Monday, July 27, 2009

From hell, with love

Vijay Divas, or victory day was celebrated yesterday, the 26th of July, and it was also the tenth anniversary of our victory in the Kargil war. Sadly, the party ruling the roost at the moment, the Congress, wasn't the party in power during the war, and so, just for that one measly fact, the Prime Minister, the President, the defense minister, and most surprisingly (and shockingly) the army chief, were missing from the celebrations held at the very peaks that were recaptured from Pakistani intruders. Now, unless there was a security threat (there always is, but I'm talking specifics here), unless there were real inputs of targetting the fuction because big wigs would be present, I don't see why the top brass in the government weren't present.

The counter from the lame ducks would be that the PM went to India Gate and paid homeage there, and the protocol doesn't dictate that the PM be there at the function, and that his turban wasn't on, and he had a stomach upset, and the President was busy talking to dead people, etc etc etc. Protocol? Isn't honouring the men who laid down their lives the duty of the man who gives the go ahead to the army to launch attacks? How can 'protocol' dictate the PM's agenda so completely that he can skip a function as important as this? Another feather in his 'blunder'ful cap (or turban). George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld made secret trips to Iraq, a battlezone, during the war several times. The visit was kept secret and was announced only after the President reached Iraq. Couldn't the same or similar procedures be followed here?

In the west, we have American Presidents going all the way to Normandy, France on the 6th of June to celebrate the D-Day landing of world war 2. Now remember, world war 2 wasn't just the Americans war, and the Americans were trying the liberate Europe (not even their land), and yet, because their troops were involved in the act, they pay tribute to those who lost their lives. It's been 65 years and counting, and still, even if they don't make it to France, they pay homeage in a grand and gala function. In our case, even paying tribute to the families who lost near and dear ones defending our land isn't enough to get the commander-in-chief out of her voodoo den, or our PM from behind his Roman dominatrix.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Activists - get a job please!

I just heard recently that the NHRC, the human rights watchdog in the country absolved the Delhi police of any violations and wrong doings in the Batla house terrorist encounter on September 19, 2008. I was happy, because all along, right from the start, it was obvious that there was nothing fishy in the whole episode, which sadly resulted in the death of Inspector M C Sharma, who was awarded the gallantry medal posthumously on Republic Day.

However, human rights activists, who are always up in arms whenever the cops' guns go off (and strangely silent when the cops get gunned down) haven't accepted the verdict and are continuing their nonsensical charade for attention, because there seems to be no better reason for them to parade out in front of the cameras than to cause further grief to the family of the slain police officer. That, or they all collectively suffer from attention deficit disorder and I urgently request the government to get them treated at psychiatric facilities at the tax payers cost. Yes, I'm willing to pay more tax if the money will be used to treat people who can't use common sense and are forever willing to come up with conspiracy theories where the country's security forces are concerned.

Now I'm not the first person to say that we shouldn't look into every act of 'self-defense' where force has been used. But it's quite evident that there's nothing suspicious in this incident. The fact that these 'activists' are even disregarding the NHRC's report goes to show that they will accept only one version of the event (or any event), and that is their version.

Several months ago, when young girls were attacked in Mangalore in the infamous Mangalore Pub incident, a lot of people made a good observation that apart from the fact that some people are fanatics, if the henchmen of the fanatics - the foot soldiers who actually carried out the attacks - had proper jobs, then the number of such incidents will automatically drop. On the flip side, I know of some people, who again, choose to ignore common sense, will say that such a statement is made only to tacitly justify the attack. But think about it - who are the people who carry out the attacks? Poor, uneducated or those who've dropped out, those doing petty jobs, unskilled labourers, etc. It's a classic case of haves versus have nots. They see young people indulging in activities they would want to indulge in, but can't for want of money. They feel bad, then angry, and the first chance they get to vent out their anger, tehy do, so groups like the VHP, Shri Ram Sene, Jamaat-e-Islami, and all other ultra-religious groups will forever have cannon fodder for their perverse causes.

The reason why I gave the above example is to draw an analogy. If the activists who still want to see conspiracy theories where there are none are given proper jobs, where they can earn a decent living and go to the cinemas and eat at good restaurants and buy a nice couch for their living room and have their kids educated in good schools, then the acts of stupidity that we see emanating from them will cease.

I don't want to even get into what the so called Muslim 'intellectuals' have to say about the encounter. You can read some of the gems here, and then roll on the floor laughing, or slam the browser shut (age of the internet, people so rarely read books!) in utter disgust - your wish.

