The Hindu – Majoritarianism is not nationalism, says Professor Romila Thapar

‘Insistence on two nations led to a nationalism defined by religion’

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 14 August 2020. In her first live online lecture, renowned historian of ancient India Professor Romila Thapar said on Thursday that arguably the country was on the edge of becoming a Hindu nation.

Professor Thapar addressed viewers on a Facebook Live session organised by a Delhi University students-led initiative, Karwaan, focusing on the writing of history over the past 200 years, from the colonial authors to the nationalist school of the early 20th Century and beyond.

Speaking about nationalism, Professor Thapar said: “Nationalism is the reflection of how people in a society think about their collective self. The collective means that everyone that constitutes the nation should be included as equal citizens.

But when nationalism is defined by a single identity, which can either be language or religion or even ethnicity, then nationalism gets derailed into majoritarianism. And majoritarianism is not nationalism.”

She further said that the struggle for Independence had an “all-inclusive nationalism of Indians opposed to British rule”, however, the insistence on two nations by the British led to a nationalism defined by religion that found acceptance among some Indians.

“The two nation idea surfaced in the creation of what happened in Partition, in the creation of Pakistan as an Islamic nation. And in current India, it can be argued that it is teetering on the edge of creating its Hindu equivalent,” she said.

Professor Thapar said the contributions of one religious community in each of the two nations were in focus. However, she said the right of the historian to research and write about any subject in history must be defended.

Al Jazeera – Myanmar: On Trial

Exclusive, secretly filmed video smuggled out of Myanmar appears to show continued persecution of Rohingya people.

16 April 2020. Myanmar’s government is on trial in the International Court of Justice, accused of orchestrating a campaign of destruction against the Rohingya people.

101 East has now obtained secretly filmed footage of killings that took place during a brutal army crackdown that led to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

At a secret location outside Myanmar, we meet a former member of an activist group who filmed some of the videos.

“There is no justice for us there. We want to show the world how the Myanmar government and the Rakhine are torturing us,” he says.

He filmed an interview with a young woman just before the mass exodus began in 2017, one of many videos filmed over three years that 101 East has reviewed and verified.

The woman wails as she describes how she and her baby were shot.

Three years later, we track down the woman in the video, Karima Khatun, in Bangladesh, in the world’s largest refugee camp.

She says hundreds of soldiers attacked her village on 27 August 2017.

“My baby was almost dead in my arms but I couldn’t get up as the military were in position. I had to cover his mouth. I couldn’t get up and put his intestines back in. My arm got hit. My baby died on the spot.”

101 East also travels to Myanmar’s Rakhine State to find Rohingya Muslims continuing to live in fear, caught up in a deadly conflict and suppressed from speaking out.

Rohingya, Myanmar, Human Rights, Bangladesh, 101 East

To see the video click on the link below

The Telegraph – Disappearing through the cracks

For women to join the labour force, trade-off between the burdens of work and family needs to be harmonised

Chitvan Singh Dhillon and Navdeep Singh

Op/Ed, 08 April 2020. This year’s Economic Survey has thrown up an intriguing statistic: 60 per cent of women in India in the productive age bracket of 15-59 years are engaged in full-time housework. This does not augur well for a nation chasing its $5-trillion-economy goal.

All-encompassing growth and gender parity are paramount for any economy to realize its full potential. With India striving to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, it cannot afford to leave half of its productive workforce behind.

India’s female labour force participation rate, calculated as the share of women who are employed or are seeking work as a proportion of the working age female population, stands distressingly low at 23.4 per cent (2019) as per the World Bank (modelled ILO estimates).

Juxtapose this statistic with neighbouring nations like Bhutan (58.3 per cent), Nepal (81.6 per cent), China (60.63 per cent), Bangladesh (36.14 per cent), Myanmar (47.54 per cent) and Sri Lanka (34.75 per cent).

While slightly more women work in Pakistan than in India (24.09 per cent and 23.4 per cent, respectively), Pakistan’s female labour force participation rate is escalating as India’s is flagging.

The Economic Survey also found that India’s female labour force participation declined by 7.8 percentage points, from 33.1 per cent in 2011-12 to 25.3 per cent in 2017-18. A comparison of India’s female labour force participation rates with the BRICS countries is not encouraging either.

Why have women in India been dropping out of the labour force in large numbers?

The decision and ability of women to participate in the labour force are the consequence of a complex interplay of varied economic and social factors that interact at the household and at the macro level.

