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Sister Lucy, who joined protest with nuns in Kochi, banned from church activities #WTFnews

Sister Lucy Kalappura of Mananthavady diocese, Wayanad, has reportedly been banned from prayer, teaching the Bible, attending worship service and other activities of the parish, including offering holy communion.

Have dioceses started taking action against the nuns who joined the public protest led by five nuns, demanding the arrest of rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal? According to Malayalam media outlets, Sister Lucy Kalappura, one of the nuns who joined the protest outside the Kochi High Court, has been banned from church activities and relieved of her duties.

Sister Lucy Kalappura of Mananthavady diocese, Wayanad, has reportedly been banned from prayer, teaching the Bible, attending worship service and other activities of the parish, including offering holy communion. Joining the protest in Kochi, she had said that the Church should be prepared to correct themselves if any lapses had occurred, and expressed her unwavering support to the nuns seeking justice in this case.

On Sunday morning, she learnt that she had been barred from church activities, including teaching the Bible to class X students, when she arrived for prayer.

She later clarified to the media that she had not received any written notice on this, but was deeply saddened that she had been barred from the church activities. She also pointed out that she joined the protest to support her fellow nuns, and that she had not spoken against the Church.

She also said that she has received plenty of support from other nuns in the diocese for having joined the protest.

Action is being taken against Sister Lucy for allegedly going against the Church, for taking a loan to buy a vehicle and for not wearing her nun’s habit at a public event.

Reports indicate that the Mother Superior of her Church had recommended action be taken against Sister Lucy three months ago, although this has clearly been provoked by the nun’s support to the protest demanding the arrest of rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The St Mary’s Church, however, has denied that any action has officially been taken against Sr Lucy. According, to a press release, the church claimed that Sr Lucy used to be involved in catechism and offering Holy Communion activities of the church. Some churchgoers disapproved of her recent criticism of the church through social media and other publications, and this was informed to the priest, Fr Stephen Kottakkal. Churchgoers had a problem with her training their children on faith, and being involved in catechism activities, the church said.

“Sister Lucy has only been informed of the public sentiment through her superior. No restrictions have been imposed on Sister as a Catholic believer and a nun,” the church said, putting the blame squarely on churchgoers.

After five nuns began their protest outside the Kochi High Court on September 9, there were reports of many congregations, such as the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC), issuing internal circulars, barring other nuns and priests from joining the protest.

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India – Modi and the art of distraction

‘The arrests of Sanatan Sanstha members for committing murder and stockpiling explosives with the alleged intent of committing mass murder must be embarrassing to a majoritarian government,’ notes Devangshu Datta.

The great Jadugar K Lal once told me that stage magic just involved using imagination, followed by careful scripting and practice.

He said the really difficult thing was learning the art of distraction.

Misdirecting the audience’s attention was, he said, a skill that far transcended the performance of smooth sleights of hand and the crafting of clever mechanical illusions.

It is a skill that the current political establishment has learnt well.

Whenever it’s under pressure, it creates some sort of distraction to drag attention away from the embarrassment of the moment.


The dawn raids by the Pune police on activists across the country was undoubtedly an attempt to do just that.

It succeeded since the arrests have dominated the news cycle for the next two days.

The question is, what was so embarrassing that the Centre decided to risk public opprobrium and ridicule by arresting elderly academics and lawyers on absurd charges?

It’s hard to find answers.

Could it have been demonetisation?

A Parliamentary committee had just criticised the exercise in no uncertain terms, pointing out the many undesirable outcomes.

The Reserve Bank of India’s annual report has also underlined the futility of the foolish exercise, which, if you remember, led to the deaths of over 100 people and caused misery to hundreds of millions.

Practically all the cash came back.

Cash held by the public now is back above pre-demonetisation levels.

The structure of household savings has changed for the worse, with the aam jantapulling money out of banks.

Bureaucrats told to defend the move have been reduced to risible statements like ‘Demonetisation worked, don’t ask how.’

Or, perhaps, it’s the meanness displayed in disbursing relief funds to Kerala? The southern state will require many, many thousands of millions to bootstrap out of this calamity.

The Centre is being niggardly in releasing tiny amounts in dribs and drabs.

Enough ‘friends of the establishment’ have pushed out faked images of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh delivering aid to lead the cynical among us to wonder why no real images could be produced.

And the less said about refusing aid from abroad the better.

The excuse is that this is government policy.

Well, surely this brave decisive government could change the policy?

However, it might not be Kerala or demonetisation that required fuzzing out of primetime focus.

The arrests of Sanatan Sanstha members for committing murder and stockpiling explosives with the alleged intent of committing mass murder must be embarrassing to a majoritarian government.

Maybe the civil rights activists were arrested in order to ensure that mass media did not focus on those arrests?

Or is it actually the Rafale controversy that the government doesn’t want debated on primetime?

There are so many weird elements to that story that it would be hard to peddle it as fiction. One government negotiates for 126 planes.

The next government decides to pay much larger sums for 36 planes.

What’s more, an industrialist who has never fabricated a plane in his career and whose companies owe over Rs 450 billion, suddenly becomes a joint venture partner of Dassault Aviation.

The French say they have no objection to the costs being mentioned in Parliament.

The Indian government says it can’t mention the numbers because it has a secrecy clause in a treaty with France!

Maybe it’s not the Rafale controversy either.

It could just be the record prices of diesel and petrol and the record weakness of the rupee.

After all, the current prime minister spent a lot of time excoriating the last government for the weak rupee and the high price of fuels.

Or, it could be the release of the Sudipto Mundle-led committee report on real sector statistics that suggested the last government did a better job in terms of generating growth.

Or, it might be Doklam, where the People’s Liberation Army has apparently been settling down.

