Persecuted Editor Dalvi launches her online news portal

Several months ago I had written a post carrying an appeal for financial support for an Urdu journalist, Shirin Dalvi, to start a new Urdu news website. Dalvi was dismissed from her job as editor of an Urdu newspaper and was forced to go hiding due to attacks on her by Islamic fundamentalists.

The fund-raising organised by Nirmukta and Milaap was a success and the targeted amount was soon raised.

Now Shirin Dalvi has launched her website.

Two years ago, Shireen Dalvi, ex-editor of the Lucknow-based Urdu newspaper Avadhnama’s Mumbai edition had to quit her job because she reprinted a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Prophet Mohammad after the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine. She is back now with an online portal which she claims has more progressive outlook as opposed to other Urdu publications.
The website launch of www.urdunewsexpress.com was held on Saturday in Bandra and was attended by Urdu journalists and social activists. “The website will focus on truth, news and opinions. The coverage will not be specific to one community,” said Dalvi who got to see one sided coverage from Urdu media during the Charlie Hebdo issue

[Read more…]

Draconian blasphemy laws haunts Pakistan

His father was shot dead by his Islamist bodyguard because he asked for amendments to draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan. Now Shaan Taseer is facing blasphemy charges. His “crime” was he asked for prayers for victims of the law.

To honour his father on his sixth death anniversary, the slain governor’s son, Shaan Taseer, posted a video on Facebook wherein he spoke about what his father taught him and called for equal rights for all Pakistanis, regardless of their faith.

“We live in a society which oppresses its weakest section and where no Ahmadi, Shia and Christian can live their lives according to their wishes,” he said.

He continued, “This year Pakistan will become 70 years old and this is the country which was constituted to safeguard the lives and interests of the Muslim minority of the South Asia.”

“Today, being a nation, let’s commit ourselves to treat every Pakistani equally whether they are Shia, Sunni, Ahmadi or Christian… One nation, one blood, one Pakistan… Pakistan for all… Long live Pakistan!” he concluded.

[Read more…]

Savitribai Phule – a pioneer Social Reformer

January 3 is the birth anniversary of the great 19th century Indian social reformer Savitribai Phule. She was born in 1831.

She is considered to be a pioneer in the field of education, especially education of women and oppressed castes/classes.

Belonging to a backward caste herself she was educated at her home by her husband, Jotirao Phule,  who himself was a great social reformer.

Image credit - Dalit Vision

Image credit – Dalit Vision

In the social and educational history of India, Mahatma Jotirao Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule stand out as an extraordinary couple. They were engaged in a passionate struggle to build a movement for equality between men and women and for social justice. Recognising that knowledge is power and that the progress of women and Dalit-Bahujans was impossible without it, they dedicated their entire life to spreading education. The distinction of starting the first school for girls and the Native Library in the country goes to them. They started the Literacy Mission in India in 1854-55. In 1863, they started a home for the prevention of infanticide in their own house, for the safety of pregnant, exploited Brahman widows and to nurture these children. By establishing the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society for Truth Seeking), they initiated the practice of the Satyashodhak marriage ñ a marriage without dowry or a wedding at minimum cost. By throwing open the well in his house for ëuntouchablesí, Jotirao directly initiated a programme to oppose the caste system. Both Jotirao and Savitribai did not just stop at opposing child marriage; they also organised widow remarriages. They had no children of their own but they adopted a child of a Brahman widow, gave him medical education and arranged an inter-caste marriage for him. This couple did the historical work of building a holistic and integrated revolutionary cultural, social and educational movement of women-shudra and-atishudras of the country.

Here are few images from a graphic novel on Savitribai Phule called “Journey of a trail blazer”.

img_3230

 

 

 

img_3231

 

img_3232

 

img_3233

 

img_3234

Many Indians are unaware of this great reformer. Only recently she has appeared in history textbooks in schools. So it was pleasantly surprising to see Google producing a doodle today for her in India.

img_3236

I will end this post with a poem written by Savitribai.

The Plight of the Shudras

Haunted by ‘The Gods on Earth’,

For two thousand years,

The perpetual service of the Brahmins,

Became the plight of the Shudras.

Looking at their condition,

The heart screams its protest,

The mind blanks out,

Struggling to find a way out.

Education is the path,

For the Shudras to walk,

For education grants humanity

freeing one from an animal-like existence

 

 

Resolutions for a new year

I am a man of new year resolutions. Most of them remain as just ideas at the end of the year but being an optimist I keep on resolving again and again. So here am I starting again another new year with a bunch of resolutions.

