From insecure to over secure Indian Muslims

Muslims are en bloc vote bank in India. Muslims are not just a minority but considered as the good catchment area during election season and communal season. For ages Muslims are playing a potential role in the Indian society in these forms. Unfortunately there is no farsighted Muslims coming out. Using the limited vision of the Indian Muslim leadership, political figures of all hues are exploiting to the fullest extent. As long as Muslims are confined to the narrow mental territory there is no scope for the betterment.

Javed Anand writes in The Deccan Chronicle on 29 April 2011

Indian Muslims just got luckier. Already spoilt for choice, the Spring of 2011 has brought two fresh bonanzas for the country’s “second largest majority”. One comes gift-wrapped as a brand new political party; the other is a forum of Muslim advocates of Maharashtra. Many compliments of the season, Badhai ho badhai!

But hang on a moment. It perhaps is too early to exult. The Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) invitation to a party has met with more jeers than cheers. Not many Muslims, it appears, are keen on singing Happy Birthday to the new-born named Welfare Party of India. The Muslim advocates’ meet in Mumbai on a Friday (April 22) saw the enthusiastic participation of around 300 advocates from all over Maharashtra. The stars of the show were two retired Muslim judges from the Mumbai high court: Justice Bilal Nakzi and Justice Shafi Parkar. But outside the venue the reception was mixed.

Let’s take the second one first. What on earth is the meaning of a separate Muslim lawyers’ forum? What’s coming next: Muslim doctors’ forum, Muslim journalists’ forum, Muslim IAS/IPS officers’ forum, Muslim consumers’ forum? Thane city’s advocate Abdul Kalam explains the rationale for such a forum thus: “After the communal riots, it has been found that Hindu advocates are reluctant to fight cases of Muslim victims or accused. We don’t say that all non-Muslim advocates are biased, but during moments of crisis, many upright advocates have developed cold feet”.

Is that so? What about Kapil Sibal, Shanti Bhushan, Anil Divan, P.P. Rao, M.S. Ganesh, Kamini Jaiswal, Sanjay Parikh, Aspi Chinoy, Navroze Seervai, Gautam Patel, Mihir Desai, Aparna Bhatt and Ramesh Pukhrambam, all of whom have contributed time and talent pro bono, fighting for justice to the Muslim victims and punishment to the perpetrators of the state-sponsored 2002 Gujarat carnage? What about Teesta Setalvad and her non-religious organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which for over nine years has led the Gujarat victims’ struggle for justice from the front? What about Mukul Sinha, the lawyer from Ahmedabad, and the hours and days that he has spent before the Nanavati-Shah-Mehta inquiry commission?

As for the JI and its new baby, the Welfare Party of India (WPI), if you’ve never heard of Syed Abu Ala Maududi, the maulana who founded the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1941, here’s a crash course. Throughout his life Maududi preached that unlike other religions, Islam is not just about worship and religious rituals like prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage. Instead, Islam is a revolutionary ideology; to be a Muslim is to be a revolutionary committed to debunking man-made ideas (democracy etc.), institutions (Parliament etc.) and laws (Constitution etc.) and striving by every means possible to establishing Allah’s rule (Islamic state etc.) and Allah’s laws (Sharia etc.).

This is what every Jamaati has fervently believed and preached for the last 70 years.

Among those who were deeply impressed by Maududi was a person named Syed Qutb of Egypt who proceeded to argue that striving by “every means possible” includes killing those who are Muslims only in name in the interest of ushering Allah’s sovereignty on earth.

Now that the same JI has chosen to place itself at the service of man-made laws, should we not welcome this change of mind and heart? We should if the JI were to publicly declare that Maududi’s views now belong to a library that houses outdated, intolerant, outrageous ideology. But that’s not what the JI is telling us. Instead, it wants us to believe that the WPI is a secular, democratic entity, never mind the fact that 11 out of its 16 office-bearers are Jamaati stalwarts.

That’s reason number one for the non-Jamaati Muslims’ lack of enthusiasm. To many of them, the JI-WPI relationship looks like a mirror image of the RSS-BJP equation. The goal is the same: infiltrating the institutions of democracy for subverting the constitutional spirit from within.

But the facade is all too transparent: How much cover can you expect from one of WPI’s several vice-presidents, including a Christian priest who chanted the Gayatri Mantra at the party’s launch, to provide? Some Muslims see him as the WPI’s Sikander Bakht!

