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Himal South Asian Volume 17, Number 2, February 2004 Dixit, Kanak Mani 2004-02

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 HIMAL
Vol 17 No 2
February 2004
The madrassa
Religion, poverty and the potential
for violence in Pakistan
COMMENTARY
Foreign friends and the Islanders
.   by Jehan Perera ■ ■ Y    .
Nukes,: sovereignty, and empire
by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar...
Bollywood's: caricatures
by Syed All Mujtaba
ESSAY
10
: The Madrassa and
the State of Pakistan
by Tariq Rahman
REPORT
21
Voices yearning for peace
by Beena Sarwar
India: Farms and jobs
by Devinder Sharma
O    N   T    E    N    T   S
Holy cows and a chained watchdog
-". ■   by Suhas Chakma
PASSING
29
EPW and the thinking Indian
by Ramachandra Guha
OPINION
33
Iconoclasm: Not a Muslim monopoly
by Yoginder Sikand
How about your backyard ?
by Lila Rajiva
The SAFTA mirage
by ZAbid Qaiyum Suleri and
Bhaskar Sharma
SOUTHASIASPHERE      42
LASTPAGE 44
&9L-
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lastlastpage
somehow ratios never shine
 HIMAL
editors @ himalmag.com
Contributors to this issue
Editor
Kanak Mani Dixit
Contributing Editors
Calcutta    Rajashri Dasgupta
Colombo    Manik de Silva
dhaka       Afsan Chowdhury
Karachi   : Beena Sarwar
new dew:   Mitu Varma
H. amer:ca .Amitava Kumar
Editorial Assistant
Joe Thomas K
Design Team
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Aasim Sajjad Akhtar is a Rawalpindi activist involved with people's movements.
Abid Qaiyum Suleri is the head of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Programme at
the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad.
CK Lai is a Kathmandu-based engineer and Nepali Times columnist.
Devinder Sharma is a food and trade policy analyst who chairs the New Delhi-based Forum for
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Jehan Perera, a human rights activist based in Colombo, writes a weekly column in the Daily
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Ramachandra Guha is a social scientist based in Bangalore.
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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a broadcast journalist based in Madras.
Tariq Rahman, based in Islamabad, is the author of Language, Ideology and Power: Language-
Learning among the Muslims of Pakistan and North India and what appears here will be
appearing in a forthcoming book.
Yoginder Sikand is a researcher of Islamic history and a freelance writer based in Bangalore.
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■ -.;
 Commentary
FOREIGN
FRIENDS AND
THE ISLANDERS
AMONG THE major issues to be canvassed
at the Sri Lankan general elections in April
2004 will be the role of the international
community. There is an influential section
in the country that believes that Sri Lanka's
lifeline to peace and development lies
through the international community. The
question is whether a majority of people
would agree with it. Certainly the past two
years have seen an increase in the presence
of international actors in Sri Lankan affairs,
ranging from the Norwegians in the peace
process to international NGOs in the
reconstruction of the North-East.
The United National Party (UNP, led by
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe)
campaigners are likely to emphasise the
close ties they were able to forge with the
international community, and in particular
with aid-giving countries and multilateral
donor agencies. Wickremesinghe's ability
to obtain two face-to-face meetings with
President .George Bush was a remarkable
feat considering the relative unimportance
of Sri Lanka in the past in the US global
scheme. Tbe pledge of USD 4.5 billion at the
Tokyo donor conference last year and
Japan's singular contribution towards
this fund have made the rapid economic
development of Sri Lanka a viable
proposition. There has been a corresponding negative side as well to the UNP's
close association with the international
community. The stalling of the peace
process between the government and LTTE
that took place in April 2003 can be
attributed at least partly to this. The LTTE
justified its suspension of participation in
the peace process by accusing the government of trying to establish an international
safety net. The LTTE alleged that such a
strengthening of the government's position
internationally was to the detriment of
Tamil rights, as no government that felt itself
strong would be fair to the Tamils.
At the same time, opposition parties
have been critical of the UNP government's
acquiescence in the policies followed by
the United States. Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe's speech at the United
Nations where he justified the US war on
Iraq reflected the price that the government
was willing to pay for its international
safety net. While recognising the importance
of having the goodwill of the international
community, few Sri Lankans would admit
they were willing to pay such a price in terms
of national dignity for the support of the
international community. Leaders of the
opposition parties have taken the stance
that Sri Lanka virtually became a colony of
the international community under the UNP
government. The government's inability to
defend the interests of the third world at the
World Trade Organisation conference in
Cancun in August 2003, and its policy of
agreeing to conditionalities placed on aid
to Sri Lanka by the donor agencies, are some
of the instances given to back this claim. In
the past two years the government appeared
keener to satisfy the requirements
of international donors rather than
to show empathy for the plight of
Sri Lanka's poorer population.
From left to right:
Adele, Anton
Balasingham, Erik
Solheim, Milinda
Moragoda, Vidar
Helgesen, Jon
Westborg and
Bernard Goonetilleke
in an August 2002
meeting in Oslo.
Opposing view
The chief coalition partner of the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP),
which is led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, is the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which
represents the extreme end of
rejection of all that is foreign. During the
1988-89 period they considered the Indian
government, which had sent in its army to
implement the Indo-Lanka peace accord, as
its enemy second only to the then Sri Lankan
government. They banned the sale of Indian
goods in shops and even made grocers
change the name of Bombay onions to 'Big'
onions. In the present period, the JVP
appears to have mended its fences with
There has been
a negative
side as well to
the UNP's
close association with the
international
community.
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 Lj- «st *Sa^d;^        »tg#
■ft ' r
Trie JVP marching for
'pre-1505' culture.
The JVP and
sections of the
SLFP will
appeal to the
voters on the
basis of nationalism and anti-
foreign
sentiment
India to a great extent and speaks positively
of its leadership. Opposing the unfettered
open market and foreign entry into the
domestic market, JVP spokespersons have
quoted Indian leaders with admiration as
saying that what we need to import are
micro chips but not potato chips. They have
rejected any close association with the
international community, especially the
component that is Western led. China's
success in negotiating firmly with the World
Bank and IMF is compared to Sri Lanka's
more appeasing manner, although the
contrast between the bargaining power of
China's one billion strong population and
Sri Lanka's 18 million is not adequately
appreciated.
The JVP's vision appears to lie in
recreating in Sri Lanka a society that is free
from the taint of Western influence. This is
the indication from its spokesperson Wimal
Weerawansa's expressed desire to take the
country back to its pre-1505 culture and
society. The significance of the year 1505 is
that it brought with it a Portuguese naval
fleet to Sri Lankan shores. In the centuries
that followed came other colonising powers,
the Dutch and the British, bringing with
them the Christian religion. This type of JVP
rhetoric is providing the social and
emotional background for the
series of militant attacks against
Christian communities across the
country. On the other hand, there
appears to be a certain inconsistency within the LTTE hierarchy
about the proper behaviour that
should flow from its anti-Western
attitude. The JVP's supreme leader
Somawansa Amarasinghe has
spent the last decade in London,
where he has educated his family
who also presumably live there. If
the JVP leader feared for his life in Sri Lanka
after the abortive and bloody JVP insurrection and sought refuge abroad it is
understandable. But it would make the JVP
hierarchy less hypocritical if their leader
had sought asylum in a non-Western
country such as India or even Myanmar.
Anti-peace activism
The JVP is also taking the position that the
Norwegian-facilitated ceasefire agreement
is detrimental to the country's national
interests. During the past two years of
ceasefire the JVP organised several demonstrations, rallies and processions against the
ceasefire agreement in general and the
Norwegian facilitators in particular. Their
demonstrations frequently ended in front
of the Norwegian embassy. But while the
IVP was engaging in its anti-peace activism,
public opinion polls showed that the
ceasefire agreement was gaining in public
support for having brought peace to the lives
of people. The IVP's election campaign at
present takes the position that the ceasefire
agreement is a traitorous document that
needs to be rejected. However, instead of
doing away with the ceasefire agreement
and getting back to war, the JVP asserts that
it will negotiate a new ceasefire agreement
with the LTTE. Such a move would be very
difficult to implement, and Prime jMinister
Ranil Wickremesinghe has cautioned
against it. As the leader whose government
negotiated with the LTTE, his view needs to
be heard. In the event of any effort to
negotiate a new ceasefire agreement with
the LTTE, it is very likely that the LTTE will
stick to the gains it has already obtained
and seek further gains. If that fails, there
may be no further ceasefire agreement.
While the JVP and sections of the SLFP
will appeal to the voters on the basis
of nationalism and anti-foreign sentiment,
it is likely that President Chandrika
Kumaratunga herself will adopt a conciliatory posture that is more in keeping with
her position as the Sri Lankan head of state.
The president has considerable achievements in the field of international relations.
It was during her period of governance that
the LTTE lost its advantage in the international arena. It was she who invited the
Norwegian government to facilitate the
resolution of the Sri Lankan conflict, and
who obtained the consent of India for this
external intervention. In fact the SLFP-JVP
alliance's attack on the UNP's proximity to
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Commentary
the international communitv is likely to be
balanced by the alliance's perceived closeness to India. The hostility to the LTTE that
is presumed to drive Indian foreign policy
will be used by the Sl.FP-JVP alliance to
reassure the voters that they will be able to
secure Sri Lanka's most vital security
interests with Indian assistance. President
Kumaratunga's takeover of the charge of
ushering the prospective Indo Lanka
Defence Agreement will reinforce the widely
prevalent belief that the Indian government
has a special affection for the president and
her party.
On the other hand, there are persistent
reports that India cautioned the president
against going in for a general election at this
time. By dissolving Parliament, even when
the government enjoyed a stable majority
and had four more years to go, the president
acted to create an unnecessary problem.
There is a very real prospect of a hung
Parliament in which neither major party can
achieve a majority by itself. This would
create new problems, such as dependency
on extremist forces, whether they be jvp or
LTTE-backed parliamentarians. The enhanced legitimacy such elections would
confer upon the LTTE would also make the
Indian strategy of containing the LTTE's
international influence especially on Tamil
Nadu,a more difficult one. The international
community that has stopped supporting
militant organisations following the 'war
against terrorism' would feel much more
empathy for the LTTE as an organisation that
has performed well at the elections, even if
they are not quite free and fair.
It would be advisable for Sri Lankans to
keep in mind the old adage that countries
do not have permanent friends, they have
only permanent interests. The international
community has been unanimous in assisting Sri Lanka because it is a relatively rare
example of a countiy that is on the road to
solving a long-standing conflict. The
international community wants Sri Lanka
to be a country that solves its problems and
does not cause them problems by spilling
its terrorism and refugees abroad as in the
past. In other words, the assistance that Sri
Lanka will get from the international
community is not conditioned upon which
political party governs the country. Rather,
it is conditional upon whether the political
party that forms the government is solving
the country's problems without causing
problems to others. If a new government
were to rashly decide to scrap the ceasefire
agreement and find itself going back to war,
it will be creating new problems of war,
terrorism and refugees. The international
community, which includes India, will not
be supportive of a government that 'creates'
major problems when there was no rational
need to do so. h
-Jehan Perera
NUKES,
SOVEREIGNTY,
AND EMPIRE
THERE HAS been an incredible
outpouring of public and private
emotion in Pakistan over the
"detention" of the country's most
prominent nuclear scientists,
including the best-known among
them Abdul Qadeer Khan, the
'father' of Pakistan's A-bomb.
In a country where the mainstream
political discourse has degenerated to nothingness, it is ironic
that the popularly advertised
"leaking" of nuclear secrets to
countries on the US State Department's most-hated list should
incite such nationalistic fervour
and   impassioned  accusations .:
against the government.
In theory, the furore (which the
sensationalist Urdu press has done its best
to create) was understandable. The scientists
were detained largely at the behest of the
United States, and as with any other such
"request" made in recent times, the authorities have paid little attention to
even a potentially perceived need
to make the initiative contingent
on public, or at the very least,
parliamentary approval. As a
result, it has been easy for anyone
and everyone to launch frontal
attacks on the government. Needless to say, over the past four years
there is an increasing perception
in Pakistan that the government
has time and again sacrificed
the needs and aspirations of the
Pakistani people on the altar of
US interests.
But in practice, the whole affair
AQ Khan.
Ultimately, the
mainstream
political parties
of Pakistan are
united in the
fact that none
of them is
genuinely
willing to
take on the
establishment
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 Commentary
*M0ff/S?Y
noma
Martyrs to the
opposition's ideas of
injustice.
The reason for the
ordinary Pakistani
directing
frustration and
anger towards the
military lies with
the simultaneous
increases in
poverty and
insecurity over the
past four years
reflected the manner in which Pakistan's
prominent political entities operate -
inciting nationalist sentiment and exploiting long-standing and regressive state
ideologies, and reinforcing such ideas in the
popular consciousness even while the real
concerns of people remain completely
marginal and irrelevant to the mainstream
discourse. The nuclear tests in 1998 were
followed by much celebration and rejoicing
in the country, no thanks to the 50 years of
indoctrination that have led most Pakistanis
to accept that the perceived threat of Indian
domination mandates an extravagant
military establishment, and logically, this
establishment's monopoly over fundamental decision-making.
The hype was short-lived, because the
acute economic squeeze subsequently faced
by ordinary Pakistanis highlighted the
direct consequence of parochial nationalism in an unforgiving geo-political set-up.
As such, since the October 1999
coup that brought General Pervez
Musharraf to power, much of the
military's sacred aura has been
demystified, particularly after 9/
11 and the resulting shifts in
foreign policy that the military
regime was forced to make under
American pressure. In fact, the
reason for the ordinary Pakistani
directing his/her frustration and
anger towards the military lies
with the simultaneous increases in
poverty and insecurity that have
come about over the past four years.
The economic shocks are a direct
resLtlt of the military willingly accelerating
the processes of corporatisation and large-
scaie liberalisation that has been imposed
upon the country in varying degrees by the
international donor community for over two
decades. More accurately, it is the deteriorating economic conditions for the majority
of working Pakistanis coupled with the
wild and ostentatious living of the military
high-command and its groupies that has
fomented anger and frustration.
But the impotence of the opposition
parties to the military in this country has
meant that there has been no meaningful
articulation of this frListration and anger,
and so the military continues to do as it
pleases, or at the very least, do as George W
Bush pleases. Is it any wonder, then, that
the opposition raises a hue and cry about
virtual non-issues such as the 'detention'
of government scientists. Ostensibly, the
logic is that this is the kind of emotive issue
that can generate much popular support and
thus severely embarrass the government.
And, evidently, the economic hardships of
the people do not qualify as emotive and
serious political issues in the country. In
any case, it is now much harder for either
the establishment or the opposition to
intoxicate ordinary people with reference
to old and reactionary nationalisms, albeit
if and when mass information manipulation is necessary the job can still
be done.
The Fall Guy
As it turns out, the press has been fed a story
making AQ Khan the fall guy for the
probably very deliberate and well-directed
sharing of nuclear technologies. He has been
relieved as special advisor to the president,
which gave him powers of a federal minister.
