Saturday, October 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

West Asia on boil
T
EMPERS in West Asia have shot up to a frightening level on Thursday with an Israeli ultimatum to the Palestinian Authority and President Yasser Arafat. Israel is in an ugly and revengeful mood over the murder of a senior Minister, Rahavam Zeevi, who was an outspoken super hawk. The killers were members of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). 

Evergreen Asha
S
INGING legends like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle are not born everyday. Strangely, when they do, they come as contemporaries. It is gratifying to learn that Asha Bhonsle has also won the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award, which was conferred on the elder sister a few years ago. The siblings have thus joined an exclusive club of 31 eminent personalities who have won this highest honour of the film industry. Lata may be ahead in talent, but Asha has dazzled with her sheer versatility. More than 12,000 songs that she has rendered in almost all Indian languages range from light classical to raunchy numbers to Indipop. 


EARLIER ARTICLES
Powell’s visit and after
October 19
, 2001
TADA in new garb
October 18
, 2001
A “viable” card
October 17
, 2001
George wins his own war
October 16
, 2001
A tainted Pak trust
October 15
, 2001
Combating proxy war: India can do it
October 14
, 2001
A scuttled initiative
October 13
, 2001
Complete isolation of Taliban
October 12
, 2001
War impact on economy
October 11
, 2001
Testing time for Musharraf
October 10
, 2001
  Wobbly biotech policy
N
ORTHERN states are slowly realising the tremendous potential biotechnology holds for development. Himachal Pradesh has announced the setting up of two biotechnology parks in the state-- one at Jogindernagar and the other at Solan. Punjab has plans to establish a Rs 150-crore biotechnology park on 200 acres with World Bank help. Another 60-acre biotech green house project at Laddowal, near Ludhiana, is on the anvil to grow vegetables like tomato and capsicum for exports. Haryana is in the process of formulating a biotechnology policy.

OPINION

When terrorists hijack a religion
A study in historical perspective
Syed Nooruzzaman
T
ODAY even youngsters feel disturbed because of the actions of certain people swearing by Islam. They want to know if Islam really “promotes violence”. The uncomfortable question was put to Harvard- and-Oxford-educated Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, the other day by students of American University in Washington. She, however, preferred to avoid answering the question directly perhaps because of being a person with a guilty conscience.

MIDDLE

“Columbus went too far”
J. L. Gupta
T
HE local club decided to have a debate. The subject for the evening was “Columbus discovered heaven on earth”. The mover of the motion was soon on his hind legs. “Mr President! In the year 1498 of the Christian era, Christopher Columbus had sailed for his third voyage. It turned out to be a pilgrimage. He had reached the mainland of South America.

TRENDS & POINTERS

KBC not going off air
The STAR network has dismissed as rumours talk that its popular game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati” (KBC) is coming to an end in December. The show, a licensed Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” hosted by enduring super star Amitabh Bachchan, made television history in India on its launch last year. Thanks primarily to KBC, STAR’s Hindi channel STAR Plus has overtaken its rivals Zee and Sony.

  • British women drinking more

 
ON THE SPOT

There can be no justification for terrorism
Tavleen Singh
Y
OU cannot imagine how safe India feels when compared with the Western world. In Europe, where this despatch comes from, there is an insidious sort of fear hidden beneath the beautiful, summer weather. Especially since Anthrax started to appear out of mailboxes and Osama bin Laden’s spokesman announced in the latest video message that there would be further terrorist attacks until the Americans left Afghanistan in defeat.

 
REFLECTIONS

Life has moved, the image is blurred
Kiran Bedi
I
AM reminded of the time when my father gifted his antique camera to my sister on her birthday. This camera could shoot only one negative at a time. Excited, she wanted to use it right away and got us all properly lined up for her first shot. She insisted we say ‘cheese’ as if it was a sound recorder as well! She, took her time to click. When the picture came, she howled.