Or, it may be the failure of helicopter diplomacy in the Maldives.

That’s a lot of potentially embarrassing stuff that could have made it to the news cycle.

Instead, we had the spectacle of 70-year-old academics being interrogated on why they read books on Marx and Mao.

Well played!

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India – Love, sex & the border patrol

Why love doesn’t set you free, especially in this country

In broad daylight, a young man was killed in front of his pregnant wife. The murder was planned by his own father-in-law, to avenge the ‘dishonour’ he felt because his daughter married this man, who was a Dalit. Events like this are not rare, but they stun and silence us. This is how caste violently disfigures ordinary human bonds. It’s plain to see, and impossible to deny.

Romantic love can be dangerous business in many parts of India — step over the line of your gotra or caste or religious community, and the sirens and alarms go off. The border patrol gets you — whether in the form of practical counsel from extended family, or with brutal force, as happened with Shankar and Kousalya, Ilavarasan and Divya, Babli and Manoj, Pranay and Amrutha, and so many others.

But suppose you’re one of the lucky few who’s never been actually told to stay within any bounds. That you grew up thinking you would choose your own romantic fate, through trial and error if necessary.

Still, similar pressures and barriers gently shape our choices, however faraway they seem. If people like us were truly free, would we fall in love so cautiously? In this country of teeming possibilities, it’s remarkable how we end up with people just like us. All these decades after B R Ambedkar spoke of intermarriage dissolving caste, barely 5-6 percent of Indian marriages are inter-caste.

Love is often billed as the one liberating thing, the utopian force that jumps us out of our social tracks, surprises us. In the Bombay cinema of the 50s, romantic love was the fantasy of modernity itself. Its heroes and heroines roamed free, flirted, broke a few social boundaries, though few people watching the movie had such options.

But in India, ‘love marriage’ tends to stick within the confines of a matrimonial ad. People from ‘professional families’ and ‘business families’ are wary of mixing, we are alert to each other’s accents, and our social walls are disguised as judgments of taste like “he doesn’t read enough” or “she’s not my type”.

And if you’re being honest, physical attraction also follows some social/aesthetic conventions. It’s not easy to escape what philosopher Amia Srinivasan called the “discriminatory grooves along which our sexual desires move”. The heart has its reasons indeed.

Nobody has to tell us to not love the wrong sort of man or woman, we have our own unsaid checklists. The border patrol isn’t just out there, it’s in here, we erect the safety railings in our own minds. Recently, I was watching the movie Manmarziyaan, it was clear how relieved the audience was that the female lead ends up with the suitable boy, the banker with prospects who also happens to be ‘understanding’ of her youthful follies. We are all Mrs Bennetts and Rupa Mehras, when it comes to a woman “marrying down”.

Of course some people do mix freely, within their own social orbits — Kareena Kapoor married Saif Ali Khan, a Mangalorean academic in your acquaintance might marry a doctor of Kashmiri origin, a Sikh startup guy might marry a Tamilian Hindu colleague. Big cities can scramble the lines. My mother’s caste was “higher” than my father’s, for instance, which made for some harmless dinner-table sociology. There are many people who marry across region, a few even across religion.

But we’re making a big deal about small differences here; no real hierarchy is unsettled in these unions. We rarely mix across class and ‘type’ (which encodes caste). “The culture is too different”, says someone I know about a prospective son-in-law whose caste is a couple of rungs ‘below’ hers, though cultural differences seem to evaporate for many parents when their children marry white people.

Seeking familiarity is not an exclusively Indian attitude, ‘like marries like’ everywhere in the world. But it feels like there’s less latitude, less social mobility, and people of different origins are treated like different species here. My sister’s colleague at her London law firm was married to a plumber — a pairing that would boggle the mind if they were Indian.

How do the few brave, normbending love affairs happen then? Sexual desire can overwrite the social code. And sometimes, you do have more in common with the cool, clever guy in your college or workplace than with your family. Sometimes there’s a flash of mutual connection that feels more real than the prejudices you’ve imbibed. Things may perhaps be more fluid for sexual subcultures — one of my friends, who’s gay, is negotiating a crossclass relationship, and it’s been a process of discovery and effort for both people.

Of course, romance is a thing between two individuals, not a grand political project. We can’t help liking the people we do, it’s not a selfaware calculation. Love doesn’t melt any structures of domination either. But at an individual level, it’s the one chance we have to smudge divisions and deeply understand someone unlike us.


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How a Madrassa became Oxford school

Modern madrassa-cum schools in UP combine Quran with computers

Dressed in his uniform — a blue-and-white striped shirt and blue trousers — Zunaid Khan watches raptly as the laptop screen plays a movie about how pollution is affecting the environment.

The 10-year-old is a Class V student of Gulshane Rizwan madrassa, where little children are regularly shown educational movies and videos of nursery rhymes so they pick up the right English pronunciation. Located in UP’s Faridpur town in Bareilly district, the madrassa is commonly called ‘Oxford School’.

It is one of the many madrassas-cum-schools that have come up in UP in recent years. Unlike the traditional madrassa where kurta-pyjamaclad students sit on the carpet and learn the Quran, Urdu and Persian as their main subjects, the focus here is on English, science, math, social studies, computer science and extracircular activities. Oxford School’s owner Rahil Khan says it’s mostly children from poor homes who come to madrassas for free education. “We do not want our students to be deprived of modern education, so we plan the schedule in such a way that they have enough time for both forms of education,” Khan says. “Students are taught from NCERT books and texts of private publishers approved by CBSE schools.” The unaided school, which came up a year ago, has 150 students enrolled in primary classes.