Economic literature suggest that some of the most important drivers include education, fertility rates and the age of marriage, marital status, household income, religion, caste, cyclical effects and the degree of urbanization. Socio-cultural norms influencing the public role of women continue to affect labour force participation outcomes.

Multiple factors on the supply and demand side influence female labour force participation in India. On the supply side, economists have found a distinct U-shaped curve between the number of years of education and female labour force participation rates.

At extremely low levels of education and income, women have no option but to join the workforce and support their households. But as their male counterparts in the family start earning, women tend to pull out of work in the formal economy to give more attention to household activities.

It is the women in the middle of the pack, those who have some schooling or have completed only high school, who are pushed by the pressure to stay at home and by the lack of jobs matching their intermediate levels of education.

It is only at higher levels of education (graduate and above) and income that women re-enter the workforce through well-paying jobs that adequately match their educational levels and skill sets. In some communities, there may be a taboo attached to women working outside of their homes, especially if it involves doing ‘menial’ work. This increases pressures on women to drop out.

On the demand side, women’s fundamental duties confine them to the household. They are forced to take up work during a financial crisis, but they must do so in addition to their familial duties. So they move into the labour force only as supplementary workers.

There is no doubt that India has taken strides in improving access to education for girls, the rising enrolment rate in secondary schools and colleges is testimony to that.

However, the nature of post-liberalization economic growth has been peculiar in the sense that it has failed to create jobs in large numbers in sectors that could readily absorb women, especially those from rural areas.

Living standards witnessed a drastic improvement as a result of rise in household incomes but it has also reduced women’s participation in the labour force, especially in subsidiary activities due to a shift in preferences. Women’s contribution to the economy often remains undocumented or unaccounted for in official statistics.

Women continue to face countless barriers to enter the labour market. They face manifold challenges related to access to adequate employment opportunities, choice of work, safety at the work place, hospitable working environment, security of tenure, parity of wages, discrimination and, most importantly, harmonizing the trade-off between the burdens of work and family.

No single policy prescription can be proposed to advance labour market outcomes for all women. Unique initiatives such as ‘Skill India’, ‘Make in India’ and new, gender-based quotas can spur change. But the need of the hour is to invest heavily in skill training and job support. Can we do it? – India suspends pilgrimage to Kartarpur due to coronavirus outbreak

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 15 March 2020. The Indian Home Ministry has temporarily suspended pilgrimage and registration for Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib as a precautionary measure to put control over coronavirus outbreak. From 16 March, no devotee would be allowed to emigrate through Dera Baba Nanak terminal to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib via Kartarpur corridor.

Sharing the development with media, a government official informed that the Home Ministry has suspended pilgrimage to Kartarpur Sahib so that the spread of coronavirus could be controlled. “Not only Kartarpur instead movement of all types of passengers through international border points with Pakistan from 16 March onwards,” he added.

It is pertinent to note here that the Indian government has already suspended all types of passenger movement through land check posts with its other neighboring countries Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

On 13 March, the SGPC appointed Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh had asked the Indian government not to suspend pilgrimage to Kartarpur.

A similar ban by the Pakistan government is already in effect on Pakistani citizens since yesterday.

India suspends pilgrimage to Kartarpur due to coronavirus outbreak

The Print – NIA looking into Pakistan, ISI link with arrested J&K cop Davinder Singh

NIA also probing Davinder Singh links with terror outfits Lashkar and Jaish, says there could be more J&K cops involved in arranging logistics for terror operatives.

Ananya Bhardwaj

New Delhi – India, 29 January 2020. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing a “Pakistan connection” in the Davinder Singh case and have found clues to suggest that he was getting money from across the border, ThePrint has learnt.

According to a source in the NIA, the J&K deputy superintendent of police made more than four visits to Bangladesh, Dhaka and other cities, in 2019, which could be because of his connections with Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI.

Two of Singh’s daughters are studying medicine in Bangladesh.

Singh was arrested on 11 January for ferrying two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists to Jammu. He is being kept in an undisclosed location in Jammu, and a NIA team from Delhi has gone there to question Singh.

Sources in the NIA said that Singh had been in touch with the terror operatives for more than two years.

“It was not the first time that Singh was ferrying terrorists to a safe house. He had done the same for money last year as well,” a source said.

Links with more terror outfits

The NIA is also investigating if Singh was in touch with other terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

“The amount of money he made and the number of operations he was a part of while being in the Special Operation Group, we suspect that he was also in touch with handlers of more terror outfits. We are going through his mobile records, chats to ascertain that,” the source said.