75 YEARS AGO


No Muslim party in Behar

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS

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West Asia on boil

TEMPERS in West Asia have shot up to a frightening level on Thursday with an Israeli ultimatum to the Palestinian Authority and President Yasser Arafat. Israel is in an ugly and revengeful mood over the murder of a senior Minister, Rahavam Zeevi, who was an outspoken super hawk. The killers were members of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). The Jewish country feels both violated and humbled by this daring assassination. The killing took place in front of a hotel where MPs regularly stay. So the security must have been very tight. This is all the more so now since the Israeli state-sponsored murder of the PFLP leader Mustafa Zabril in August. Army helicopters fired precision rockets into the office of the leader of the once militant Palestine organisation and killed him in his desk and chair. Even pro-Israeli newspapers in the West linked the murder to the Tel Aviv establishment. What is interesting is that the PFLP promptly threatened retaliation and Zeevi was the most obvious target not only for his extremist views that all Arabs (read Palestinians) should be ejected from greater Israel but also for making a political issue of it. He resigned from the government protesting against its soft-hearted policies to the Palestinians on this issue. The much feared Mossad, the intelligence agency, should have correctly assessed the danger to his life but it failed. Any Mossad success is a national victory and a failure is a national humiliation. Israel is a Mossad-driven country.

The latest intifada since November last is a spontaneous revolt by students and is not directed by the Palestinian Authority. The authorities cannot control it, nor can they guide it. And anti-Israeli sentiments swell in the hearts of ordinary Palestinians after every incident of unprovoked killing, and there had been many. The government-organised murder of Zabril prompted an instant threat that the PFLP would retaliate in equal measure and it came on Wednesday. Israeli thinks that it has a right to kill its chosen opponents but it also enjoys a god-given sheild against retaliatory attacks, The Palestinians, nursing years of humiliation in their own land, do not accept this and hence the ever present flash point. Mr Arafat has been virtually reduced to a nonentity by Israeli actions and the tragedy is that he is the best bet Israel has to clinch a honourable settlement. Barring a few leaders, no Israeli has recognised this and everyone is undercutting moderate elements. For instance, the PFLP which was dormant for years has sprung to life and will dictate the overall policies or at least influence them. With hawks, super hawks and hyper hawks ruling in Tel Aviv, moderates are on the retreat and Israel is being Talibanised in its own way.

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Evergreen Asha

SINGING legends like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle are not born everyday. Strangely, when they do, they come as contemporaries. It is gratifying to learn that Asha Bhonsle has also won the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award, which was conferred on the elder sister a few years ago. The siblings have thus joined an exclusive club of 31 eminent personalities who have won this highest honour of the film industry. Lata may be ahead in talent, but Asha has dazzled with her sheer versatility. More than 12,000 songs that she has rendered in almost all Indian languages range from light classical to raunchy numbers to Indipop. Decades have gone by but her voice has remained as young and naughty as when she sang her first Marathi song in 1944. Music directors ranging from O.P Nayyar to A.R. Rahman have turned to her for stressing the youthfulness of their heroines. She carries her years so lightly that it is difficult to realise that the lilting voice behind the curtain to which current heartthrobs like Urmila Matondkar lip-sync is that of a 71 year old. In a TV interview to seek her views on Asha winning the award, Lata Mangeshkar described her as "Mast Ram" for her carefree attitude. That was just a sisterly banter. How proud she felt on her kid-sister's big day could be read in her eyes. But there was a tinge of regret in brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar's remark that while lesser singers had got high national awards, Asha had not even got a Padma Shri. But then, that is how the establishment functions. In any case, she has won the National Award twice and the prestigious Filmfare Award as many as eight times.

The most outstanding feature of her 57 years in entertainment industry has been her keeping up with the times. Her style of singing never got dated in this long, long period. Rather, maturity brought a new lilt, a new freshness to her voice. Nor did she ever shy away from experimenting. At a time when most singers were lamenting the advent of remix versions, Asha coolly realised that the trend could not be wished away and instead of watching others do shoddy cover versions of her immortal songs, she herself started packaging them with a new beat. That helped today's generation to rediscover her. Even otherwise, the songs she does manage to sing occasionally are enough to swell her huge fan following. The first Indian vocalist to receive a Grammy award nomination has reacted in a gracious, underplayed way to her selection for the Phalke award. Had it come earlier, she said, it might have made her complacent. At this age and stage, it will prod her to do even better. Amen to that! 