Tasleem Khan, a labourer whose children Khairoon Nisa (9) and Mohd Saddam Khan (7) go to Oxford School, says all members of his family have been labourers. “I want my children to get a proper education and decent jobs. A cleric persuaded me to send them to this school. Now our children even teach us,” says Khan, a resident of Savai Kalan village in Faridpur sub-division.

Although affiliated to the UP Board of Madrassa Education, these modern madrassas follow the CBSE curriculum. Jagmohan Singh, Bareilly district minority welfare officer, says the UP government has made NCERT books compulsory in madrassas from the current session. Less than half of UP’s madrassas are covered by the Centre’s modernisation scheme — Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrassas (SPQEM) — started eight years ago. Each institution is provided with books for modern subjects and three teachers who are paid an honorarium.

Many madrassas however, are bringing changes using their own resources. M Children Academy, an unaided madrassa in Bareilly’s Nakatia locality boasts qualified teachers with BEd degrees, a library, a computer lab and CCTV cameras in each classroom. Mohd Miraz, a Class X student, says, “I am confident that I will realise my dream of becoming a doctor because I am getting a proper education.”

Of the 220 students at the academy, nearly 10% are non-Muslims. Its principal Abdul Qadir says, “Since we charge a fee of only Rs 200 per month, we also attract non-Muslim students as it is economical for parents who want to give their children quality English-medium education.”

Javed Khan, an alumnus of the academy, got admission into Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia University in 2016, and is currently doing a three-year diploma in computer engineering. “Having had the same education as other students, I didn’t have problems adjusting to college life,” says Khan, who hopes to bag a job in a reputed company once his course is over.

Madrassa Gulshane Khursheed, which has 17 teachers and 650 students, lays stress on physical education, with weight-lifting machines in place to help students get fitter. Principal Farzand Ali says they have exercise and sports classes for both girls and boys and are planning to start yoga classes as well.

What sets apart Maulana Mohd Ali Jauhar Public School in Sambhal is the fact that students here are taught Quran and Hadith in English. Its manager Feroz Khan says, “We want our students to have knowledge of all languages and subjects. We are modernising our teaching methods so our children are able to excel in any field once they leave the madrassa.”

At Sun Flower Modern Urdu Arabic College in Chandauli, students have the option to choose either Urdu or Sanskrit while Sunni/ Shia theology is compulsory in Classes IX and X. Of the 180 students here, 90 are non-Muslims. “As we teach all subjects and conduct examinations regularly, students from all religions come here,” says the manager, Abdul Hasib.

The changing profile of the madrassa is already making a difference in students’ lives. Zoya Sameen, a Class VII student at the Chandauli madrassa, recalls that till a few years ago, she had to go to a regular school in the morning and a madrassa in the evening. “Now I am taught both kinds of courses here, so I have time to play in the evening.”

Modern madrassas are also getting a thumbs-up from community leaders. Maulana Shahbudin Razvi, national general secretary, Tanzeem Ulama-e-Islam, an organisation of Sunni Barelvi sect, says they do not have any issue with modern madrassas if they are giving proper classes on religious texts along with modern education. “We want children in our community to have proficiency of computer and English. The students should have an option of employment outside the religious sector,” he adds.

Maulana Mohd Salim Khan, a local cleric whose two children are enrolled in Oxford School, notes, “Though we want our children to know about Islamic law, it is also necessary for them to remain in the mainstream and compete with other kids of their age. Modern madrassas are bridging the gap between religious and modern education.”

‘I’m learning fast and I get to sit on a bench’

For Armaan Beg’s parents, it is a matter of pride that their son goes to a madrassa where the medium of instruction is English. The 10-year-old is the eldest among four siblings and studies in Faridpur town’s Oxford School. His father, Yunus Beg, is a labourer and earns Rs 200 per day, while his mother, Sona Begum, works as a zari artisan from home and makes Rs 150 in five days. Both his parents are illiterate.

Armaan says he used to go to a small madrassa in the mosque of Dalpura village near the town for an hour each in the morning and evening. “I was enrolled in a government primary school where I studied till Class III. However, as my teachers never paid any attention to me, I could not even write my name in English. After my parents learnt about the modern madrassa, they got me admitted here. As I was weak in studies, I got admission in Class II instead of IV.” The boy says the new school is different from his earlier ones. “The teaching method is interesting for both Quran and other subjects and I am learning fast. Also, I get to sit on benches.”

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The man fighting for Ayodhya’s Buddhist past

Vineet Kumar Maurya’s petition, claiming Ayodhya is neither Hindu nor Muslim but the site of a Buddhist temple, has been accepted by the Supreme Court

As an Indian citizen and someone who belongs to Ayodhya, I believe the truth should be uncovered. So, if I have to make sacrifices, I am ready to do that because I have nothing to lose. I am fighting for the truth,” says Vineet Kumar Maurya.

The truth is something that comes up more than half-a-dozen times in the 25-minute phone conversation Mirror had with Maurya who, in March this year, filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to investigate whether the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site at Ayodhya was originally Buddhist, and not Hindu or Muslim. The 46-year-old talks fervently about wanting to cut through the religious and political intrigue that animates the demand for building a Ram temple at the site. “I want things to be put in the right historical perspective,” he says. “I don’t want things to be mangled [in the name of religious and caste politics]. Let it be based on historical evidence.”

In July, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court heard the petition and saw enough merit in it to append it to the main petition, giving Maurya’s claim legal weight. “In my petition, I have not gone into the controversy of whether this belongs to the Hindus or the Muslims. All I have asked is that the artifacts you have found after digging 10 feet, who do they belong to? At one point, I was afraid that the court might penalise me or imprison me, but the court accepted that this is not necessarily Hindu or Muslim,” Maurya says.

