A Visitor At Aligarh Muslim University

A Visitor At Aligarh Muslim University

Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain Travelogues may really not be a part of this e-paper’s scope yet when you make a brief foray into a neighboring town and it excites you with what you observe, you are duty bound to share impressions that you have returned with. Aligarh houses the famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) about which there has been more negative than positive publicity; remarks about its falling standards and inability to modernize. When one hears of such things it is not good to accept it at face value. Always better to take a look yourself if it is within the scope of your capability. I am not an Aligarhite, so to say but have many friends who have emerged from the hallowed precincts of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s iconic institution. I have heard and read so much about it and now I have the honor of being appointed the Visitor’s nominee on the University’s Executive Council. The Visitor happens to be the President of India. This is just a short travelogue of a day spent at AMU. I was there for a day; left at 5 AMand returned at 7 PM. In these 14 hours, including travel time I underwent a profound change in my perception about AMU and it gave me an insight into how institutions can become the vehicle of social change, if you want them to be so. It may be interesting to take note of my ignorance and my observations and provide a critique about what I write. What was the occasion? Nothing so earth shaking; I was invited to speak to a gathering on a supposedly mundane subject, ‘Internal Security Challenges of India and Human Rights Concerns’, a subject not usually touched by educational institutions in India. The reason, simply because this is an issue taken for granted by most without realizing that even more than external security it is your internal environ which gives you the capability to aspire and achieve what you have set out as your goals. The drive to Aligarh via the Expressway and then the 47 Km segment from Tappal needs to be experienced to get a measure of the difference between evolving, modernizing...

Regulator as threat: Delhi’s power scene

Regulator as threat: Delhi’s power scene

It’s high time we revisited the approach to regulation and appointment of regulators if they are to serve the public interest Shakti Sinha To quickly recount some of the key gains from the privatization of power distribution in Delhi, aggregate technical and commercial losses have come down from around 55% to 15% at present. Load shedding has reduced from 5% to around 0.3%, or from 891 million units in 2000-01 to 43 million in 2012-13. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint  Delhi’s power sector reforms, which had eliminated outages and enabled the system to meet peak load of 5,653 MW last summer, is on the verge of a collapse. The blame would lie squarely on regulators, with successive incumbents closing their eyes to reality. Their sins of omission and commission brought on by lack of expertise, populism and failure to stand up to the political executive have led to this avoidable situation. Delhi risks reverting to its earlier levels of shortages, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the city and its citizens, bringing it on par with its neighbouring states. To quickly recount some of the key gains from the privatization of distribution in the city, aggregate technical and commercial losses have come down from around 55% to 15% at present. Load shedding has reduced from 5% to around 0.3%, or from 891 million units in 2000-01 to 43 million in 2012-13. Pre-privatization, the system could barely meet the peak load of 2,879 MW. To put this in perspective, but for the improvements made, to meet the present peak load, Delhi would need to buy 12,000 MW, instead of 5,653 MW that it did. This would not only mean an effective doubling of purchase price but a total collapse of the system as it cannot take such loads. What is often forgotten is that Delhi’s per capita consumption is the highest in the country, 1,651 kWh as against the national average of 778 kWh. To give some idea of Delhi’s consumption patterns, the sales of air conditioners were 266,000 units in 2009-10, 366,000 in 2010-11 and 345,000 in 2011-12. On the other hand, the sales of inverters and UPS units were 369,000, 331,000 and 262,000 in...

Afzal Guru’s Hasty Execution – A Setback to Peace Building in Kashmir

Afzal Guru’s Hasty Execution – A Setback to Peace Building in Kashmir

Adfar Shah Kashmir Valley – the bruised paradise was simmering with rage and as usual unpredictable, peace deficit and active on the volcano of hostility after Afzal Guru was hastily executed in Tihar Jail last year. The ramifications of the mass unrest and shaping up of the geography of anger, set the peace process ablaze by clouding the paltry gains secured  so painstakingly after enormous all-round efforts after  over the last few years, that too in the blink of an eye!  It certainly would  not be out of place to argue here that even the shocking Khanyar Shrine burning incident (Dastgeer Sahab’s shrine mysteriously being set ablaze on 25th June, 2012), or later the protests over the blasphemous and anti-Islamic American video, or even the most recent incident of the Rock Band row (an unnecessary hue and cry caused over the Kashmiri Muslim girls’ only Rock band- ‘Pragaash’  and the Grand Mufti’s Fatwa against it) and now the Army’s unceremoniously dumping the Pathribal case, though disturbing the fragile peace somewhat, generally speaking, all these incidents were not too severe, affecting and upsetting the social equilibrium as Afzal Guru’s hasty hanging has done! The blistering criticism that ensued over this grave issue was fuelled by the secret execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru – one of the main accused in the heinous attack on the Indian Parliament in which there were some fatal casualties. Executed in secrecy on 9th February, 2013 in Tihar Jail, without even allowing the accused to meet his family for one last time before his death, it gave rise to an agonizing moral debate about a plethora of issues including the lack of prior information about the planned date of execution. Apparently this was done post-execution and the letter containing news about Guru’s hanging, was received after two days of his execution i.e. on 11th February, 2013, thereby rightfully posing certain moral questions and revealing the nature of our democracy. Not only this, even the burial of Afzal Guru’s body (that right should at least have been given to the family) in the jail premises with hardly any intentions of returning the body/remains even one year later to his family living in...