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Wobbly biotech policy

NORTHERN states are slowly realising the tremendous potential biotechnology holds for development. Himachal Pradesh has announced the setting up of two biotechnology parks in the state-- one at Jogindernagar and the other at Solan. Punjab has plans to establish a Rs 150-crore biotechnology park on 200 acres with World Bank help. Another 60-acre biotech green house project at Laddowal, near Ludhiana, is on the anvil to grow vegetables like tomato and capsicum for exports. Haryana is in the process of formulating a biotechnology policy. This being an unexplored field, states move cautiously, copying one another. The usual pattern is to hold a seminar or workshop of experts and bureaucrats, and those who sound enthusiastic and invite them to form a committee to present the state leadership with a policy, set up a separate department or a ministry, depending upon the perceived importance, announce a few biotech parks and then leave the rest to the babus and experts. The political leadership in these states is by and large either plainly indifferent or is being driven by babus and experts; no one expects it to take any initiative. To prepare youth for this virgin field, which is expected to throw up immense research and employment opportunities, the states are introducing the subject of biotechnology in educational institutions. Haryana’s Department of Science and Technology has identified 40 areas where biotechnology can be applied with significant gains. Among them are the improvement of productivity, nutritional quality and shelf-life of vegetable and animal feed; development of new seeds; and improved diagnostic techniques and vaccines for the prevention and spread of diseases. Farmers can reduce the production costs by adopting disease-resistant seeds which do not need chemicals.

To take advantage of the benefits of new technology, the old mindset needs to be changed. Indian cotton growers rejected the American bollworm-resistant seeds of a US multinational company, which was forced to close shop in Karnataka, and now face the consequences of being outpriced in the international market by competitors from China and the USA. Ignorance and misplaced propaganda are to blame for the present plight of the Indian cotton growers. India needs to guard itself against MNCs, not by just rejecting whatever they offer, but by other ways. There is need to put in place an autonomous biotechnology regulatory authority to check the entry of harmful genetically modified products into the Indian market. Second, there is need to document the country’s bio wealth so that MNCs don’t claim patents on rare medicinal and food plants available in the country as it happened in the case of basmati and turmeric. Besides, instead of each state spending on its biotech projects, a national approach is needed to coordinate research and study this vital subject, and to avoid overlapping and misutilisation of limited resources. Huge funds and research effort are required to usher in a biotech revolution. India has a clear road map — a “vision document” on biotechnology released by the Prime Minister recently — abundant talent, but limited resources and an indifferent political leadership. How fast we move to raise a knowledge-based society, only time will tell.

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When terrorists hijack a religion
A study in historical perspective
Syed Nooruzzaman

TODAY even youngsters feel disturbed because of the actions of certain people swearing by Islam. They want to know if Islam really “promotes violence”. The uncomfortable question was put to Harvard- and-Oxford-educated Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, the other day by students of American University in Washington. She, however, preferred to avoid answering the question directly perhaps because of being a person with a guilty conscience. After all, she is one of the Pakistani rulers who have promoted terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the name of religion. She represents one section of the people who have done everything possible to give a bad name to Islam, which celebrated playwright George Bernard Shaw praised so profusely.

There are other equally disturbing questions being raised these days. Has Islam come in the way of its followers from excelling in different areas of human activity? Has it prevented the growth of democracy where its followers are in command? Does it promote a civilisation which is against modern ideas? All these and other such thoughts are based mainly on ignorance or on a distorted picture presented by interested circles.