But the attempt to make the issue a national
outrage when the opposition has itself been
privy to what happens within the halls of
power on matters nuclear, is even more
baffling. No 'leak' of nuclear secrets to an
outsider would never have been possible
without the involvement of persons from the
military establishment. This is equally true
of the recent suicide attacks on General
Pervez Musharraf. Also, regardless of how
much effort is expended to convince people
otherwise, there is no great prestige or pride
associated with being a nuclear "power",
and arguably this is a realisation dawning
on many Pakistanis. If nuclearisation
simply allows them to pretend that they are
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Commentary
more important and secure than they really
are, then it is a deception that the vast
majority of Pakistanis can do without.
If the opposition were to be truly
interested in reshaping the political culture
in a meaningful way, it would perhaps
point out that this enforced action on the
part of the government is only one of many
enforced actions. The opposition would
point out that the Pakistani state has more
or less surrendered sovereignty over even
the most basic policy decisions, and acts
very much like a 'satellite' state of the United
States. There would be uproar over the
heart-stopping hypocrisy of the United
States and the other big nuclear powers. It
would be highlighted that the international
donor community has run the economy
ragged, propagating macroeconomic recovery while resources and markets are
plundered by multinational capital. The
opposition would stand with the people
whether the sun shines or it rains, and
particularly at a time when the state has
been unforgiving in its corporatisation and
militarisation agenda.
But, ultimately, the mainstream political
parties of Pakistan are united in the fact that
none of them is genuinely willing to take on
the establishment, and that, when push
comes to shove, they are the backbone of a
national elite that has far too much to lose
from any change that is fundamental. In
particular, how and why would parties like
the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif
(PML-N) make noises about the imperial
designs of President Bush when they
themselves are courting him to approve their
participation in the next sham government
that comes to power in Pakistan? Today,
the forced resignation of AQ Khan
is headline news. Tomorrow, it will be
something else. But rest assured that there
is little substance in any of these political
games, at least as far as mainstream politics
goes.
The over-extended military establishment had been exposed once before for being
anti-people, and that was after the 1971
tragedy and dismemberment of the country.
A great opportunity was wasted by then
Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, when
he could have confined the military permanently to the barracks. The members of
Pakistan's political elite now need to ask
themselves the following question: will they
forever be fighting for the scraps that the
military tantalisingly dangles in front of
them from time to time? More importantly,
those who are not part of the state and
political elite, constantly pining for a
different Pakistan, need to ask how long this
game is to be allowed to go on. How long
are they to pretend that nuclear capability
(or lack thereof) is a source of strength? And
when the next artificial crisis is presented
to the public, will questions be asked that
need to be asked? [.,
-Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
BOLLYWOOD'S
CARICATURES
SOME INDIANS consider Bollywood
movies as their staple diet; many may miss
a meal, but not a new release on Friday.
The three hours of solace in the dark
and often dingy cinema halls for many
is  more   soothing   than  visiting  a
mosque, temple or a church. Truly
Bollywood movies are the lifeline for
many Indians, their recouping pill to
help them grapple with the harsh
realities that surround.
However, those who make these movies
do not care about the sensibilities of those
who go to see them. On-screen characterisation of some real-life characters are so
depressing, that instead of being entertained
some really feel hurt when they identify with
those characters- Hindi movies still have not
broken from their cliched presentations and
continue to do so despite all round advancement in the filmmaking techniques.
Take for instance the depiction of south
Indians particularly the Tamilians in Hindi
cinema. Their peculiar mode of dressing,
eating, talking, all is an object of ridicule in
Bollywood. It is not that those who make
the movies are unaware of the sensibilities
of the Tamils; all the more galling
then that they do not tone
down the characterisation of south
Indians in Hindi cinema. The trend
began back when the comedian
Mehmood played a 'madrasi' in
the movie Padosan in the 1960s. The
only rationale behind such deliberate portrayals would seem to be
to highlight the superiority of north
Indians vis-a-vis the southerners.
Rarely  has   the   Hindi   cinema
a(g'
Rarely has the
Hindi cinema
depicted north
and east or north
and west divides,
the way it does
between north
and south
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 The villain in
these recent
films caricatures
'bin Laden'
and looks like a
typical Muslim
priest holding a
rosary in
hand, counting
beads, and
spitting fire
against India.
depicted north and east or north and west
divides, the way it does between north and
south.
The coloured Muslim
The other set of cliched characters of cinema
are the Muslims, whose identity is paramount in Hindi cinema but remains locked
in certain stereotypes. Muslim men wear
Aligarh cut sherzvani, chewing paan, and
women dress in heavy ghararas. The men
are portrayed either as hakims, poet or
tailors. Whenever such characters
appear on screen, audiences know
it is time for a bout of qawaali. More
often than not Muslims are painted
in negative shades. Smugglers are
shown dressed in the traditional
Arab robe, carrying a briefcase,
making lewd gestures at the
dancers at the villain's wine and
dance party. Then, Bollywood
heroes are often shown bashing
local rowdies dressed in lungi and
sleeveless singlet, an image that
somehow gets mixed up with
characters that live in the old
Muslim localities in many north
Indian towns. The most common
cliche   of   Bollywood    is   the
characterisation of nautch girls, who often
have Muslim names.
The political agenda have started
colouring Muslim characters on the Hindi
screen. Most recently, in good-versus-evil
plots, Kashmir, Pakistan and the Taliban
all have become a symbol of 'evil' in Hindi
cinema. Kashmiri militants are shown as
gun-toting bearded guys wearing skullcaps
and fighting the Indian security forces. The
Kashmiri militant linkage moves further in
a linear direction to identify with Pakistan
and Taliban. Characters dressed up in
Afghan outfits with scarve over the shoulder
are shown mouthing some Arabic words
while scheming to launch jehad against
India.
The villain in these recent films caricatures 'bin Laden' and looks like a typical
Muslim priest holding a rosary in hand,
counting beads, and spitting fire against
India. Audiences feel pained when the
heroine somehow lands in the clutches of
the Talibs and gets thrilled when she
escapes from their dragnet. The painting of
the Taliban, Pakistanis and Kashmiris are
all done with the same brush. Anti-Pakistan
movies have been a recent favourite of
Bollywood directors who lack the skills and
creativity not to follow the crowd. In order
to sell patriotism, Pakistan is depicted as
the monster in whose defeat rests Indian
national pride. These anti-Pakistan movies
end up conveying that all Muslims living
in India are either black sheep or Pakistani
agents.
There almost seems to be a design in
such cinematic characterisation to erode the
commonalities, which Hindus and Muslims have synthesized living side by side
for centuries in India. It was not always this
way. Who can forget the powerful portrayal
as the compassionate Pathan by Balraj
Sahni, in the Bimal Roy classic of the early
60s Kabuliwala; or AK Hangal playing' a
Muslim priest in the 1975 epic Sholay. But
even an innovative director like Mani
Ratnam was unable break the cliche in
depicting a traditional Muslim girl eloping
with a Hindu boy in Bombay (1994).
Mona darling
The treatment of Christians in Hindi
cinema again leaves one pondering. In fact,
there was a protest in the early 1970s from
the Anglo-Indian Christian community
when the film Julie was released, typecasting
the leading lady as a Christian protagonist.
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Commentary
Hindi movies often present
'loose', 'immoral' female
characters with Christian
names. Vamps are often
shown wearing a cross,
working as barmaids or
cabaret dancers. Helen, the
sizzling dancer of yesteryears had Christian names
in most of her movies. So
did Faryal, Kaipana Iyer
and Bindu who all played
negative roles. They were all
Mona, Rosy or Lily in the movies. These
names gained notoriety because 'Mona
darling' or 'Lily don't be silly' were often
villain Ajit's catch phrase in his movies as
were the names of his henchmen, Robert and
Peter. Christian names seem now to have
outlived their purpose, as new oomph girls
have taken over their role as the 'other lady'
and have merged it with the central female
character. In the first half of the movie
today's heroines are attired in the skimpiest
of dresses, once reserved for vamps. But in
the second half they dress like a typical
Indian lady as it becomes time for them to
get married and five happily thereafter. The
Christian vamp has become redundant as
the Hindu girl doubles as vamp and
heroine.
The Sikhs too are treated with a slant.
They are either shown as dim-witted or
possessing hyper-testosterone levels. The
Sikh image has come to be synchronised
with either the one who is protecting the
country's borders or is a truck driver. The
moment the Sikh character appears on
screen audiences know it is time for a
T>hangra' dance number. The irony is that
even though there is much influence of
Punjabi culture on Hindi cinema, there are
hardly any nuances in the characterisation
of the Sikhs.
Since Bollywood is based in Mumbai
where the Parsi community is concentrated,
the directors are fond of their characterisation. But again Parsis are shown as absent-
minded lost people who speak Hindi with
an accent and provide entertainment to the
audiences. In most movies, Parsis are shown
riding a vintage car with their sizeable
family; the vehicle breaks down in the
middle of the road, leading to verbal duels
with other commuters and the films end up
depicting all Parsis as buffoons.
Bollywood finds fun in ridiculing a
community to make others laugh. The
depiction of the south Indian as
licking their palm while eating, or
saying "ayyo amma" in a particular
accent does not put any Tamilian in
splits. Similarly, the portrayal of
buxom beauties, wearing a cross and
saying "yes boss" does not please
people belonging to the Christian
faith. Muslims sentiments are hurt
when they are regularly shown as
ruffians, dancing girls, smugglers or
terrorists. Mere tokenism of characters
on some occasions - sporting a beard
and a cap, a frail good-natured tramp
that lives in penury next door - is not
enough of a sop to placate. Somehow
Bollywood still steers shy of portraying the real life Shahrukh, Aamir
or Saif on screen. One cannot dispute
the fact that there has to be the 'bad'
guy and the 'good' guy in a movie but why
this invincible typecasting? If Hindi cinema
is meant to be wholesome entertainment
then it has to break away from its cliched
presentations. The day Shahrukh Khan as
Abdul or Aamir and not as 'Raj' or 'Vijay'
delivers a blockbuster like Dilwale Dulhaniya
Le Jaenge, Bollywood will have woken up to
the times. fc>
-Syed Ali Mujtaba
Hindi movies
often present
'loose', 'immoral'
female characters with Christian names.
Lately, the Christian vamp has
become redundant as the
Hindu girl
doubles as
vamp and
heroine
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 The Madrassa and the
Religion, poverty and the potential
for violence in Pakistan.
The madrassas of Pakistan are said to be the breeding ground for much of
South and Central Asian militancy, but for the accusations made there is
precious little known about these Islamic seminaries and their students.
While conceding the radical bent among the madrassas of Pakistan, and the
sharp increase in their numbers, a Islamabad scholar dissects the cause
behind these phenomena and locates it - poverty.
by Tariq Rahman       '■' ■	
1fl HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 State of Pakistan
Madrassas have come to be associated with the
erstwhile Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, some
of whom were students of these institutions.
These Islamic seminaries have also been much in the
news for sectarian killings and supporting militancy
in Kashmir. They are considered the breeding ground
of the jehadi culture—a term used for Islamic militancy
in the English-language press of Pakistan.
There was not much writing on the madrassas in
Pakistan before the events of 9/11. JD Kraan, writing
for the Christian Study Centre, had provided a brief
introduction in 1984 and in 1988, AH Nayyar, an academic, had argued that sectarian violence was traceable to madrassa education. Both had used only secondary sources. Later, the present writer wrote a book
on language-teaching in the madrassas (Language, Ideology and Power: Language-Learning among the Muslims
of Pakistan and North India, OUP, Karachi 2002), which
also contained a survey of the opinions of madrassa
students on Kashmir, the implementation of the Sharia,
equal rights for religious minorities and women, freedom of the media, democracy, and so on. The seminal
work on the ulema, and also the madrassas in which
they are trained, is by Qasim Zaman. He provides an
excellent review of how the traditional ulema can be
differentiated from the Islamists who react to modernity by attempting to go back to fundamentalist, and
essentially political, intejrpretations of Islam.
The ulema or the Islamists in Pakistan have been
writing, generally in Urdu, in defence of the madrassas
which the state sought to modernise and secularise.
Two recent books, a survey by the Institute of Policy
Studies (patronised by the revivalist, Islamist, Jamat-i-
Islami) of the madrassas and a longer book by Saleem
Mansur Khalid, are useful because they contain much
recent data. Otherwise the Pakistani ulema's work is
polemical and tendentious. They feel themselves besieged increasingly by Western and Pakistani secular
critics and feel that they should defend their position
from the inside rather than wait for sympathetic outsiders to do it for them (as
done by Yoginder Sikand in
Himal Southasian in 2001,
"The Indian State and the
Madrassa").
Type and number
of madrassas
There is hardly any credible
information on the unregistered madrassas. However,
Central Boards of Madrassas in Pakistan
Namejftft-:
Sub-Sect
Place
feiabfefied
Wafaq ul Madaris
Deobandi
Multan
1959
TanziiTl ui Madaris
Bareivi
Lahore^ ;'•
v-H 960 :/■:.'■•
Wafaq ul Madaris
Shia
Lahore
1959
(Shia) Pakistan
RabtartuF   ;
JamaiM-lslami
Lahore-
19S&     .ft,,
Madafis-aHslamia
Wafq-ul-Madaris-
Ahl-i-Hadith
Faislabad
1955
al-Salafia
those which are registered are controlled by their own
central organisations or boards. They determine the
svllabi, collect registration fees and examination fees.
They send examination papers, in Urdu and Arabic, to
the madrassas where pupils sit for examinations and
declare results.
At independence there were 245, or even fewer,
madrassas in Pakistan. In April 2002, Dr. Mahmood
Ahmed Ghazi, the Minister of Religious Affairs, put
the figure at 10,000, with 1.7 million students. They
belong to the major sects of Islam, the Sunnis and the
Shias, but mostly the former, Pakistan being a predominantly Sunni country. Among the Sunni, there are three
sub-sects: Deobandis, Barelvis and the Ahl-i-Hadith
(salafi). Besides these, the revivalist Jamat-e-Islami also
has its own madrassas.
The number of madrassas increased during General Zia ul Haq's rule (1977-1988). During the war by
Islamic Afghan groups in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, the United States sent in money, arms and
ammunition through Pakistan which is said to have
been used to support the madrassas. Later, presumably because religiously inspired and madrassa students infiltrated across the line of control to fight the
Indian Army in Kashmir, they were supported by the
Pakistan army (specifically the Inter Services Intelligence agency). However, both the 151 and the madrassas
Sect-Wise Increase in the Number of Madrassas
Deoba
rafi
Bareivi
Ahl-t-Hadith
Shia
Jamal+lslami
Total
1988
2002
1988      2002
1988      2002
1988      2002
1988     2002
1988    2002
1779
7000
717     1585
161        376
47       419
97*      500
28Q1    9880
Source: For 1988 see GOP 1988; for 2002 Report of Sindh Police in Dawn 16 Jan 2003. The other
figures have been provided by the Central Boards of madrassas. "This figure in GOP 1988 was for
'Others' and not only for the Jamat-i-lslami madrassas. The figure for 2000 given in several sources
is 6,761.
