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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Diwali celebrations in Sindh and other regions of Pakistan

On the left is the official message by Government of Sindh, Pakistan in the leading newspaper 'Dawn'.

It wishes 'Happy Diwali' to all, along with the catchline, 'Diwali ki raat, Khushiyo.n ki barsaat'.

The advertisement carries photographs of PPP leaders, which most of us identify.

It also has names of Mahesh Kumar Chawla, who is Minister for Information Technology (IT) in Sindh government, and Giyan Chand Israni, Minister for Minorities.

The message also has a Nazm [poem or verse] on Diwali, which reads:

Diwali ki Raat, Khushiyo.n ki Barsaat

aai divali khushiyaa.n le kar
sang apne ummeede.n le kar

khushi ka samaa baandhe aai diwaali
is tehvaar ki har adaa hai niraali

diwaali ki raat hai behad hasee.n
khush hote hain voh jo hote hain ghamgee.n

divaali le kar aai hai aman ka paigam
ye tehvaar hai dil walo.n ka inaam


diye jalaao divali manaao
mohabbat ki shab ko pyaar se manao

Thanks to social media, we get to know more about what happens in our neighbouring country.

First, YLH [Yasser Latif Hamdani], mentioned the advertisement on his facebook post.

Subsequently, I logged on to Dawn's website and saw the epaper.

Shiraz Hassan clicked the photograph along with the report which was published in Dawn.

The nice photograph shows children at a temple in Rawalpindi, one of the big cities of Pakistan.

It is the Krishna temple. You can see photograph it on the Dawn's website AT THIS LINK.

Earlier too, this blog has carried posts about Hindu festivities in Pakistan.

You can see the picture below--Muslim League leaders in Pakistan seeing 'aashirwad' from couple posing as Bhagwans. This post was published on the blog a few years ago. CLICK TO SEE

But, it is due to the advent of social media, that we get to know better about our neighbouring country. Not just Sind, but from other regions too, you get to see reports.

Else, one mostly gets to find bad or negative news and through loud anchors on TV channels. It may be true in Pakistan too, regarding India. TRPs can be obtained not just by creating hysteria but also through the positive stories.

My problem with the mainstream media is that good news is not covered. Why mainstream media doesn't show such stories? When 300 fishermen are released, it doesn't make big news on TV. CLICK TO READ

An example is that when a person is killed in a country and the reporter writes it, 'Hindu killed in X country' or 'Muslim killed in Y country', it is pure bigotry.

Unless and until, the person is killed just because of his religion.

Or when in border firing media tells only one side of the story i.e. the number of persons killed in your own country, not by the firing of your country's troops and the others' casualties.

For knowing the complete picture, you have to see international newspapers or websites. Just like bad news, good news also should be given coverage.

EARLIER POSTS ON DIWALI ON THIS BLOG

1. Greetings on Diwali: Jashn-e-Chiraagha.n mubarak

2. An Indian Muslim celebrates Diwali in an alien land, remembers childhood

3. Pakistan ministers celebrate Diwali

4. Diwali celebrations: Crackers, fireworks and nostalgia

For more photos of Diwali celebrations in Pakistan, CHECK THIS LINK

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Arrogant, apathetic Congress bites the dust in Maharashtra, finally

The rout that had begun with Congress' losing to Narendra Modi-led BJP in the general elections, continues. The party has lost Maharashtra and Haryana.

The writing was clear on the wall. People were fed up with the party and its arrogant leaders. The disdain towards the people.

Who could forgive the ruling alliance whose leaders can say, 'Shall I urinate in dams to fill them, if there is not enough water".

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had said this when he was told that a farmer was sitting on fast for 55 days, demanding water for irrigation. [See link: Should I urinate to fill the dams?] Such language, such arrogance. And you expect people to vote for you! He was not alone.

The body language, the way the party leaders behaved--it was all nauseating. From late Vilasrao Deshmukh to Ashok Chavan, either it was the controversial tour to Taj Hotel post 9/11 with movie-wallahs or the corruption in Adarsh society, they showed extreme callousness towards people.

