soar.

 

 

And tomorrow, has.Already.Come.

 

 

So when I want to take a walk, whatever be the time of the beautiful night, I take a walk. And I walk the streets with no fear as to where I may go or how far away from home. I walk when I walk. Daringly, fearlessly, I explore my territory. I will not relent this right.

 

 

And when I want to take a profession, I go out and create my domain. And not wait for anyone to take notice of me. I live it with my blood, sweat and brains.I create new worlds for me and fellow human beings.

 

 

When I want to wear something, I wear it, for whoever, and for me.

 

 

I cut my hair short. I take a break from work. I like to live. I have no fear.

 

 

When I want to blow my top, I take a walk. I get angry. I have to scream. I have a temper. I feel like shit. It’s amazing but I can really think for myself. I dream also. I really like the mist. I can’t wait to see the day I make the most of my talents. I will go on and on and on.

 

 

And on…

Eid Mubaarak!

 

Day 6 Detox

Originally uploaded by * Honest *

 

SO.

 

You have been good.
You have been kind.You have not seen, thought, heard or spoken evil.

 

You have fasted.
You have prayed.

 

Now it’s time to take stock.

 

BE.

Eid Mubaarak!

 

And remember, Be good!

 

 

Disclaimer: Not my image.The maker is called Honest.Follow the links to find this wonderful artist.Thank You so much Honest!

 

Sexual Harassment affects OUR well being.

Imagine a woman who walks the street everyday, she confronts harassment everyday. She braves it ; she has to get to work. Has a job to do. Falls sick, gets depressed, has a low self esteem…Continues to walk the same path.

Imagine a guy who thinks women are just prey to his motives. Stands by the same street, jeers at the same women. Leers, gawks, squats, spits, says bad things, cusses…Everyday, imagining the women are getting pleasure out of his pleasure. Living in the same dreary universe.

Imagine a woman who works in an office, faces harassment, domestic worker, wife, politician, CEO, engineer, activist, lawyer, actress, waitress, teacher, nurse, school-girl, dancer, singer, news-reader, sex-bomb, media tycoon, modesty blaise character, graphic artist, deep thinker, garment factory worker, embroideress , seamstress, oracle, philosopheress, home-maker, air-craft pilot, historian, architect, camera-woman, photographer, jazz musician, talk-show host, chef, farmer, scientist, astronaut, lecturer, principal, psycho-therapist, educator, doctor, theologist , dentist, surgeon, grass-roots entrepreneur, film-maker, novelist, artist…All facing harassment of various degrees.

Men. CEO’s ,Heads of State, urchins, clowns in the circus, jugglers, fire-men, cable-guys, electricians, businessmen, politicians, theologists, anthropologists, musicians, lighting technicians, real estate agents, marriage brokers, ice-candy sellers, guys, lawyers, judges, architects, clerks, office-boys, chartered accountants, management consultants, fathers, brothers, uncles, family friends, family doctors, family disgraces, holy-men, theorists, artists…All creating and perpetuating and churning out harassment.

Two stories from the Indian Express in the month of September. A 3 year old was raped by her uncle while she was left in his care. A twelve year old boy rapes a four year old.

We’re in this together. You make me sick. You, in the process are carrying out a sickness. It spreads like an epidemic. Soon, it gets into the air and a society is suffering in oblivion. We think we’re better than each other, but we’re all sick. We don’t know it yet.

Some of us survive but we’re heavily darkened. We don’t know how we would have been otherwise, what we could have been.

For now, I’m sickened by all this. You make me sick. I’m tired and coughing. Trying to do my job.

But I will not relent. If I do, then I might turn out like you. You make me sick.

Cough cough spit. It out.

I need more strength than this. Let’s make the sir cleaner, air out these putrid fumes.

Start treating me like a human being.

Spit.

More collective spitting.

We need to get to know each other. But first, ack Thoo.

It doesn’t get dirtier than this. Mucky mucky air. Thooo.I’m so sorry.The language I get is the language I give.For all practical purposes…In a hopelessly uncivilised world.

Here WE are.

you .

me.

us.

unearth.the.angst.be.hopeful.soar.

Us.we.ours.society.world.US.We.home.

NO.


Pledge of Mutual Respect and Co-operation….

I endorse the Sunni Muslim Unity Pledge for mutual understanding, respect and co-operation. But I have a lot of reservations.

Here is the text of the pledge.

Pledge of Mutual Respect and Cooperation Between Sunni Muslim Scholars, Organizations, and Students of Sacred Knowledge

Hold fast to the Rope of Allah, all together, and be not divided. (Qur’an, 3:103)

Surely, those who have made divisions in their religion and turned into factions, you have nothing to do with them. Their case rests with Allah; then He will inform them of what they used to do. (Qur’an, 6:159)

In light of the Divine Word, we recognize that the historical nature of Sunni Islam is a broad one that proceeds from a shared respect for the Qur’an and Sunnah, a shared dependence on the interpretations and derivations of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), and a shared respect for the writings of a vast array of scholars who have been identified by their support for and affiliation with the Sunni Muslims and have been accepted as the luminaries of Sunni Islam – as broadly defined.