Although the NIA has still not been able to account for Rs 7.5 lakh, found at his residence, sources in the agency said it could be part of a hawala consignment that came from Pakistan via Delhi.

It is suspected that apart from providing logistical support to terror operatives, Singh also transported hawala money, coming from Pakistan to Delhi, to Kashmir.

“We are going through his bank accounts, transactions made by him in the last few years to trace the source of money that came into his account. His passbooks, bank details are being looked into,” the source said.

Singh had a reputation in the J&K police for being “corrupt and unscrupulous” but was yet given an out-of-turn promotion and a Police Medal on 15 August 2019.

Singh served in the J&K Police as an inspector and then DSP for over 25 years, and was posted with the anti-hijacking squad at the Srinagar airport at the time of his arrest. He was earlier the DSP of Pulwama district, and was transferred to the new, important posting last year.

More policemen on radar

The source in the NIA said they are looking at possible aides of Singh within the J&K Police who may have helped him arrange for logistics for the terror operatives.

“This is something that cannot be done alone. There is a strong possibility that there are more J&K policemen who were involved in this. We are trying to zero down on the suspects. We also have some policemen on our radar. Further probe will bring more clarity in this,” the source said.

The arrest of Singh also triggered an internal audit within the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to look for “possible moles”.

Newly-appointed Director General of the CRPF, A P Maheshwari, told reporters that an internal audit was carried out.

“The CRPF has revisited/audited our internal systems and we regularly do that to check if there were/are any attempts of subversion within the force,” Maheshwari said.

Will also probe Afzal angle

The NIA will also probe Singh’s alleged link with 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Singh was named by Afzal Guru, who was hanged on 9 February 2013, in a letter that he wrote to his lawyer Sushil Kumar from Tihar jail.

In the letter, Afzal alleged that Singh and other officers from the J&K police not only tortured him and extorted money, but also introduced him to one of the men who later attacked Parliament. Afzal also claimed that it was Singh who asked him to arrange for a car and a place to stay for the attacker.

Singh’s role, however, was not investigated by authorities.

“Since we now have Singh in custody, we will be looking into this alleged link as well,” the NIA source said.

NIA looking into Pakistan, ISI link with arrested J&K cop Davinder Singh

The Asian Age – As polls show AAP’s rise, BJP turns to Hindutva

The Union minister blamed the AAP and the Congress for instigating violent protests against the CAA in the national capital.

Shashi Bhushan

New Delhi – India, 25 January 2020. With opinion polls and reports indicating that the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal has an edge in the forthcoming Delhi polls, the BJP has fallen back on its nationalist plank to consolidate the Hindu vote bank.

The top leaders of the party ranging from home minister Amit Shah to information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar have begun evoking Pakistan to woo the voters. The saffron camp is trying to project that the Delhi elections was actually a contest between India and Pakistan.

On Friday, Mr Javdekar, also BJP’s election in-charge for Delhi, speaking to the media said that the voters in the national capital need to decide on whether they want “Jinnah wali azadi or Bharat Mata ki jai.”

On Thursday, the home minister said that Mr Kejriwal, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan “speak the same language.” Kapil Mishra, BJP candidate from Model Town, had earlier tweeted that the Delhi election was a contest between “India and Pakistan.”

Referring to Shaheen Bagh’s anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, Mr Javedkar said : “We have seen ‘Jinnah Wali Azadi’ slogan being raised there. Now, Delhi people need to decide if they want ‘Jinnah Wali Azadi’ or ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.”

The Union minister blamed the AAP and the Congress for instigating violent protests against the CAA in the national capital. “Delhi people should ask both the parties why did they instigate violence ?

The nexus of AAP and Congress is behind the Shaheen Bagh protest. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia have supported the protest. Mr Kejriwal sympathises with people raising ‘Jinnah Wali Azadi’ slogans and not with the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr Javadekar blamed AAP and Congress for misleading and poisoning the minds of the minorities, including children. He asserted that the CAA was not going to affect citizenship of any Indian and blamed that political parties were raising the bogey of CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to defeat the BJP in the elections.

“The CAA is aimed at providing citizenship to persecuted minorities including Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” he added.

Addressing a Nukkad Sabha in the Lakshmi Nagar constituency, BJP president J P Nadda alleged that the Congress and the AAP were misleading people on the citizenship law.