A life-long resident of Ayodhya, Maurya, who is a Buddhist, says he lives beside the boundary wall of the site, and even worked as a labourer during the initial courtordered excavations in 2003. “If you ask anyone where the mad man stays, they will send you to my house,” he says. He takes Mirrorthrough the various digs at the site, from Japanese company Tojo-Vikas International’s initial survey through to the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) investigation, whose discoveries were sealed off from the public by a court order. However, Maurya claims that the ASI dug up artifacts that relate to Buddha: walls and bricks from the time of Emperor Ashoka, as well as a stupa and pillars.

Not a new claim

In 2011, The Buddha Education Foundation (BEF) filed a Special Leave Petition challenging the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 decision that stated that the real claimants to the site are Buddhists and followers of Dr BR Ambedkar. The petition was based on the 2003 ASI report, as well a report written in 1870 by Patrick Carnegie, a British archaeologist who was the officiating commissioner and settlement officer of Faizabad district, where Ayodhya is located.

Udit Raj, chairman of the BEF, and currently a BJP MP, said in a press release at the time that “construction before the existence of Babri Mosque belongs to Bauddh Vihar. Justice Sudhir Aggarwal held that Kasauti Pillars of disputed structure strongly resemble Buddhist pillars seen at Varanasi. Justice SU Khan held that Carnegy [sic] has mentioned that the Kasauti Pillars, which were used in the construction of mosque, strongly resembled Buddhist pillars which he had seen at Banaras”.

In addition, according to a 2011 media report, a book by Ambedkarite scholar Balwant Singh Charvak, titled Ayodhya Kiski?Na Ram Ki, Na Babar Ki, advances the theory that the site once housed “a grand Buddhist temple, dedicated to a Shudra rishi, Lomash (later identified, he says, as a Bodhisattva)”. Charvak goes on to claim that that Buddhist temple was not torn down by Babur, but destroyed “by anti-Buddhist Brahminical revivalists”. All Babur did was use the remnants of the Buddhist temple to build the Babri Masjid.

A national heritage site

What riles up Maurya the most is how the site is being used to play votebank politics and set Hindus and Muslims against each other. In the process, he says, some people have benefited, but those who call Ayodhya home, have suffered. “What have the people of Ayodhya got from Ayodhya? They have wiped out the truth from Ayodhya.”

Maurya claims he has been offered land, and even a Rajya Sabha seat, if he drops his petition, and that he has been harassed by agents from the Intelligence Bureau and the state Local Intelligence Unit. “They keep questioning me,” he says. “I told them, ‘Why don’t you draw up an accurate report and let the government assess the artifacts for themselves’?”

He hopes that if the artifacts found at Ayodhya turn out to resemble those found at the Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Sarnath and Shravasti, then the court will declare Ayodhya a monument of national importance. “I won’t compromise [on this],” he says. If the court does not rule in his favour, he is prepared to appeal, but he says, “I have full faith in the court that it will declare this a national monument. They are taking a humanitarian view of this.”

Once Ayodhya becomes an official Buddhist site, Maurya believes it will entice foreign pilgrims who travel the Buddhist circuit. This, in turn, will inject foreign currency into the local economy, giving it a boost and benefitting those who live and work here. “Only then will respect for Ayodhya be restored,” he says.

Maurya, 46, filed the petition in March this year

Maurya meditates at an art gallery in Ayodhya

Mumbai Mirror

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India – Blood weddings


Honour killings test state’s commitment to constitutional morality that protects rights of the marginalised and minority

In a society deeply fearful of change, love becomes an agent of subversion. Across the country, from Haryana to Tamil Nadu, the challenge of young women and men who transgress social norms in their choice of life partners has been met with violence and assassinations mistakenly called “honour killings”. That dishonourable record got bloodier still last week in Telangana, when a 24-year-old young man was hacked to death in Miryalaguda town, as his pregnant wife looked on. In this case, it was toxic caste hatred that claimed this young Dalit life. The main accused in the murder of P Pranay Kumar is the father of his wife, a member of the so-called “upper” Vaishya caste, who was so violated by his daughter’s decision to marry a Dalit that he allegedly set killers upon him with a prize of Rs 1 crore. He is not the first “upper-caste” man to be so threatened by his daughter’s sexual choice, nor will he be the last. Three years ago, another young Dalit man, Shankar, in Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu had been hacked by assailants sent by his wife’s family.

For many Dalits, this is just one more instance of Hindu society’s resistance to the ideas of equality and human rights promised by the Constitution. The backlash against Dalits sporting moustaches or riding a horse or leading a bridal procession through common village areas signifies a deep, violent insecurity about the new rules of engagement and assertion that Dalits seek to put in place. It is no surprise that this anxiety is particularly acute when it comes to marriage. As the architect of the Constitution, B R Ambedkar, had argued, dismantling the endogamy central to the caste system is key to countering its insidious hierarchy.

But what of the state’s record? Unfortunately, from the police to the courts, where Dalit representation continues to be abysmal, all institutions have shown a tendency to be hijacked by caste and clan loyalty. Therefore, the test in this case — as in others — is of the legal and political establishment’s ability to uphold the “constitutional morality” that protects the interests of the marginalised and those in the minority. On the ground, that implies, as Amrutha, Pranay’s wife, has demanded, a need for a swift investigation that puts the powerful killers — her own father included — behind bars. While the annihilation of caste might be far away, the annihilation of young men and women — for simply choosing to live together — must have terrible, deterrent costs.

Source: The Indian Express, Sept 20, 2018

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Is India going mad? I have 10 reasons to think so

Cow is our mother; cow urine can cure cancer; Congress has Brahmin DNA. Am I at the Mad Hatters Tea Party!