If Islam had been against progress, its followers would not have contributed immensely to the growth of different branches of knowledge when it was on the ascendant. How can the world ignore the contribution of Abu Ali al-Husain-al-Sina or Avicenna (980-1037 AD), the great physician, philosopher and physicist, who wrote a unique medical encyclopedia (“Qanun-Fil-Tib” or “Canon” in Latin)? “Probably no medical work ever written has been so much studied...Hence his influence on European medicine has been overwhelming”, according to a celebrated western writer and quoted in “Heritage of Islam” by Khwaja Jamil Ahmad, who worked as an Assistant Editor, Daily Star, Allahabad, before India was partitioned. Who invented the telescope, the pendulum and the first watch? They were the practitioners of Islam but different from those who waste their talent and resources in destructive activities today.

At a time when the watch was “an object of wonder” in Europe, Khlifa Harun Ar-Rashid presented this novel machine made by Kutbi to the then French Emperor Charlemagne. Mathematician Al-Khwarizimi, the author of “Hisab Al-Jabr Wal Muqabla”, is regarded as one of the founders of what the world knows as algebra. Spain was ruled by the followers of Islam when it sowed the seeds of the industrial revolution in Europe. Even today we have a few stars shining here and there. The list is endless. The purpose behind recounting all this is to make it clear that people are engaged in profitable pursuits when not used as pawns in big games by powerful nations of the world.

What BJP senior leader K. R. Malkani has said in a recent article in a Delhi-based newspaper is worth mentioning here though it is not directly related to development: “After the Buddha, Vikrama and Shankara in India, Kung Fu-tse, Shih Huang Ti and Lao-tzu in China, and Plato, Socrates and Aristotle in Greece, it was Islam that dominated much of the world in the Middle Ages. Three hundred years ago, the three biggest empires in the world, based in India, Persia (today’s Iran) and Turkey, were Muslim. Even China and Russia were ruled by Mongol Khans. Before King John of England signed the Magna Carta with his recalcitrant nobles, he had sought the support of the Sultan of Morocco, and had even offered to embrace Islam in the bargain.”

Islam finds itself in the dock mainly because of the doings of three kinds of players on the world stage. And their actions are interlinked. All of them have prevented the people from channelling their energies towards constructive causes. The first are the products of the substandard madarsas who lack the vision to guide the community properly. They continue to influence the actions of large sections of the masses in the absence of enlightened community leaders and adequately educated religious scholars and owing to some other factors. They are the Taliban variety.

The second category comprises the people who control the levers of power in Muslim-majority countries. Most of them are heads of totalitarian regimes, with a few exceptions. These rulers are either monarchs or former members of armed forces. They have ruthlessly suppressed any movement to bring about a change in the political dispensation in their respective countries. Since the people there are mostly believers in Islam, their movements for a representative form of government have been obviously inspired by their religion. But unfortunately all such attempts made so far have failed because the democratic West, the USA included, has sided with dictators. Powerful western democracies constitute the third force coming in the way of the people wishing to contribute to socio-economic, political and scientific development.

See the plight of Afghanistan. It was a peaceful country till the Soviet Union directly intervened in its affairs by installing a pro-Moscow regime. The unhappy development pushed Afghanistan into the politics of sphere of influence played by the then superpowers. The big game has not ended with the eclipse of the communist giant. Only the game’s complexion has changed. The sufferers are the innocent Afghans and the religion they profess.

Now the situation has taken a turn for the worse. The West, which swears by democracy at every available occasion, has, in its blind pursuit of the elusive terrorist, created an atmosphere which suits those bent on eliminating anybody seeking change for the better. The pro-changers can be eliminated easily by describing them as traitors of saboteurs and the world outside will sympathise with the killers. What a tragic scenario! The world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden, and his associates are, of course, more to blame than anyone else for this sad state of affairs. But the western friends of the dictators are equally guilty.

Take the case of Pakistan. The greatest advocate of democracy, the USA, is most probably going to stall the democatic process which should have begun in Pakistan by now in accordance with a directive of the country’s Supreme Court. The prevailing conditions provide an excellent pretext. Military ruler Pervez Musharraf will be the gainer at the cost of democracy, but that is not the Americans’ problem.