Understanding The Virtual Edge

Understanding The Virtual Edge

Adfar Shah Prelude This age is the age of telecommunication, an era of android/blackberry sensation and other advanced electronic forms of communication. This is the time of new contact practices across the cultures and boundaries where social networking, connecting even to unknown people not for any particular significant purpose/reason but for pleasure seeking and leisure enjoyment, is the order of the day. Today the Internet is acting as the basic medium for interpersonal relationships that have merely got reduced to electronic conversations, especially the youth. This conceptual paper takes a dig at the psycho-social aspect of the virtual relationship that still remains a least described aspect of social relations in the contemporary era. The article also discusses how the virtual intimacy trend has changed the frequency and content of the entire communication ethos  in the contemporary times. Introduction The Internet has become a popular medium for forming interpersonal relationships. Not only are people developing cyber friendships, but some move beyond virtual communication and interact more directly through telephonic contact and face-to-face encounters (McCown, et al. 2001). Relations where people are not actually present but communicate or interact exclusively via internet, mobile phones or other communication devices, are termed as virtual relationships. Such bonds can be simply understood as e-relations in the present-day communication scenario. Literally, virtual relationships are temporary relations where bonds develop out of a constant contact with strangers via social networking sites, dating or matrimonial sites, constant phone calls, chatting and texting, etc. However, it can be safely argued that such relations can turn to actual relationships as well. For instance, intimacy developed through the virtual media like chatting or connecting through social networking, can actually lead to  romantic relationships and lasting friendships. The Pros and Cons of Virtual Relationships  Despite a number of difficulties, the virtual environment is perceived as a safer environment for sharing intimate information. In the domain of Sociology, such a trend can be analyzed as the emergent social change in the living, leisure and communication patterns of  people across the globe. Vybíral and colleagues (2004), argue that adolescents get involved in such relationships because it offers them a space in which they find support, interest and a certain form...

Stone Pelting and Kashmiri Youth

Stone Pelting and Kashmiri Youth

Adfar Shah The Kanni Jung (Stone pelting) is again in news since Geelani after release from house arrest straightaway went to his native place, Sopore and addressed his followers, resulting in stone pleting after his speech. Ironically though, some facebook pages or videos titled as stone pelting: the national game of Kashmir, I am a stone pelter, Stone pelting: a weapon to get rid of Zalim (oppressor), The brave stone pelters of Kashmir, Kashmiri Sangbaaz, Stone pelters of Kashmir, etc, convey a lot about the psycho-social thought processes and the emerged vulnerabilities of youth in Kashmir, even of children for that matter. These names they choose for themselves with pride/heroism in social media reveal a lot about the new conflict generation of Kashmir. Well, I am not at all in favour of stone pelting for I do not think any human face or head is worth a stone but, simultaneously I also believe that any human body is not worth a bullet simply for a cry or a slogan or a protest or an angry outburst or a procession. Also every Kashmiri is not a stone pelter (but fed up with the system actually) and stone pelting (Kanneh Jung in local parlance) is not so peculiar to Kashmir alone. From Rajdhani Express to Kannur in Kerala (the Kerala CM was recently hurt in stone pelting in Kannur over solar panel scam issue), people irrespective of regions/religions, pelt stones either directly or virtually, reflecting the fact that whenever a common man is much oppressed, he starts uprising. Kashmiris’ or for that matter any suppressed community may not necessarily feel inspired by the much discussed biblical story of David and Goliath (David killed the terrible giant named Goliath, with a stone slingshot). A majority of today’s stone pelters may not have heard about the story and they don’t pelt stones to win, rather to register their protest and express their anger. Nevertheless the David-Gaolith story proves that stones have been the weapon of the weak since time immemorial. People who are oppressed beyond tolerance, resist the forces of oppression by hurling stones; a cheap accessible weapon. It is the stone that virtually acts as the weapon...

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