Editor's Special

JNU Row: A Manufactured Crisis – Dr Adfar Shah

Posted by on Mar 20, 2016

Dr Adfar Shah The monster of media trial in everything in this democratic country, along with the efforts to turn the huge and archaic term like sedition to common sense and everyday use and communalizing academic spaces is becoming a dangerous trend with undesirable ramifications. For a section of media perhaps everything in the country has become Deshdroh and every student is Desh Drohi but the social realities are different and anger, emotion and mistakes or confusion cannot be sedition all at once. The recent JNU crisis has helped a liberal Indian to crystallize many intriguing questions than supplying usual biased answers based in religion, region, caste, class, etc. Also the complexities of the state response to the crisis and a few unsatisfactory answers to thorny questions that do exist have revealed their insensitivity and our social rupture, media’s TRP craze, leader’s politicizing pain and thus turning the JNU incident into a monster which it never was. Perhaps one thing that the whole country’s academic space has to understand is to define the limits of so called cultural events and redefine...

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India

Kanhaiya-Is Left’s Aam Admi Emerging – Dr Adfar Shah

Posted by on Mar 20, 2016

Dr Adfar Shah Kanhaiya’s recent remarkable speech in JNU and the series of interviews with prominent news channels aftermath reflect an articulate and an energetic politician in him. His much used Azaadi cry speaks of his urge for the inner social development in the country and fight against deeply embedded exploitation, disparity and perpetual alienation that millions of Indian’s are beset with. He may sound idealistic sometimes however while elaborating his scheme of thought, he is succinctly able to explain what he means and how it can be actualized. More than anything he has started using the language of jibes and sarcasm on vital issues with political politeness adding deliberate prefixes like Maananiye, Ji, etc (and then making fun of it as well saying Kehna hi padega), to be politically correct, reflecting his post jail Avatar and determination to take on big politicians in the country. He is searching for totality in his slogans towards equality for all in India, which in no way is a silly idea and touches everyone who feels concerned with day today issues and unjust inequalities....

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South Asia

Chinese Investment in Pakistan: Rhetoric or Reality?

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015

Much has been written and said about the announcement by the Chinese government in April this year to invest $46 billion in building an economic corridor, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in Pakistan linking China to the Central Asian republics. The announcement came on the back of the $12 billion loan package made to Pakistan by the World bank the previous year. However, despite the political rhetoric and the show of bonhomie between the leaders of the two countries, and, the media frenzy that followed such announcement, there are serious questions that need to be raised as regard the risks of the promised Chinese investment in Pakistan.  The lion’s share of the investments are largely going to be in the form of loans of $22 billion by Chinese banks to help resuscitate some of the ailing debt-ridden Pakistani coal and nuclear power plants. The loans can be broken down into two broad temporal categories, the ‘Early Harvest’ ones in the next 3-4 years, and, the other loans promised after 2020. [1]  The key question that China watchers need to raise here...

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Opinions

Safety: A Major Concern for Indian Schools

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016

Indian schools are visibly low on safety and security, many schools across the country are yet to install safety and security arrangements. However, in recent times with terror attacks on schools all over the world Indian schools have realized the importance of having a proper security arrangement to meet any such eventualities. Schools are preparing themselves to take necessary precautions and keep strict security checks. All this is being put into place, albeit a little slowly. There are some pertinent aspects that schools must consider while creating safe environment like; creating a supportive environment free from danger and harm, preparing safety plans to escape from the school building in case of natural or manmade disasters and considering safety in student activities, whether it is learning hobbies, sports on the ground or conducting experiment in the laboratories. With the implementation of Right to Education Act (2009), there is an increase in school going population in India (especially in the government schools), But both the government and private schools have not taken any concrete steps to deal with safety issues. Government schools are...

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Recent Posts

Kashmir Beyond Article 370 & AFSPA

Kashmir Beyond Article 370 & AFSPA

Adfar Shah Obviously a new hope for the return of normalcy seems there in Kashmir but not before the government is formed. Although until 2005 the peace deficit valley witnessed a slow decline in the culture of violence however it picked up later and by the time 2014 ended, the magnitude of support from Pakistan, the intensity of cross border infiltration, the presence of uncertainty in valley, the number of violent attacks and even the type of targets that extremists usually executed, has softened to a great extent minus the growing radicalization of vulnerable youth. In between the years 2008 to 2010, there were many aberrations in the march towards peace; however, when the disturbances are seen from the democratic prism, political defiance or intifada are very well justified. Had it not been for the significant loss of one hundred and twenty lives as a result of actions by security forces, these events could have been taken merely as expressions of disappointment against hope or desire for reaping the fruits of normalcy. I always say let us institutionalize the earlier peace ideas and actions but the fact remains the security apparatus has not been able to institutionalize good will in a sense it should have been despite doing a range of peace efforts or programmes. The Security forces too, on their part, exhibited some sense of restraint except some recent and inhuman mishandlings like Chatergam killings. While incidents kept happening sporadically such as Kunan–Poshpora, Machhil, Shopian and Chhatergam, which posed serious questions against the ability of the security forces to operate as professionals in fourth generation warfare, the leadership, particularly that of the military has increasingly exhibited a rising sense of empathy towards the common people and their sufferings in the conflict zone but it can be safely argued that there is much more to do to be mass sensitive and professional enough. Though Chatergam emerged as a game changer when army for the first took the blame and apologized in time but again it derailed the peace project and disappointed people. In a nutshell, in terms of security, while the Forces graduated towards genuine commitment to the dictums of “Zero HR Violations” and...

