20 July 2014

India's Silent Muslim Community

The Middle East has rarely experienced peace. Violence - religious and sectarian - permeates almost all societies in probably what is the most divisive region in the world.

Currently, there are three major conflicts happening in the region: Syrian civil war (between President Bashar al-Assad, a Shia and backed by Iran, and Sunni rebels, backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations); Iraq (between Shia-dominated government and an umbrella of ultra-extremist Sunni terrorist groups, including the Islamic State), and Israel-Palestine (a decades-old festering conflict between the State of Israel and the militant group Hamas).

I do not condone violence. In fact, violence in the name of religion, caste, sect and other discriminatory dividers is the worst thing that can happen in any society.

The violence in Iraq and Israel has brought to the fore the hypocrisy of the so-called secular parties and deep schism in the Indian Muslim community.

Indian Muslim Community
In Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim protesters railed against Israel accusing it of using violence against Palestinians. The stone-pelting and shrill slogan-mongering protesters lambasted the Jewish state for killing Muslims.

But these slogan-mongering protesters said nothing about the carnage wrought by the Islamic State (formerly called the ISIS) against non-Sunni groups: Shia Muslims, Christians and others. 

Why? Is it ok for Muslims to kill other Muslims, just because they belong to a different sect? Why are there no sane voices in the Indian Muslim community protesting the despicable actions of the Sunni extremist groups against of the minority Shia groups and Christians? 

How many Indian Muslim leaders have condemned the violence in Iraq? How many have registered protest against the mass killings of Shia Muslims by extremist Sunni Muslims? 

Larger Muslim World
Strangely, the global Muslim community is eerily silent on both the crises: Israel-Palestine and Iraq. 

How many countries have come to the rescue of the Palestinians? Except for some murmurs of hollow protest, no Muslim country, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, the so-called leaders of the Muslim world, have come to the aid of the hapless Palestinians? Have not the major Muslim powers abandoned the Palestinians to their luckless fate?

India's Secular parties
In India, we have a strange political strain: self-declared political parties try to outdo each other to prove their secular credentials (read 'pro-Muslim bent').

Eager to outdo each other to score brownie points with the large Muslim community (read 'vote bank'), the Congress and its ilk (like the Samajwadi Party) created a ruckus in the Parliament demanding a discussion on the precarious Gaza situation. These secular parties blasted Israel for using extreme violence against the Palestinians. But they were silent on the use of extreme violence by militant groups, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, against Israel.

And what did they have to say on the volatile situation in Iraq? Nothing. That does not warrant any discussion. Maybe because it involves a sectarian angle -- Sunnis versus Shias. 

It is said that there is collateral damage in any conflict. The death of innocents, especially those of children and women, is distressing. Death has no name. It can not have. Only we, as humans, have assigned the colours of religion, caste and sect, to the blood that runs in us. Divisiveness breeds hatred and discrimination.

One can understand that political parties can stoop to any level to garner votes. But is it right for the Muslim community, both local and global, to adopt different yardsticks for different conflicts -- yardsticks of religion and sect?

Sunday Reads - PM's Dangerous Air India One + Builder of Silicon Valley

  • Why Air India One (Indian PM's aircraft) is a sitting duck for missiles.(India Today)
  • The secretive billionaire who built Silicon Valley. (Fortune)
  • First landing of humans on the Moon. (Atlantic)
  • Pakistan and China: A precarious friendship? (Diplomat)

Bonus: The WaPo has a highly informative feature on 'how high a missile can reach'. 

13 July 2014

Sunday Reads - India-China Friendship is a Lie + The Curse of Organised Religion

  • India-China friendship is a lie. (Foreign Affairs; registration required)
  • Organised religion is more a curse than a blessing - Video interview with Wole Soyinka. (AlJazeera)
  • Looking for Imrana - The petition that led to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the validity of fatwas primarily cited her case. (Indian Express)
  • Neuroeconomists confirm Warren Buffett's wisdom. (CalTech)

10 July 2014

The Budget Explainer Series

The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the first budget of the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government at the Centre.

The budget is a complex document -- high on intent and hope, backed by a diverse range of facts and figures.

To help you understand the budget, find below four Explainer articles that I had written sometime back. Here they are:

  • Understanding the Budget - Part I
    • Deals with - What is a Fiscal Year? Why is the budget (usually) presented on the late day of February? What is the Economic Survey?
  • Understanding the Budget - Part II
    • Deals with - What does the Budget consist of? Types of accounts in the budget - Contingency Funds of India, Consolidated Fund of India, and Public Accounts?
  • Adverse effects of Fiscal Deficit
    • Deals with - Where does the government of India borrow from? How high fiscal deficit impacts interest rates, reduces business activity and lowers employment generation?
Click here for the highlights of the Union Budget 2014-15.

Please share your comments on the articles.

08 July 2014

Tuesday Quiz

Connect these varied pictures in the context of Indian history.

06 July 2014

Sunday Reads - Facebook is Blue because ...

  • Facebook is blue because Mark Zuckerberg is colourblind. (Gizmodo)
  • Everything need to know about Facebook's controversial emotion experiment. (Wired)
  • How cruel the beautiful game has become. (India Today)
  • Why we stuck with Maliki - and lost Iraq. (WaPo)

05 July 2014

Saturday Infographic - The Story of Amazon.com

The story of how Jeff Bezos turned amazon.com into the world's largest e-tailer. This is from the ET

Double click on Open the graphic in a new tab and double click for a gigantic view.

01 July 2014

Camus on Love & Happiness

Tuesday Quiz will not be published this week. 

Instead I will share a wonderful illustration depicting the thoughts of Albert Camus on love and happiness.I found it here. Go ahead, share this on your FB wall and elsewhere. It would help if you share the link to this blog page. Thank you!