Some people talk about Prithviraj Chavan's supposedly clean image. But he too failed to rise to the occasion whenever he was needed to speak, intervene or act. Remember the death of techie Mohsin Sadiq Sheikh! [Link: No public condemnation from CM]

The image was not just that of a corrupt but also an insensitive, inactive government. Clearly, people had enough of this government, and for too long. But the loss of Maharashtra will hurt Congress at the national level, as the state elected Congress consistently, since independence.

It has been after several successive terms that the party has finally been voted out of power here. 
The BJP was the alliance partner when Shiv Sena had formed the government in Maharashtra in 1995.

But this is the first time that the BJP has got such a mandate in Maharashtra. It has fallen short of majority but is now in a position to form the government. The emergence of All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) shows how Muslims had lost faith in Congress-NCP alliance.

In fact, Muslims voted for AIMIM and SP, wherever its candidates had a slight chance. 
After all, Congress in Maharashtra had acted in a bizarre manner for over a decade. It ruled arrogantly and cared least for the most basic demands of the community.

Forget the charge of appeasement, the party didn't care the least for Muslims. They probably felt that Muslims have no other option, and hence, they would vote for Congress anyhow. Muslims number around 10-11% in Maharashtra, but the number of Muslims lodged in jails in state, hovered between 35-40%. All this happened during this regime.

Indifference, Injustice

Illegal detentions, midnight swoops were conducted routinely. [See link: Mumbrai midnight raid and humilitation] There was hardly any action in cases of blatant human rights violation and tortures in police custody. The killing of a software professional in Pune, didn't stir the government.

Just because media has taken congisance of the hate crime, there was some activity later. Still, the promise of job to the victim's family didn't materialise. Dhule firing in which innocent persons were shot at point blank range, was treated as a routine incident. [Link: Dhule firing and killings]

In fact, whenever there were atrocities on Muslims or other backward sections, the Congress government wasn't seen taking a tough action, anywhere. To many people, it was bizarre, as they believed Congress to be pro-Muslim.

Lies, broken promises on implementing Srikrishna Commission report [Mumbai riots]

They forgot that this party and its chief minister Sudhakarrao Naik was at the helm, when nearly 2,000 people were killed in Mumbai riots in 1992-93. The Sri Krishna Commission indicted politicians and top police officers for the massacre.

But despite promising that the panel's recommendations will be implemented, the party went back on its promise. Never, it appeared to be intending to take any action. Probably because their own men were involved in the massacre.

What else could be the reason for shielding them. Not IPS officers, even constables who fired on those praying in the mosque, were saved, at every step. The lies, broken promises, the extreme indifference of the government towards minority issues, was simply unbelievable.


Putting obstacles in releasing youths framed in Malegaon blast case

In courts, at every step, administration and prosecution tried to put obstacles in the process to to release those Muslim youths who had been implicated falsely by investigating agencies earlier. It was state-sponsored communalism at its best.

In fact, the Congress regime had made it so tough that probably Muslims can brave any other regime in Maharashtra. The bureaucracy didn't work. It was a perennial problem for students of Urdu medium schools that they never got textbooks on time.

The truth is that if one starts remembering the grievances, there is no end. It was same for Dalits, Backwards, other communities too. The administration was going from bad to worse. Can a government get even worse than this? I doubt.  

Secularism, the biggest joke

The biggest joke was that it was a 'secular government'. All of us have seen how secular they were all these years. And with elections over, the 'secular' NCP was the first to extend outside support to the 'un-secular Shiv Sena'.

Some ask me, you don't understand, it's BJP victory. No, for me it is Congress loss, finally. If you are a slave to any party for decades, its your choice. Can you tell me the steps they took for your uplift or any other positive contribution.

Losing an election doesn't mean the end of the world. Let's see, in opposition, what they will do. How many of these leaders will go to streets, work among people, raise their issues, and help them in sorting out their problems. Still you can mourn, its your right. I feel better with their rout.