Pawar’s Power Politics

Pawar’s Power Politics

Vedchetan Patil (@vedchetan) With the advent of Modi wave and the corresponding fall of Congress along with all its allies in Centre, Congress had highly hoped from its forte in Maharashtra. But to the surprise of none, Modi wave was still successful in Maharashtra to desecrate the Congress-NCP led government and establish the saffron band in the Legislative assembly. Pawar who is known for his brinkmanship and usage of carefully crafted words which are only used to achieve a particular agenda, has long been known for his relations with the leaders of other parties and his tricks to galvanize the cross-party momentum to fulfill his agenda. His loss of Prime Ministerial post, post Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and his break up from Congress post Sonia Gandhi took over the reigns of Congress on the issue of foreign origin, Pawar was always seen as a valuable ally and potential threat by Congress, though on the grounds of ideological equivalence both Congress and NCP continued to be ally both in Center and State of Maharashtra. Long before all, Sharad Pawar had foreseen the rise of Modi and perhaps that is the reason he asked Congress and other allies to not allege or blame Modi for the 2002 Gujarat riots as the Supreme Court had given him a clean chit.  It has been long foreseen by Pawar that a condition may arise even in the State of Maharashtra wherein Nationalist Congress Party would be reduced to its lowest and may still paly a crucial role in the Government formation. Hence much before the 2014 Assembly polls, it was a prevalent gossip that Congress NCP alliance may break away, as Congress retained the Chief Minister’s post and systematically reduced the hold of NCP in State as NCP had accepted the deputy Chief Minister’s post inspite of higher number of seats in Assembly, due to the political arrangement with Congress in Cabinet at Center. The incumbency factor, the consistent allegations by saffron bay on Congress-NCP alliance of corruption coupled with rise of Modi, gave rebirth to the face led politics which was on the verge of extinction after assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Maharashtra witnessed that even Raj Thakare and Uddhav...

Kashmir’s Killing Floods-Playground for Journalists

Kashmir’s Killing Floods-Playground for Journalists

Adfar Shah Ferocious Floods that recently hit Kashmir through continuous rains spread over a period of seven days sequentially inundating South, Central and North Kashmir. Fourteen breaches on the bunds of Jhelum River filled the areas starting from Pantha Chowk to Bemina with areas such as Batwara, Indra Nagar, Sanwar, Rajbag, Jawahar Nagar, Dalgate, Lal Chowk, Press Colony, Gogji Bag and so on. Civil administration was so foxed and paralyzed that except for holding meetings, the Chief Minister and his government handed over the situation to Army and other rescue agencies while the CM personally acted as a brave volunteer and worked day and night for rescue of masses. His personal efforts despite the tragic communication breakdown is worthy of a salute. His Excellency Shri N.N.Vohra, the Governor of the State too worked hard for mass rescue and even tuned his residence into a full-fledged rescue camp besides taking care of food items to be made available to community kitchens and other camps. The opposition brigade had not much role to play except creating space for themselves. Also every one especially J&K students In Delhi, Aligrah, Bangalore and other parts of the country were in constant touch and making their all out efforts for rescue and relief in Kashmir. I saw students fundraising and collecting clothes, baby food, medicines, etc, to be supplied to badly hit areas. I salute them all. Having said that, Kashmir Floods became a perfect narrative for a typical television story. Visuals to drive anyone in pain and dismay were shown continuously. So literally September 4, onwards here it was – Kashmir Floods becoming the Play Ground for Delhi Breed of Journalists. The who’s Who of all Television Channels was desperate to be seen in Srinagar at least. Unfortunately, the local media was itself submerged under the deluge – some had printing press under water, some had lost entire office set up, while others had their houses washed away. This vacuum was filled but so brutally by a large number of media representatives from Delhi. From non-entities to most prominent, from raw reporters to absolute professionals, from interest groups to unbiased,  there were all shades of reporters and journalists in...