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
11
 Essay
deny these links, and it is difficult to ascertain how
many madrassas have increased due to financial aid
provided by foreign donors or the Pakistan army.
In an analysis paper for the Brookings Institution in
2001, PW Singer gives the figure of 45,000 for madrassas
in Pakistan but quotes no source for this number.
The Saudi Arabian organization, Harmain Islamic
Foundation, is said to have helped the Ahl-i-Hadith
and made them powerful. Indeed, the Lashkar-e-
Tayyaba, an organization which has been active in fighting in Kashmir, belongs to the Ahl-i-
Hadith. In recent years, the Deobandi influence has increased as the Taliban
were trained in their seminaries. However, contrary to popular belief, it is not
the Deobandi but the other madrassas
that have either got registered in large
numbers since 1988 or actually increased
significantly.
However, it should be remembered
that the number of Deobandi madrassas
is the highest to begin with and they are
the ones who are associated with militant policies and revivalist fervour.
Increase in the
Madrassas (1988 -2000)
(in percentages)
Deobandi
.."■■■■'■■A
Bareivi
90
a«W*PPth
••:;...     ; '93
Shia
532
Sthere -   :
NotKnown
Total
136
Source: Saleem Mansoor Khalid
(ed) Deeni Madaris Mein Taleem,
IPS, Islamabad 2002.
Sectarian Divide among Madrassas
Because of the disintegration of the
Mughal empire and colonial rule, Indian
Muslims felt threatened, disillusioned
and frustrated. Some, like Sayyid Ahmed
of Rae Bareilly (1786-1831), responded
militantly but were defeated. Others, like
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1808-1898) learnt
English, entered the British bureaucracy
and became junior partners of the British in the exercise of power. Still others,
blaming Muslims themselves for their
loss of power, tried to purify Islam in various ways. The Ahl-i-Hadith (also called
Wahabis), the Deobandis, the Barelvis
among the Sunnis as well as the Shias
created madrassas to preserve and
propagate what, in their view, was the
correct interpretation of Islam (or maslak
= creed). These madrassas are described
below.
Deobandis. The madrassa at Deoband, a small town
in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh) of India,
was founded by Maulana Muhammad Qasim
Nanautawi (1833-1877) and Maulana Rashid Ahmed
Gangohi (1829-1905). While earlier seminaries were
loosely organised, Deoband had a rector (sarparast), a
chancellor (muhtamim) and the chief instructor (sadr
mudarris). Its income was derived from popular contributions and the curriculum was based on the Dars-i-
Nizami which had been evolved by Mulla Nizam
Uddin Sihalvi (d. 1748) at Farangi Mahall, a famous
seminary of a family of Islamic scholars (ulema) in
Students at Deoband,
Uttar Pradesh.
Lucknow. The Dars-i-Nizami emphasised studies based
on human reasoning (imqulat) but at Deoband the traditional sciences which were transmitted unchanged
to the learner (manqulat) were emphasized. Thus,
Deoband taught much more hadith than the Dars-i-
Nazami had originally prescribed.
The Deobandis opposed the folk Islam in which intercession by saints occupied a major place, seeking
initiation in a mystic order was considered the path to
salvation, and miracles and other such phenomena
were seen as the crucial and defining attributes of saints and prophets. They did
not oppose mysticism altogether but did
argue that adherence to the Islamic law
(Sharia) was the path to mystical exaltation. They also opposed folk practices
such as fixing days for distributing food
to gain spiritual merit and celebrating the
days of religious personages.
The Durul Uloom at Deoband was
established in 1867 and after a hundred
years it had produced 6,986 graduates
and established 8,934 maktabs (schools)
and madrassas (seminaries) teaching the
Dars-i-Nizami. In 1967, the number of
graduates from Pakistan was 3,191 (including those from East Pakistan). Today, the number of students exceeds 102,
865 and the number of those who appeared in the Alimia (MA) examination
exceeds 4500. The number of registered
madrassas in Pakistan is 7000 which
shows how fast they have multiplied in
recent years (all the above figures are from
the central office of the Wafaq-ul-
Madaris, Multan).
Barelvis. The Bareivi movement was
inspired by the highly revered Ahmed
Raza Khan of Bareilly (1856-1921). The
Barelvis justified the "mediational, custom-laden islam, closely tied to the intercession of the pirs of the shrines", as one
scholar puts it. They believe that prophet
Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) was
made of Divine Radiance (Noor) and had
     knowledge of the unknown (IIm ul
Ghaib). Both these beliefs were challenged by the
Deobandis and the Ahl-i-Hadith ulema. Relating to this
was the debate on the is.sue of the imkan-i-nazir - the
question of whether God could make another person
equal to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The Barelvis denied the possibility while the others did not. The Bareivi
madrassas in Pakistan also teach the Dars-i-Nazami
and appeal to the ordinary folk of the country.
Ahl-i-Hadith. The movement inspired by Sayyed
Ahmed was called Wahabi because, like Muhammad
bin Abdul Wahab (1703-1792) of Saudi Arabia, Sayyid
Ahmed and his associates also wanted to purify and
12
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 reform Islam. They claimed to follow no particular
school of jurisprudence—Hanafi, Shafi, Hambali,
Maliki—and were called nonconformists (ghair muqallid
= one who does not follow a fixed path) by their opponents. They used the term Jama'at Ahl-i-Hadith for themselves and appealed to the Government of India that
the term Wahabi should not be used for them. The
government concluded, ordering in 1886 that the term
Wahabi be dropped from official correspondence. However it remains in currency. The Ahl-i-Hadith madrassas
also teach the Dars-i-Nazami but they emphasise the
Quran and Hadith and oppose folk Islam and common
practices such as the anniversaries of saints, the distribution of food on religious occasions, and popular
mysticism.
Jamat-i-Islami. The Jamat-i-Islami is a revivalist
political party created by Abul ala Maudoodi (also
spelled Mawdudi) (1903-1979) whose life and achievements have been ably described by Syyed Vali Reza
Nasr in Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism
(OUP, New York 1996). Maudoodi believed in borrowing technology and other concepts ^^mmm____
from the West in order to empower the
Islamic community. As such he
favoured a more modernist education
than the orthodox backers of the traditional madrassas. He did, however,
also lay emphasis on refuting Western culture and intellectual domination. Maudoodi's anti-Western critique tends to be more thorough, trenchant and appealing than that of the
traditionalist seminarians. The traditional texts are taught in the Jamat's
madrassas but politics, economics
and history is also emphasised with
a view to preparing the young ulema
for confronting the ideas of the West.
Besides the Sunni madrassas, there are Shia
madrassas too as we have seen. The Shias believe that
the successor of the Prophet (PBUH) was Ali Ibn-e-Abi
Talib and not the first three caliphs whom Sunnis take-
to be his successors. They mourn the battle of Karbala,
fought between the Prophet's grandson Hussain and
the Omayyad caliph Yazid bin Muawiya in 680 A.D.
This led to the birth of the supporters of Ali and the rise
of Shia Islam which has been described very competently by SHM Jafri in The Origins and Early Development
of Shia Islam (OUP, Karachi 2000).
All the madrassas, including the Shia ones, teach
the Dars-i-Nizami though they do not use the same
texts. They also teach their particular point of view
(madhab or maslak) which clarifies and rationalises the
beliefs of the sect (Sunni or Shia) and sub-sect
(Deobandi, Bareivi and Ahl-i-Hadith). Moreover they
train their students to refute what in their views are
heretical beliefs and some Western ideas. All madrassas
teach modern subjects in some measure and with vary-
The Dars-i-Nizami
has come to
symbolise the stagnation and ossification of knowledge.
For Southasian
students, they no
longer explain the
original texts being
themselves in Arabic.
ing degrees of competence. Let us examine the teaching
in the madrassas in some detail.
The Curriculum ofthe madrassas
Before Mulla Nizam Uddin standardised the curriculum known as the Dars-i-Nazami, different teachers
taught different texts to students. Shah Abdul Rahim
(d. 1718) had made an attempt to create a fixed curriculum which was taught at the Madrassa-i-Rahimiya and
emphasized the manqulat (such as hadith). The Dars-
i-Nazami, on the other hand, emphasized the maqulat.
Thus there were more books on grammar, logic and
philosophy than before. According to Francis Robinson
in The Ulema ofFarangi Mahall and Islamic culture in South
Asia (Feroz Sons, Lahore 2002):
The significance of the enhanced emphasis on ma' qulat in
the Dars-i-Nizamiyya lies in part in the superior training it
offered prospective lawyers, judges and administrators. The
study of advanced books of logic, Philosophy and dialectics
sharpened the rational faculties and, ideally, brought to the
^^,^_ business of government men with better-
trained minds and better-formed judgement.
While this may have been the intention of Farangi Mahall's ulema, it
is also true that the Arabic madrassas
were much fewer (150) than the Persian schools (903) in 1850, presumably
because they offered a more thorough
grinding in Persian which facilitated
entry into administrative jobs for their
pupils. However, Farangi Mahall was
established before the British created
the category of 'Persian schools' and
it does appear that the Dars-i-Nizami
educated men were sought for employment outside the domain of religion at that time.
In Pakistan, however, the Dars-i-Nizami has been
modified though the canonical texts are still there. In
this writer's view, these texts are used as a symbol of
continuity and identity. The madrassas saw themselves
as preservers of Islamic identity and heritage during
the colonial era when secular studies displaced the Islamic texts as well as the classical languages of the
Indian Muslims -Arabic and Persian- from their privileged pedestal. Thus the madrassas, despite the desire
to reform their courses, did not give up the canonical
texts. The greatest critic of the madrassa curriculum
was Maulana Maududi who argued that, being based
on memorisation of medieval texts, the madrassas
were not providing relevant education to the Muslim
society.
However, though ancient works like Sarf-e-Meer and
Kafiya remain in the course, easier and more modern
books are used to supplement them. Arabic, for instance,
is taught through modern and much easier texts than
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 Essay
Madrassa of Haqqaniya, Pakistan.
the canonical works mentioned in the Dars-i-Nizami.
The canonical texts are taught in Arabic but, because
students do not really gain competence in the language,
they are either memorised or understood from Urdu
translations available in the market.
The Dars-i-Nizami has come to symbolise the stagnation and ossification of knowledge. It is taught
through canonical texts which, however, are taught
through commentaries (slutrh); glosses or marginal notes
(hashiya) and supercommentaries (taqarir). There are
commentaries upon commentaries explained by even
more commentaries. For the Southasian students, they
no longer explain the original texts being themselves in
Arabic. They have to be learned by heart which makes
students use only their memory not their analytical powers. Indeed, the assumption on which the Dars functions is that the past was a golden age in which all that
was best has already been written. What remains to the
modern age is merely to preserve it.
It was this backward-looking nature of core
madrassa texts which made Taha Hussain (1889-1973),
the famous blind modernist scholar of Egypt, disillusioned with Jamia Azhar in Cairo. According to
Abderlarshid Mahmoudi, the writer of a 1998 work on
Taha Hussain's education:
On the collective level, entanglement in what was derivative and purely verbal, meant, among other things, the relegation of major and original works to oblivion. Thus a procedure whose role raison d'etre was to the conservation of
tradition, resulted in a grave form of collective amnesia concerning what was best in Islamic culture, namely the classical heritage.
What was true of Jamia Azhar in 1902 (when Taha
went to that seat of learning) is judged to be true of
Southasian madrassas, or at least the Dars-i-Nizami
component taught here, even today — and the judges
are Arabic-knowing authorities such as Maudoodi and
not only Western critics of the madrassas.
Refutation of Other Sects and Sub-Sects
Refutation (Radd in Urdu) has always been part of religious education. However, it is only in recent years that
it has been blamed for the unprecedented increase in
sectarian violence in Pakistan. According to A.H.
Nayyar, who writes of madrassa education frozen in
time, 'The madrassas have, not surprisingly, become a
source of hate-filled propaganda against other Sects
and the sectarian divide has become sharper and more
violent'. However, it appears that there was much more
acrimonious theological debate among the Shias and
Sunnis and among the Sunnis themselves during British rule than is common nowadays. The militancy in
sectarian conflict cannot be attributed to the teaching
in the madrassas though, of course, the awareness of
divergent beliefs does create the potential for negative
bias against people of other beliefs.
Students in madrassas learn the theological debate
(munazra). Barbara Metcalf describes the munazras between the Christians, Muslims and Arya Samajists in a
1982 book on Islamic revival in British India. She says:
The debates were, indeed, a form of social event, a
public ritual, that took on new form and meaning in
the late nineteenth century. In a society largely illiterate and equipped only minimally with modern forms
of communication, they came to serve as a new forum
for communicating issues at once religious and social
(Metcalf 1382: 233).
These debates could also be very bitter, as the
Deobandi-Barelvi munazras of 1928 put together in one
collection called the Futoohat-e-Nomania, illustrate. Moreover, the pioneers of the sects and sub-sects did indulge
in refuting each other's beliefs. For instance, Ahmed
Raza Khan, the pioneer of the Bareivi school, wrote a
series of fatawa (plural of fatwa = religious decree) against
Sir Sayyid of Aligarh, the Shi'is, the ahl-i-Hadith, the
Deobandis and the Nadwat ul-'Ulama in 1896. These
were published as Fatawa al-Haramain bi-Rajf Nadwat
al-Main in 1900. The Barelvis, in turn, were refuted by
their rivals. The followers of the main debaters sometimes exchanged invectives and even came to blows
but never turned to militancy as witnessed in
Pakistan's recent history.
As the inculcation of sectarian bias is an offence, no
madrassa teacher or administrator confessed to teaching any text refuting the beliefs of other sects. Maulana
Mohammad Hussain, Nazim-e-Madrassa Jamiat us-
Salfia (Ahl-i-Hadith), in Islamabad says that comparative religious was taught in the final Almiya (MA) class
and it did contain material refuting heretical beliefs.
Moreover, Islam was confirmed as the only true religion, refuting other religions. The library did contain
books refuting other sects and sub-sects but they were
not prescribed in the syllabus. Maulana Muhammad
Ishaq Zafar of the Jamia Rizvia Aiz ul Uloom (Bareivi)
in Rawalpindi says that books against other sects were
not taught. However, during the interpretation of texts
the maslak was passed on to the student. Students of
the final year, when questioned specifically about the
teaching of the maslak, said that it was taught through
questions and answers, interpretation of texts and some-
14
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 times some teachers recommended supplementary reading material specifically for the refutation of the doctrines of other sects and sub-sects. (Maulana
Mohammad Hussain and Maulana Muhammad Ishaq
Zafar were the only ones among the many ulema and
students who were interviewed for this article who were
willing to be named.)