Sometimes I wonder whether the country is going berserk. Consider the facts:

  1. The Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly has yesterday passed a resolution declaring cow as Rashtra Mata. Not only the ruling BJP members voted for it, even the Opposition Congress supported it, and now the Central government has been asked to declare it nationwide.

cow_092018114747.jpgMoo all the way! (Photo: Reuters)

  1. The Rajasthan government has created a separate cow ministry(for looking after the welfare of cows)
  1. In Madhya Pradesh, five babas (including computer baba ) have been given status of minister of state
  1. In Madhya Pradesh again, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan declared that a gaushala (cow shelter) will be created for every five village panchayats. Not to be outdone, Congress state president Kamal Nath declared that if the Congress comes to power in the forthcoming Assembly elections, it would create a gaushala in every village panchayat.
  1. To prove he is a Shiva bhakt, Rahul Gandhi has gone on a yatra to Kailash Mansarovar, and has been tweeting regularly from there. Earlier, during the Gujarat Assembly elections, he visited dozens of temples, and was declared a ‘janeudhari’ Shiva bhakt.

computer_baba_092018114808.jpegFrom Ramdev Baba to Computer Baba (Photo: Facebook)

  1. The Congress media-in-charge, Randeep Surjewala, has said that the Congress has Brahmin DNA.
  1. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that without Muslims, there is no Hindutva. But in the same breath, he also says that people only raise a hue and cry over lynching of Muslims, but are silent when cow smugglers attack gau rakshaks. And the BJP, which is dominated by the RSS, will not give MP or MLA tickets to Muslims, and seeks to selectively throw out Muslim illegal immigrants from Assam, while allowing Hindu illegal immigrants to remain.

rahul_092018114828.jpg‘Janeudhari’ Shiva bhakt tweeting from Mansarovar

  1. Ramdev Baba is selling bottled cow urine, claiming it to be the cure for several ailments. His Divya Pharmacy purchases thousands of gallons of cow urine daily and makes Divya Godhan Ark from it. Scientists at Junagadh Agriculture University in Gujarat claim to have discovered cure for several kinds of cancersby use of cow urine.
  1. With an eye on the Muslim vote bank (Muslims constitute almost 30 per cent of West Bengal’s population), the TMC government reportedly paid salary of Rs 2,500 per month to each of the 30,000 imams in West Bengal and Rs 1,500 per month to each of the 1,500 muezzins from April 2012 to September 2013 when it was declared unconstitutional by the Calcutta High Court.
  1. Lynching of Muslims by cow-vigilantes is a regular feature in many parts of the country.

cow-vigilante_092018114845.jpgLynching by cow vigilantes a regular news in India. (Photo: Reuters)

Not to forget, a nationwide gimmickry called Swachhata Abhiyan and Swachhata hi Seva, announced by Prime Minster Modi, is going on in the country, and has now been endorsed by the President of India, Union ministers, governors of states, chief ministers, etc.

My mind boggles at all this, and sometimes I feel like Alice at the Mad Hatters Tea Party!

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Muharram’s Hidden Hero: Zainab, a Feminist Icon for All Time

Mohammed riding a camel during an event known as the Hijra or Hegira. Image used for representational purposes.

Mohammed riding a camel during an event known as the Hijra or Hegira. Image used for representational purposes.(Photo: iStock / Altered by The Quint)

In the context of Muharram, almost everyone knows who Husain is, but not many know the name of Zainab, or the fact that had it not been for her, Husain wouldn’t have been known.

Without Zainab’s speeches and sermons, Husain would have been dismissed as a mere rebel fighting against the ruler of the time. Husain, his male relatives and companions had been martyred in Karbala, Iraq on the 10th Muharram in 61 Hijri /680 AD.

They had chosen to sacrifice their lives over bowing down to Yezid, the tyrannical ruler of Syria. Only Zain-u Abidin, Husain’s sick son had survived, as he was too ill to fight.

Husain’s war over evil was over, and he went to heaven victorious. Now it was his sister Zainab’s war to fight, and this was not a ten-day war but a prolonged one. Zainab was destined to triumph and become a feminist icon for generations of men and women to come.

Zainab Addresses the Crowds in Kufa

On the 11th Muharram, the women, children and Husain’s son Zain-ul Abidin were captured by Yezid’s victorious army and taken to the court of Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, Governor of Kufa.

Kufa was the city where Zainab had lived with her father and siblings. This was the city where her father Ali had been the Caliph and his daughters, the princesses. This was the city where Zainab and her sister Umme Kulsum held classes for the women to teach them the exegesis of the Quran and Hadith of her grandfather. It was here that they were brought as captives on unsaddled camels, unveiled, disheveled and in a state of extreme sorrow.

However, Yezid and ibn Ziyad had underestimated Ali’s daughter. She was a captive but she wouldn’t cow down.

As the caravan entered the city of Kufa and the hordes of spectators came to gawk at what they thought were the family of the slain rebels, Zainab gave her first sermon.

There was a tumult in the city and some one asked, “Who are they?” Zainab identified her caravan as the descendants of the Holy Prophet, and because her voice could not be heard over the noise, she urged them to be quiet. The spectators were left breathless as the daughter of Ali spoke in the same tone and tenor as her father.

A hostile and jubilant crowd who had gathered to celebrate the victory of their governor over whom they thought to be rebels, turned into a mournful and questioning mass, after listening to the sermon.

In the Governor’s Court in Kufa

The following day, the prisoners from the Prophet’s family were produced in court. The Governor ibn Ziyad did not recognize Zainab in her disheveled (yet confident) state, and asked her to identify herself.

Zainab, in fetters, could see her brother’s severed head in front of ibn Ziyad and was in pain, but that did not diminish her self-respect or spirit.