Kashmir: A Sociology of Conflict

Kashmir: A Sociology of Conflict

Adfar Shah Kashmir Conflict being one of the worlds’ most worrisome conflicts is a social fact and therefore its fallouts are clearly reflected in the structure of society of Kashmir and on the essence of overall social collective. There is a monster of damage of the conflict before us in terms of killings, lawlessness, social anomie and irreversible social pathology, the economic weakness, the attitudinal change in terms of criminality, collective deviant behavior, mounting mental health issues, effect on environs, etc. The conflict affected the very socialization of the vulnerable younger lot for it introduced many new undesirable activities in the individual mindset and in the larger society. During the period of violent armed conflict Kashmiri youth witnessed and a chunk of them participated in the hostilities resulting in the breakdown of our collective ethos and social fabric. They suffered of violence and uncertainty and a chunk of them perpetrated and perpetuated the suffering on others. For the youth of Kashmir, this is hardly any solution for the conflict situation in mind because they have more often than not been used by the vested interests and contractors of the conflict. They have lived amid the security crisis, brutal unaccounted arrests and tortures. They hardly received any quality education due to system collapse during the peak conflict era. They lived with horrible experiences of brutal killings, perceived loss of dignity and identity. They witnessed the deaths of their close ones, the loss of confidence in people, security forces and the state. The disintegration of the basic structure of society, loss of moral and social values, violence and destruction actually affected every aspect of their psycho-social development. Seeing the cost of militancy and conceptualizing Kashmir caught in brutal violence, Valley’s only acclaimed sociologist Professor Dabla (2010) in his paper titled ‘Sociological Implications of Conflict in Kashmir’ argues that the militancy in Kashmir affected all sections of the society and all sectors of human social life. Thousands of innocent and common people were killed, injured, tortured and made disabled-handicapped. Most of the locals including elders were abused and dishonored repeatedly. Most of the local youth were brutally treated and most of the local children were harassed-tortured and...

Pahari Community of Jammu & Kashmir

Pahari Community of Jammu & Kashmir

Adfar Shah Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced 5% reservation to Paharis besides 2% to OBCs on the eve of Independence Day. Omar also maintained that he would continue to pursue the declaration of Scheduled tribe Status for Pahari speaking people at the central level. However, Paharis say it was never their demand; they demand and deserve ST status only and State should deliver the promises made to them. Pahaad in Urdu lexicon means mountain and Pahadi means the one who is a mountain dweller or who lives in the hills. Their language is known as Pahadi or Pahari and they identify themselves as the Pahadi Speaking People (PSP).Though they live among or near the Gujjar/Bakerwal localities, however possess a separate community consciousness and detach themselves in many ways from Gujjars and Bakerwals like customs and Castes. However, it is believed that Pahadi’s belong to the Aryan race which once raided India and settled down in the upper reaches (though debatable). Pahadi language is spoken by lakhs of people across the two Kashmirs’ (Kashmir & Azad Kashmir) besides in some neighbouring States like Himachal and Uttrakhand also. Pahadi is believed to be an ancient language though assuming various names since ancient times/regional dialects like Parimu, Hinko, Rajourvi, Potowhari, Chabali, etc,. Pahadi’s believe that their language developed during the Buddhist period or even before that and enjoyed a prestigious status for a long time. However currently it is an endangered language and has lost its ancient glory and fame, may be due to the encounter with the dominant Kashmiri culture or due to the greater influence of modernity. Though there is no dearth of Pahadi literature in the Pahadi language (an Indo-Aryan language of Tankri/Gurmukhi/Shahmukhi/Sharda Lippi script), however there is a considerable dearth of translation works of this rich language. Source: Jammu & Kashmir Pahadi Cultural and Welfare Forum (JKPCWF), Paharis vs Gujjars: A Confused Dichotomy Now a days, there is witnessed a clear dichotomy and a sense of rivalry between Pahadi’s and the Gujjars. Gujjar vs Pahari has been a successful political card played by the vested interests and has thus created a further divide between the two communities. There is huge resentment among Pahari speaking...

Kashmir : A turbulence of Article 370

Kashmir : A turbulence of Article 370

Vedchetan Patil Law is a mere puppet of politics, politics is beyond law and much beyond the horizons of politics, imbedded deep within the existence of mankind limited by its humane virtues and qualified by its own perceptions about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, moral and immoral slouch the principles of human rights, free will of people and relations between the different sections of society. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is one such example of the product or compromise of the complications of relations of Kashmir with the entire sub-continent. Its roots are deep within history of sub-continent and is a convulsed product of hindu-muslim relations, it is a product of trembled nascent Indian State and newly born Pakistan, shudder of a indecisive Maharaja Hari Singh and dedicated Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah whose opportunism partly failed in the wake of international politics and geo-strategic location of Kashmir. Kashmir, aptly described as the paradise on earth was subjected to such conflict in which every power on this planet has either interfered to further demean the position of India or Pakistan, directly or indirectly, or has offered to resolve the issue, but to the surprise of none the issue of Kashmir remains unsolved till date. Immediately after the Transfer of Power, the Pak forces under the guise of jihadis and Azad Kashmir forces launched attack on the western and northern fronts of Kashmir and in such circumstances to protect his own interests and his state from falling to Pakistan, the then Maharaja Hari Singh signed Instrument of accession with India to seek intervention from India to stop the invading forces. Thus the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was legal in totum both in fact and substance. Invading forces on one front, opposition of various forces within like those of Sheikh Abdullah, and indecisive approach of both Maharaja Hari Singh and Indian State, in a hasty decision a condition was put on the Indian State to allow Kashmir to retain autonomy and because the Instrument of Accession was signed in such circumstances, the Government of India assured the people of the State that an elected Constituent Assembly will frame a Constitution for the State and will determine...