In some cases, as in the Jamia Ashrafia, a famous
Deobandi seminary of Lahore, an institution dedicated
to publishing, established in 1993, puts out 'only those
articles and journals which are written by the scholars
of Deoband school of thought. Moreover, in writings,
sermons and conversation, the teachers refer to the pioneers of their own maslak so that the views of the sub-
sect are internalised and become the primary way of
thinking.
However, despite the denials, the printed syllabi of
the following sects do have books to refute the beliefs of
other sects. The Report ou the Religious Seminaries, put
out in 1988, lists several books of Deobandi madrassas
to refute Shia beliefs, including Maulana Mohammad
Qasim's Hadiyat ul Shia which has been reprinted several times and is still in print. There are also several
books on the debates between the Barelvis and the
Deobandis and even a 1998 book refuting Maudoodi's views. The Barelvis
have included only one book Rashidiya
(1672) by Abdul Rashid Deewan
Jaunpuri under the heading of 'preparation for debates on controversial issues'. In'some of the madrassas the
other traditional text used for this purpose is the Sharifiya (1413) by Meer
Sharif Ali Jarjani. lt is not true, however, that the students are mired in medieval scholasticism despite the texts
prescribed for them. They do put their
debates in the contemporary context
though they refer to examples on the
lines established by the medieval texts.
The Ahl-i-Hadith have given a choice
of opting for any two of the following courses: the political system of Islam, the economic system of Islam,
Ibn-e-Khaldun's Muqaddamah, the history of ideas, and
comparative religious systems. The Shia courses list no
book on this subject.
Recently published courses list no book on maslak
for the Deob;indis. The Barelvis mention 'comparative
religions' but no specific works. The Ahl-i-Hadith retain almost the same optional courses as before. The
Shia madrassas list books on beliefs which includes
comparative religions in which, of course, Shia beliefs
are taught as the only true ones. Polemical pamphlets
claiming that there are conspiracies against the Shias
are available. Incidentally such pamphlets, with warnings on alleged Shia deviations from the correct interpretations of the faith are also in circulation among
Sunni madrassas and religious organisations.
It appears that there
was much more
acrimonious
theological debate
among the Shias
and Sunnis and
among the Sunnis
themselves during
British rule than is
common nowadays.
Moreover, some guidebooks for teachers note that
Quranic verses about controversial issues should be
taught with great attention and students should
memorise them. In one Bareivi book it is specified that
teachers must make the students note down interpretations of the ulema of their sub-sect concerning beliefs
and controversial issues so that students can use them
later — i.e. as preachers and ulema.
The Jamat-i-lslami syllabus, dated 2002, mentions
additional books by .Maulana Maudoodi and other
intellectuals of the Jamat on a number of subjects
including the Hadith. They also teach 'comparative
religions'.
Refutation of Heretical Beliefs
One of the aims of the madrassas, ever since 1057 when
Nizam ul Mulk established the famous madrassa at
Baghdad, was to counter heresies within the Islamic
world as well as outside influence which could change
or dilute Islam. Other religions are refuted in 'comparative religions' but there are specific books for heresies
within the Islamic world. In Pakistan the ulema unite
in refuting the beliefs of the Ahmedis (or Qaidianis).
The Deoband course for the Aliya (BA) degree included
five books refuting aMtmedi beliefs. The
Barelvis prescribe no specific books.
However, the fatawa of the pioneer,
Ahmad Raza Khan, are referred to and
they refute the ideas of the other sects
and sub-sects. The Ahl-i-Hadith note
that in 'comparative religions' they
would refute the aMimedi beliefs. The
Shias too do not prescribe any specific
book. The Jamat-i-lslami's syllabus of
2002 prescribes four books for the refutation of the 'Qaidiani religion'. Besides the Ahmedis, other beliefs deemed
to be heretical are also refuted. All these
books are written in a polemical style
and are in Urdu which all madrassa
students understand.
Refutation of Alien Philosophies
The earliest madrassas refuted Greek philosophy which
was seen as intellectually invading the Muslim ideological space. Since the rise of the West, madrassas,
and even more than them revivalist movements outside the madrassas, refute Western philosophies. Thus
there are books given in the reading lists for Aliya (BA)
of 1988 by the Deobandis refuting capitalism, socialism, capitalism and feudalism. These books are no
longer listed but they are in print and in the libraries of
the madrassas. The Jamat-i-Islami probably goes to great
lengths — judging from its 2002 syllabus — to make
the students aware of Western domination, the exploitative potential of Western political and economic ideas,
and the disruptive influence of Western liberty and individualism on Muslim societies. Besides Maudoodi's
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
15
 Essay
own books on all subjects relating to the modern world,
a book on the conflict between Islam and Western ideas
by Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi is widely available.
These texts, which may be called Radd-texts, may
not be formally taught in most of the madrassas as the
ulema claim, but they are being printed which means
they are in circulation. They may be given as supplementary reading material or used in the arguments by
the teachers to be internalised by the students. In any
case, being in Urdu rather then Arabic, such texts can
be comprehended rather than merely memorised. As
such, without formally being given the centrality which
the Dars-i-Nizami has, the opinions these texts disseminate — opinions against other sects, sub-sects, views
seen as being heretical by the ulema, Western ideas —
may be the major formative influence on the minds of
madrassa students. Thus, while it is true that education in the madrassa produces religious, sectarian, sub-
sectarian and anti-Western bias, it may not be correct to
assume that this bias automatically translates into militancy and violence of the type Pakistan has experienced.
For that to happen other factors — the arming of religious young men to fight in .Afghanistan and Kashmir;
the state's clampdown on free expression of political
dissent during Zia ul Haq's martial
law; the appalling poverty of rural,
peripheral areas and urban slums, etc.
— must be taken into account.
As for teaching modern subjects, the
Ahl-i-Hadith madrassas have been
teaching Pakistan studies, English,
Mathematics and General Science for
a long time. The Jamat-i-Islami also
teaches secular subjects. The larger
Deobandi, Bareivi and Shia madrassas
too have made arrangements for teaching secular subjects including in the
latest instance basic computer skills. According to a
report in the weekly The Friday Times from Lahore the
Deobandi Wafaq-ul Madaris has decided to accommodate modern subjects on a larger scale than before. They
would make the students spend another two years to
give a more thorough grounding in the secular subjects. The Wafaq is also said to have formed committees
to devise ways to capitalise on the government's USD
255 million Madrassah Reforms Scheme for the transition. However, at present, the teaching is done by teachers approved of by the ulema or some of the ulema themselves. Thus the potential for secularisation of the subjects, which is small in any case, is reduced to nothing.
This might change if the courses are extended by two
years and the teachers come from diverse backgrounds
but as yet it is too early to say what might happen.
Socioeconomic strata of madrassa students
In medieval India madrassas were supported by land
grants and wealthy patrons. They have always been
supporting the poor, and the lifestyles of the ulema were
Man studies the Quran at
Dam! Qura Madrassa, Pakistan.
spartan and closer to the poorer strata of society than
the affluent ones. Maulana Abdul Ali Bahr al-Ulam of
Farangi Mahall, for instance, used in their support all
but Rs 40 of the Rs 1000 monthly stipend granted by
Nawab Walajah. His 'wife and family suffered and complained, as did those of his grandson, Jamal al-Din,
who suffered in a similar way'. Barbara Metcalf in her
study of Deoband tells us that the pioneers of that seminary took very modest salaries if at all, and lived as
poor men. The average expense of Deoband on each
graduate between 1867 and 1967 was Rs 1,314 which
is modest whichever way one looks at it. The Ahl-i-
Hadith madrassas, which were patronised by wealthy
people in British India, also lived in the same frugal
manner.
Madrassas in present-day Pakistan are also financed by voluntary charity provided by the bazaar
businessmen and others who believe that they are earning great merit by contributing to them. Some of them
are also given financial assistance by foreign governments — the Saudi government is said to help the Ahl-
i-Hadith seminaries and the Iranian government the
Shia ones — but there is no proof of this assistance.
And even if such assistance did exist, it would go only
to a few madrassas whereas the vast
majority of them are run on charity
(zakat = alms, kiwi rat - charity, aiiat =
gifts, etc).
The government of Pakistan gives
financial assistance to the madrassas
for modernising textbooks, for including secular subjects in the curricula,
and in introducing computers into the
classroom. In 2001-02 a total of
Rs 1,654,000 was distributed among
the madrassas which accepted the
help. As the number of students is
1,065,277, this comes to Rs 1.55 per student per year.
An additional aid of Rs 30.5 million is promised for
providing computers and changing the syllabi in 2003-
04, which will come to Rs 28.6 per student. However,
as all madrassas do not accept financial help from the
government the money would not be distributed as
evenly as the above calculations might suggest.
According to the Jamia Salfia of Faisalabad, the annual expenditure on the seminary, which has about
700 students, is Rs 4,000,000. Another madrassa, this
time a Bareivi one, gave roughly the same figure for the
same number of students. This comes to Rs 5,714 per
year (or Rs 476 per month), which is an incredibly small
amount of money for education, books, board and lodging. The expenditure from the government in 2001-2002
was Rs 1,654,000 for all the madrassas in the country
and about 32.6 percent madrassas do not received any
financial support at all. What is obvious is that the total spending on madrassas is extremely modest.
As the madrassas generally do not charge tuition
fees — though they do charge small admission fees
16
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 which does not exceed Rs 400 — they attract very poor
students who would not receive any education otherwise. According to Fayyaz Hussain, a student who completed his ethnographic research on Jamia Ashrafia of
Lahore in 1994, nearly half the students joined the
madrassa for economic reasons, 41 percent for social
reasons, and only about six percent for religious pursuit. About three percent said they joined the madrassas
in search of education and about two percent described
the cause as 'political'.
PW Singer writes, the 'Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania, one
of the most popular and influential madrassas (it includes most of the Afghani Taliban leadership among
its alumni) - has a student body of 1500 boarding students and 1000 day students, from six-year-olds upwards. Each year over 15,000
applicants from poor families vie
for its 400 open spaces'. According to a survey conducted by
Mumtaz Ahmad in 1976 'more
than 80 percent of the madrassa
students in Peshawar, Multan,
and Gujranwala were found to be
sons of small or landless peasants, rural artisans, or village
imams of the mosques. The remaining 20 percent came from
families of small shopkeepers and
rural Laborers'. According to a survey
by the Institute of Policy Studies, 64 per
cent madrassa students come from rural areas and belong to poor agrarian
families. This researcher has also observed that many students, upon probing, confess that their parents had admitted them in the madrassas because
they could not afford to feed them and
educate them in the government schools.
Even such students, while making this
confession, insist that they are in
the madrassas because of their love for
Islam.
In a survey conducted by this writer
with the help of a team in eight cities of
Pakistan in December 2002 and January 2003, madrassa students and teach-   	
ers were asked about their income. Among those who
responded, 76.6 percent belonged to the poorer sections
of society. The teachers of the madrassas also mostly
(61 percent) belong to the same socio-economic bracket
as their students. In essence the madrassas seem to provide sustenance to these economically weak individuals. They are performing the role of providing welfare
in a country which does not have a social security
net. This being so, the influence of madrassas on rural
people and the poorer sections of the urban proletariat
will continue to increase as poverty increases.
The Pakistani
government's financial assistance to the
madrassas for
modernising textbooks, including
secular subjects in
the curricula, and
introducing computers was a mere
Rs 1.55 per student
in 2001-02.
Poverty and the Roots of Religious Violence
There is empirical backing for the statement that there
is a link between poverty and religious violence. The
scholar Qasim Zaman reports, for instance, that in
Jhang—the birthplace of the militant Sunni organisation called the Sipah-i-Sahaba—the proportion of
Shias in the affluent urban middle class is higher than
in other areas of Pakistan. Moreover, the feudal gentry
too have many Shia families. The Sipah-i-Sahaba appeals to the interests of the peasantry oppressed by the
rich and the influential. Indeed, Maulana Haqq Nawaz,
the fiery preacher who raised much animosity against
the Shias, was 'himself a man of humble origin' and
'had a reputation for being much concerned with the
welfare of the poor and the helpless, and he was known
to regularly spend time at government courts helping out poor illiterate litigant's', reports Zaman.
Another leader of the Sipah-i-
Sahaba, Maulana Isar al-Qasimi
(1964-1991),   also   preached   in
Jhang. He too denounced the Shia
magnates of the area. The peasants,
terrorised by the feudal rich, responded as if the maulana were a
messiah. Even shopkeepers rejoiced
in the aggressive Sunni identity he
helped create. When the Shia feudal
lords attacked and burnt some defiant Sunni shops, this identity was
further radicalised.
Indeed, Islamist movements from
Turkey to Indonesia talk of the poor
and the oppressed and sometimes do
take up their cause. This has won
them votes in Turkey where they have
been suppressed by the secular military. Similarly, Muslim radicals in the
Philippines too attack social and economic privilege. Poverty and oppression was also a major factor for
mobilisation in Iran against the
Shah who was seen as being rich,
corrupt and decadent. Thus, Islamic
militancy—whether by radicalised
  madrassa students or members of Islamist or jehadi groups in Pakistan—has a strong
element of class conflict. In some part, this is a reaction
of the have-nots against the haves. This is a dangerous
trend for the country because madrassa students are
taught to be intolerant of religious minorities and are
hawkish about Kashmir. As they are also from poor
backgrounds they express their sense of being cheated
by society in the idiom of religion. TTiis gives them the
self-righteousness to fight against the oppressive and
unjust system in the name of Islam.
ft
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
17
 Consolidated Data of Opinions Indicating Militancy and Tolerance among Three Types of School
Students in Pakistan in Survey 2003 (in percentages)
Abbreviated Questions
1.
Open War
Yes
59.86
39.56
No
31.69
53.04
Don't Know
8.45
7.39
2.
Jehadi
ZyYaV-'Z;   -.':
52.82
33.04
groups
\.*fc..'.'v..:.;.V..
32.39
45.22
Don't Know
14.79^
21.74
3.
Peaceful
Yes
33.80
75.65
means
No
54.93
18.26
Don't Know
11.27
6.09
4.
Ahmadis
;;.Yes   ■Ti'biZ-Zo
12.68
46.95
■z-.m'}-' '%■' '
&zM
36.95
Don't Krtow
4.93:
,16.09
5.
Hindus
Yes
16.90
47.39
No
76.06
42.61
Don't Know
7.04
10.00
6.
Christians
vAa'"-;   '■
18131-
i 65.65
-.hio-Yo ; '
7324
26 52
'Doft't KhOW
s.4a
obbbf^a
7.