She drew herself up and said, “I am Zainab bint Ali.” When ibn Ziyad mocked her for being in the state she was in, she said quietly and firmly that it was he who had been disgraced for his evil actions and he would find out soon enough. She was blessed to be the daughter of Ali and the granddaughter of the Prophet, and to be the sister of Husain who had attained martyrdom in the way of Allah.

The Journey to Damascus

It was a cruel winter when Zainab and the other captives began the difficult 750-mile journey to Damascus. They had to take the longer and less frequented route for fear of rebellion, as stories of Yezid’s actions against the Prophet’s grandson and family were beginning to percolate to Iraq. It fell to Zainab, Umme Kulsum and Zain-ul Abidin to bury the children who died on this arduous journey and comfort the grieving mothers.

Wherever a crowd gathered along the way, Zainab, Zain-ul Abidin, Umme Kulsum and Fatima Kubra (daughter of Husain) gave fiery speeches, informing the people of their lineage, of Husain’s fight, and the trials they had to undergo.

Arrival in Damascus

When they reached the outskirts of Damascus, they were ordered to wait for 72 hours in the main square of the souq (market) just outside the Grand Mosque while the court was being decorated to receive them.

Zainab once again addressed the people who had gathered to gape at them, on Husain’s fight and sacrifice, so that the rejoicing crowd would know that it was not a rebel’s defeat that they were celebrating.

In Yezid’s Court

Throughout the long journey, Zainab and the other captives had to bear the pain of seeing the severed heads of their slain relatives carried on spears by Yezid’s army. This was the norm of the victorious armies of the day. Even in the court of Yezid, Hussain’s head lay before them.

Yezid had invited signatories, chiefs and ambassadors to witness this spectacle.

As the captives tied with a rope were led into the grand mosque towards the wooden balcony on which Yezid sat on a bejeweled throne, Zainab seemed to imbibe divine energy. The captives were herded together on a small platform in front of the throne. Yezid recited a couplet in praise of his victory and mocked Zainab and Zain-ul Abidin.

Once again he underestimated Zainab who drew herself up to her full height, and delivered an impassioned speech quoting the Quran, that shook the assembled crowd including Yezid.

Zainab Shows the Way

The captives were quickly moved to a ruined house where they were kept imprisoned for around a year. Zainab was once again the pillar of strength for the women and children, and her nephew. Amidst murmurs of dissent and disapproval, Yezid offered release to Zain-ul Abidin. He consulted his aunt as usual. Zainab asked that the heads of their martyred relatives be returned to them and a house be given to them where they could mourn their dead.

Zainab established the first majlis (assembly for mourning the martyrs of Karbala).

She had returned to Medina altered, her hair white and her back bent, but determined to let the world know of her brother’s sacrifice. The real victory of Zainab the ‘Lion Heart’ lies in the fact that she ensured that her brother’s sacrifice is remembered even today and that Islam, as brought to us by the Prophet, was not altered or tampered with by Yezid.

(Rana Safvi is the founder and moderator of the popular #shair platform on Twitter, which is credited for reviving popular interest in Urdu poetry. She tweets @iamrana. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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ICC ruling on Rohingyas can impact India as well

The decision of the court changes the landscape in relation to international accountability through the ICC. It is a legitimate cause for concern for any state that is not a party to the Rome Statute, and that borders a state party. The court has now set a precedent, which would be wise to heed.

Rashida Begum, a Rohingya refugee woman at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, August 24, 2018(REUTERS)

On September 6, 2018, a pretrial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision which has far-reaching consequences. The chamber held that the ICC has jurisdiction over the deportation of Rohingyas, as a crime against humanity.

Deportation and jurisdiction of the court: At the crux of the decision is recognition of the jurisdiction of the court over deportations across an international border, between a state party to the Rome Statute (Bangladesh) and a non-state party (Myanmar). The Rome Statute is the treaty establishing the ICC and states agree to be bound by its provisions when they ratify it. Myanmar argued that the court did not have jurisdiction or the legal standing over allegations of mass atrocities, as it has not ratified the Rome Statute. However, due to the nature of the crime of deportation — which continues upon crossing the border, with elements of the crime occurring in the territory of a state party, Bangladesh — the court held that actions in Myanmar can come under the scanner of the court.

The prosecutor will now determine whether there is sufficient merit to commence a formal investigation. As the Security Council has not referred the matter to the ICC so far, this decision is viewed as a significant step towards justice and accountability. Arguably, though, this does not go far enough as it does not include examination of allegations of other serious crimes.

Impact beyond Myanmar: The decision has wider ramifications for the assertion of jurisdiction of the ICC over a non-state party. Essentially, a country that is not a party to the court may still be investigated in the case of the crimes against humanity of deportation and associated crimes. In relation to the civil war in Syria, given Jordan is a state party and has taken in a mass influx of refugees, proceedings at the ICC may be initiated on the basis of the Myanmar precedent. Similar arguments are also made in relation to US actions at the border with Mexico, relating to the repatriation and detention of migrants. While the US is not a state party, Mexico is.

In India, the process of registration, detention and identification of non-citizens in accordance with the National Register of Citizens continues in Assam, which shares a border with Bangladesh. Should a situation of mass violence and border crossings occur due to the fallout of the NRC — which cannot be ruled out — this decision opens up the potential for an ICC investigation on Indian soil.

Overall, the decision of the court changes the landscape in relation to international accountability through the ICC. It is a legitimate cause for concern for any state that is not a party to the Rome Statute, and that borders a state party. The court has now set a precedent, which would be wise to heed.

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Reclaiming our Heritage: Music has No Religion

Statement condemning the attack on classical musical expression in south India #FOE

Voices from across the civil society come together to condemn the harassment of Carnatic Musicians T M Krishna, O S Arun and Nithyasree Mahadevan

New Delhi, Sept. 20, 2018

In a shocking development affecting the acclaimed musicians of the carnatic tradition, it has come to light that artistes like T M Krishna, O S Arun and Nithyasree Mahadevan have been harangued by some fringe groups in India and the US for performing songs on Christian or supposedly non-Hindu themes. 