Likewise, detailed discussions in matters of theology are the specific domain of trained specialists, and proceed on the basis of well-defined principles and methodologies, which are beyond the knowledge of the generality of Muslims.

Our forebears in faith, with all the dedication, brilliance and sincerity clearly manifested in their works, have debated and discussed abstruse and complex issues of creed and practice, and have failed in most instances to convince their opponents of the veracity and accuracy of their positions.

The average Muslim is only responsible for knowing the basics of creed as they relate to a simple belief in Allah, His Angels, Scriptures, the Prophets and Messengers, the Last Day, and the Divine Decree.

Recognizing that the specter of sectarianism threatens to further weaken and debilitate our struggling Muslim community at this critical time in human affairs, and recognizing that Allah, Exalted is He, has given the Muslim community in the West a unique historical opportunity to advance the cause of peace, cooperation, and goodwill amongst the people of the world, we the undersigned respectfully:

– Urge Muslims to categorically cease all attacks on individual Muslims and organizations whose varying positions can be substantiated based on the broad scholarly tradition of the Sunni Muslims. We especially urge the immediate cessation of all implicit or explicit charges of disbelief;

– Urge Muslim scholars and students of sacred knowledge to take the lead in working to end ad hominem attacks on other scholars and students; to cease unproductive, overly polemical writings and oral discourse; and to work to stimulate greater understanding and cooperation between Muslims, at both the level of the leadership and the general community;

-Urge Muslims in the West, especially our youth, to leave off unproductive and divisive discussions of involved theological issues that are the proper domain of trained specialists, and we especially discourage participation in those internet chat rooms, campus discussion groups, and other forums that only serve to create ill-will among many Muslims, while fostering a divisive, sectarian spirit;

-Urge all teachers to instruct their students, especially those attending intensive programs, to respect the diverse nature of our communities and to refrain from aggressive challenges to local scholars, especially those known for their learning and piety;

– Urge our brothers and sisters in faith to concentrate on enriching their lives by deepening their practice of Islam through properly learning the basics of the faith, adopting a consistent regimen of Qur’anic recitation, endeavoring to remember and invoke Allah in the morning and evening, learning the basics of jurisprudence, attempting to engage in voluntary fasting as much as possible, studying the Prophetic biography on a consistent basis, studying the etiquettes that guide our interactions with our fellow Muslims, and the performance of other beneficial religious acts, to the extent practical for their circumstances;

– Finally, we urge the Believers to attempt to undertake individual and collective actions that will help to counter the growing campaign of anti-Islamic misinformation and propaganda that attempts to portray our religion as a violence-prone relic of the past unsuitable for modern society, and by so doing justify indiscriminate wars against Muslim peoples, occupation of Muslim lands, and usurpation of their resources.

Saying this, we do not deny the reality of legitimate differences and approaches, nor the passionate advocacy of specific positions based on those differences. Such issues should be rightfully discussed observing established rules of debate. However, we urge the above measures to help prevent those differences from destroying the historical unity and integrity of the Muslim community, and creating irreparable divisions between our hearts. Further, we do not deny the urgency, especially in light of the situation in Iraq, of efforts to foster greater cooperation between diverse Muslim communities. Hence, this document should not be seen as negating any statements, or declarations designed to foster greater peace and harmony between diverse Muslim communities. However, we feel, as Sunni Muslims, a pressing need to first set our own affairs in order.

In conclusion, having called our brothers and sisters to act on these points, we, the undersigned, pledge to be the first to actively implement them in response to the Divine Word:

Do you enjoin righteousness on the people and refuse to follow it yourselves and all along you are reciting the scripture!? Will you not reflect? (Qur’an (2:44)

We ask Allah for the ability to do that which He loves. And Allah alone is the Grantor of Success.

Aameen.’

The pledge itself was developed in the West, but I cannot say enough about the need for mutual understanding between not just Muslims but all religious scholars in India where I see innumerable animosities based on matters of religious understanding , and among the Muslims in terms of Fiqh(Jurisprudence), on the application of Sufi thought and doctrine, and on matters of ijtihad(reasoning on matters of theology).

I cannot stress enough the need for opening out the scripture and theological texts to the larger public domain for them to available and accessible to one and all. When great scholars like Al-Ghazzali worked they had in mind the benefit of all mankind. My experience and practice and knowledge , for now remains painfully and ignorantly rooted only in Islam, so I speak from here in the hope and earnest prayer that God increases me in his knowledge. For He. surely, is the supreme guide and holder of wisdom.

I would like to go further and say that matters of sacred knowledge (God and his messengers know best) need to be debated in the open, so that our inner worlds are not that far from the outer. And this should not just be for the Muslim ummah but for the whole of God’s creation.

Traditional knowledges are inter-connected; medicine or anatomy was not separate from matters of the spirit. Today these connections need to be re-established or we will see a devastating impact on the academies wherein knowledge will only serve to disassociate us from our spiritual lives. This is already happening with the technologising of our lives and life-styles, and is a trend that needs to be corrected in the sciences and within philosophical spheres of learning.

