BBC News – What the backlash against Bollywood’s Aamir Khan tells us about India

Soutik Biswas

New Delhi, 25 November 2015. The bitter backlash against Bollywood star Amir Khan’s remarks about “growing intolerance” in India tells us a few things about the world’s largest democracy.

At a journalism awards ceremony, Khan said there was a growing sense of fear, insecurity and despondency in the country, and that when he discussed things with his filmmaker wife, Kiran Rao, she wondered whether the family should move out of India.

“It is disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child, what the atmosphere around us will be, she feels scared to open the newspaper every day. There is a growing sense of disquiet, and despondency. You feel depressed, you feel low. Why is this happening?” Khan said.

Many believe Khan was spot on. In drawing-rooms in recent months, friends and acquaintances have told me that they worry about India – the dull economy, shambolic criminal-justice system, unchecked corruption, the fussing about non-issues, and now the acts of intolerance and the coarse and polarised levels of debate – and they would prefer their children to leave.

There is a sense that the immense hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered before sweeping to power last year is fast slipping away.

Many high-profile writers and artists have raised concerns about what they feel is rising religious and cultural intolerance – rationalists have been killed and a Muslim man lynched over suspicions he consumed beef.

Not imploding

To be true, India is certainly not imploding with religious violence. But the protests against intolerance by artists and writers appear not to be so much a reaction to the scale of incidents, but a creeping anxiety over whether the highest levels of the government, including Mr Modi, seriously want to condemn or put their imprimatur behind them.

To make matters worse, Mr Modi and his senior ministers have not been quick enough to speak out against the incidents and hate speech, and when they have eventually done so, they have sounded scripted and remote.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, for example, famously said that the lynching of the Muslim man would actually hurt India’s image and “amount to policy diversions”.

But the fierce public and social media backlash against Aamir Khan by the ruling BJP and supporters of Mr Modi possibly holds up a mirror to hardened positions in today’s India.

One is the rise of what a commentator calls a “species of hardcore supporters” of Mr Modi, who are derisively called Modi Bhakts – bhakt means worshipper of a deity – by liberal opponents.

They are not the fawning, old-fashioned sycophants that India’s leaders are used to. Their identification with Mr Modi goes beyond mere spirited support, and they defend their leader with a sense of identification and aggressiveness which is unprecedented in India. Some of them behave more like his self-appointed intellectual guardians.


Many of these supporters also believe that the world is out to get Mr Modi and say people with a history of reservations against him – Khan had condemned the 2002 Gujarat riots – have not been able to reconcile themselves to Mr Modi becoming prime minister.

What accounts for the emergence of the uber supporter? “Maybe, many of us were looking desperately for a strong leader and when we thought we had found one and elected him to power, we lost all perspective,” wonders analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta.

Secondly, criticising Mr Modi is increasingly being conflated with defaming India.

Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju says Khan’s comments on intolerance “only bring down the image of the country and the prime minister”. This, many believe, follows from rising hyper-nationalism and fragile self-esteem.

Many Modi supporters appear to be defining nationalism by the hard, irreconcilable position of loyalty rather than the values that India stands for. Mr Modi and his party cannot be entirely blamed for this worrying trend, which is becoming more glaring as India continues to frustrate its aspiring millions.

Thirdly – and most disturbingly – is a tendency to tell India’s Muslims that they should be grateful that India is looking after them.

Disguised sectarianism

Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, who is an ardent supporter of Mr Modi, said Khan should remember that “this country has made you Aamir Khan”. Implicit in such remarks, believe many, is a barely disguised sectarianism.

BJP chief Amit Shah spoke about crackers being burst in Pakistan if the BJP lost the recent Bihar elections. (The party suffered a drubbing, and there were no reports of any such celebrations across the border.) Senior party leader Giriraj Singh openly said that “those opposed to Mr Modi should go to Pakistan”.

“There is a sense among the practitioners of majoritarian politics in the ruling party of creating a fantasy world of politics where Muslims don’t matter. Also, now prejudice can be expressed without describing somebody as Muslim,” says Mr Mehta.

But there is hope.

Far away from the shrill echo chamber of social media, the majority of Indians have proved to be calmer and more sceptical. The results of the recent Bihar election are a good example of that.

Critics say Mr Modi’s government needs to realise that silence and inaction can breed anxiety.