Return of the Kashmiri Pandits

Return of the Kashmiri Pandits

India’s newly elected Prime Minister Mr. Modi leading National Democratic Alliance (NDA=BJP+ other supporting parties) seems committed towards ensuring the return of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus of Kashmir valley who had left Kashmir in 1990’s when the armed conflict broke out).Though it is not the first rehabilitation package of its kind but certainly appreciable and unique as the PM though having recently taken over is fast delivering on his promises. The whole Kashmiri Muslim society seems equally happy about the idea, who have communally labelled a lot and even sometimes treated responsible for the Pandit exodus, which is however a concocted myth. The fact remains that when the turmoil hit the valley in 1989 and armed conflict started, the law and order literally collapsed and everyone’s life got endangered and the minorities turned doubly vulnerable and left their homes in distress. It is not that Muslims wanted them to leave but lamented their forced migration. Not only Pandits but many Kashmiri Muslims left the valley in panic. Now the home ministry is all set to approve an enhanced package of Rs. 20 lakh (2 million INR) per family for re-construction of their houses in the Valley. The step is undoubtedly a timely and appreciable decision with a human touch. However, the question is about the very design and methodology of the idea of “making the return” after a gap of more than two decades with lots of apprehensions still in the collective psyche. The new rehabilitation plan should not be merely incentive based like the previous plans and packages but top priority must be given to the very question of security and safety of the human lives involved, as the uncertainty has not gone from the valley. Also there has to be a holistic and comprehensive rehabilitation of not only Pandits but all the migrant groups or individuals be that Kashmiri Muslims, Pandits, Sikhs or Christians or others. Even all those need to be amply compensated whose nears and dears lost their lives or turned handicapped during the conflict situation. All those need to be helped whose business got affected due to the armed conflict. Politicising the Pain of Pandits Since Pandits left the valley, their pain and...

Road to Parliament not so Rosy

Road to Parliament not so Rosy

Shahid Lone It is said of statistics that what they reveal is interesting, but what they hide is crucial. Much the same can be said of the present debate on Lok Saha elections today. Different parties in the line are proposing various reforms if they come into power but a majority of the masses are still drawn on regional, caste based, religion based and finally party based affiliations. While these innovations are interesting and generally positive for the parties like BJP and congress but what they fail to mention or address is much more crucial and revealing. The government papers and election commission ‘s response resolutely refuse to tackle the central issue of what it is that political parties do and whether it is done in a suitably legitimate way. For all the sound and fury of constitutional engagement, the main antagonists share a deep and disturbing assumption that judicial power has and will continue to be exercised in a non political, objective and neutral manner. The elections ushered in a new era in the country’s politics, marking the beginning of the first phase in the reconfiguration of the party system. While the BJP on one hand is heavily backing on the Modi wave but at the same time it has been affected by the brazen statements of the local leaders on communal lines. On the other hand with congress is facing a fury of allegations on mixing the politics with religion. Congress is in alliance with Samajwadi party in UP and the statements coming from Samajawadi party leaders there, are totally unacceptable to whole nation and when congress was asked to prove its stand on the statements and take immediate actions to all this it responded by arguing that there is a legal framework for it and election commission will deal with it accordingly and it is not in the party’s hands. The horizon of future however may place these elections in a different light and bring out significance denied to us by our proximity. In fact it might indicate that without much noise or drama, quietly and almost casually, these elections have provided the first full view of post congress polity. It is a...

Where is Kashmir’s Much Touted Normalcy?

Where is Kashmir’s Much Touted Normalcy?