It has been reported that many musicians have received threats by right wing Hindu organisations, for bringing people and religions together on a musical platform. Some of them have been bullied into making apologies and cancelling concerts. O. S. Arun was invited by T. Samuel Joseph, a long time student and teacher of Carnatic music to render Carnatic compositions on Christ. Arun was attacked online and pressure was put on him to cancel. Within days, WhatsApp and social media clippings of Nithyasree Mahadevan rendering a Christian song also began circulating with comments to establish disapproval. Reportedly, the SSVT Temple in Washington DC which had invited T.M.Krishna to sing, cancelled the invitation at the behest of self-appointed Hindu gatekeepers.

A statement condemning these attacks and asserting the freedom of speech, expression and religion of all these musicians (and the aficionados of their music) signed by about 200 eminent citizens has been released today. The statement initiated by Ashok Vajpeyi and Aruna Roy has been signed by former judges Justice A P Shah and Justice K Chandru and several senior personalities from the arts and culture fraternity. Girish Karnad, Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anand Patwardhan, Leela Samson, Shubha Mudgal, Malavika Sarukkai, Mallika Sarabhai, and Tripurari Sharma also figure among the signatories.

The statement endorsed by Romila Thapar, Amit Bhaduri, Rajmohan Gandhi, Ashish Nandy, Ramachandra Guha, Shiv Visvanathan, Mukul Kesavan, Syeda Hameed, Abha Sur, Prabhat Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh and several former diplomats, senior bureaucrats and lawyers like Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan says, “We, the undersigned, register our strong protest and condemn this continual harassment, intimidation and the use of other undemocratic methods to silence voices. These are expressions of creativity, unity, humanity which are helping shape the building of a modern syncretic tradition in Indian classical music.”


It is worth noting that the Tamil writer who was harassed by cultural fundamentalists for his novel Madhurobhagan (One Part Woman) and whose verses have been sung by T M Krishna has also signed the statement that says – “We cannot allow the intimidation and threat of violence by a (small) group which arrogates to itself, the role of being the keeper of culture, tradition and heritage.”


Musician T. M. Krishna defying all these attempts to coerce him, said: “Considering the vile comments and threats issued by many on social media regarding Carnatic compositions on Jesus, I announce here that I will be releasing one Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah.”


The statement ends with an appeal to all Indians to join hands and stand up against this cultural dictatorship that is being attempted to be established. It says, “We reassert the universal truth that music is not and cannot be denominational, and an exclusive domain of any one religion. All music is open to participation to people of all communities, and musical heritage belongs to humanity. We condemn the nascent attempts to limit and stifle free expression and invite you to join in voicing your protest.”




In a recent occurrence in South India, eminent classical musicians have been
intimidated, their concert engagements cancelled, due to pressure from intolerant forces
that claim to speak on behalf of Hindus; thereby seeking to dictate the content and
nature of cultural performances and music. We, the undersigned, register our strong
protest and condemn this continual harassment, intimidation and the use of other
undemocratic methods to silence voices. These are expressions of creativity, unity,
humanity which are helping shape the building of a modern syncretic tradition in Indian
classical music.

In the climate of social policing and restrictions on writers, thinkers and artists, the
recent attacks on Carnatic musicians of repute, has again raised the sceptre of fear. This
reflects the failure of the rule of law and constitutional guarantees. It is alarming that
neither independent institutions such as the courts nor the governments whose duty it is
to protect democratic space and freedom of expression, have stepped in to take decisive
steps to end this menace.


It therefore falls upon artists, civil society groups and citizens to come forward and
protect the democratic and constitutional right to creative expression. We cannot allow
the intimidation and threat of violence by a (small) group which arrogates to itself, the
role of being the keeper of culture, tradition and heritage. This has largely gone
unchallenged by the rest of civil society, except by some musicians themselves.
Music is an expression of the universal truth of harmony of existence and connects
people through its appreciation. It has the capacity to be understood and bring together
people across boundaries. It underscores the cross-cutting links amongst religions,
blending the plurality into the oneness of sound and its appeal to all human beings and
has reinforced beliefs in plurality and tolerance. While the content and the lyrics bring
in the varied perceptions and understanding of people and communities, music
establishes the universality of a multi-cultural society.


Carnatic music is a system of classical music which over the centuries has absorbed the
cultural milieu of contemporary times and while the compositions were composed in the
classical style, they celebrated differing perceptions of divinity. While the majority
religion and its composers have predominantly occupied musical space, there have been
composers whose lyrics have been in praise of different religious denominations. That is
how it should be.


Many musicians have received threats by right wing Hindu organisations, for bringing
people and religions together on a musical platform. Some of them have been bullied
into making apologies and cancelling concerts. O. S. Arun was invited by T. Samuel
Joseph a long time student and teacher of Carnatic music to render Carnatic
compositions on Christ. H e was attacked online and pressure was put on him to cancel.
He cancelled citing personal reasons. Within days, WhatsApp and social media clippings
of Nithyasree Mahadevan rendering a Christian song began circulating with comments
to establish disapproval. The SSVT Temple in Washington DC which had invited
T.M.Krishna to sing, cancelled the invitation at the behest of self-appointed Hindu


T. M. Krishna in a statement said: ” Considering the vile comments and threats issued by
many on social media regarding Carnatic compositions on Jesus, I announce here that I
will be releasing one Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah”.

