OPINION

Ram and Allah Will Stand United Against This

February 28, 2009
Vijay Sappani

The Taleban in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been attacking girls and girls schools in a country where even the leader of a leading political party, Benazir Bhutto was a woman and was killed for it. Worse they do all these in the name of God. God said this, God said that, God did this, God did that, what ever.

I have spent nearly half my life volunteering on education projects and lot of it with girl child development and every time I read a news piece like this, it really hurts. The literacy rate of girls in Pakistan is said to be around 12% and with the current situation it will only get worse in rural and border areas of Pakistan where Taleban and other militant group operate. If this continues to happen,Pakistan as a society will crumble with increasing inequalities between men and women , urban and rural divide. Women in Pakistan have so far enjoyed among the best status in Islamic nations and a lot of it has to do with its education system. the Taleban are not just attacking women, but the very chord that has made Pakistan a nation of relative strength in the Islamic world. These monsters need to be stopped and the hope for it lies more in the hands of the people than in the hands of corrupt politicians. The lawyers strike is a great example of a people's movement that brought change and Pakistan need another grass root movement to keep their girls in school, so that another Benazir Bhutto can come.

Now these jerks are not alone. On the other side of the border, a bunch of jerks trying to get attention(and are rightfully doing it so) attacked women in a bar in Mangalore, India. A never heard of group calling itself Ram Sena attacked women in a bar because they think it affects India's moral and cultural values. The politicians want to write this off as an odd one off incident, but the media and public did not do so. New wealth has lead to new ways for the youth to spend their money and more demand for entertainment for young people. Nearly half of India's booming IT, telecom, call centre's employees are women, giving them a new found source of financial freedom. India's economy continues to boom attracting new investors trying to win a share of the lucrative entertainment market leading to big events on valentines, friendship day, New years eve etc that has become an attractive target for right wing Hindu radicals. These kind of attacks were unheard of a decade back, bu then these kind of celebrations were barely known either. What is most ridiculous is that these monsters do it in the name of God.

Different countries, different religions, different ideologies, different intensity, but the same issue. These monsters use the name of God to justify their inferiority complex and attack women who want to be free and liberated and rightfully do so, whether that be go to a school to read or to a bar to enjoy.

Sweeping these issues under the carpet is not the solution, standing up to these jerks and forcing the politicians to crush these monsters is what we need to do and I hope will be done so.

Vijay Sappani is a toronto based political and community activist. Articulate in policy issues, Vijay is well versed in national and international issues and advises many organizations in Canada. You can read more about him at www.vijaysappani.com or contact him at vijaysappani@gmail.com
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Ram and Allah Will Stand United Against This

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Author: Vijay Sappani

 

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#1
Vinod Joseph
February 28, 2009
12:56 PM

"Women in Pakistan have so far enjoyed among the best status in Islamic nations..."

What's your basis for saying this? Was it better than Turkey or Malaysia or Indonesia?

#2
kerty
February 28, 2009
02:10 PM

Do you think politicians can stand up to Rama or Allah, and in this case, both Rama and Allah united together?

You are right. They will crush the monsters - but not necessarily what you consider as monsters. When it comes to God, their definition of monsters and devils is clear cut - there are no gray areas. When it comes to political field, there is nothing but gray areas and nothing is clear cut. You would be hard pressed to have consensus on who are the real monsters, who are the real goons, who are the real rowdies - if you can't have consensus on culture, morality, right and wrong, than you can't have consensus on lots of things that rely on moral values of right and wrong. Ideologies and political parties have their own definitions. So you have to step up to the media megaphone and shout out aloud till ears begin to hurt. Keep shouting, may be some politician might listen.

#3
Morris
February 28, 2009
03:07 PM

kerty
"- if you can't have consensus on culture, morality, right and wrong, than you can't have consensus on lots of things that rely on moral values of right and wrong."

What is not illegal is right for citizen. He/she is entitled to do whatever he/she wishes within the limits of the law. Culture or morality has nothing to do with it. Authorities should go after those self appointed guardians of culture/morality with full force of law if they interfere with other people's freedom. India too is multi religious country and the only determining critera is the law. No one has right to decide for others what is acceptable culturally or religiously. Is'nt that all democracy is all about?

#4
Vijay S
February 28, 2009
03:18 PM

Freedom of expression is is far higher in Pakistan than in malaysia, but the last decade has seen a huge decline in Pakistan. politicians elected, working class, health etc are many factors to be taken.

Agains, i said 'among the best' not 'The best' .

#5
Kerty
February 28, 2009
04:34 PM

Morris

In India, everything is voluntary. You follow it if you like it, don't follow it if you don't like it. As long as you don't impose your likes and dislikes on others, everything is a fair game. God's laws, morality, values, norms, customs, traditions, sense of right and wrong, man-made rules and laws, everything are voluntary and subject to personal choice. India is ruled by higher laws of atma-karma-individualism - it trumps not only man-made laws of democracy and tradition-bound mandates of cultural collectivism but it also trumps divinely-ordained laws of Gods, and civilization too. As they say, rules are meant to be broken. Who says democracy, laws, law-enforcement, cultures, values are perfect or sacroscant or divine or infallible? There are exceptions for everything. Otherwise, Gandhi would not violated those laws, Bose would not have taken up arms against rulers of Delhi, and Indians would still be living under colonial raj, upholding laws that did not represent their will or consent. Laws, like culture or morality, have legitimacy only if they have consent of the governed. Otherwise, it becomes instrument of imposing the will of others, vehicle of tyranny and oppression. Cultures and morality get around it by accommodating plurality, by decentralizing-customizing-localizing it. While laws of statism remain rigid fiats, and they begin to lose their mandate and relevance when they tread upon domains that are civilizational, cultural, religious.