Syed Ata Hasnain The challenges of conducting elections in Kashmir’s turbulent scenario are in multiples especially when many a paradox exists For some months now, the media and influential members of Delhi’s civil society have been speaking of the return of normalcy in Kashmir. In pure security terms ‘normalcy’ could be defined as the relative absence of violence, the enhanced confidence of society and the rekindling of hope.        On all three counts the situation in Kashmir, a day prior to the first polls in the Valley, does not appear to inspire too much confidence. There has been more violence than even in the Maoist areas in the run up to the elections; and the northern passes have yet to open so this violence has not been executed by fresh inductees but rather by the residual terrorists left over from previous years.     Sarpanches, the ones who still have the courage to remain in their pseudo posts are resigning, threatening to resign or making a beeline to the nearest police stations to remain secure.  A Kashmir English media publication has this to say this morning – “On the last day of election campaign on Tuesday, not a single political party managed to organize an election rally in any part of the South Kashmir except Noorabad, where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah addressed an election rally amid tight security”.       Where are we and where are we heading, I often ask. As a veteran of many an election in Kashmir I can vouch that such a situation possibly did not exist even through 1999 to 2011 when in the early period militancy was at its peak and later civil strife the order of the day. Kashmir watchers the world over, the serious ones, must have waited for this moment to ascertain the validity of their assessments or otherwise. Most had predicted continuing stability and returning normalcy based upon the age old parameters of assessment; security related statistics, residual strength of terrorists etc. They would be a mite disappointed by the events of the last week which have upset all such deductions and appear to be pointing back to the Nineties.   The situation isn’t really so bad...

Why Saudi Arabia is still vital to US interests

Why Saudi Arabia is still vital to US interests

US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia must be seen as a balancing act in the Middle East Syed Ata Hasnain THE speed of events in the Middle East is faster than can be absorbed by an increasingly complex strategic environment. The apparent cooling of US interest in the region, emanating from perceived failure of the Arab Spring, improving potential of control over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the steadily declining energy ties between US and the Saudi Arabia, among many other issues appears to create a conflict of interests for the US, and hence, the necessity to restore balance. This is all the more important in view of the emerging confidence of Russia and its ability to punch above its weight in mutual international standoffs. President Obama’s second visit to Saudi Arabia during his presidency is obviously far more important than his first which preceded his visit to Egypt in 2009 for what appeared then as a path-breaking outreach to the Islamic world. Smitten first by the events in Syria which saw US hand over diplomatic advantage to Russia and then by the recent surprise acts by Russia in Ukraine, the US is obviously in the process of a major reconsideration of its Middle East policy. Central to its considerations is the feasibility of losing the advantage of a long-standing strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia which was based upon the oil for security equation. Progressively, over the past 10 years or so, US-Saudi ties have weakened leading to perceptible differences about commonality of the strategic aim. The most important security consideration for Saudi Arabia is its long-standing fear of Iran and the Shia power that emanates from it. The onset of this current standoff can be traced back to 2003 and the handling of post-Gulf War II scenario in Iraq, which saw the emergence of Shia dominance. The Saudis always feared that the Shia linkages were stronger than the pan-Arab loyalties of Iraq and that it was Iran which had achieved strategic gain because of the Shia revival in Baghdad. The subsequent emergence of the strength of the Shia Hizbullah in Lebanon, once again backed by Iran, did not bring any comfort level...

Tosa Maidan: Avoiding Triggers in Kashmir

Tosa Maidan: Avoiding Triggers in Kashmir

Syed Ata Hasnain  The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) land case of 2008 is well outside public memory because Kashmir is always looked at from the ‘crisis to crisis’ point of view. Yet, we have another similar case looming on Kashmir’s landscape as the winter ebbs and spring is upon the Valley in all its finery.No one took the SASB case seriously until it hit us in the face and led to all kinds of incorrect decisions taken in the vacuum of realistic information about the Valley, the aspirations of its people and the propensity for mischief which exists from time to time. This time it is all about a faraway meadow on the very same Pir Panjal range on which exists Gulmarg; the meadow is called Tosa Maidan. It has nothing to do with shrines and gods but this time it is all about the people who live around it and the Army which uses this small tract of ground as a field firing range. Tosa Maidan, as stated before, lies on the Pir Panjal Range South East of Gulmarg. Access to it lies via the same road leading from Srinagar to Gulmarg; the drive has to be diverted from Kunzar towards Beerwah and then to Gogaldhara from where a mountain track(road) maintained by the Army takes you up the winding slopes to one of the most exhilarating landscapes in Kashmir. Since 1964 the area has been leased to the Army and the Air Force for use as a field firing range and the 50 year lease runs out on 18 April 2014. For the less informed on military detail, a field firing range is a tract of ground to be used for live firearms practice depicting battle conditions. Weapons are usually fired at optimum ranges as against the restrictive ranges in cantonments and military stations. Such ranges also provide scope for conduct of restricted tactical maneuvers in realistic settings under battle conditions. All the formations of the Army in the Kashmir Valley are dependent on this tract of land at Tosa Maidan which measures approximately 3000 kanals, to conduct their annual field firing which is a compulsory part of annual training. There is no population which is allowed to reside within the...