Good riddance.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When person abusing your faith turns out to be a co-religionist: Social media's illusions and internet crimes

The person abuses your faith online, posts objectionable messages and shares photographs that are so inflammatory that it is not proper to describe them.

You get angry and disturbed. You may write angry comments to him, argue, tell him to stop or shut up.

But did you ever imagine that he also belongs to your own faith? And that he is still doing it because he had a purpose!

May be, he has certain psychological issues or wants to defame someone and hence assumed a false identity.

So he is using it to post objectionable things to defame that person. Did  you consider this option?

And when you know the truth, do you realise you were unnecessarily spending energies and were getting mad at 'people of other religion'. That's the online world.

On internet, especially, social media, there is no dearth of people who suffer from 'attention deficit disorder' or who just love to 'irk others'. Such mischief-makers feel its a prank but don't they realise consequences!

For them, perhaps, it's a spectacle to watch when others keep fighting on their Facebook wall over a photo or message, as they themselves watch with glee, and perhaps pat themselves on their back for making others fight.

Man who caused communal riots, arrested

This is a real story and has lessons for all. A morphed photograph was circulated on social media by a person, which led to riot.

Then, there was a second round of rioting. There were deaths during the violence and the victims were both Hindu and Muslim.

The person who was behind the post, used a Hindu ID to post against Muslims, and then used Muslim ID to circulate messages against Hindus. For weeks, the entire town remained on edge.

The man used a BJP leader's ID on Facebook to post, anti-Muslim message. It is so easy in those days, you can create a leader's page or fan page yourself. But that's criminal act.

The law-and-order situation was such that police from adjoining places had to be called. There was widening communal divide and tension.

Arrested

Finally, the police and cyber experts, managed to trace him. It was found that he was ordinary youth. He was Nitesh Verma, a simply, guy next door--who was doing post-graduation in computer applications (PDGCA).

On internet, he used 'Hindu ID to abuse Muslims' and 'Muslim ID to abuse Hindus'. Why he did it? The investigators found that he had very few friends. He didn't come out of his house. He lacked self-confidence.

*On July 2, he used Naved Khan's id to post photo that hurt Hindu sentiments
*On July 19, he hacked Anurag Soni's id to upload photos that hurt Muslims
*On July 30, he hacked Altaf Abbai's photo and posted BJP leader's photo to make hateful comments against Muslims
*Earlier, he  had hacked Sagar Verma's id to upload objectionable content

His brother had committed suicide and he blamed certain youths of the locality. He was angry with them and as he felt he was not strong enough to take on them, he planned 'the revenge' in this way. He thought he would hack their IDs or create their fake IDs for spreading messages that would hurt them badly.

The results were too serious: Communal violence and deaths. Verma is in jail now. It can be any one, a Nitesh Verma or a Naeem Khan. Just that we need to learn the lessons right from this episode. Cyber safety, understanding online behaviour and the need for spreading awareness about it.

One hopes that in coming years, people will learn cyber etiquette. However, what one must do right now. First, stop getting irritated.

If the posts are incendiary, 'report' the person. You can also ignore or block them on Facebook. If there is a fear that communal harmony can be disrupted, inform the authorities. They generally take care of the rest.

LINK TO DAINIK BHASKAR REPORT

1. Youth behind inflammatory messages, posts arrested
2. Nav Bharat Times report on communal violence, curfew, death
3. Riot leaves one dead, six injured in Khandwa over Facebook comment

[This happened just a few months back--in July/August 2014]

Monday, September 08, 2014

Online arguments on religion and right-wing twitter trolls' strategy: From secularism and democracy in Islamic countries to sweeping statements about Muslims

By Indscribe

Before penning my understanding of trolls and their 'strategy', just let me tell you a bit of background. On this blog, I have often sharply criticised certain Arab countries that have monarchies, and don't grant proper rights to women.

There are many things in each and every country in this world that are condemnable--from corruption to communalism, age-old practices to mistreatment with women or other sections of society.

If there are issues in my country, I can write over them as per my interest or understanding. I do write about my concerns with regard to my own country, more freely, as I have first-hand experience.