Over nine years ago (1992) one of the political parties in Algeria appeared to be successful in capturing power through the democratic process. But before it could form its government, the French intervened on some flimsy pretext and the whole process was rendered redundant. The military-run French-friendly regime which was to have been replaced by a people’s government was back in business. The reason: the French realised that their interests in their former colony would be jeopardised once the victorious party was allowed to control the levers of power. The victim was the Islamic Salvation Front (popularly known as the FIS, the abbreviation of its name in French) despite the fact that the voters had reposed confidence in its ability to protect their interests. What followed was a horrifying wave of killings, resulting in the loss of nearly one lakh lives.

It is true, as certain thinkers point out, that a democratic environment in the Muslim-majority countries could have prevented the disgruntled elements from taking to the destructive path. Or those with a perverted mind — the terrorists — would have had no appeal among the masses. But perhaps this does not suit the western powers so long as there is a guarantee for their economic and strategic interests remaining safe. One fails to understand how the world can successfully fight a war against terrorism when the ground for its growth remains fertile. The cause of democracy must get precedence over all other issues, of course, without jeopardising the people’s economic interests, to take the anti-terrorism campaign to its logical conclusion.

The world’s independent and respected think-tanks should come out with fresh ideas to convince the aggrieved that terrorism can never help find a way out of a crisis situation. They should, at the same time, give a broad definition of the scourge and new policy formulations so that development-related issues become attractive for everybody in every corner of the globe. This is possible only in a world free from suppression or where people are encouraged to express their grievances, and governments view such developments in a positive manner. Totalitarian regimes of any hue can find no place in this scheme of things.

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“Columbus went too far”
J. L. Gupta

THE local club decided to have a debate. The subject for the evening was “Columbus discovered heaven on earth”. The mover of the motion was soon on his hind legs.

“Mr President! In the year 1498 of the Christian era, Christopher Columbus had sailed for his third voyage. It turned out to be a pilgrimage. He had reached the mainland of South America.

“Initially, America was a European colony. It had fought a civil war. With the Treaty of Paris, the nation had attained independence. On September 17, 1787, the delegates from different states had approved the American constitution. The first elections were held in 1789. The Congress made amendments in the constitution and submitted to the states for ratification. Ten out of the 12 amendments, which became the Bill of Rights, were ratified in December, 1791.

It is the land of liberty. Of equality. Of opportunity. It is a land where a man, humble of origin, could rise to the highest position of President of the country. Abraham Lincoln became the author of Gettysburg address. He had proclaimed that “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth, Prophetic words.

“Today, America is the oldest democracy in the world. The country, spread over an area of more than nine million square kms, is rich in gold, silver and industrial metals. It has lakes, mountains, rivers and valleys. It is the greatest economic power in the world. It is the home for more than 35 million immigrants from various parts of the world. It is the land of opportunities. It is a living example of unity despite diversity.

“The country is a heaven on earth. We should be grateful to Columbus for having discovered it”.

The leader of the opposition was at the podium.

“Mr President! America is the only nation in the world that has miraculously gone from barbarism to degeneracy without the usual interval of civilization.” To me, it is no surprise that Samuel Johnson was tempted to say — ‘I am willing to love all mankind, except an American’.

“My friend referred to the country as a land of opportunities. Yes! It is a country where ‘a man can marry early and the woman often’. It is the land of ‘permanent waves and impermanent wives’. Of unwed mothers and neglected kids. It is a nation that assassinated Abraham Lincoln and killed Kennedy. We heard of the Bill of Rights. Of liberty and equality. What about slaves? Are the blacks treated equally with the whites even today? It is the land of racists and sadists.

“Some people believe that America is almost 10 decades ahead of India. No! I state, and it is a verifiable fact, that America is actually about 10 hours behind India.

“America has continuously armed the armies of the world. It has kept the war on. ‘Cold’ or ‘hot’. It has thrived on the sale of weapons for war.