Drawdown questions

Drawdown questions

Syed Ata Hasnain  For the US to take its final decisions, it needs to also view the survivability of post-withdrawal Afghanistan. (Reuters) US withdrawal from Afghanistan may not go according to plan. ——————————————————————————————————————————————-   Recent weeks have seen a turn of events in the Middle East that is likely to have  significant effects on the strategic picture emerging in the Af-Pak region specifically and the new Great Game in general. These are being discussed in muted terms in strategic discussions in New Delhi without much clarity or consensus. The sudden upsurge of violence in Iraq, in the Fallujah and Ramadi tribal strongholds, has seen the return of al-Qaeda to seek its place in the sun in areas where it had been effectively neutralised or evicted by US and Iraqi forces. Obviously, with this message to the West about its survivability, al-Qaeda also appears to be spreading itself to gain an expanded footprint in areas beyond Syria, lest its effectiveness be questioned within its rank and file. The expanded footprint in Africa does not satisfy its ambitions and would probably be seen as just a temporary hold out. Fallujah and Ramadi in the Anbar area are symbols of radical resurgence, a message to the world about what could be expected in Afghanistan after the ISAF drawdown and eventual pull-out. How seriously should this be taken by those analysing the post-ISAF scenario in the Af-Pak region? Three aspects impinge on the events in Iraq. One, the internal Shia-Sunni discord within Islam in the Middle East is now reaching serious proportions. The rising power of the Hezbollah and the nascent improvement of US-Iran relations are possibly being viewed as the strengthening of Shia Islam. Two, the failure of the Arab Spring and the hopes it sparked creates a psychological space that needs to be filled. If liberalism could not find place, then its replacement must be the radical ideology of one of the segments of Islam. Three, declining interest of the US in the affairs of the Middle East is leaving Israel freer to pro-actively confront its foes; its power cannot be allowed to proliferate. In the light of these, has al-Qaeda acted prematurely and revealed its...

Interview with Peter Tase – American Journalist

Interview with Peter Tase – American Journalist

Peter Tase is a contributor, freelance journalist and a research scholar of Paraguayan Studies and Latin American Affairs in the United States. He’s a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy News and Eurasia Review. He talks to Adfar Shah-Who is a columnist at South Asian Idea and Analyst World besides some other prominent newspapers in the country on a few socio-economic themes in india.  Author’s Profile : Adfar Shah-who hails from India’s central Kashmir, is presently defending his doctoral dissertation on the theme “Muslim Endowments and Society in Kashmir” at the department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-India’s reputed central university. He completed his B.Ed, SET and Masters in Sociology, from the University of Kashmir, India. Adfar shuttles between New Delhi and Kashmir, writing on South Asian societies and politics for several prestigious publications like Eurasia Review, Analyst World, South Asian Idea, Countercurrents, Amazons.com, Kashmir Monitor, Kashmir Images, Point Blank 7 and other web portals and newspapers.  Currently he works as a research fellow at SNCWS, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi where he continues to understand the gender question. Besides as a freelancer his core interests are South Asian politics, Kashmir in conflict, Military sociology, Indian Military Apparatus, Af-Pak strain and Muslim identity issues. The author has about 65 academic publications and hundreds of conceptual articles to his credit. His upcoming book titled “The Indian Lens of South Asian Politics” actually his collection of articles on Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East, War on terror, etc, is under print at Dictus Publishing House, Germany. The author is of the opinion: Q. How do you envision the US – India Relations and what are the main areas of cooperation between both the countries? Ans.  India and the US have a congruence of interests – liberal democracy, secularism and tolerance for diversity – which drives their relations. The United States of America is still the second largest importer of Indian goods and its economy is linked to India through the globalized economic system. India needs US cooperation in the field of science and technology (to include disaster management, weather forecasting and agricultural research, aviation, machinery and education). India’s diaspora in the US is the largest segment of Indians outside India,...

Kashmir: Thinking Outside Control

Kashmir: Thinking Outside Control

Adfar Shah The very first strategy of a versatile leader must be to learn all the inconvenient facts of the field he is operating.  Kashmir throughout has been full of such inconvenient facts like visible and invisible oppressors who suppress(ed) the natives, shaped a bloody history and life of indignity, poverty, exploitation, leadership crisis, half-revolutions, undone changes and unfulfilled promises. The key to success in Kashmir is very simple but still not taken enough cognizance of and that is the lack of effort towards enhancing credibility and social justice and simultaneously getting rid of ambiguous and invisible control. Therefore, the approach at the moment should be thinking outside the box, by which I mean shaping up a Kashmir where the heart rules and love and peace prevail. Every action today in Kashmir has a reaction purely because of dichotomous social realities. Amid a plethora of contractors of instability and peace, there always exists a relation between the equations of peace building and forces of the sustenance of uncertainty (mason vs bulldozer). While one party does either a good thing or a bad one, the other follows quickly as its reaction in terms of hollow opposition, the inevitable blame game, labelling, propaganda, motivating the masses against even good, etc,. Therefore, to understand and solve this vicious cycle of action and reaction, there is a need for the shifting of the methodological perspectives and methods of working on contemporary Kashmir and tapping its social collective. If we want to crack this sustained chaotic phenomenon, we have to understand the idea of ‘the local’ and ‘the other’. There are a few strategies that need to be institutionalised and followed strictly, like following the strong evidence-based practices in combat operations, retaining a cool mindset, the ideology of pardon, an enhanced professionalism while handling the unrests, etc. Besides systematic research (scientific observation), developing balanced methods of public handling need to be practiced to lessen the error factor. On the social intervention front, the chief stake-holders need to see whether the target population interfaces well with the problems addressed in the programmes launched for them, or there is a sense of discredit (due to enemy perception) despite doing so much...