Women
Yes
16.90
75.22
No
77.46
17.39
Don't Know
5.63
7.39
Madrassas   Urdu medium   English Cadet
schools          medium Colleges/
schools Public
schools
25.86 36.92
64.66 60.00
9.48 3.08
22.41 53.08:
60.34 40.00
1724 6.92
72.41 56.15
18.97 36.92
8.62 6.92
65.52 ;   41.54
Z7'-09AB'7'Z-- 36.92 ;
25.00 21.54
78.45 64.62
13.79 31.54
7.76 3.85
o--78i$zb0['-b- Z 76.92ft;V
;77j7:$.&2;:   .7.--;.;lfL4B;;.:'-'
Zo:Z:-Z7bm.. .• ; zAteioo
90.52 67.69
6.03 25.38
3.45 6.92
Govt Public Private
Colleges     Universities    Universities
(326) (206) (133)
46.01
48.47
5.52
50.00
3B.04
11.96
60.43
22.70
16.87
36.04
38.34
23.62
59.20
31.90
6.89
72.09
2147
65.34
30.98
3.68
34.95
55.34
9.71
46.12
43.20
10.63
58,25
28.64
13.11
38.83
49.51
11.65
54.37
36,83
6.80
66.99
29.13
3.88
64.56
31.55
3.88
35.34
57.89
6.77
34.59
57.14
6.27
57.14
35.34
7.52
40.60
36.84
22.56
69.92
21.05
9.02
78.95
14.29
6.77
76.69
17.29
6.02
NB: Figures for (3) are uninterpretable because some respondents ticked opinion (1) and/or (2) while also ticking (3).
Opinions of Faculty Members of Different Educational Institutions (in percentages)
I. .; : ;?•'";;=;   ,"■.-
Madrassas
bW'Zoo-oZo
Urdurtwdum
schools'
/.0®7-^:7
■•EftpsH,*"--  *
mediuflrP    "
SCtaOWlS    (65)
Cadet; •'•■/:.
Ccisges/f"-"'
Public    7 ,
'Wf^o:Z
(127).;;;'
Private
ftUnwerslties
Public
Universities
(127)
1.
Open War
Yes
70.4
20
26.2
19.6
20.5
20.5
14.2
No
22.2
70
64.6
68.6
68.5
63.6
77.2
Don't Know
7.4
10
9.2
11.8
11.0
15.9
8.7
2,
Jehadi    -
■^^7bib77-
5931!"
'■'■b-W-'s.
•' 38£ft'"-';-;:;
.■ft, 39£.:-f. ■'
ronmr"" ■
ft-;3*.^"
26
groups
:::t*y:Zz7oZZ^\7
:'7: 2e:el;\
;                 .-JB0
:--'50-Bft:;:li::
'.bbhfe&boZZZf
;;'*ML .
;'.ft45.5
63
Dont.Know
.;;- .11.1 ■-':
['-'^S-'..7:7Zo
10.B
77bj&]7'b:
ii:.'i8lf-ft;
20,5
11.0
3.
Peaceful
Yes
29.6
85
60.0
66.7
77.2
68.2
75.6
means
No
66.7
10
33.9
19.6
13.4
18.2
18.1
Don't Know
3.7
5
6.2
13.7
9.5
13.6
6.3
4.
Ahmedis
■:7teso
3.7
27
43.1
".29.4..; bbo
: ■■'&4o7~o
59.1
50.4
ft:Noftftft?ft:;
$6-2
'.'vs. 7
36.9
S2A   O .
ft1*?-^:-::;:
;   29j8
34.7
Don't Know
ML
8 ■.'.'.
20.0        "•
'\ro&-7: o
' ;';;.^-^\
11.4
15
5.
Hindus
Yes
14.8
37
61.5
60.8
41.7
68.2
66.1
No
85.2
58
26.2
35.3
48.0
22.7
26
Don't Know
NIL
5
12.3
3.9
10.2
9.1
7.9
6.
Christians
'l'b$£.'.b}77-.
1B.5
5?'^'-:-':
B1.5         ;
i.7so£bb7o:
Z;'ZS90irX;0:
'     75.0
68.5
■'■m.f^ZZjZZ
77.8    ':■:'";
■■ 42
;   10.8.: 0-7 Z
..te&Zobz
'-' jjg&;  0
15.9
24.4
Dont Know
3.7
6 ':;■;:;.
■    7.7 '-'bb:".o.
b '\:0530007 '
b;ZZiBJ:.Z;o
o:7-^o\7
7.1
7.
Women
Yes
3.7
61
78.5
37.3
66.1
79.6
71.7
No
96.7
33
13.9
58.8
30.7
15.9
22.1
Don't Know
NL
6
7.7
3.9
3.2
4.6
6.3
18
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Militancy Among Madrassa Students in 2003
(N=142) (In percentages)
What should be Pakistan's Priorities?    ■
1. Take Kashmir away from India by an open war?
'Yes:':'ft bb\jtfb,\Zy:b:;;;. T Don't Know
59.9 '. Z-.3t?.i o'b.r'oib.BjSZ7:0:
2. Take Kashmir away from India by supporting jehadi
groups to fight with the Indian army?
Yes/:      ,       No       : Don't Know
;.. 5&&:-o■'•■'■". - 32ZA ': ....'.;.. 14.9 ;:'
3. Support Kashmir cause through peaceful means only
(i.e. no open war or sending jehadi groups across
the line of Control)
Yes No Dont Know
b.bb    33,8    '■■  •'..■    54.9      .-■:.:■"■'11'.$: bZo
Militancy Among Madrassa Teachers (N=27)
(In percentages)
2.
3.
The Worldview of the Madrassa Student
The madrassa students can be considered the most 'intolerant' among the student categories of Pakistan. They
are also the most supportive of an interventionist and
aggressive foreign policy. In the survey of 2002-2003
for example, they responded to questions about the Kashmir issue by titling in favour of war to free the region
from India (60 percent) and supporting jehadi groups
to fight the Indian Army (53 percent)
According to the Institute of Policy Studies survey
quoted earlier madrassa students are tolerant of the
major Islamic sects and sub-sects. About 45 percent,
however, considered women to be lesser than men, and
only tl percent considered them equal to men. To the
question, 'How can jehad be waged in Pakistan?' only
eight percent students agreed with using force. However, 46 per cent Deobandi students favoured the
Taliban as their model.
While the survey carried out for the present writers'
study gives somewhat different results, it is clear that
this is the result of difference in the way questions were
put. The madrassas arc obviously institutions which
have a blueprint of society in their mind. What needs
explanation is that the madrassas, which were basically conservative institutions before the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1980s, are today both ideologically ac-
Open War
yB9-:;b:.^'b:.'o;Z
oi^fZbi:
Don't Know
7o.4;:-ozzo.-b.'.'
y[22777
'obTA"[-b:Z7
Jehadi Groups
Yes. '':-:r;; ■;;■;::
No v
Dont Know
69.3ft :'
'29.6>:
.11.1
Peaceful means
***•■; ;700'b:oo
■zift^'-o.
Don"! Know
'2SiM::7o;-7'b'7-
b^J-bZ,
•:"*?\-
tivist and sometimes militant. According to Peter L.
Bergen, author of a book on Osama bin Laden and his
al-Qaeda group: 'nowhere is bin Laden more popular
than in Pakistan's madrassas, religious schools from
which the Taliban draw many of its recruits'. Even with
the end of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the madrassas
have plenty of zealous young people who can potentially act as crusaders against both Western interests
and the moderate regimes, both military .and civilian,
whom they perceive as the allies of the West.
The State and the Students
General Pervez Musharraf's military government, in
an attempt to control religious extremism, has made
two laws to control the madrassas. The first was aimed
to bring the madrassas in the mainstream by introducing secular subjects in them. This ordinance, called the
'Pakistan Madrassah Education (Establishment and
Affiliation of Model Dini Madaris) Board Ordinance
2001' was promulgated on 18 August 2001. According
to the Education Sector Reforms three model institutions
were established: one each at Karachi, Sukkur and
Islamabad. Their curriculum 'includes subjects of English, Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics, Political Science, Law and Pakistan Studies for its different levels. 'These institutions were not welcomed by the
ulema. After this another law was introduced to control the entry of foreigners in the madrassas and keep
check on them. This law — Voluntary Registration and
Regulation Ordinance 2002 — has, however, been rejected by most of the madrassas which want no state
interference in their affairs. Indeed, according to PW
Singer, only about one-tenth of the madrassas, agreed
to be registered and the rest simply ignored the statute.
The madrassas became militant when they were
used by the Pakistani state to fight in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and subsequently in Kashmir so as to force India to leave the region. Pakistan's
claim on Kashmir, as discussed by many including the
author Alastair Lamb, has led to conflict with India
with the Islamic militants entering the fray since 1989.
The United States indirectly, and at other times directly,
helped in creating militancy among the clergy. For instance, special textbooks in Darri (Afghan Persian) and
Pashto were written at the University of Nebraska-
Omaha with a USAID grant in the 1980s. American arms
and money flowed to Afghanistan through Pakistan's
Inter Services Intelligence. At the time all this was being
done to defeat the Soviet Union. Later, when Pakistan's
military kept using the militant Islamists in Kashmir,
the United States had cause for alarm — not without
reason as the events of 9/11 demonstrated later. It was
only after the World Trade Centre attack that the Americans tried to understand the madrassas better. PW
Singer, the analyst with the Brookings Institution was
one of the experts who became engaged with the subject. According to Singer, about 10-15 percent of the
madrassas are 'radical', including anti-American rheto-
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
19
 Essay
ric in their instruction and even imparting military training. No proof for these claims is offered,
but they are credible given the fact that madrassa
teachers often repeat the line that the United
States is at war with lslam.
Apart from the madrassas proper, religious
parties—such as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-
Mohammed and Harkat-ul-Mujahidin—print
militant literature which circulates among the
madrassas and other institutions. According to
the book Ideas on Democracy, Freedom and Peace in
Textbooks (published in 2003 by the group Liberal Forum and its "campaign against hate
speech"), Ad-Dawah uses textbooks for English
in which many questions and answers refer to
war, weapons, blood and victory. According to
the Liberal Forum, the textbooks have been
authored to provide a one-dimensional world-
view that restricts the independent thought process of the students.
Although these parties have been banned,
their member are said to be dispersed all over
Pakistan, especially in the madrassas. The
madrassas, then, may yet remain potential centres of Islamic militancy in Pakistan. The government proposes to change this by teaching
secular subjects in the madrassas, but change
will come only when the level of poverty is reduced so that poor people can afford other systems of schooling. Above all, it will come when
there is peace between India and Pakistan. The
perception of the United States, as well as other
Western powers, oppressing Muslims as in Palestine also plays a role in the reaction within the
madrassas. Such global changes which are required to tackle the inadrassa-based militancy
or the intolerance which creates the potential for
such militancy can hardly be brought about
by any one government. It is futile to blame one
country for a problem that is the product of
history, of poverty, and of geo-political games of
recent times. i>
Key
■ A Hadith refers to all that is narrated from the
Prophet, his acts, his sayings, and whatever
he tacitly approved, in addition to all the reports which describe his physical attributes
and character.
■ Ahmedis take their name from Mirza
Ghulam dAhmed (1835-1908), a Punjabi who
in 1882 declared himself a mujadid ("re-
newer") of Islam. The .Ahmedis shun jehad
as a method of resistance against non-
Muslims and believe that Prophet
Muhammad was not necessarily Islam's
final prophet.
20
•   •    •   ^^
m # # ^
THE LEADER IN REPRODUCTIVE
HEALTH AND POPULATION AND
DEVELOPMENT
UNFPA is the world's foremost international provider of development funding for population
and reproductive health programmes. Since we began operations in 1969 we have provided
more than S 6 billion in assistance to developing countries. In order to maintain the Fund's
position at the cutting edge of development assistance in the field of population and
reproductive health, we are continuously striving to enhance our programmatic and managerial
capacities. We are seeking outstandingly qualilied applicants for several Country Support
Team (CST) vacancies at the level of technical adviser (L5*).
The CST offices are located in Africa: Addis Ababa, Dakar, Harare; Asia/Pacific: Bangkok,
Suva, Kathmandu: Arab States/Europe: Bratislava, Amman; and Latin America/Caribbean:
Mexico City. CST Technical Advisers work closely with UNFPA programme managers,
government counterparts and officials from other UN agencies, NGOs and bilateral
organizations lo promote the achievement of UNFPA's mandate in (he fields of reproductive
hearth and population.
For the Asia region we invite applications from experts with a proven record of
achievement in the following areas:
Gender and Socio-Cultural Research - Kathmandu, Nepal
Population Statistics and Population and Development Strategies - Kathmandu,
Nepal
The main competencies required are a capacity for:
*        Conceptual innovation / strategic thinking;
Adaptation and application of knowledge/innovations in different contexts;
Communication and Advocacy;
Integration in a multidisciplinary team environment.
Leveraging the resources of national government & partnerabuilding strategic
alliances & partnerships
Comprehensive information on the terms of reference (TOR) and competency profile for
each position in the Asia region as well as ali other CST adviser vacancies can be found
on our website at' www.unfpa.org/abouyemployment Please be mindful when downloading
that each position has its own specific TOR.
Successful candidates must be able to establish and maintain excellent relations with senior
government officials, NGO representatives and UN staff and be willing to undertake frequent
travel.
UNFPA offers an attractive compensation package commensurate with experience such
as; pension, education grant, rental subsidy, home leave, work'life policy, post adjustment
and mobility & hardship scheme.
Candidates must complete a Personal History Form (P-11). obtainable from the Personnel
Branch, UNFPA. 220 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017; or from the oflce of the UNDP
Resident Representative or UNFPA Representative in country offices (accompanied resume
Is also welcome). The Personal History form can also be downloaded from the above-
mentioned link Please send UN P-11 fonn to: ATTN: CST HR Specialist, Division of Human
Resources, UNFPA, 220 East 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10017, Fax. +1-212-297-4903
or by e-mail to cst@unfpa.org Please specify vacancy numbers) as indicated on each
TOR on our website. Deadline for applications: 15 March 2004 Applications received aflff
the deadline will not be accepted. We will only be able to respond to applicants in whom
we have further interest. Nationals from developing countries and women are encouraged
to apply,
'UNFPA reserves the right to appoint at the indicated or lower level and prior to the closing
 Report
Voices yearning for peace
Even sceptics concede that the current climate of peace between
Islamabad and New Delhi must be nurtured. Who knows, peace may
arrive from the most unexpected sources.
by Beena Sarwar (from Karachi) in Bombay.
Reshma
"They are like my two eyes", said
the fabled Pakistani folk singer
Reshma, speaking of India, the
country of her birth in 1947, and the
country she has lived in since
infancy. Similar emotions are
echoed by another lauded singer, the
Bombay-based Seema Anil Sehgal,
known as the 'Bulbul (nightingale)
of Jammu and Kashmir'. Last May,
she dedicated her CD, recorded at
the first ever concert in Bombay on
the poetry of Allama Iqbal, the man
credited with the idea of Pakistan,
to 'India-Pakistan friendship'.
Sehgal was one of the 235 Indian
delegates who attended the Sixth
Pakistan-India People's Forum for
Peace and Democracy convention in
Karachi in December 2003 - the largest delegation of Indians ever to visit
Pakistan. Since both countries had
snapped air links two years back,
they had to obtain special permission from Pakistan to cross the
Wagah border in Punjab on foot and
then take an overnight train to
Karachi.