There were a number of federal ministers present when Khan made his remarks at an awards ceremony on Tuesday. Many wondered why Arun Jaitley, the senior-most minister in the audience, did not stand up and say he understood the actor’s anxiety and that his government would guarantee that every Indian, irrespective of his belief, was safe?

Why are Mr Modi and his ministers not articulating some of these elementary things?

The Tribune – Sukhbir tells Amarinder: Expel Congress leaders who attended Sarbat Khalsa

Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Tribune News Service

Moga, 28 November 2015. A day after Captain Amarinder Singh was named Punjab Congress president, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal today sought to relate him as well as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi with hardline Sikh politics.

Addressing the second ‘Sadbhavna Rally’ in the city, the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister said in case Capt Amarinder did not expel from the party within two days the Congress leaders who had participated in the Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba (near Amritsar), it would become obvious that the exercise had been carried out at Rahul’s behest.

Sukhbir named Ramanjit Sikki, Inderjit Singh Zira, Harmanjit Gill and Lalli Majithia as the Congress leaders who had attended the Sarbat Khalsa. “The Congress needs to clarify its stand on why these leaders attended an event organised by anti-national forces,” he said.

The Akali Dal president said Captain Amarinder may be the “biggest lion of the Congress, but he had gone too old and had no bite left in him”. “Amarinder only roars… He has attempted twice to establish his presence against the SAD, but failed miserably,” he said.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also took a dig at the Congress leader: “Amarinder introduced the politics of confrontation in Punjab. But his meaningless utterances have no meaning for the people.”

Badal said he would not let the state’s hard-earned peace be disturbed. “I am even willing to sacrifice my life to safeguard it,” he said.

Tarun Chugh, BJP national secretary, too attacked the Congress on the alleged participation of its leaders in the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. “Captain Amarinder must explain what Sikki, Lalli and his other party colleagues were doing at an event spearheaded by separatists…

The Congress leadership, who claim to be the guardians of the Constitution, stands exposed… The role of Aam Aadmi Party leaders too is questionable,” he said.

The gathering at today’s event appeared lesser than the Bathinda rally on Monday. However, there was a sizable number on the roads outside the Grain Market, which affected traffic on the main road. Barring Sukhbir, who claimed the Moga rally surpassed Bathinda in terms of participation, a majority of the speakers avoided raising the issue.

“The response is bound to be mild. After all, it is the second rally within a week,” said a senior Akali spokesperson.

Punjab ministers Parminder Dhindsa and Janmeja Singh Sekhon and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa were among those present.

Alken Gurdwara & Leuven

Alken Gurdwara
30 Augustus 2015


Gurdwara Singh Sabha vzw
Steenweg 418
3570 Alken, Limburg

31 Augustus 2015


Leuven – Vaartkom


Leuven – Vaartkom







To see all my pictures :

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Minorities, Dalits living in fear: Arundhati Roy

“Dr. Ambedkar left the Hindu religion and proselytised himself to the Buddhist religion precisely for reasons of intolerance prevailing in the Hindu religion”

Shoumojit Banerjee

Pune, 29 November 2015. Novelist and Booker Prize-winner Arundhati Roy on Saturday said ‘intolerance’ was “too mild” a word to describe the grave state of current socio-political affairs.

Ms. Roy, who earlier this month joined the swelling numbers of artists and writers returning their National and Sahitya Akademi awards to protest the climate of intolerance, was in the city to accept the Mahatma Phule Samata Award on the occasion of the great social reformer’s 125th death anniversary.

Ms. Roy received the award from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal.

In her speech, Ms. Roy expressed her concern over the state of affairs under the Bharatiya Janata Party-government led by Narendra Modi, evoking the Dadri lynching and the highly controversial ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme initiated by the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates.

She alleged that millions of people from the minorities, including Muslims, Christians and members of lower castes or tribal communities, were being forced to live in a perpetual state of terror.

“Dr. Ambedkar left the Hindu religion and proselytised (sic) himself to the Buddhist religion precisely for reasons of intolerance prevailing in the Hindu religion.

“And today, the Phule-Ambedkarites are clubbed and branded ‘anti-Hindutva’ by this government [BJP] who seem to harbour sinister intentions against minorities,” Ms. Roy said. Police detained several activists of the ABVP who attempted to disrupt the award ceremony to protest her ‘anti-national’ statements in the past, including against the Indian Army.