“Still, America is destroying the homes and hearths of the helpless. It is destroying the people it had armed. One rap has rattled the entire nation. The brave people are scared of getting out of their homes. Of even getting into their national ‘carrier’. The aviation industry is facing an acute crisis.

“We in India believe in the theory of Karma. One shall reap only what one sows. I only pray and hope that the Address of President Bush does not turn out to be the longest suicide note in world history.

“I think Columbus had gone too far". At the end, the motion was defeated.

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TRENDS & POINTERS

KBC not going off air

The STAR network has dismissed as rumours talk that its popular game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati” (KBC) is coming to an end in December. The show, a licensed Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” hosted by enduring super star Amitabh Bachchan, made television history in India on its launch last year. Thanks primarily to KBC, STAR’s Hindi channel STAR Plus has overtaken its rivals Zee and Sony.

KBC is certainly not ending, not this year at least, said STAR’s head of programming and marketing Samir Nair. “What we’ve done is decrease its frequency of telecast. We reduced it by one episode per week in April. Now we’ve reduced one more day of KBC’s telecast.”

“Now we have KBC only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” he said. “On Mondays we’ve a new soap ‘Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand’ instead of KBC. But journalists are setting deadlines for the termination of KBC which have no connection to the truth.”

So when would KBC actually end?

Explained Nair “Bachchan is under contract to do 390 episodes or until March 2003. We’ve gone through 270 episodes of KBC. So we have another 120 episodes to go through. So why would we end KBC prematurely?” In all likelihood, KBC will continue until the middle of 2002, said Nair. IANS

British women drinking more

A survey published recently shows that alcohol consumption by British women of all ages is likely to soar by almost 30 per cent by 2004. The survey shows that alcohol consumption by women of all ages is likely to soar. Another one shows that more women than men are now participating in the 3,400 Alcoholics Anonymous groups in the UK.

Being a woman today drives you to drink. Blame the superwoman myth: thou shalt be a lady in the drawing-room, a chef in the kitchen, a whore in the bedroom — oh, and a powerhouse in the boardroom and a Madonna with the children.

These days, women face more pressure to perform in more areas than men do. No wonder that girls as young as 13 scramble to find an emotional crutch to help them scale the awesome heights of twenty-first century womanhood.

In a competitive world, where every activity, is a measure of your success, you need a pint to steady the nerves before an interview, an alcopop to combat shyness on a date, a Smirnoff Ice to drown the humiliation of a bad result...

The problems are just beginning. Drink too little, and you’re accused of not knowing how to have a good time; drink too much and you’re accused of being a good-time girl. And the amount of alcohol that can make the difference between tipsy charm and sad inebriation can be, in a woman’s physique, treacherously small. The Guardian

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ON THE SPOT

There can be no justification for terrorism
Tavleen Singh

YOU cannot imagine how safe India feels when compared with the Western world. In Europe, where this despatch comes from, there is an insidious sort of fear hidden beneath the beautiful, summer weather. Especially since Anthrax started to appear out of mailboxes and Osama bin Laden’s spokesman announced in the latest video message that there would be further terrorist attacks until the Americans left Afghanistan in defeat.

In London, the British Prime Minister saw this as absolute proof of Bin Laden’s involvement in the attacks of September 11. It certainly seems that way but appears not to have convinced Muslims judging from the demonstrations in support of Bin Laden that have erupted in countries as apart as Pakistan and Malaysia.

The worst anger has been seen in the streets of Pakistan and from an Indian point of view it seems even more puzzling that the America can continue to think of Pakistan as a vital member of its international coalition against terrorism. But, say Western analysts, this is mainly because General Pervez Musharraf looks like a reliable ally when compared with the possibility of a rabid mullah taking over if he is ousted.

This may be true but will the General continue to be seen as a reliable ally if he is unable to break his government’s deep links with the Taliban? Reports in Western newspapers suggest that the only reason why the Northern Alliance is not being encouraged to take Kabul is because Pakistan wants to ensure that a friendly government remains in power in Afghanistan.