"No one could anticipate the
amazing welcome we received at the
Karachi railway station," wrote
Bombay-based filmmaker Anand
Patwardhan, whose anti-nuclear
film War and Peace, won the Best
Documentary award at the unre
lated, privately organized Kara Film
Festival held simultaneously. "Outside the station a huge crowd had
gathered. A student brass band
played, rose petals were showered
and pigeons were released as peace
slogans rent the air", said Patwardhan. The Karachi convention had
taken place amidst an atmosphere
of great hope. Barely two weeks
later, this hope bore some fruit when
the Pakistani and Indian leadership
met in Islamabad for the SAARC
Summit. In bilateral meetings, they
produced a joint statement that
paved the way towards a thaw in
their relationship. Meanwhile, there
was talk of getting a 5000 strong
Pakistani delegation across to India
for the World Social Forum in
Bombay (17-21 January 2004). With
the Indian Embassy in Islamabad,
the sole visa granting authority in
Pakistan, desperately short-staffed
(both countries had slashed their
consular officers during the tensions
of the last two years), this number
was pared down to 2000 and finally
only some 600 Pakistanis were
granted visas. Even so, this was the
largest-ever delegation from one
country to visit the other. Moreover,
the visas were the 'non-police reporting' kind - normally, Indians
and Pakistanis visiting each other's
"Let's hope the talks work out, but they've talked
before, and every time there is a bit of peace,
something happens to shatter if
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
21
 Bepert
"There's a huge burden on both countries
because of unfriendly relations. This would ease
if the military expenditure was reduced".
countries must report to the police
within 24 hours of arrival.
"It would have caused their police a lot of trouble", laughs Arif
Pervez, a young environmentalist,
waiting in the Pakistanis-only line
at the immigration counter at
Bombay's Sahar international airport. The suspicion with which each
government views the citizens of the
other is also reflected in the fact that
they grant each other visas for up to
three cities only, and not for the
country. And visiting Pakistanis
and Indians must enter and exit
from one of three authorised points
(Delhi or Bombay by air, or the
Wagah border in Punjab by road or
rail), which cannot be changed once
the visa has been granted.
And so it was that Karamat Ali,
a peace activist based in Karachi,
could not avail of the recently restored air-links to take the direct
Karachi-Bombay flight (duration an
hour and 20 minutes), since he had
applied for his visa before flights
were restored. He had to take the
hour-and-a-half flight from Karachi
to Lahore, cross the Wagah border
on foot, then take the train to Delhi,
and fly down to Bombay. "I have to
take the same route back ", he said.
Hopes for peace between India and
Pakistan are marred by scepticism
as the two nuclear nations gear up
for 'composite talks' in February;
many are taking a 'wait-and-see'
attitude. "It's like two lovers who
can't live together but can't live
apart either," said young Bombay-
based film curator Shai Heredia
pensively. "Let's hope the talks work
out, but they've talked before, and
every time there is a bit of peace,
something happens to shatter it".
Ali Mir, an economist from
Hyderabad, India, who now Eves
in New Jersey, USA, is equally sceptical. "We've seen this happening
before", he shrugged. "It's all a
big drama," scoffed his friend
from Delhi, the political activist
i Shabnam Hashmi, who runs the
non-government organisation, Act
Now for Harmony and Democracy.
"Ten, fifteen days before the elections, they'll be singing a different
tune". Senior Delhi-based journalist Bharat Bhushan disagreed. He
believes that Pakistani president
Musharraf is "riding the tiger
of anti-terrorism and can't get
off", while Eidian Prime Minister
Vajpayee "has a sense of history,
and is obsessed with settling the issues with Pakistan, including Kashmir". The 'core issue' of Kashmir is
never far from the surface while discussing the India-Pakistan dispute.
Subhashini Ali, a former Communist Party member of parliament
who heads the All India Women's
Association, welcomed the peace
process but feared that "those who
beEeve in using religion for poEti-
cal ends" wiE spoE things. "How
can they come to an understanding
on Kashmir?" she asked. But she
does believe that both governments
are "responding to the tremendous
desire for peace by both peoples".
And peace, she added, "is linked to
the betterment of Eves, to economic
and social betterment. These areas
wiE not improve as long as our resources are diverted to war".
Je.an Dreze of the Delhi School
of Economics agreed: "There's a
huge burden on both countries because of unfriendly relations. This
would ease if the miEtary expenditure was reduced. But some hawks
are deEberately trying to keep the
tensions up because it also hurts
Pakistan's economy". Subhashini
Ali was of the opinion that even if
the United States pushed India and
Pakistan to the talks table, as is generally beEeved, that was a positive
Shai Heredia
;::■■ !:> j-
7b-0
■i &W-
i: :S «
f: si :■ -
Shabnam Hashmi
Subhashini All
Jean Dreze
22
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Report
Digvijay Singh
Mani Shankar Aiyar.
Medha Patkar
Doris thinks that India and Pakistan should unite,
and find a new name that is acceptable to both,
if 'India' and 'Pakistan' will not do.
b,13auhar. Raza.
development. Her views were
echoed by the Congress party's
Digvijay Singh, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. "It's a good
step, even if it took some outside
pressure for what we should have
done on our own," he said. He too
pointed to the Kashmir dispute and
suggested that, "If the Kashmiris
want self-rule, India and Pakistan
will have to sit together and work
out some form of autonomy for
them...We are poor countries, we
have similar problems, and we have
to put our heads together to resolve
them. Both peoples want friendship,
opening up of trade, commerce and
industry".
"We've wasted too many years
coming to this point", said another
Congress leader, Mani Shankar
Aiyar, who headed the Indian Consulate in Karachi before it was
closed down a decade ago at the
same time as the Pakistani Consulate in Bombay was packed up.
"What we have just now is yet
another paper agreement which
doesn't say how the process is going
to continue. It's important that the
dialogue should be structured so that
it is uninterrupted, and un-interrupt-
ible. Otherwise it won't work".
The legendary anti-dam activist
Medha Patkar also questions the
peace rhetoric, but Eke many others, agrees that even if it is happening under pressure, it must happen.
"Day by day we see progress towards anti-terrorism and democracy", she observed. "We have to
have a peaceful solution to Kashmir, the referendum that was promised should take place, and people
should be allowed to democratically
decide their own fate". Many ordinary Indians express similar views;
most simply want the visa regimes
to be relaxed and for ordinary people
to be able to meet. But some, Eke the
Delhi-based scientist and poet
Gauhar Raza, think that the "artificial border", as he termed it, should
simply be abolished, "if not in our
lifetimes, then for our children. But
it's an important vision, a goal to
move towards".
"They should just do away with
the border so people can meet,"
agreed Doris, a Roman Catholic
teacher, talking to this writer while
returning from work to Santa Cruz,
the northern Bombay suburb where
she lives. Doris thinks that the two
countries should unite and find a
new name that is acceptable to all if
'India' and 'Pakistan' will not do.
"A new name that has something
to do with peace...Why not? It is
possible if the two leaders put then
heads together and think about it",
she mused. Abdul Jalil, an auto rickshaw driver in Bombay echoes a
similar sentiment, but disagrees that
he is espousing a right-wing Hindu
line, which believes in 'Akhand
Bharat' or a Greater India. "I don't
know about them, but this is the
voice of my heart...that we two
countries should become as one.
Then no one can push us around,"
he said.
Most Pakistanis view such sentiments of unity with deep suspicion, seeing them as confirmation
of the long-held suspicion that India has never really accepted Pakistan, and that the larger neighbour's
long-term ambitions are covertly
to swallow up their country. But
most Indians one encounters, like
Shashi, who drives a car for its owners in south Bombay, simply want
the two countries to Eve in peace.
"The Kashmir issue must be resolved peacefully", he said. "It's
only the poor people who get killed.
India and Pakistan must live in
friendship, then we will together be
strong and America wEl not be able
to buEy us". fr
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
23
 Report
India: Farms and jobs
Not much to feel good about
-n
■
■■*>.»■
-■■  ■'"";
by Devinder Sharma
Sumitra Behera is one of the
teeming millions' languishing
in the countryside. An unknown Eidian, somehow surviving
against all odds, she recently figured
in fhe news when she decided to sell
her one-month-old baby for a mere
ten rupees. It did not shock the nation. No one was outraged, none of
the newspapers decided to comment editoriaUy on what was clearly
a symbol of national disgrace. Not
even one distinguished Member of
Parliament, including those who
swear in the name of one-third reservation for women, stood up to
draw the nation's attention to the
shame reflected in Sumitra's desperation.
Instead, at that very moment the
media was gloating over an egregious 'feel good' factor, a pointer to
the historic peak of USD 100 bilEon
in foreign exchange reserves. There
was jubilation aE around, with corporate chieftains leading the cheer.
Meanwhile, news reports said that
in the month of December 2003, three
other families grappling with hunger in Angul, Puri and Keonjhar in
Orissa had reportedly sold their
children. The sale of children and
body organs is not only restricted to
western Orissa or for that matter to
neighbouring Jharkand and Bihar.
West Bengal is actuaEy the largest
'suppEer' of girls, .Andhra Pradesh
comes next. The rest of the country
does no better. You just have to peel
off the media facade.
Take Madhya Pradesh. Jai Lai, a
landless agricultural worker of
BandaE village in Sheopur district
in the heartland of India, returned
to share the good news with his wrife
- that he had finally managed to get
a petty job with a shopkeeper - she
had succumbed to hunger. A week
later, graves were dug for his two
children, both unable to continue
with the prolonged fight against
hunger. Call it by any name, acute
hunger and malnutrition forces unlucky parents to either seE off then
children or to silently dig graves for
them. Those who survive, undergo
the ordeal of being sex workers; they
are also exploited as labourers, drug
peddlers and for then organs. Despite all talk and programmes, hunger has withstood the best and worst
of times, only to emerge as robustly
sustainable.
November 2003. 7.5 million
people applied for a mere 38,000
vacancies in the Indian Railways.
Thousands of those who applied for
the post of 'gang man', one of the
'lowly' jobs in the raEways, were
24
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Report
post-graduates; many even had
management degrees. That the number of applicants had in fact exceeded the total population of Switzerland, was twice the population
of Ireland, and was certainly a third
more than the populations of Norway, Finland and New Zealand,
should not come across as mere
trivia. What followed was even more
worrying - 56 dead in the riots that
followed, and the 38,000 who eventually got the job left more than 7.45
million of those who were applicants still waiting.
Notwithstanding the exuberance over the 'unprecedented'
growth of the software industry, the
fact remains that the famed IT
industry of India has only created
0.5 million jobs. In the name
of software exports, the IT industry
continues to milk the state exchequer by way of tax exemptions
and 'incentive for improving efficiency', a sophisticated term for the
much-abused subsidy. At the same
time, the telecom sector continues to
be a recipient of the government's
largesse. The government doled out
a Christmas bonanza of INR 9600
million in 2003 to a handful of
telecom majors, essentiaEy to compensate them for the preference it
has shown to one company; a year
earEer, the government had passed
on a benefit of MR 7000 million to a
telecom giant, thereby angering
others.
The mainline economy
No wonder, the Confederation of
Indian Industry (CE) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of
Commerce and Industry (FICCI) are
excited at the rising foreign exchange reserves. They surely have
enough reasons to 'feel good'. For
the rest of the country, there is hardly
anything bright and shining on
the horizon. The paradox of plenty
- acute and widespread hunger
amidst overflowing foods tocks -
exists at a time when the country is
poised towards a high-growth
trajectory. At tlie beginning of the
millennium in 2001, India boasted
of a food surplus of 65 million
tonnes while 320 million went to
bed on an empty stomach. Strange
are the ways of the political masters,
that while the country incurred INR
62,000 million to keep the food-
grains stacked in the open, it had
no money to distribute it to the
needy. Mainline economists in
fact have even suggested food
exports as a viable way out. And
some parliamentarians talked of
throwing the food into the sea to
make way for the next harvest.
Policymakers, planners and
economists have been telEng us that
even if poverty increases in the short
term, this is a price that has to be
paid for long-term stability and
A Shiv Sena protest in the aftermath of
the railway vacancy fiasco.	
growth. Hunger is the outcome of
increasing poverty and deprivation,
and so should not be a cause for fear,
they protest. And yet, with every
passing year and month, India has
been sinldng deeper into a quagmire
of deprivation and despair. At the
national level, more than 135 mil-
Eon people have no access to basic
health facilities; 226 million lack
access to safe drinking water; about
half of India's adult population is
ilEterate; and about 70 percent of its
population lacks basic sanitation
faciEties. India has the world's larg
est population of diseased and disabled which continues to multiply.
With nearly 52 percent of the population earning less than two US dollars a day, the economic models of
growth have only succeeded to extend the poverty line to bring in every year a sizeable percentage of the
population within its deadly grip.
It is widely accepted that one
of the surest ways to remove poverty
is to make agriculture more profitable, and, of course, productive.
With nearly 70 percent of the
country's population directly or
indirectly involved with farming,
agriculture should have received
the top priority in policy planning.
Instead, aE efforts are directed at
depriving agriculture of its due
share thereby aiming at further
marginaEsation of farming communities. At a time when agricultural
subsidies are being graduaEy withdrawn under pressure from the
World Bank/IMF, the government is
also toying with the idea of dismantling the food procurement
system so as to push the gullible
farmers to face the vagaries of the
markets.
The minimum support price that
is provided for a select number of
staple crops is therefore being
projected to have reached the 'maximum' limits as a result of which
agricultural commodities are priced
out in the international market. The
support price for wheat and rice has
therefore been frozen at 2003 levels.
The statutory minimum price for
sugarcane, linked to a certain
percentage of sugar recovery, too is
being lowered so that the powerful
sugar industry can pocket more
profits.
There is no economic rationale
for freezing farm support prices. The
government has been misled to
beEeve that the higher procurement
prices are the culprit when it comes
to farm commodity exports. The
international prices for agricultural
commodities are low because of
the huge agricultural subsidies
that North America, the European
Union and the other OECD countries
provide to their agriculture. The
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 more the subsidies over there, more
is the price slump in the international market. Artificially low
global prices therefore are not
the real criteria to measure the competitiveness of Indian agriculture
produce.
The competitiveness of Indian
agriculture has to be seen in the context of its cost of cultivation. This
too is being wrongly measured,
compared to the subsidised prices
that Western farmers are being given.
The flaw is clearly evident. Let us
work out the cost of producing one
dkilo of wheat in North America with
that in India. Even with the huge
farm size that North America is
known for, the cost of production is
several times more than what the
Indian farmer on average manages.
There is therefore no justification in
depriving Indian farmers of their
legitimate source of income. Not
paying the farmers a higher price
does have a negative impact on the
rural economy, which eventually
ends up in more food insecurity.
In reality, the government has
been seeking refuge under the garb
The number of applicants for lowly paid
38,000 vacancies in the
Indian Railways exceeded the population
of Switzerland.
of 'increasing fiscal deficit' so as to
deprive the farmers a higher crop
price. Last year, New Delhi's Ministry of Agriculture had proposed a
hike of INR 30 per quintal in wheat
price. The Finance Ministry turned
down the proposal saying that the
price hike will bring an additional
burden of INR 3000 million on the
state exchequer. Ironically, fiscal
deficit has never been the consideration when the government doles
out massive funds for the telecom
industry, the IT industry or the new
sunrise industry — biotechnology.