Reason number two: Less than two years ago, in July 2009, we saw the Popular Front of India (home in south India to ex-Students Islamic Movement of India leaders and activists following the ban on the radical outfit) give birth to the Secular Democratic Party of India. Simi, remember, emerged from the womb of the JI in the early ’70s, and the PFI still draws inspiration from Maulana Maududi and Syed Qutb of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. In its spare time, the PFI runs a moral police enforcing Islam on Muslims in a manner that might make the Bajrang Dal and the Ram Sene envious. Ask Kerala’s Muslims.

Adding to the Indian Muslim’s embarrassment of riches is the All-India United Democratic Front of India floated by the Assam-based Badruddin Ajmal of the Jamiatul-ulema-e-Hind in 2005. And let’s not forget the nearly half-a-dozen Muslim organisations in Uttar Pradesh that have sprouted in recent years.

What then should Indian Muslims expect from this abundance of Muslim-floated parties? Ideologically speaking, it means secularism by daylight, Sharia after dark. Politically speaking, at best they’ll cancel each other out; eat into votes of mainstream parties that swear by secularism. At worst, they’ll provide propaganda fodder to Hindutva, feed Islamophobia.

The increasing political disempowerment of India’s Muslims in Parliament and in the Assemblies, continuing discrimination and “red zoning” are no doubt problems crying to be addressed. But a cancer cell like proliferation of Muslim parties will, if anything, compound the malady.

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Safeguard Nuclear Plants

It  is not possible to manage this world’s ultra pace development with just solar, wind and other less polluting or non polluting sources of energy. Obviously nuclear energy which is considered as less polluting but more risk prone danger is opted as the no alternative option. In this scenario it is important for all in the world to safeguard the nuclear plants rather than completely demonise it. The Deccan Chronicle writes on 17th March 2011 The news about Japan’s nuclear power plants — and the threat of the spread of radiation — continues to be full of foreboding. The psychological impact of the disaster, however, appears to be more marked in debate in this country than in Japan itself. The Japanese people and their leadership, now in the midst of an unprecedented situation, have to their credit shown no sign of panic, although worry in such circumstances would be only natural. While doing what’s needed to fix the nuclear problem, Tokyo has pumped in close to 23 trillion yen (around $300 billion) to generate rebuilding activity in the economy. The approach underlines for the world the determination and resilience the Japanese people are capable of in the face of disaster, no less acute than that which the country faced in the aftermath of defeat in World War II. It is significant in this context that within Japan no cry has been raised to eliminate nuclear power generation in the country. After the Japanese people became victims of two atom bomb attacks by the United States in 1945, the island nation determined to eschew nuclear weapons and has been in the forefront of the global nuclear non-proliferation movement. This did not stop it, however, from choosing to derive electricity through nuclear power. Today one-third of power generation in Japan — the world’s third largest economy — derives from the nuclear source. As such, it will not be easy for it to make a break with nuclear power generation. In the days ahead we might have a better appreciation of how Japan wrestles with the question of generating nuclear energy. In India, however, we have already seen a tsunami of criticism of our domestic nuclear power programme. India generates a paltry 4,000MW of nuclear power, around two per cent of its current requirement, but aspires to step this up to 20,000MW by 2020 and 30,000MW by 2030. Governments are likely to work toward these goals if public opinion is supportive. The crisis in Japan has led anti-nuclear groups in India to step up their campaign against the idea of nuclear energy itself. Their first target is the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur on Maharashtra’s Konkan coast, which is designed to be the biggest nuclear power plant in the world, with a capacity of 9,000MW. The question of nuclear safety was always pre-eminent but has acquired urgency in the wake of Japan’s recent experience. The trouble in Japan only lends their campaign an edge. Irrespective of the position such campaigners might take, we need to revisit the safety question again. It is not sufficient for the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and leading lights of the Indian nuclear establishment to make an assertion on the safety of our reactors. It is not sufficient to say that Kalpakkam withstood the 2004 tsunami. Barring a couple, our reactors are of relatively recent compared to Japan’s Daiichi reactors, which go back to 1972. As such, they do possess a greater safety factor. But on the question of structural fortifications or other factors, learning from Japan’s own building codes might relieve public anxieties.The key is to strengthen safety, not to panic.