Dawn – Hasina, Karzai join criticism of Indian citizenship law

The Newspaper’s Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 20 January 2020. Bangladesh and Afghanistan have opposed India’s controversial law, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which cites the two together with Pakistan as the three neighbours that discriminate against non-Muslim minorities.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai told The Hindu that the law which excludes Muslims and woos Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from the three countries for citizenship rights should be extended to everyone equally.

“We don’t have persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, the whole country is persecuted. We have been in war and conflict for a long time. All religions in Afghanistan, Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs, which are our three main religions, have suffered,” Mr Karzai said.

He was speaking to The Hindu during a visit to Delhi where he addressed the inaugural session of the government’s Raisina Dialogue. Mr Karzai said he hoped the sentiment that minorities must be protected “would be reflected in India with regard to other Afghans, who are Muslim, as well.”

Mr Karzai’s comments, differing from New Delhi’s view are significant, given that he has been seen as a strong friend of India. Like many Afghan leaders, Mr Karzai has also lived in India for several years beginning in 1976, and has studied in Shimla.

In December, India’s foreign ministry had clarified that the CAA referred to past attacks against minorities in Afghanistan and that the current government had “substantially addressed the concerns of the minority communities as per their constitutional provisions.”

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, seen as a key regional ally of India’s rightwing Hindu revivalist government, criticised the new law in an interview with Dubai’s Gulf News, saying the new law was not necessary.

Ms Hasina said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally assured her that a related new measure, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), was an internal matter of India that would not affect her people.

But the NRC is being implemented in Assam, and is proposed to be extended across the country, with a view to sending back alleged illegal Bangladeshi migrants to their country.

Home Minister Amit Shah has said the proposed countrywide NRC would be used to evict Muslim “termites”.

“We don’t understand why (the Indian government) did it. It was not necessary,” Ms Hasina told Gulf News in Abu Dhabi where she held high-level meetings. The statement is the first by the Bangladesh leader since the disputed law, that has triggered protests across India, was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on 11 December.

During the parliamentary debates, Home Minister Amit Shah repeatedly referred to persecution faced by minority communities, mainly the Hindus, in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan arguing that these groups should get citizenship rights in India. Ms Hasina distanced her country from the line taken by the Indian government.

“It is an internal affair. Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India.

The government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained that the NRC is an internal exercise of India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in October 2019,” she said.

Ms Hasina’s government has said that minority communities did not leave her country because of persecution and maintained that there is no reverse migration from India either. “But within India, people are facing many problems,” she declared.

The Print – Amit Shah’s nationwide NRC will be the same as Modi’s demonetisation

Amit Shah’s constant demand for a countrywide NRC has been rightfully criticised. But not many have pointed out just how impractical it is.

Dhruv Rathee

New Delhi – India, 03 December 2019. Home Minister Amit Shah’s constant demand for a countrywide NRC has deservedly received plenty of criticism from a constitutional and ethical standpoint, though this hasn’t stopped him from coming up with fresh promises. On Monday, Shah said he will ensure all infiltrators are out of India by 2024.

In all this, what many have not talked about is the practicality of such a ridiculous proposal, which I would rank lower than Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Many conservatives led by their ideologies might support decisions like NRC and border wall, but their economics cannot be denied by anyone.

Assam proved to be an inconvenient experiment, showing us what the result of a nationwide exercise could be. It took over four years and reportedly cost the central government Rs 1,600 crore to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

More than 55,000 people were employed, and more than 3.2 crore people from Assam applied to register themselves.

There is no official data on what it cost the average person to find the documents, fill in the application form, travel, stand in queue for hours, register themselves, and go through a verification process where many people were called over multiple times to verify their citizenship.

In several cases, the entire family had to travel long distances. Initially, 40 lakh people were excluded from the NRC list, which meant more verification rounds. All this amounted to a gigantic proportion of loss of time, money and productivity.

If only the Modi government had the example of demonetisation to know how disastrous an ill-planned decision can be.

What made the 2016 demonetisation utterly useless is how stupid the idea itself was and how arbitrary the process. In November 2016, many bankers reportedly converted “black money” into white at a commission, which eventually meant that nearly all the cash returned to the banking system.

NRC is very similar in these regards. Replace bankers with verification officers with the power to include or exclude someone from the list. The idea that some or many officers worked at a commission to randomly include or exclude people is pretty feasible.

So, it’s not a surprise that nearly everyone was disappointed with the final NRC list. Some cried over the exclusion of Hindus; others were hurt over the number of illegal Muslim immigrants being so less.