The Statesman – France to mourn Paris attack dead

Paris, 27 November 2015. France on Friday will mourn the 130 people killed in the November 13 Paris attacks, with President Francois Hollande leading a solemn ceremony in honour of the victims.

Families of those killed in France’s worst-ever terror attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, will join some of the wounded at ceremonies at the Invalides, the gilded 17th-century complex in central Paris that houses a military hospital and museum and Napoleon’s tomb.

The tribute will be “national and republican,” an official at the Elysee presidential palace said, referring to the French republic’s creed of liberty, equality and fraternity.

“It will take place in sobriety and solemnity, reflected by the beauty of the surroundings.”

Hollande will break from a whirlwind diplomatic bid to build a broad military coalition to defeat IS.

The marathon has taken him from Paris to Washington to Moscow in just a few days.

He is expected to make a 20-minute address at the one-hour ceremony, which will be shown live on television.

In the run up to the commemoration, Hollande called on the French to hang out the Tricolour.

“Every French citizen can take part (in the tribute) by taking the opportunity to deck their home with a blue, white and red flag, the colours of France,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll quoted Hollande as saying.

But some victims’ families have said they will snub the event, accusing the government of failing to tighten security after terror attacks in January, when jihadist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, mainly at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

“Thanks Mr President, politicians, but we don’t want your handshake or your tribute, and we hold you partly responsible for what has happened!” Emmanuelle Prevost, whose brother was one of the 90 killed at the Bataclan concert hall, wrote on Facebook.

As the nation mourns the victims, an international manhunt is still on for two key suspects — Salah Abdeslam, who played a key logistical role in the wave of terror, and Mohamed Abrini, seen with Abdeslam two days before the November 13 atrocities.

France has stepped up its air strikes on IS targets in Syria and Iraq, where the group controls large areas of territory, and wants to create a more coordinated, concerted international effort to destroy the hardline Islamists.

Read more at – Express & Star: Thousands Gather in Birmingham UK for Guru Nanak’s Gurpurb

Vibrant colours, generations of families coming together and a message of friendship in troubled times – thousands of people in Sandwell took part in a celebration marking the birthday of the founder of the Sikh religion.

Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. 27 November 2015. Members of the Sikh community paraded through West Bromwich and Smethwick to honor Guru Nanak Dev Ji on Wednesday.

Roads were closed to allow the colourful display to make its way through the streets during a four-hour journey with some worshippers walking bare-footed.

And the brisk winter temperatures failed to deter crowds that turned out to watch the procession marking a highlight of the Sikh calender.

Members of eight gurdwaras in the borough took part linking the towns in celebration with around 15,000 people thought to have joined the parade.

Organisers, who are part of Sandwell Sikh Council, were delighted with the turnout and the streets flooded by people.

Parmjit Singh Dhillion, the president of the Baba Sang Ji Gurdwara in Smethwick, said it had been a positive event in the wake of recent overseas terror attacks.

“It was nice to see so many people. It is right that people have come together,” he said.

“For our Vaisakhi parade in April it is usually warmer and it was a lot colder for people, but they still wanted to take part.

“The event is a force for good in these times.”

The parade is known as Nagar Kirtan and is jointly organised between the eight gurdwaras.

People began gathering at the Guru Har Rai Gurdwara in George Street, West Bromwich, at around 10am and finished in Smethwick High Street around 2pm.

Food and cups of tea were also served up as part of the festivities which included open-air prayers and drumming.

Walking in Gingelom – To Alken Gurdwara

Walking in Gingelom
28 Augustus 2015





To Alken Gurdwara
30 Augustus 2015


Leuven NMBS Station
Waiting for the train that will take us to Sint-Truiden


Sint-Truiden – Slagmolenstraat
If you take my (parking) space, then also take my disability


Alken Gurdwara
Granthi Singh doing path


Gurbani Kirtan

Gurdwara Singh Sabha Vzw
Steenweg 418
3570 Alken, Limburg

To see all my pictures :

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Human Rights Without Frontiers International – France: French Muslim body to create ‘licence to preach’ for imams

Yahoo News, 24 November 2015. France’s leading Muslim body said Tuesday it would create a permit to preach for imams in a bid to root out extremists, as well as a new religious body to fight back against jihadist propaganda.

Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), said the country’s imams should be given a certificate, “like a driving licence”, that ensured they promoted a “tolerant and open Islam”.

The move comes 11 days after the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, amid increasing fears about homegrown Islamist extremists radicalised by rogue preachers.