This is the reason why I feel that matters of all religious learning need to be debated openly among diverse scholars and in conjunction with historians, scientists and theorists and political thinkers. I’m sure that in that process we will be not just doing justice to but also bearing and carrying forward the immense and invigorating repositories of knowledge that theological learning, the sciences of the spirit and ways of life such as the religious method have to offer.

There are however some problems I have with the pledge itself. I do not endorse the divide between scholar and lay-man and will never endorse the divide between a religious scholar and a practitioner of religion (May God be the witness to my words and deeds).While I embrace this call whole-heartedly because I see in it a spirit for togetherness and bridging long standing gaps between Islamic sects and the potential for some real debates on matters of Islamic history and the ahadeeth, I feel that the internet is in fact a great place to start talking about these matters. What better democratic, non-patriarchal and classless platform than this to advance thought,  and to communicate with diverse view-points? While there is a risk of profanity and distortion there is also the possibility of synergizing.

I am a believer in real experience as the best teacher in all values, but as a Muslim woman from a country where Muslims are an often persecuted minority, I cannot say how much being on the internet has strengthened my sense of being a part of a global shared pool of thinking, cultural values and practices. It is pitiable that I do not have the same sort of atmosphere in a physical sense but we all have our lives to lead. Our cultural mileu may be different but the best thing about this medium is that it allows people to talk to each other. And Alhamdulillah(Praise be to God), that may yet be the best tool we have.

In conversation with my people back home there always is the rift which the staunchest traditionalists call ‘maghribi taleem ka assar’ or the influence of Western learning, which to them reflects a lack in certainty. Urdu learning on the other hand is to them perfectly capable of granting an individual with the knowledge of certainty and moral rectitude that a Muslim needs. These differences between theology and modern life are too wide right now and it is about time that they be bridged.

As I write this I write with a great satisfaction that I have been given the means to articulate anger and angst that has been simmering in me for a long time . Jazak Allah! It is the holy month of Ramzaan and may my words bespeak the pain of a troubled heart and mind. But I’m immensely happy that I have had the opportunity to articulate these feelings and that this blessed pledge has brought them forth.

In the past week we have all been witness to the most stirring events of a generation. We have seen monks taking to the streets in order to correct a political situation. I have no words to express my exhuberance at these replenisingly, rescusiatingly wonderful sights. We all must in our own capacity stand with the brave people of Burma in their struggle for self-rule, and as we speak for unity in theological thinking, discourse and action we do not stand in isolation from the larger worlds of religions, each with their separate world -view. May God show us all the way.Aameen.

In Solidarity,

Raheema.


Original PDF version here.This pledge comes together from a group of scholars and I’m sadly not aware of any of them yet.Here is the Muslim Matters.org link.

 

Disaster capitalism, economics, SHOCK! , and Gujarat.

For a while now on this blog we have been talking about the free market and capitalism. If you look at the discussions 1 and 2 on Ayn Rand, they have been tending towards looking at economic models, the free market as well as the philosophy of objectivism.

Up until now the discussion has been extremely interesting and I have Upgrade01a, Ergo , Agent G, Tenil and Kuffir to thank for it.

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This inquiry has been based on human reason, on the media and individualism. In the past three weeks I have been working on models of economics and philosophy that balance individual and collective interest. This brings into question predominant models such as the democratic one, and critiques of it that are rooted in movements such as anarchism and communism.

As a take off from our discussion and to lead us further , I’m posting this video of ‘The Shock Doctrine’, a short film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein, directed by Jonás Cuarón.

Klein states in the film that economist Milton Friedman, of the Chicago School is the propounder of ‘Shock’ Economics wherein governments push vigorous capitalist business and corporate policies after natural or man-made disasters such as 9/11 or the tsunami in order so that the ‘shocked’ public is caught unawares and is submissive, obedient and powerless to resist.

The film itself is interesting to me being here in Gujarat. I think that the re-election of the Modi Government in Gujarat following the 2002 disaster of the Godhra Train is a clear example of another SHOCK syndrome at work.

The Burnt Godhra Train

In 2002, the majority voted for Narendra Modi because they felt ‘safe‘ under him. His election campaign was carried out on the basis of this ‘safety’ that he had secured for the majority from a now devastated minority. So the aam junta of Gujarat voted for Modi because they felt that his overtly masculine bravado would protect them from the bloated images of jehadis that were relayed everywhere in the Gujarati media. That to counter the hyper-productive angry Muslim Jehadi they needed another sword wielding barbarian of a ruler.

The real causes behind the train disaster of Godhra are yet unknown and there is no evidence to support the popular claim that the train was burnt as part of a conspiracy. We do know that the acting Chief Minister had the bodies of the deceased brought to Ahmedabad and displayed publicly for all to see. And this worked like fuel to the massive and gruesome tirade that followed against minorities in the State.

Elections are under way again , and this time, however, the opposition has woken up to Modi’s game strategies. We’re all watching.