What then would be the point of the attack on Afghanistan? From all accounts there is virtually nothing left to bomb in that benighted country so unless there is a definite attempt to rid it of the evil Taliban regime there seems little point in the war continuing. Western leaders continue to go out of their way to emphasise that this is a war against terrorism and not Islam but can it stay that way if ordinary Muslims in countries across the world see it as an attack on Islam? Western newspapers are filled with attempts to explain Muslim anger against the West. Analysts speak of Palestine as being the primary source of this anger. Muslims resent the fact that Israel is favoured by America in the endless conflict in the Middle East and there is talk of how repressive rulers have been backed by the West. From an Indian point of view the arguments make little sense.

The average Indian Muslim cares little for Palestine and yet we have seen an ugly, militant version of Islam put roots down in India.

Indian liberals say that we have to learn to live with militant Islam because of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. If the mosque had not been torn down ordinary Muslims would not have supported Islamic militancy. It sounds like yet another attempt to justify the unjustifiable because we forget that in Kashmir the militancy began long before the Babri Masjid was pulled down. Farooq Abdullah told anyone who cared to listen that this militancy was being created by madrasas in Kashmir and that these mosque schools were spreading their divisive message long before 1992 when Babri Masjid came down.

There is a liberal argument even for this. They say that in Kashmir it was the alleged rigging of the elections in 1987 that gave birth to the problem. and, so the excuses have gone on and on and continue to find reflection in the Western press. Like we have done for years in India Western liberals are busy trying to understand why there is so much Muslim terrorism around.

In London, last week, supporters of Nuclear Disarmament took to the streets with placards demanding that the war in Afghanistan be stopped. So, what should America have done instead? Should it have sat back after September 11 and mulled over why the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked? Why thousands of innocent people needed to be killed so terribly to satisfy rage?

The truth is that there can be no justification for terrorism. The Sunday Times of London brought out the terrorist’s mind with a chilling story called Inside the Mind of a Fanatic. It is based on a diary that has lain buried in the archives of the Patiala House courts in Delhi since 1996 when a British terrorist called Omar Sheikh was arrested by the police. Sheikh, took to terrorism because he was disturbed by the plight of Muslims in Bosnia. His search for justice for those of Islamic persuasion brought him to India where he joined the jehad in Kashmir by kidnapping Western tourists. He wrote in his diary about his crimes but was never brought to justice. He was released in 1999 in exchange for the passengers of IC 814. To me the most chilling part of Sheikh’s story were the details of how easy it was for him to commit his crimes and escape the police. We are so eager to be considered in the frontline in this war against terrorism but have done almost nothing to destroy its roots in our own country. The incompetence of the justice system and our hesitation to offend Muslim sentiments have combined to allow these roots to grow deep. What the West can learn from us is the lesson that there must be no justification of terrorism even if it means offending Muslim sentiments.

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Life has moved, the image is blurred
Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi Kiran Bedi writes in a letter addressed to the Editor: It is a real delight to be a part of The Tribune. I grew up with. it. The paper followed me anywhere I went to play as a student. The Tribune took a very special interest in me. It kept my parents informed about me from all parts of the country and even overseas. I am emotionally attached to it. Every fortnight, I shall attempt a reflective note on a subject which angers, inspires, excites, or concerns me. It may be related to my work both in the voluntary sector or in policing.

I AM reminded of the time when my father gifted his antique camera to my sister on her birthday. This camera could shoot only one negative at a time. Excited, she wanted to use it right away and got us all properly lined up for her first shot. She insisted we say ‘cheese’ as if it was a sound recorder as well! She, took her time to click. When the picture came, she howled.

It was blurred! “Everybody moved” she cried.

In the world of women today, everybody has moved. Life is not the way it used to be. It has changed, and changed dramatically for the better as well as for worse. And one place where it has changed for the worst is in Afghanistan. An image which does not leave me is the one I saw recently on the television where group of women in blue burqas were being whipped on their legs and backsides by men. Their crime — they were on the street without males or ‘Chowdhari’ as they call them.