There's a great analysis of the encounter done by Praveen Swami, a fantastic journalist, in the Hindu. You can read it here. Hats off to you Mr Swami, we need more like you in the media fraternity.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A riposte to Barkha Dutt: Why Sarkozy is right

When Sarko came out with his statement that burqas are not allowed in France, there was a lot of hue and cry from Muslims all over the world, and not to be left behind, Muslims in India as well went riling against his comments. Now, let's take a closer look and analyse what he said and why there was nothing wrong with it.

In his speech at the Palace of Versailles, Sarkozy said "The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience," and continued to say "it will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic." Now let's take the statement apart, and consider the first part "The burqa is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience". Can any self-respecting woman, irrespective of religion and putting aside religious considerations, tell me that the burqa is a 'good' thing? Or that the burqa isn't descrimatory? Remember, forget what religion says, I'm saying purely on common sense and from the principle of equality, isn't the burqa a sign of subservience?

So now that we've got that out of the way, let's take the second part of his statement, "it will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic". Last I checked, he was the President of France, and going by that title and the job description, he's the chap who gets to make the rules (ok, let's not get technical here, he signs the bill, etc etc etc), and since France is a sovereign country, it gets to make it's own rules, without the inputs from Muslims or anyone else from anywhere.

Now let's look at why Muslims and a lot of 'sympathysers' were up in arms. Their main bone of contention was that this was not curtailing religious freedom, and that Sarkozy had not right to comment about Islam. On both counts, they're partially right. Partially. How so would be the natural next question. For starters, wearing a burqa is not 'mandatory' for a Muslim woman to be wearing (it's never mentioned in the Quran, so please don't tell me that it is), it's an article of choice. If it were mandatory, then we'd be seeing all Muslim women all over the world donning one, and we don't, ergo, it's not mandatory. Since it isn't mandatory, making sure that no one wears one because of the country's stance (France is secular - dictionary secular, not the corrupted, contorted, distorted secular we have in India) is perfectly OK. Please note the words carefully - I said because of the country's stance, secular in this case, . I don't see how can people from one country ask another country to change their laws because these people don't want it. Even the top Muslim cleric at the biggest mosque in Paris himself has said that the burqa isn't mandatory for women, so I don't see why Muslims and mullahs elsewhere have to get so worked up.

Next, on whether Sarkozy had the right to make a comment about what is Islam and what isn't, those opposing his statement were right. He has no business telling Muslims what is Islamic and what isn't. All he needed to do was modify his statement to "the burqa is a sign of subservience" and leave out the part where he commented that it isn't a sign of religion.

Now why have I titled the post as A riposte to Barkha Dutt? It's because of an article I came across in the Hindu dated June 28th 2009 by Barkha. The first thing that shocked was her comment that she found the statement "the burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience" of Sarkozy, 'offensive', especially since she had prefixed that statement claiming to be a liberal. She said the debate on the veil is too complex to be reduced to sweeping generalisations. I agree generalisations are always bad, but how is this a generalisation? Saying something is bad, because of having an opposing stance (treating men and women equally with dignity) is not a generalisation. What Barkha refuses to admit (in her write ups and on her show) is that in India, we have got the idea of secularism wrong. It's because of a slightly twisted definition we follow here (the Indian version of secularism seems more romantic) that . Knowing the correct definition of the word secular would automatically make for a change in stance.

Where the hypocrisy of many Muslims shines through is when they cry foul over what Sarko says, but stay mum on issues like the treatment of minorities in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. For instance, religious minorities aren't allowed to worship their deities in these countries publicly, they can't have places of worship here, during the month of Ramazan, they can't be seen eating in public to name a few examples. Why don't Muslims leaders and clerics in India raise their voices against these issues? India sends a large work force to the Gulf countries, shouldn't their rights be protected as well? Here, the Muslims will tell you that "oh, but it's their country... their laws apply there... we shouldn't interfere". Need I say more about the hypocrisy?

One very important point to take note of is that a lot of Islamic countries enforce non-Muslim women to cover their heads while in public. Isn't this tantamount to interfering with a person's personal beliefs and choice? Au contrare, I'll let you know that it's more of a cultural phenomenon, something endemic to that particular land, and so if the law of the land demands that, then so be it. I can understand if the demands made are unreasonable, but certainly this isn't unreasonable. Some time ago, In the UK, Muslim women refused to have their photos taken for licenses without the burqa - if this isn't shocking to anyone then something's wrong with them. How can we, in this day and age of terrorism, accept it if people want to hide their faces for photographs?

By getting rid of the veil isn't homogenising society - Muslim women can still go to a Mosque and pray (or wherever they pray, since they pray separately from men), they can still fast during the month of Ramazan, and still continue to be dominated by men of their religion - none of that will change. It's about time someone in our country has the balls to, if not ask for an outright ban, at least get a debate started over whether this is required or not. Like they say, "it would be a cold day in hell when that happens".
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