One of the resolution is regarding this blog and it is to post regularly and also to post something every now and then which is of some value with effort and research. Hope I will be able to do that.

Wishing a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my readers.

img_3227

 

A reality check on Kashmir

This year, 2016, saw a resurgence of violence in Kashmir. It was expected with a Hindutva government in power in Delhi. But what is Kashmiris agitating for ?

This article by Shah Faezal, a Kashmiri civil servant and writer is asking the same question and comes up with a more realistic and rational answer.

The politics of hope is a dangerous thing because it can trap people into a flawed reading of history. That is exactly what happened to us. There was a cultural backdrop. We spoke with a cadence of Pashto; our faith was Arab; our mornings began with recitals from Sa’adi Shirazi; we ate in Turkish utensils; our bedtime stories had scenes from Shahnameh. It was easy to make us believe that one more nudge and history would witness a dramatic reversal; a transformative cataclysm — azadi — was just round the corner.
Expectedly, there came a time in Kashmir when bus conductors were asked to prepare route plans to markets across the border. Peshawari prayer rugs started appearing in homes, wrist watches were turned half an hour behind Delhi time, bridges were burnt, so the enemy couldn’t walk over to our side. Most importantly, all men and women whose loyalties were suspect were hung from elm trees. In a complete withdrawal from reality, people gathered around radio sets to listen to official announcements of freedom, reassuring one another that something was about to happen.

Mukhtar Khan / AP

Mukhtar Khan / AP

[Read more…]

Demonetisation woes and the muted reaction

Last Wednesday, S Raju, a farmer from Anantapur district, brought around two tonnes of tomatoes to Bowenpally market in Secunderabad but had to return home empty handed.

Raju said he spent nearly Rs 4 per kg to raise the tomato crop and it cost him another Rs 2 per kg to transport the produce to Secunderabad, more than 400 km from Anantapur.

But he was shocked when traders at Bowenpally offered not more than Rs 2 a kg for his crop.

Raju realised the price quoted was not sufficient even to meet the transportation cost, as he had to travel back to Anantapur.

Frustrated, he unloaded boxes of tomatoes and dumped them in the market yard, before cursing the traders and market authorities. Some vendors picked up tomatoes for free, while cattle feasted on the remaining dump.

“Apparently, he has come all the way to Hyderabad, because tomato prices came down drastically in Anantapur market,” Srinivas, a local commission agent, told the media.

Some distressed farmers threw their onion produce in front of stray cattle at the Neemuch market in December. (Arun Mondhe/Hindustan Times)

Some distressed farmers threw their onion produce in front of stray cattle at the Neemuch market in December. (Arun Mondhe/Hindustan Times)

[Read more…]

A new Indian calendar and an old German one

New year is around the corner and market is flooded with calendars. Indian government   has come out as usual with its official calendar.

The designers of the new ₹2,000 bill — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most memorable gift to the Indian economy this year — may not have delivered the most aesthetically pleasing work. But those working on the layout of the official government calendar for 2017 got the brief loud and clear.

img_3219

[Read more…]

Menstrual taboo claims another victim

This happened in Nepal. 

 Roshani Tiruwa, 15, of Gajra – died on Saturday night in Chhaupadi goth (isolated shed) where women and girls are kept during menstruation. Her family members found her body lying in the shed on Saturday morning. This is the second incident of Chhaupadi death in Achham within a month. On November 19, Dambara Upadhyay, 21, was found dead in Chhaupadi shed.

According to SP Badri Prasad Dhakal, Roshani must have died due to suffocation as she had lit a small fire in the shed to warm herself. “Lack of air might have claimed her life. She lit the fire inside,” said SP.

Kin of deceased Roshani Tiruwa mourning her death.

Kin of deceased Roshani Tiruwa mourning her death.

[Read more…]

Less patients die if the physician treating is female

Does the gender of your physician play any role in the outcome of your illness ?

I know many patients who are not so confident in getting treated by a female physician. They feel women are not up to the mark in solving complex issues in medicine though they are very comfortable to be under the care of a female nurse. Such misconceptions based on gender is prevalent widely and is probably one of the reason why female physicians in USA gets on an average 20000 dollars less than male colleagues in a year. 

But what does scientific data say ?

A new study published online in JAMA has some interesting results. As per the study female internists give better results than their male counterparts.

[Read more…]