We want to express our support and appreciation for the very positive efforts of these
musicians and register our protest against stigmatising them. We reassert the universal
truth that music is not and cannot be denominational, and an exclusive domain of any
one religion. All music is open to participation to people of all communities, and musical
heritage belongs to humanity. We condemn the nascent attempts to limit and stifle free
expression and invite you to join in voicing your protest.


  1. Ashok Vajpeyi
  2. Aruna Roy
  3. Justice A P Shah
  4. Justice K Chandru
  5. Shyam Benegal
  6. Girish Karnad
  7. Adoor Gopalakrishnan
  8. Anand Patwardhan
  9. Rajmohan Gandhi
  10. Devaki Jain
  11. Romila Thapar
  12. Mallika Sarabhai
  13. Leela Samson
  14. Shubha Mudgal
  15. Kiran Seth
  16. Tripurari Sharma
  17. Ram Rahman
  18. Malavika Sarukkai
  19. Charul Bharwada
    20.Vinay Mahajan
  20. Prabhat Patnaik
  21. Jayati Ghosh
  22. Anand Teltumbde
  23. Satish Deshpande
  24. Abha Sur
  25. Amit Bhaduri
  26. Zoya Hasan
    28.Ashish Nandy
  27. Perumal Murugan
    30.Ramachandra Guha
  28. Shiv Visvanathan
  29. Syeda Hameed
  30. Indira Jaising
  31. Prashant Bhushan
  32. Shantha Sinha
  33. N C Saxena
  34. Wajahat Habibullah
    38.Julio Ribeiro
  35. John Dayal
    40.Maj Gen S.G. Vombatkere
  36. Namita Gokhale
  37. Abha Bhaiya
  38. Mukul Kesavan
  39. Babu Mathew
  40. Somasundar Burra
  41. Jagdeep Chhokar
  42. Devasahayam MG
    48.Shabnam Hashmi
  43. Bezwada Wilson
    50.Harsh Mander
  44. Medha Patkar
  45. Henri Tiphagne
  46. Dunu Roy
  47. A K Shivakumar
  48. Shekhar Singh
  49. Swami Agnivesh
  50. Kamla Bhasin
  51. Teesta Setalvad
  52. Rudrangshu Mukherjee
    60.P Sainath
  53. Rosamma Thomas
  54. Pamela Phillipose
  55. Keshav Desiraju
  56. S Parasuraman
  57. Mary E John
  58. Bela Bhatia
  59. Irfan Engineer
    68.Nityanand Jayaraman
  60. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
  61. S. Anandalakshmy
  62. Vasanth Kannabiran
  63. Imrana Qadeer
  64. Nareshwar Dayal
  65. Ashok Kumar Sharma
  66. Uma Pillai
  67. Kamal Jaswal
  68. Uzramma
  69. Dipali Taneja
  70. Anjana Mangalagiri
    80.Brijesh Kumar
  71. Anjali Banerji
    82.Radha Gopalan
    83.Ishrat Aziz
    84.Nagal Samy
  72. Niranjan Pant
    86.Ashok Sharma
  73. C Balakrishnan
    88.Dr. M A Ibrahimi
    89.S. Y. Quraishi
    90.Fabian KP
  74. Abhijit Sengupta
  75. Deepak Sanan
  76. Nilanjan Hajra
  77. Vinoo Bhagat
  78. Rajni Bakshi
  79. Alok Perti
  80. Bhanumathi Sharma
    98.Arani Roy
  81. Mamta Jaitly
  82. Rekha Bezboruah
  83. Nisha Malhotra
  84. Jyothi Krishnan
  85. D K Manavalan
  86. P Bhattacharya
  87. V Ramani
  88. Salahuddin Ahmad
  89. Hirak Ghosh
  90. M B Pranesh
  91. Lakshmi Pranesh
  92. Shanti Kakar
  93. Geetha Thoopal
  94. Vibha Puri Das
  95. Ardhendu Sen
  96. Madhu Bhaduri
  97. S P Ambrose
  98. Arun Kumar
  99. Sushil Tripathi
  100. Ravi Budhiraja
  101. Narendra Sisodia
  102. Vineeta Rai
  103. Anna Dani
  104. Vappala Balachandran
  105. Amitabha Pande
  106. Lalit Mathur
  107. Kalyani Chaudhuri
  108. EAS Sarma
  109. Aftab Seth
  110. Nitin Desai
  111. Deb Mukharji
  112. K.R. Venugopal
  113. Noor Mohammad
  114. Subodh Lal
  115. Shivshankar Menon
  116. Trilochan Singh
  117. Sanjivi Sundar
  118. Pranab Mukhopadhyay
  119. Gopalan Balagopal
  120. Meenakshisundaram SS
  121. Aditi Mehta
  122. Meena Gupta
  123. Sujatha Rao
  124. Umrao Salodia
  125. Dr. Raju Sharma
  126. Ravi Vira Gupta
  127. Anita Agnihotri
  128. Vikram Vyas
  129. Basant Hetamsaria
  130. Arundhati Dhuru
  131. Gabriele Dietrich
  132. Krishnakant Chauhan
  133. Kamayani Bali Mahabal
  134. Poonam Muttreja
  135. M Y Rao
  136. Ananya Vajpeyi
  137. Hindal Tyabji
  138. M N Roy
  139. A. Selvaraj
  140. Suhas Kolhekar
  141. Ramesh Gangolli
  142. Moyukh Chatterjee
  143. Anand Murugesan
  144. Devram Kanera
  145. Dipak Roy
  146. N K Raghupati
  147. Samantha Agarwal
  148. Ahona Palchoudhuri
  149. Lekha Bhagat
  150. Durgesh Solanki
  151. Sidharth Rattan
  152. Purnima Singh
  153. Paras Banjara
  154. Nachiket Udupa
  155. Swarna Rajagopalan
  156. Anant Nath
  157. Sumita Mehta

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