In another reported case, a young woman’s thumb was chopped off because she used nail polish. Women have been barred from public life. Women in Afghanistan, who had worked while their men were engaged in battle, were banned from working outside their houses. Education became the preserve of men. Today barely 15 per cent women in Afghanistan can read or write. Their access to health care is restricted as there are no women doctors and they cannot go to male doctors. One woman in Afghanistan, whose interview I saw, said she was a nurse in Kabul, and had to flee the town. To survive she had to beg on the streets. She said: “What could I do I had to feed my children.” Today, in the name of religion and a totally distorted interpretation, the Taliban have totally enslaved women. In fact, the women in Tihar jail may be more free than the women in Afghanistan.

So, I come back to the camera and the picture my sister took. On the one hand the Afghan women have moved into smoky dens, however, there are innumerable others who are going to the very top. They are being educated and trained to go wherever they want to. They are setting their goals and road maps. They are being supported or going it on their own. There is no field where they are not making their presence felt. Be it the defence forces, civil governance, corporate management, scientific or medical research, the field of education, creativity, or physical endurance. It’s a matter of optimally utilising the available opportunities.

The picture has changed for many on the domestic front equally, albeit not to that extent. Women want a greater say in selection of their life companions. No longer are there pandals of dowry display. The size of the family is small. Women choose the space and time for motherhood, balance their profession with parenting. For this section of women, times have changed or they have changed the situations around them. They have removed the blur, and they have let it be known what is acceptable and what is not. They are the courageous and the fortunate.

For the large cross-section of women in India life is still blurred! A woman is still not sure about the use of education? Does she have the right to as much education as she wants? Who will she marry? Why and when? Will her husband and his parents allow her to work? Will she have control over her own earnings? Would she be free to take care of her parents, brothers and sisters in case of need? Would she be able to keep her identity or lose it completely and have to start all over again? Would she have any right to her husband’s earnings?

Would she be able to decide when she would like to be a mother and how many times? Could she live away from her husband’s home if her job so demands? Could she organise domestic help to get some rest after coming back from a long day’s work? Could she return to her parent’s home in case of need or would she become homeless? For women in India life has moved, even though it is blurred. And these questions are a consequence and testimony of that movement.

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No Muslim party in Behar

Patna: At a meeting of leading Mussalmanas held here last evening at Dilkusha under the presidency of Khan Bahadur Syed Ismail, MLA, it was decided not to form an independent Moslem party in this province for organising elections to Legislatures. Among those who attended the meeting were Sir Syed Ali Imam, Sir Syed Fakhr-ud-din, Mr Mubarak Ali, MLC Syed Abdul Aziz, Mr Athar Hossain, MLC, Mr Hafiz, and Mr Yunus, MLC.

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Men have made the beauty and grandeur of their houses the one great aim in itself, the beauty of clothing another thing, the complex nature of the eatables served on the tables as the one end and aim;

In the history of the world, some people lived in small huts and houses; they were poorly clad and poorly fed; yet they were the heroes of the world.

***

Try to make great and good men of yourselves. Do not expend your energies, do not waste thought on building beautiful and grand houses. Many of your houses are large and grand, but the men in them are very small.

***

If you perceive and know that the one aim and goal of life is not in wasting energy and accumulating riches, but in cultivating the inner powers, in educating yourself to free yourself, to become God, if you realise that... the family ties will be no obstacle unto you.

***

Let not the secret of hospitality lie in board and bedding..... Let him share your love. Remember that even though I give you no penny... yet if I give you a smile lovingly, sincerely, honestly, you cannot but be elevated and cheered up; a great service has been rendered.

***

When a guest comes to you. Let him leave your house enlightened, elevated let him leave it wiser than when he came... Give him love and knowledge; enlighten him; this is grand hospitality.

—Swami Ramatirtha,In Woods of God Realisation, Vol III, chapter 6

***

Ye mortals, do not be terrified by the huge fire of sins blazing before you, it will be extinguished by the shower from the cloud-like Name of Govinda.

—The Garuda Purana
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