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

RAJIV KUMAR I just recently learnt about the lack of response from the majority of the Western countries to the recent electoral outcome in Bangladesh.  In a meeting with a senior Japanese diplomat, I found out that Japan had wisely decided to break the ranks of developed democracies to write a congratulatory letter to Sheikh  Hasina on her electoral victory. India had of course conveyed its support and good wishes to the prime minister immediately after the results were declared. And Pakistan for obvious reasons has not done that so far. Several ASEAN countries have acknowledged the Awami League victory but not whole heartedly supported it. The reason given for this lack of recognition of Sheikh Hasina’s electoral success is the boycott by the main opposition party, the BNP, led by Begum Khalida Zia. It is clear that the elections followed the constitutional provisions and process and BNP chose to boycott the elections at its own risk. The stand taken by the US and its European allies along with others like Pakistan is that an election boycotted by the largest opposition party does not measure up to the global democratic benchmarks. According to them, Sheikh Hasina does not command sufficient legitimacy to deserve to be congratulated on her victory. This is  a bogus stand and one which demonstrates lack of understanding of the complex realities of South Asia. To couch it in high moral rhetoric does not hide the fact that western powers completely fail to understand the dangers posed by a fundamentalist political Islam in South Asia and other parts of the world. Also it reveals dangerous inconsistency on their part as they condone and connive with the dismissal of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt while calling for a re-election in Bangladesh. This is despite the fact that Begum Zia derives her principal support from the Jamait- e Islami and other more fundamentalist Islamic groups in Bangladesh. It will do a lot of good for Americans and Europeans to realise the Sheikh Hasina has been fighting their  war against the ‘Islamisation’ of Bangladesh society. By this I do not for a minute mean that the people of Bangladesh or for that matter any other...

The Emotions of Alienation

The Emotions of Alienation

SYED ATA HASNAIN I must admit that I am a cricket buff and would miss everything else just to take in the thrills and pleasures of a hard-fought one day match involving the men in blue. In the midst of the anguish that I faced watching my favorite team lose to Pakistan in the recent Asia Cup came the nails in the coffin of defeat, delivered by the events in Meerut. A segment of 67 young students from Kashmir allegedly and admittedly cheered for Pakistan even as the negative emotions from defeat were just about eroding. On a social media discussion I initiated with a wise and mature group of people I made an opening statement. It stated that the action of the students was “akin to the famous Hindi proverb – ‘ Aa Bael Mujhe Maar’, an euphemism for harakiri. Human instinct usually ensures that when no advantage accrues to you from a certain action you desist from it. However, if you still insist on doing it then it is at the risk of your neck”. The subsequent discussion was shorn of any major emotions but one thing was clear the friends from Kashmir who were engaged in the debate displayed a surprising naivety about the reality of the situation surrounding the problem of Kashmir, the way it is viewed by people in rest of India and the emotions connected with it. I tried to explain the issue of Realism through an example. In 2011, the World Cup was approaching and the chances of Dhoni’s men lifting it were reputed to be strong. I was heading the Army in Kashmir and in the middle of an exciting experiment to change the narrative through innovative methods of outreach to the ‘Awaam’. There were daily meetings with different stake holders and suggestions were being received from all quarters. Someone suggested that cricket being a passion, a virtual ‘Diwaangi’, in Kashmir it would only be appropriate that people in way off villages and towns must get the opportunity to view the World Cup matches. In their usual innovative way the Army formations went a couple of steps beyond the normal television sets and utilized their video...