#6
Morris
March 1, 2009
11:50 AM

kerty

What a twist! I am not sure. I have to think about this. I was in India recently and come to think of it most of what you said makes sense. But I am not sure about your conclusion. Or did I misunderstand? You siad "and Indians would still be living under colonial raj,". I might have said otherwise British with such a small number would never have taken over India. My intial thinking is that your discription of how India is functionig appear to be right. Correct me if I am wrong. You appear to conclude that that is good. My feeling is the opposite. We Indians should get out of each on his own kind of thinking. We lack discipline. No wonder everything appear so mess there. Therefore, I still stick with the point I made in #3.

I always admire the way you articulate. I will think more but that is my initial response.

#7
Morris
March 2, 2009
12:49 PM

kerty #5

I thought further and I still think you are wrong about your conclusion. Your description of what Indians are like is correct. But your conclusion that it is a virtue is wrong. Indian streets are dirty and traffic is unruly just to name two obvious problems. Why? Is this so good? I think Vijay Sappani is absolutely right.

#8
Kerty
March 2, 2009
01:28 PM

Morris

"But your conclusion that it is a virtue is wrong."

I did not say it is a virtue. Right or wrong, virtue or vice is a subjective opinion that everybody may not share in India, hence there is constant debate about them.

Things are the way they are because:

A: Because there are people who want it that way
B: Those who do not want it that way can not do much about it
C: A has more power than B

#9
Morris
March 2, 2009
02:22 PM

kerty

Things are the way they are because:

A: Because there are people who want it that way
B: Those who do not want it that way can not do much about it.

Very true. But with your answer I concluded that you are in A group. I am in B group. I don't think it is good. If you want it that way then you must think it is good. I am not sure what is so good about it.

#10
Kerty
March 2, 2009
03:22 PM

Morris

You are assuming that group is A is wrong and group B is right. Things are rarely that simple or clear cut.

Take your example of dirty streets. Do you think any person would be against cleanliness? Yet dirty streets do exists. When people use public places, those places will get trashed. You can't control the behavior of every single person. What society can do is to organize some system to clean them up. But if systems of sanitation are politicized for some reasons, if cleanliness and sanitation are not the priority for some reasons, than those functions would get neglected. You can cry hoarse about cleanliness, but it will not happen. It has nothing to do with me or you being for or against it.

#11
Kerty
March 2, 2009
03:58 PM

Morris

You are assuming that group is A is wrong and group B is right. Things are rarely that simple or clear cut.

Take your example of dirty streets. Do you think any person would be against cleanliness? Yet dirty streets do exists. When people use public places, those places will get trashed. You can't control the behavior of every single person. What society can do is to organize some system to clean them up. But if systems of sanitation are politicized for some reasons, if cleanliness and sanitation are not the priority for some reasons, than those functions would get neglected. You can cry hoarse about cleanliness, but it will not happen. It has nothing to do with me or you being for or against it.

#12
Morris
March 2, 2009
05:53 PM

kerty

Of course I am assuming that Group A if not bad is certainly not good. And you seem to accept that. But by saying that it may not be a priority and people may neglect it etc. you support the status quo. If that is not supporting bad condition, what else is it? So you belong to Group A.

In India once we came to a railway crossing and the gates were down for almost 15 minutes before the train passed. It is interesting to see what happened. While waiting with gates closed, one would think vehicles would wait on their side of the road. No they did not. They gathered on both sides of the road on both sides of the track. As soon as the gates went up, it became like a battle field. Both side facing each other blocking both side of the road. Gradually they managed to squeeze to the left and traffic resumed. Totally undisciplined. You support that? May be that is the only time it happened and I was unlucky to be there. Perhaps, but I saw a few other incidents like that.

I maintain that it is the lack of discipline and lack of organizing skill that cost us our freedom and it is still there. It is good that our armed forces are organized following british system and maintain high degee of discipline. There is a lot to learn for us from the west.

I fully support Vijay Sappani. People should be free to do whatever they wish to do so long as it is not illegal and God's Sena or whoever that may may be should not be allowed to interfere.

#13
kerty
March 2, 2009
06:54 PM

Morris

"People should be free to do whatever they wish to do so long as it is not illegal and God's Sena or whoever that may may be should not be allowed to interfere."

That sounds like rats passing resolution to bell the cat. You may wish the sky and the moon. That does not mean you can have them. I have laid out in #5 why you can not. If you think those who are in group A are Ravanas and Rakshasas, and those in your group B are forces of good, welcome to Dharma Yuddha, and you may bring along your tridents and bows and arrows, because you might need them.

#14
Morris
March 2, 2009
07:43 PM

kerty
You are saying that a lot of people including you belong to the category A and they are happy about it. Well, I agree people get the government they deserve. It is a democracy. If Indians wish to suffocate themselves and stifle their potential at home. Fine. But they seem to be doing very well outside the country once they start getting used to living in the environment where "People are free to do whatever they wish to do so long as it is not illegal and God's Sena or whoever that may is not be allowed to interfere."

.

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