Agriculture, the mainstay of
the Indian economy, which essentially is responsible for the higher
economic trajectory, is incongruously the most neglected. This
downgrading of agriculture has
resulted in increased joblessness
and thereby more food insecurity.
The negative terms of trade against
agriculture have to be turned
around if the country is to emerge
from the hunger and poverty trap. It
is time the 600 million farmers too
begin to 'feel good', and the
resulting domino effect will be truly
'shining'. A
26
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Report
Holy cows
and a
chained watchdog
Impunity to the armed forces make India worthy of a banana republic.
by Suhas Chakma
The government of India in a
'Memorandum of Action
Taken' of December 2003 on
the 2001-02 annual report of the
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India has rejected the
NHRC's demand for amendment of
Section 19 of the Human Rights
Protection Act (HRPA) of 1993, citing
'compulsions of fighting cross-
border terrorism' and 'widespread
politicisation of human rights
issues'. Section 19 clearly outlines
the procedure with respect to the
armed forces while dealing with
complaints of violation of human
rights and states that:
(1) Notwithstanding anything
contained in this Act, while
dealing with complaints of
violation of human rights by members of the armed forces, the Commission shall adopt the followhig
procedure, namely:
(a) it may, either on its own
motion or on receipt of a
petition, seek a report from
the Central Government;
(b) after the receipt of the
report, it may, either not
proceed with the complaint
or, as the case may be, make
its recommendations to that
Government.
(2) The Central Government shall
inform the Commission of the action
taken on the recommendations
within three months or such further
time as the Commission may allow.
(3) The Commission shall pub-
Esh its report together with its recommendations made to the Central
Government and the action taken by
that Government on such recommendations,
(4) The Commission shall provide a copy of the report pubEshed
under sub-section (3) to the petitioner or his representative.
Thus, the dNHRC may seek a report from the Central Government
and after the receipt of the report, it
may, either drop proceedings or
make recommendations to the government. Under this clause, the
NHRC basicaEy serves as a glorified
post box and it has been demanding amendment of the section for the
last few years.
According to the 2002-03 Annual Report of the Ministry of Home
.Affairs of the Government of India,
14 out of 28 States in India are afflicted by internal armed conflicts.
Hundreds of thousands of armed
personnel of the para-miEtary forces
under the control of the Government
of India and the Army have been
deployed in various states. There
have been consistent and credible
reports of serious human rights violations by the armed forces such as
torture, rape, extrajudicial executions and death in custody.
The NHRC's annual reports provide some of the testimonies to fhe
human rights violations committed
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
27
 Report
by the armed forces. In its 1999-2000
Annual Report, NHRC cites the case
of the tragic massacre in Bijbehara,
Jammu and Kashmir, that occurred
on 22 October 1993. Approximately
60 people were killed at and around
Bijbehara by Border Security Force
(BSF) personnel. The NHRC took suo
motu action on the basis of press
reports and issued notices on 1
November 1993 to the Ministries of
Defence and Home Affairs of the
government of India and the state
government of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ministry of Home Affairs
informed the NHRC that 37 persons
had died and 73 others had been
injured as a result of the firing in
the incident. In an order on 17
January 1994, the NHRC, among
others, recommended that "Given
the gravity of the occurrence in
Bijbehara, a thorough review should
be undertaken by government of the
circumstance and conditions in
which units of the Border Security
Force are deployed and expected to
operate in situations involving only
civilian population". In a letter
dated 12 November 1996, AK
Tandon, Director General, Border
Security Force informed the NHRC
that "a General Security Force Court
[GSFC] trial was conducted in respect of the 12 BSF personnel involved in the said incident, but that
confirmation of the trial was being
withheld for the time being as additional ROE was to be conducted
against Sub-Inspector Mahar on a
charge of u/s 302 of the Ranbir Penal Code [RPC] as applicable in the
state of Jammu and Kashmir".
Tandon also informed that the trial
of Sub-Inspector Mahar Singh by
GSFC was concluded on 30 October
1996 and the accused was found not
guilty.
In a further order on 16 March
1998, the NHRC stated that before
taking any final view in the matter,
it first wanted to review the proceedings on the issue. It directed the
Ministry of Home Affairs to produce
the records of the proceedings of the
trial conducted by the Staff Court of
Inquiry, the proceedings of the trial
held bv the GSFC and the record of
the administrative proceedings. The
Ministry of Home Affairs did not
honour this request and expressed
the 'inability of the Government of
India to show records of GSFC to any
authority other than those provided
under the Border Security Force
Act'. Consequently, NHRC was
'compelled to move a writ petition
before the Supreme Court, after being
denied the records that it sought
from the Home Ministry of the
trial that was held by the General
Security Force Court (SCO!)'- The
writ petition was later withdrawn
by the NHRC under mysterious
circumstances.
y * s
jiedj^ "*_!.'-m*
i     mm
Ww^^^Bm
Family of the Bijbebhara victims.
The Bijbehara case is not an exception. The NHRC also expressed
deep concern that those responsible
for the abduction and subsequent
killing of the prominent advocate of
Srinagar, Jalil Andrabi, are yet to be
brought to trial. His body was recovered from the Jhelum river on 27
March 1996 with a single bullet
wound to his head, three weeks after he was abducted at gun-point by
a group of men allegedly in Indian
para-military uniform. In its 1999-
2000 annual report, NHRC stated, "It
is a matter of despair to the afflicted
family, and to those who are
interested in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, that the Commission's insistent
call that the killers be tracked down
and brought to book has met with
little practical response and a single
line comment in the Memorandum
of Action Taken that was submitted
to Parliament in respect of the Annual Report for 1998-99. The Memorandum stated: the matter is sub
judice". A similar situation of
opacity persists in regard to the 'disappearance' and probable killing of
Jaswant Singh Khalra in the Punjab,
the perpetrators of the crime remaining at large, to the continuing
discredit of the apparatus of State
and the deepening concern of human rights activists.
Given such occurrences of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, the NHRC requested the Government of India to direct
the armed forces, including the
para-military forces, to report to the
NHRC - as does the police - any
cases that might occur of the death
of persons while in their custody. It
fell into deaf ears of the Ministry of
Home Affairs. The obfuscation of
justice by the government of India
does not end there. Even the Annual
Reports of NHRC are withheld and
not submitted to the Parliament in
time. Not surprisingly, in its latest
2001-2002 Annual Report the NHRC
states, "The delays (in making its
annual reports public) have
amounted to the denial of right to
information... The delay in tabling
the annual report before Parliament
has resulted in a corresponding
delay in releasing its contents to the
public. In the process, both the
elected representatives and the
public have, in effect, been denied
timely and comprehensive information on the work and concerns
of the Commission".
The NHRC rightly urged that
impunity to the armed forces brings
no credit to the government and the
security forces and "it thwarts the
purposes of justice and the prime
objective leading to the establishment of this Commission, namely
the need to ensure the 'better
protection' of human rights in
the country". The impunity to
the armed forces and insinuation
against the NHRC make India worthy
of a banana republic. /\
2B
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Passing
EPW and the Thinking Indian
A magazine that represents an emphatic triumph of content over
form has just lost an editor.
by Ramachandra Guha
The British historian EP Thompson once re
marked that Tndia is not an important coun
try, but perhaps the most important country
for the future of the world. Here is a country that
merits no one's condescension. All the convergent
influences of the world run through this society:
Hindu, Moslem, Christian, secular; Stalinist, liberal,
Maoist, democratic sociaEst, Gandhian. There is not
a thought that is being thought in the West or East
which is not active in some Indian mind'.
Thompson must have been
reading the Economic and Political
Weekly, the Bombay journal where
these thoughts and influences
converge and meet. Rich in
information and glowing with
polemic, its pages are an index to
the life of India. On subjects as
diverse (and important) as the
economy, caste politics, religious
violence, and human rights, the
EPW (as it is fondly known) has
consistently provided the most
authoritative, insightful and
widely cited reports and analyses.
Among the journal's contributors
are scholars and journalists, but
also activists and civil servants—
and even some politicians.
Like other such journals
around the world, the EPW
commands an influence far out of
proportion to its circulation. It has shaped intellectual
discussion in India, and had a profound impact on
policy debates. Can one see it then as an Indian New
Statesman? Or as a left-wing version of the American
Weekly Standard; To this less-than-impartial reader
the comparison is all to the EPW's favour. For one
thing, it has never allied itself (howsoever loosely) to
a political party. For another, it does not have a sugar
daddy. Run on less than a shoe-string budget, it is
chiefly sustained by the goodwill of its subscribers.
But perhaps the most vital difference ties in its intellectual weightiness. Within its pages have been pub-
Editor, 1969-2004"
lished the first and sometimes the finest essays of
India's most eminent intellectuals: Jagdish Bhagwati,
Andre Beteille, Amartya Sen, MN Srinivas and the
like.
The EPW is a unique, three-fold mix of political
prejudice, dispassionate reportage and scholarly
analysis. The weekly begins with a few pages of unsigned commentary, arch reflections on the events of
the past few days. The second part of the journal is
taken up with signed reports from around the country. Here we find the 'news behind
the news', so to say, stories of
conflict between landlords and
labourers in Bihar or of ethnic and
secessionist movements in northeast India. The journal's back pages
are filled each week with book reviews and two or three academic
papers, soberly presented and massively footnoted.
To illustrate the range of themes,
consider the first issue of 2004.
This carried reports on the North
Korean nuclear crisis, and a review
of communal riots in India in 2003.
The 'special articles' (i.e. research
papers) section was given over to
a forum on globalisation, with
essays on its impact on labour,
national identities, and transnational religious movements. Go
back ten years, to find that the first
issue of 1994 contained reports on an earthquake in
Western India and on industrial conflicts, with
special articles on the treatment of minorities in the
Soviet Union and disease in colonial India. The first
issue of 1984 featured reports on the impact of exchange rate fluctuations on Indian exports and on
the Chinese claim to Hong Kong. Among the special
articles were one on the 'socio-economic roots' of the
insurgency in the Punjab, and another on fertility
differentials between Indian states.
The EPW represents an emphatic triumph of content over form. For no journal I know is more de-
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
29
 Passing
pressing to look at. The cover has black type upon a
white background, with a red band on the top left
hand corner representing a pathetic attempt at colour.
The text inside is printed in nine point size, with 60
lines to the page—these made less readable still by
the way they are set in columns. A recent 'redesign'
has left the EPW looking much the same as before.
The type remains small, the paper is still faded, the
covers still wearyingly similar: but the articles are as
astonishingly diverse and unpredictable as ever.
Economic Weekly
The EPW began life in 1949 as the Economic Weekly.
Its founder was Sachin Chaudhuri, a Bengali grandee
from a talented family. One brother was a successful
film-maker;   another,   a   celebrated   sculptor.
Sachin himself was by turns a
nationalist volunteer, an ascetic in
the Himalaya, a PhD student in
Economics,     and     a     market
researcher. He was even, for a time,
general manager of the pioneering
film company, Bombay Talkies.
This experience came in handy
when Chaudhuri decided to start
a journal. His timing was exquisite,
for India had just become independent. The Economic Weekly quickly
emerged as the focal point of intellectual arguments about the shape
of the new nation. As befitting the
times, much of the debate was
about economic planning and development. But from the beginning
the journal was about more than
the dismal science. Thus in its first
few years it ran a series of essays
(later collected in a book) on Indian
villages, which demonstrated the
continuing influence of caste on social life.
In August 1966 the journal
changed its name to the Economic
and Political Weekly. By the end of
the year Chaudhuri was dead. He was succeeded by
the economist RK Hazari, but within a couple of years
Hazari left for the Reserve Bank of India. The job was
now handed over to one of the Assistant Editors,
Krishna Raj. A Malayali from Kerala, schooled at the
Delhi School of Economics, he had worked with
Chaudhuri since 1960. His tenure as editor was even
longer than the founder's, extending from 1969 until
his death on the 13th of January this year.
I never met Sachin Chaudhuri. But I knew Krishna
Raj well. Unlike his mentor he was a man of few
words. But his devotion to the journal was ferocious.
The EPW is a
unique, three-fold
mix of political
prejudice, dispassionate reportage
and scholarly
analysis.
Between them the two editors helped construct a community of the thinking Indian. It was through their
weekly that one kept in touch with the work of one's
friends, as well as one's enemies. In its pages, and
nowhere else, were to be found the best of India's
social scientists: across the disciplines, and across
the political spectrum as well.
Getting the journal by post every week was excitement enough. But more thrilling by far was to get
a letter from the editor. These were typed, and sent in
a specially printed inland letter form, coloured pale
green. In recent years Krishna Raj had so far forgotten himself to take to email; no doubt a gain on
the side of efficiency, but a matter of some regret
for his writers. The inland letter had printed on it
the journal's address: 'Hitkari House, 284 Frere
Road, Bombay 400038'. In time
the names of the street and city
and the pin code all changed:
to Shahid Bhagatsingh Marg,
Mumbai, and 400001 respectively.
But inside, the editor stayed the
same. Visiting the offices of the
EPW was a secular pilgrimage,
Hitkari House lay between
Victoria Terminus and the Reserve
Bank of India: in a part of Bombay
dense with memory and history,
and, above all, humanity. The two
grand buildings were joined by a
street chock-a-bloc with shops, the
road overrun with cars and cycles
and pedestrians.
It was with some relief that one
turned away from the street into
the building that housed the journal. A dingy lift took one upto the
sixth floor. It opened out into the
EPW office; a mass of cubicles
linked by a narrow passage. Right
at the end lay the cubicle of the
editor. It was Eke any other; six feet
by four feet, with a humble desk
and still more humble chairs.
There was, of course, no question of airconditioning;
the only luxury was a window which on a good day
allowed in elements of a breeze.
The austerity went beyond mere appearances. For
Krishna Raj insisted that his own salary must not be
more than five times that of the lowest paid employee.
In 2002, after thirty years in the job, the editor was
paid INR 12,000 (roughly USD 250) a month. In that
year the Trustees of the journal doubled his salary,
to match that of a university professor's. It was still
shockingly inadequate, when one considers the significance of the work, or the fact that he put in at
30
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Passing
least twice as many hours as did the most conscientious academic in India.
Over the years I must have made perhaps a dozen
trips to the EPW office. Krishna Raj was a handsome,
oval-faced, white-haired man, with inquiring eyes
peering out from behind his spectacles. On his desk
there was a pile of papers two or three feet high:
submissions to be considered or rejected. On a shelf
was a row of books, one or two of which would be
offered to the visitor for review.