There were at least four Frenchmen among the gunmen who carried out the attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group.

The CFCM said it would hand out the permits by testing theological knowledge and adherence to French principles, and make them sign an “imams’ charter” in which they agreed to “respect the laws of the Republic”.

At this stage it does not appear that the permits will be compulsory, particularly as the CFCM, set up at the instigation of the authorities around a decade ago, does not represent every mosque and prayer hall in France, which is home to around five million Muslims.

But Kbibech said that while withdrawing the permit from an imam might not stop him preaching, it would make mosques face up to their responsibilities about who they hired.

“The time for action has come. The Muslims of France will play their part,” said Kbibech, reiterating his “absolute condemnation” of those who turn to violence, saying they would “never have the support of France’s Muslims”.

He also said the CFCM would set up a “religious council” to use theological arguments to defeat “every argument used by terrorist and jihadist organisations to recruit our young people”.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve underlined the “government’s willingness to do everything” to stop “hate preachers” spreading their message.

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Dawn – Climate change serious threat to human life: PM Nawaz Sharif

Valetta, 28 November 2015. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said climate change poses a serious threat to humans across the globe, reported Radio Pakistan.

While addressing the Commonwealth Summit on Climate Change in Malta, he said Pakistan experienced mighty floods in 2010 and 2011 owing to changing climate in the region. He called for provision of the latest technology and other resources for implementation of decisions during the conference in letter and spirit.

The premier said assistance should be provided to underdeveloped countries to overcome challenges faced due to climate change.

He said Pakistan was facing the brunt of climate change, adding that the Himalayan glaciers were melting faster than those in other parts of the world.

“We are adopting environment-friendly policies to overcome climate degradation.”

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif also attended a banquet hosted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II for the heads of government of Commonwealth countries and their spouses.

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz accompanied the premier at the dinner, which was also attended by members of the Royal family.

PM to attend UN Climate Change Conference in Paris

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on Monday.

Briefing newsmen in Islamabad about the mega event, Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid said the prime minister will also deliver a speech at the Leaders Event that day.

He said during the Paris conference Pakistan will highlight its vulnerability to the prevailing and future threats emanating from climate change.

The Indian Express – Ram Temple will be true tribute to Ashok Singhal, says RSS chief

At condolence meet attended by top BJP leaders, he calls for ‘serious attempts’ to accomplish task

New Delhi, 23 November 2015. At condolence meet for VHP patron Ashok Singhal Sunday, the RSS pushed for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said “serious attempts” should be made to accomplish Singhal’s dream as he recalled his last meeting with him earlier this month.

Bhagwat said Singhal had two desires — construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya and propagation of Vedas.

“If we have to accomplish the resolve of Ashokji, we have to take a pledge today to make his resolve ours. We have to make serious attempts to build the Ram Temple and that will be a true tribute to him. Ashokji’s spirit will guide us in this task” he said, adding that “in the coming few years we hope to work towards accomplishing his dream of Ram Temple.”

During Singhal’s birthday celebrations last month, VHP had pushed for the construction of Ram temple in the presence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh as well as the RSS chief.

While last month Rajnath Singh had listed the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’ movement among the two biggest movements of independent India, BJP chief Amit Shah Sunday called it the “biggest movement after Independence” whose “hero and architect” was Singhal.

Apart from Shah and Bhagwat, a host of senior Union ministers gathered to pay tributes to Singhal, including Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Venkaiah Naidu and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, besides the top brass of the RSS.

At the event, former Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi said: “Ram is Bharat. Bharat is Ram. Ashokji’s dream is incomplete without the construction of the Ram Temple,” he said.

“It is considered divisive these days to talk about the Ram Temple. We can confidently say that Bharat was a Vishwaguru and will be one…To call it divisive is against our country’s tradition,” he said.

VHP has often demanded a law for ensuring the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

VHP leader Pravin Togadia repeated the demand and said: “The Central government should pass an Act in Parliament to construct a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. It will be a fitting tribute to Ashok Singhal,” he said. Togadia said that “we will not mourn the death of Ashokji, instead take a resolve of celebrating it as Hindu victory.”

Former VHP president Vishnu Hari Dalmia also said that construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya will be a true tribute to Singhal, who dedicated his entire life for Hindutva and spearheaded the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. He urged Bhagwat to ask the government for early construction of the temple.


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