But if there are issues in other nations, should (and how much) I defend or criticise them? I may or may not, it is purely my personal decision. Individuals writing something can't change anything, still....

NOW COMING TO THE REAL ISSUE

1. A section of people on internet, have a 'belief', that if you are a Muslim, you should be asked and made to explain 'things that are wrong in Muslim countries'.

One is expected to criticise them. Yes I've no problem in doing that. Anyone would condemn flogging or execution though those who expect it form us, may support death penalty for certain people in India.

Anyway, the issue begins when these tweeple show that their mental horizon is limited to a Muslim world' which begins from Pakistan and Afghanistan, goes past all Arab countries in a sweeping statement, and then end up buttressing that 'everywhere there is something wrong in Muslim world'.

Over the years, I have seen this typical troll strategy:

2. It begins with a normal and gentle conversation. Then, you are asked about a particular practice in a Muslim country, if you counter it and give a proper argument, then comes a second question--may be about faraway Iraq or Iran--countries alien to me and with whom I have no relation.

What's the objective? They keep throwing selected charges [repeated by most of them, copy-pasted from certain sites], to keep you on defensive? Or it gives them a high? Do they really enjoy, because the conversation leads to no where.

An intelligent person with patience would give examples to explain something. He will talk about different factors--local issues, involvement of America in Middle East over the Great Game, sincerely accept problems that exist in Muslim countries, even if he is not responsible.

3. But the troll steadily keeps moving towards an objective--that 'it happened at place X, person Y does this, and see Z', now this is enough for him to 'conclusively' say that ' your religion has a certain problem' or 'you guys are mostly bad, with a few exceptions'.

So there is no scope for RATIONALISM. No point is any argument or debate, which gets clearer over the course of minutes or hours. Either side may get abusive and their friends too jump in the conversation.

4. If the person had tried to be patient till now and didn't resort to abuse, he still gets bitter by the experience. Feels that there is tremendous hate and communalism in this world. What the 'Troll ji' gets out of it? Is he paid by someone or he sincerely believes it. No easy answers.

Does he enjoys spreading such message and feels he is doing something good to society by creating awareness regarding the truth of a particular religion and its believers, as per his {troll ji's} interpretation and views? Whatever.

The classic troll strategy: Online and Offline

5. Hundreds or thousands or may be even more people are having this experience on internet on a daily basis. This 'strategy' or it comes out of them naturally, is not limited to internet. I have some off-line experience too.

"Why X killed Hindus?", you answer and counter. "Ok, why then you guys do this in country Y". "I have no great interest in Y. Bad practices should be condemned, no justification. Doesn't untouchability, khap killings, dowry, rapes, so many things exist here too".

"That's different, why there is always trouble in these countries?". "Is it? How many Muslim countries you know? Let's talk about Indonesia--the most populated Muslim country, to small neighbours like Maldives or Brunei also...

6. Many of these trolls have an obsession for Pakistan or Afghanistan. But why not talk about Albania, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Tajikistan...and so many nations across the world?

Tell him and Troll ji gets angry, says, "These are countries with European influence, commie culture or monarchies". You may tell a troll that there is no need for you to justify anything or else he should also see civil wars, issues in African, South American, South East Asian countries, many of which are Christian or Buddhist majority.

7. But then, from everything that happened in last millennium, from Ghaznavi to Babar, the troll wants you to be held responsible. The 'Muslim obsession' and sweeping generalization that an entire sea of humanity is bad, comes from him. And it keeps going on.

8. Troll ji, is not listening to you. He thought Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda or Zambia were all Muslim countries. He then goes to a 'percentage theory' that if minorities [Muslims] go past this number, they create trouble, but even if they are 7%, they can create trouble (he has checked wikipedia by then).

9. Our troll ji, wants that the person would change his mind and accept what he (troll) believes in. But a normal person falls in the trap. Because he wants a civilised debate, he keeps on 'answering' (to) the same set of questions, without realising that the 'troll ji' wants him to land in this situation.