Knowing Kashmiri Women on International Women’s Day

Knowing Kashmiri Women on International Women’s Day

Kashmiri Women, Conflict Situation and the People’s Perspective of Women Empowerment   Adfar Shah Prelude If a more active role is assigned to the vital Observation technique and methodologically designed field studies are given a preference and sufficient time with proper follow-ups, the facts thus far established on Kashmir will automatically turn to half- truths! On the gender issue in Kashmir valley, though a great deal of literature has been produced but hardly any use of varied models and approaches of fact collection have been employed; rather thereseems to have been the incorporation of a unique mode though with several approaches but never juxtaposed against each other for maximum effect! Though there are ample ethnographic studies in existence as well, however there are not ethnographers but the enemies of ethnography-the methodology of direct observation. We need a deconstruction approach towards most of the gender discourses on Kashmir in order to get a fresh and realistic perspective. Introduction The world is still trying to do away with the burden of gender discrimination, gendered violence and exploitation of women besides the abhorrent issues of caste, religion, colour, class. Women are still the most disadvantaged segment of the world population, though efforts to alleviate the many ills that beset them, are on everywhere, in right earnest! However, acknowledging the fact that mainstreaming the gender and accomplishing the transformation process/achieving women’s emancipation is not a one day jo, this is an uphill task requiring immense and unswerving devotion and perseverance. This paper deals with  the question of the politics and politicization of women empowerment as a slogan and discusses the perceived empowerment as a local narrative beyond any feminist tendencies among women at the micro-level, with a special reference to Kashmiri women. The paper conceptually deliberates upon the women’s understanding of empowerment and realization of a viable social identity/identity at home against the grand theories of gender discrimination and feminism. It utilizes the people’s as well as women’s ‘thinking of being’ empowered against the labels of disempowerment and worthlessness, devoid of dignity. Amongst the myriad interpretations of empowerment, the paper discloses the never before exposed dimension of women’s sense of empowerment that is quite contrary to the conventional...

A Matter Of Honour

A Matter Of Honour

SYED ATA HASNAIN Some years ago I was commanding a Division in Kashmir. One morning I received a call from a senior staff officer at the Command HQ at Udhampur that the Army Commander was upset at the string of non-battle casualties in my formation; two suicides, a vehicle accident, a weapon lost in a training exercise, two jawans dead because of avalanches etc. I stated to the officer that none of these incidents were under my direct control; that while I was morally responsible physical responsibility did not rest with me. I was, however, willing to be removed from command if it pleased my superiors and sent an appropriate message to the command chain. I never heard of the issue again. However, in the wake of Admiral DK Joshi’s resignation as the Naval Chief all this came rushing back into the mental hard disc. The issue is one of physical versus moral responsibility. Let me start by stating unequivocally that Admiral Joshi is one of India’s finest scholar sailors, a gentleman to the hilt, a man of great virtue and someone who carries the stamp of being a professional to the core. Therefore my heart bleeds to see such a man go. No doubt he has raised the level of honor by many notches for all three Services by his act of resignation taking full moral responsibility for the string of accidents which have occurred in the Navy in the last few months, the one with the INS Sindhuratna being the latest. The morning blogs and papers are full of the necessity of some others also taking the rap for the failures, primarily the bureaucracy and the political level too. It actually boils down to the difference between the moral and physical responsibility, the issue I raised at the beginning of this piece. Who is responsible for what? Obviously there is nothing black and white about this. Are the numerous crashes of Migs the responsibility of the Air Chief, the AOCs, the Air Force Station Commanders or the Squadron Commanders; not easy to peg. Whose responsibility is the series of negative incidents on the LoC? The failure to provide sufficient intelligence to prevent...

The Men in Uniform – A Class Apart

The Men in Uniform – A Class Apart

This one for all the soldiers who live dangerously to defend the nation – what trauma they personally go through is seldom realised. Editor    Adfar Shah Abstract: Forces today are beset with certain issues and challenges around the globe. The increased political instability, social rupture, widespread chaos, increased criminality, inequality shaped by disparities, structural violence, crisis and continuing public protests have undoubtedly increased the soldier’s troubles. Men in uniform, be they army or police personnel, are installed like machines to regulate everything peacefully – that too at the eleventh hour, without actually addressing the political and public issues. The soldier turns highly vulnerable and faces the public wrath every time for no of fault of his! The very same soldier also faces a plethora of negative stereotyping by the masses, is labeled in various negative stereotypes (sometimes correctly so) by the public mainly in conflict zones, as inhuman and treated like an enemy. Despite being armed, he is helpless and merely used in a manner similar to the scarecrow, to drive the public off in turbulent times. The question is, has the State forgotten the soldier and his sensitivities? Is there a need to empower the soldier (cop, commando or jawan) in the true sense to enable him to live with emotional balance and fight the challenging fourth generation war? There were many more similar questions that set aflame the questioning process in my mind while interacting with some of the men in uniform, mostly police personnel in the Kashmir Valley. This paper is based on casual interactions with men in uniform, besides the tool of observation and field experiences have been employed to analyze the soldier’s plight in conflict zones. The case of the Kashmir Valley has been taken for the researcher himself belongs to that context. Introduction My best friend belongs to the Jammu and  Kashmir Police Force. He came to meet me while I was enjoying my summer vacations at my home in the remote village of Watlar in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal District. Since Kashmir had witnessed some of the worst summer unrests since 2008,here, I enquired of him about his perception of their fighting the public (mob control/crowd management)...

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...

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