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

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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)

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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.


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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.

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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.

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Hindutva science and the cow

Hindutva forces currently running the central government in India is obsessed with cows. They worship not only cows but also its milk, urine and dung. But this love and worship is only for indigenously bred ones, not the “non Hindu” cows.

So it was not surprising to hear that several proposals for studies  to “validate” “beneficial” effects of indigenous cow urine, milk and dung was discussed in a workshop organised by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Scientists and medical experts floated 40 proposals, including setting up a “gau vigyan (cow science) university” and researching the “anti-cancer” properties of cow urine, at a workshop organised by the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi on Sunday.

The programme was aimed at instituting a national project to validate the health benefits of Panchgavya – a concoction prepared with cow urine, dung, milk, curd and ghee.

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Aleppo – liberated or fallen ?

The power has shifted in most parts of the Syrian city of Aleppo from the hands of anti Assad forces to Assad.  Should it be called as “Aleppo fallen to Assad regime” or ” Aleppo liberated by government forces ” ?

How it is termed depends on from which angle you view the Syrian civil war. Some feel anti Assad forces are hard line Islamists and are more dangerous, while others feel Assad regime is brutally violent on its citizen and has no legitimacy.

Image credit - AFP

Image credit – AFP

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Women oppose Sharia courts in Britain

Sharia courts in Britain ?

Yes there are Sharia courts in United Kingdom. This is what Wikipedia say about it.

The Islamic Sharia Council (ISC) is a British organisation that provides legal rulings and advice to Muslims in accordance with its interpretation of Islamic Sharia based on the four Sunni schools of thought. It primarily handles cases of marriage and divorce and, to a lesser extent business and finance. According to BBC News, thousands of Muslims have turned to the Council to resolve family and financial issues. The Economist magazine states it has offered rulings to “thousands of troubled families since the 1980s”, the council states that it has dealt with an average of between 200 and 300 cases monthly as of January 2012.

The council has no legal authority United Kingdom,and cannot enforce any penalties; many Muslims would appear voluntarily to accept the rulings made by the ISC.

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The Indian demonetisation fiasco

More than a month ago, on November 8th, in a nationally televised speech, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced that from that midnight onwards 85% of value of cash in circulation in India will become invalid. The two higher denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 which were withdrawn from circulation formed the bulk of cash in use. Government gave time till December 30 to exchange or deposit old invalid notes, but put heavy restriction on the amount of withdrawal of new notes from Banks.

The stated reason for such a drastic move was to curb black money, eliminate counterfeit notes and to reduce terrorism.  Looking back after a month it seems the move failed in all counts while putting ordinary people, especially the poor to severe hardships. Moreover it opened new avenues of corruption with involvement of bank and income tax officials.

Most economists were very critical of the move. Here are some excerpts of the criticisms.

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