Frustrated in real life! Net, perhaps only place where Troll gets attention
The troll wants you to be replying, replying and replying--a grilling session, it becomes. You aren't allowed to question him.

10. The moment he has no answer left, he will get abusive--giving you a jolt as you were probably hoping to calm down a person and  had tried your best to make him see reason, so that he could stop being irrational and hateful. Alas...

Nothing, just nothing can make the 'troll' understand

11. My friend was dealing with a similar situation. So it was back to 'problems with Muslim countries' argument by the other person. Once again, he had his views based on just a few countries, especially, Pakistan.

Patiently, my friend kept answering and informing:

*Yes, so many countries have secular constitutions-- Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Gambia, Djbouti, Comoros, Niger, Tajikistan, Burkina Faso, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan...Albania (even has nudist beaches), Tunisia has secular constitution.

*Kosovo, Uzbekistan, Kazakhistan had even had atheist Presidents. Morocco recently had a Gay pride march

*Lebanon--only country in the world where constitution mandates that only a minority should be president.

12. But nothing worked. A proper debate is where the other person is ready to appreciate if he is told a valid point. He or she should be ready to accept if he didn't know something, and has just been informed about it.

On Facebook, and all social networking sites, it happens. So what you should do? Good question. It depends on you. When you see graffiti in the toilet or obscene writings in train lavatories, do you scribble back on the walls and write a reply? I don't think you do. So Best of Luck.

The sad aspect is that nothing WORTHWHILE comes out of such interactions. Troll is firm about his ideas. The other person gets dejected too. Can't they talk like normal humans, and discuss other things, a while later. So what's the solution? Just keep your sanity. Make the trolls work hard to find their next prey to have their daily 'fun'.

See more posts on this issue here:




4. Playing flute to a buffalo: How to deal with Islamophobes 

[Illustration 1. Courtesy LINK] [Illustration 2. Courtesy LINK]

[In the above post, I may have been repetitive, Apologies for bearing the long piece, if you really read it]

Monday, September 01, 2014

Hindus, Muslims, Christians join hands to celebrate Ganeshotsava in Mumbai

Indscribe

If you believe in communal harmony, you will find inter-religious harmony at every nook and corner in India.

You will find innumerable examples among your friends, acquaintances and in your neighbourhood.

It is not about Mumbai alone. In other cities too, it is a common sight, to see people participating in construction of tableaux.

Similarly, if you don't believe in this idea, and somehow feel that there is eternal conflict between certain religions and their adherents, you will not be able to see this beautiful and syncretic culture, which has always thrived in India.

See the photograph on the left. It is about the Ganpati celebration in Mumbai. The hoarding has the names of organisers. There are Aditya and Shyam, along with Obaid Khan and Farhan Mirza. With them is Anthony D'sa and Nafis Syed.

Many of us walk past such hoardings without casting a glance. For cynics, even this may not be enough. But this cultural unity is part of our daily lives in India. On social media, especially, Twitter, we encounter people who give an impression as if different communities are always at loggerheads and have nothing common.

Now there is the second photograph below. It shows banner of an organisation congratulating Muslims on Ramzan. The organisation's name is 'Shree Naveen Ekta Durga Utsava Samiti' and along with the Goddess' photograph, it also carries '786', 'crescent' and the message for Muslims on Ramzan.

They are not politicians, who are trying to seek votes. They are all ordinary individuals, who have friends of different communities, and who share each others' pain and pleasure.

It is not about Ganesh Chaturthi alone but is true for most festivals in this country.

Yes, this is the real India. The virtual world may give you the impression that Hindus and Muslims are always arguing, fighting and accusing each other.

But reality is that the hate-filled Tweeples can't even put up a banner or a hoarding, let alone organise events on the street.They may spread hate round the clock, but can't come out of their bubble, to do something constructive that can enrich the lives of the people.

The real culture, the shared heritage is there on the street. This is the true Indian culture.

[Top photo. Courtesy my dear friend Ganesh ji, who BLOGS HERE]