What makes NRC an even bigger blunder than demonetisation is that it doesn’t stop with the declaration of the final list. That is just the first part of the process. The bigger problem becomes clear when you think about the excluded people, what will happen to them? where will they go?

The immediate answer from someone who supports the NRC is “send them back to Bangladesh.” This is as ridiculous as Trump suggesting Mexico will pay for the wall. What’s in it for Mexico? Just like that, what’s in it for Bangladesh?

Why would it accept “illegal immigrants” unless it sees some kind of political or financial benefit? The Sheikh Hasina government has already said Bangladesh will not take in any deportees. The Modi government understands the difficulty, which is why it is going for the second option, detention centres.

Detention centres raise several ethical, moral and constitutional concerns. But let’s focus more on how practical they are since there is already a significant amount of support among the public to house ‘illegal immigrants’ in these camps.

Assam’s first detention centre is being constructed at a cost of Rs 46 crore spread over 2.5 hectares and will house 3,000 people. But there are 19 lakh people excluded from the final NRC.

Here is the math: the cost of simply building detention centres for all the excluded people will be upwards of Rs 27,000 crore. And this is just in Assam. Imagine the cost of constructing detention centres all over India. Also, how many detention centres would the Modi government construct?

Moreover, this cost doesn’t include maintenance, food, shelter, and the upkeep of these centres. We are easily looking at a figure in lakhs of crores of rupees. The same amount of money could be used to construct thousands of schools, hospitals and fund slum rehabilitation programmes, which would actually benefit Indians.

A typical question at this point will be: ‘But what about the illegal immigrants?’ ‘How should they be controlled?’ The solution is a lot simpler than what many realise; the only problem is that it’s politically not marketable, better border control and increase of foreign aid to countries like Bangladesh.

We must directly deal with the influences that make people leave their home country. Money is better spent in setting up skill development and vocational training centres, schools and universities, which will make people employable.

Not only will it foster economic development in both India and Bangladesh, but it will also improve the relationship with our neighbouring countries overall, which will make them more compliant towards immigration issues. Thus, improving lives across the border prevents people from illegally crossing over, all the while, costing the same or less amount of money.

The author is an activist and YouTuber. Views are personal.

Amit Shah’s nationwide NRC will be the same as Modi’s demonetisation – Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Nanak Shahi in Bangladesh asked to submit passports

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 20 December 2019. The Sarhali based Kaar Sewa seminary has requested devotees aspirant of attending Khalsa Sajna Diwas (Vaisakhi) at Gurdwara Nanakshahi, Dhaka and pay obeisance at Gurdwaras in Bangladesh to submit their passports.

Kaar Sewa seminary chief Baba Sukha Singh and secretary Harbhajan Singh informed that a special Jatha will depart for Bangladesh on April 13, 2020 in a special train from Amritsar and the Jatha will return back to Amritsar on April 26, 2020.

They have requested the aspirant devotees to submit their passports along with two colored photographs and two identification proofs at Kaar Sewa seminary office in Sarhali.

Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Nanak Shahi in Bangladesh asked to submit passports

World Sikh News appeals to endorse appeal to review Citizenship Amendment Act

Published 16 December – Jagmohan Singh

Human rights bodies: Human Rights Defenders’ Alert–India (HRDA), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and United Against Hate (UAH), in collaboration with People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) will be writing to India’s National Human Rights Commission seeing review of the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Indian Parliament.

The World Sikh News appeals to you to endorse the petition.

The deadline for endorsements: 9 PM, Tuesday, 17 December 2019′

The time is now ! The people of India, especially Muslims and more especially Muslim students are facing the wrath of the barbaric state machinery, which was evidenced in the last night attack by the Delhi Police on students within the library of the Jamia Milia University in Delhi.

To stop the fires of divisiveness from choking the rights of the people, The World of Sikh News appeals to readers to endorse the petition prepared by committed human rights activists and organisations.

Please share with friends and associates. The opening paragraph is mentioned here. The appeal is exhaustive and complete.

Go to the WSN website to endorse the appeal

The Chairperson and Members
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi.

Subject: Urging the NHRC to exercise Section 12 (d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and review the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

Respected Sirs and Madam,

We, the concerned citizens, write to you today regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), passed by the Indian Parliament on 11 December 2019 and received President’s assent on 12 December 2019. CAA violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. This when coupled with the National Register of Citizenship exercise, which is to be undertaken nationally, violates not only Article 14 but also Articles 15 and 21.

WSN appeals to endorse appeal to review Citizenship Amendment Act