Political spillover
It was lucky, if no accident, that the
editors of this remarkable journal
came from Bengal and Kerala. For
these are, in an intellectual sense,
the most vigorously active states in
India—and also the most disputatious. In both states the communists have enjoyed long spells in
government, placed there by the
ballot box. They have been bitterly
opposed from the Left, by those
who think that the road to
revolution lies through armed
struggle. And they have been
opposed from the Right, by liberals
and conservatives dismayed by
their attacks on liberty, property
and tradition. The polemical
nature of these debates in Kerala
and West Bengal has spilled over
into the rest of the country. A prime
vehicle for this spread has been the
EPW. Had its editors been from
other parts of India, perhaps the
journal would have been more
genteel, but scarcely more readable.
When the Economic Weekly
began, India was ruled by
Jawaharlal Nehru, a man who was
socialist in his economic beEefs but
liberal in his political outlook. Most
times, his commitment to the procedures of democracy outweighed
his commitment to the ideals of
socialism. This was not to the Eking
of the younger Indian intellectuals,
and the EW inevitably became the vehicle for their
views. If industry was still under monopoly control,
they argued, or if the progress of land reforms was
slow, it was owed to the class character of Nehru's
Congress party, dominated by landlords and funded
by the bourgeoisie.
As 1 have said, the journal has never been allied
to a single party. But its orientation has always been
WEEKLY
Vacuity of Indian debate
on secularism
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nojca Ertuia&jMKnJ in the Cuitte-nn
The little men who
now rule India may
think they can
afford to disregard
the Economic and
Political Weekly.
For the rest of us,
however, it remains
indispensable.
politically charged. Under Sachin Chaudhuri's
editorship, the contributors divided themselves almost equally into two camps: the liberals and the
leftists. Chaudhuri's own credo may be summed up
as: 'We admire Nehru, but do not necessarily follow
him'. Revealing here is an editorial he wrote in August 1966, in the inaugural issue of what was now
the Economic and Political Weekly. Nehru was dead,
but his aura lingered on. 'Many underdeveloped
countries in the post-War period', said Chaudhuri,
'have had a brief spell of elation or whatever we
may call it, induced by the charisma of a leader and a concatenation of circumstances but how
many have maintained their pace,
and how many faEen by the way?
Circumstances may throw up such
leaders but it is thinking men and
women who aspire and do not acquiesce, who alone can mould a
people into a nation and keep them
going'.
Within a few years Nehru's liberalism had been seriously challenged—by, as it happens, his own
daughter. As prime minister of
India, Indira Gandhi crushed dissent within and outside her own
party, expanded the role of the state
in the economy, and promoted
partisanship among judges and
civil servants. These developments
culminated in the notorious Emergency of 1975-77.
Among Mrs Gandhi's critics
were old-fashioned liberal democrats and right-wing Hindu conservatives. Under Krishna Raj, the
EPW threw in its lot with a third
class of dissenters: the Marxists.
The editor himself was deeply
impressed by the idealism of
the young Naxalites, who,
inspired by China, were challenging the parliamentary orientation
of the established communist
parties. Among the gains of the
journal's left-ward turn were the
detailed reports on human rights excesses by the
state. Among the losses was the excessive space
devoted to doctrinal dispute: to exegeses of what
Marx or Lenin or Mao reaUy said or meant.
When I first came to read it, in the early 1980s,
the EPW gave space equally to the Old and New Lef ts.
Soon it was profiling the work of the Newer Left, as
contained in the environmental and feminist move-
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
31
 Passing
ments. All this put off some previously loyal supporters. In 1991, the historian Dharma Kumar, who
had been a friend of Sachin Chaudhuri, called for
an end to Marxist hegemony in the journal and a
return to the old Catholicism. Her letter, printed in
the EPW, brought forth howls of protest from the Left.
Particularly noteworthy was a letter signed by about
two dozen Western academics, the product of some
frenetic trans-Atlantic phone-calls, which suggested
that Professor Kumar's protest was part of the larger
IMF-World Bank conspiracy to destabilise India. But
there were also some letters of support. These asked
Indian Marxists to take heed of the winds of liberalism then blowing through Eastern Europe.
As ever, the EPW was happy to give over its pages
to intellectuals abusing one another. The debate continued for months, but its ultimate effect was salutary. For Krishna Raj realised that it was not just
Russia that had changed. So had Chma, and India.
The 20th century had conclusively demonstrated
that, compared to the State, the market was a more
efficient agent of economic change. Liberal economists once more began to find their voice in the EPW.
At the same time, the journal also reached out to
younger historians and sociologists, who unlike
their teachers were unburdened by Party dogma. But
the EPW was careful not to go to the other extreme.
Advocates of globalisation had their say, but so too
did its critics.
This diversity of views is a key reason for the
journal's astonishing longevity. Its life has been
more-or-less coterminous with the life of India.
Through these six decades, it has been a veritable
salon of the Indian mind, the place one goes to eavesdrop on the most arresting and unusual conversations about this bafflingly complex land. No journal
1 know generates a comparable possessiveness
among its readers and writers, to whom those three
letters—'E, P ,W—denote sparkle and controversy,
but also quality and relevance.
The fact that it has maintained its influence for
so long decisively marks out the EPW from some of
its global competitors. The heyday of the New Statesman ran from, roughly, the mid-forties to the mid-
sixties. Ever since then it has been somewhat of a
fringe publication. Or consider the French journal
Le Temps Moderne, which was founded at the same
time as the Economic Weekly. For its first decade it
was at the cutting edge of French intellectual life,
but as the credibility of its founders faded so did its
own influence.
The EW, and later the EPW, has encouraged writers of all ages and all nationalities. The journal has
always been international in its orientation, as well
as in its cast of writers. In its early years the distinguished Cambridge economists Joan Robinson and
Nicholas Kaldor were contributors. More recently,
veteran American leftists marginalised in their own
milieu have found a haven in the EPW. Here, and
nowhere else, do Indian and Western writers and
scholars converse on an equal footing.
Another reason for the journal's enduring influence is the TISNA factor - there is simply no alternative. Indian newspapers have become progressively
more superficial. Focusing on food, fashion and
films, they have Ettle room for books and ideas. At
the other end, there does not exist a dense enough
mass of scholars to sustain specialist disciplinary
journals (and where these do exist, they are, as elsewhere, coterie journals written in arcane academic
prose). Thus the appeal, to both readers and writers,
of the unique hybrid that is the EPW.
In recent years, the EPW has returned to being
what Sachin Chaudhuri intended it to be: a broad
church of intellectual opinion in India, from right-
wing liberalism to left-wing Communism. However, there is one kind of perspective that the journal has consistently excluded: that of religious
extremism. In this sense it is not wholly representative of the political spectrum, at least not now,
when Hindu chauvinists are in power in New
Delhi. But these chauvinists are not especially
keen to have their say in the EPW either. In this
they are much like their counterparts elsewhere.
(Liberation will not commission an essay by Jean
Marie Le Pen, but then Le Pen doesn't want to
write for Liberation.) In spreading their word,
Hindu chauvinists would much rather use the
medium of oral gossip and innuendo than a journal printed in the language of the elite, English.
The little men who now rule India may think they
can afford to disregard the Economic and Political
Weekly. For the rest of us, however, it remains indispensable. Of course, it is also at times impossible. 1
have myself fought with the EPW twice, on account
of its seeming bias towards the Marxists. Both times,
1 swore not to write for the journal again. Each time
it was 1 who sued for peace. The EPW could comfortably Eve without me. But 1 cannot now live without
the EPW.
Krishna Raj himself had to step into a pair of
somewhat outsize shoes. His own successor will
have no easy job of it, but she or he will have the
support of a loyal staff, a devoted readership, and
a stable of able and willing writers. Early signs
are heartening. The day after the editor died I
called the office, to be answered by a voice resolutely saying: 'This is the EPW'. The next issue, I
was told, had already gone to press. The subsequent one, with tributes to the departed editor,
was being planned. The EPW will carry on, and
so, after a fashion, will India. £
32
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Opinion
Iconoclasm: Not a Muslim Monopoly
Both Hindu and Muslim conquerors destroyed temples of their
opponents as acts of political vendetta.
by Yoginder Sikand
In recent years, ever since the campaign to destroy
the Babri Masjid was launched, people in India have
been fed with the constant propaganda that the
destruction of places of worship was a fine art that
Muslims, fired with an irrepressible iconoclastic zeal,
had mastered. Historical records show that some
Muslim kings did indeed destroy Hindu temples,
something Muslims themselves would hardly dispute.
In assessing the historical record, however, it is
important to draw a distinction between Islamic
commandments and the acts of individual Muslims.
The Quran in no way sanctions the destruction of the
places of worship of people of other faiths.
For the most part, Muslims have abided by the
Quranic injunction that 'There is no compulsion in
religion'. For instance, after Muhammad bin Qasim,
leading the first Muslim army to India, had subdued
Sind, he granted the local Hindus and Buddhists full
religious freedom and guaranteed the protection of their
shrines. When Sultan Sikander of Kashmir, egged on
by his Brahmin prime minister, Suha Bhat, set about
pulling down temples on a large scale, the leading
Kashmiri Muslim Sufi, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani,
bitterly protested, arguing that Islam did not sanction
this. This opinion was shared by several other Muslim
The victors of
half-baked propaganda
'ulama and sufis. Thus, the Tabaqat-I Akbari tells us
that when they heard that Sultan Sikander Lodi (r. 1489-
1517) was planning to destroy some temples, a group
of high-ranking 'ulama protested, saying, 'It is not
lawful to lay waste ancient idol temples'.
Caution must be exercised in accepting the narratives provided by medieval writers about the exploits
of kings, including their 'feats' of temple destruction.
Most historians were employees of the royal courts, and
they tended to exaggerate the 'exploits' of the kings in
order to present them as great champions of Islam, an
image that hardly fits the facts we know about them.
Thus, for instance, the author of the late eighteenth
century Riyad ul-Salatin claimed that Muhammad
Bakhtiyar Khilji demolished several temples in Bengal
when he captured the province in 1204, although there
is no evidence to suggest that this had indeed been the
case. In his book Essays on Islam and Indian History, the
well-known historian Richard Eaton points out that of
the sixty thousand-odd cases of temple destruction by
Muslim rulers cited by contemporary Hindutva sources
one may identify only eighty instances 'whose
historicity appears to be reasonably certain'. Eaton
clearly shows that cases of destruction of places of
worship were not restricted to Muslim rulers alone. He
recounts numerous instances of Hindu kings
having torn down Hindu temples, in addition to
Jain and Buddhist shrines. He says that these
must be seen as, above all, powerful politically
symbolic acts.
Typically, cases of shrine destruction are
reported in the wake of the overthrow of a
powerful enemy and the annexation of his
territory. The royal temple of the enemy was often
pulled down to symbolise the enemy's defeat.
Thus, for instance, historical records speak of the
seventh century Hindu Pallava king Narasimha-
varman I, who looted an idol of Ganesha from
the Chalukyan capital of Vatapi. Fifty years later,
the Hindu Chalukyan army brought back with
them idols of Ganga and Jamuna, looted from
temples of their fellow Hindu enemies to the north.
In the eighth century, a Bengali Hindu army is
said to have destroyed an idol of Vishnu belonging
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
33
 to their imperial foe, the Hindu king Lalitaditya of
Kashmir. In the tenth century, the Hindu Pratihara king
Herambapala defeated the Hindu Shahi king of Kangra
and looted a soEd gold idol of Vishnu from the Kangra
royal temple. In the eleventh century, the Chola ruler
Rajendra I furnished his capital with idols of Hindu
deities that he had captured from his enemies, the
Chalukyas, the Palas and the Kalingas. The sixteenth
century Vijaynagara ruler, Krishna Deva Raya, is
reported to have looted an idol of Krishna from Udaygiri
after inflicting on it a crushing defeat. He is also said to
have looted a Vittala idol from the famous Pandharpur
temple.
Besides looting idols from the temples of their fellow
Hindu enemies, several Hindu kings are reported to
have destroyed the royal temples of their vanquished
foes to signal their victory. Thus, the tenth century
Rashtrakuta king Indra III destroyed the temple of
Kalapriya at Kaipa, after defeating his dreaded enemies,
the Rashtrakutas. Likewise, KapEendra, founder of the
Suryavanshi Gajapati dynasty in Orissa is said to have
sacked several Hindu temples in the course of his
military campaigns in the Tamil country. These are
instances of Hindu Icings looting Hindu idols and
destroying Hindu temples for poEtical purposes. The
number of Jaina and Buddhist shrines destroyed by
Hindu kings must certainly be much greater. Because
royal temples served as powerful poEtical symbols and
centres—where often kings were worshipped as forms
or incarnations of various deities—they seem to have
been the particular object of attack by invaders,
irrespective of religion. As Eaton remarks, 'It is clear
that temples had been the natural sites for the
contestation of kingly authority weE before the coming
of Muslim Turks to India. Not surprisingly, Turkish
Left to right: The Tamil inscription at the base of the sculpture,
seized by the imperial Cholas in 1045 from their Chalukya
enemies reads This is the door gaurdian brought by Lord
Vijayarajendradeva after burning the Chalukya capital
Kalyanapuram. (Institut Francaise d'lndologie, Pondicherry)
Image of Durga seized from the Chalukyas by Rajendra 1,
Chola King (1012-1044) and taken to his capital.
(American Institute of Indian Studies, Varanasi)
Vijayanagara, A.D. 1430. Devarajapuram copper plate
inscription showing the signature of Vijayanagara's state-diety
Virupaksha in Kannada script while the rest appears in
Sanskrit. (Collection of R.S.R Archaeological  Museum,
Rajahmundry)
invaders, when attempting to plant their own rule in
early medieval India, followed and continued
established patterns'. He further adds that 'Whatever
form they took, acts of temple desecration were never
directed at the people, but at the enemy king and the
image that incarnated and displayed his state-deity'.
As in the case of Hindu rulers' attacks on temples,
Eaton says that aEnost all instances of Muslim rulers
destroying Hindu shrines were recorded in the wake
of then capture of enemy territory. Once these territories
were fuUy integrated into their dominions, few temples
were targeted. This itseE clearly shows that these acts
were motivated, above all, by political concerns and
not by a religious impulse to extirpate idolatry. The
essentially political, as opposed to religious or
communal, nature of these acts is clearly suggested in
the detaEs that the historical chronicles provide. Thus,
for instance, we hear of the army of the Muslim Sultan
of Golconda, led by the Marathi Hindu Brahmin
general, Murahari Rao, which conquered a large swathe
of territory up to the Krishna river. Rao is said to have
sacked the famous Ahobilam temple, and looted its
ruby-studded idol, which he presented to the Sultan as
a war trophy. Likewise, we are told that Sultan
Sulaiman Karrani of Bengal dispatched an army to
Orissa against the Hindu Gajapati Raja to punish him
for entering into a pact with the enemies of the Sultan,
the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Pathan Ibrahim
Sur. The army, after defeating the Raja, then set about
looting the Jagannath temple, the main royal shrine.
As Eaton shows, it was usuaEy the large royal temples
that were targeted, for not only were they symbols of
political power, but were also richly endowed with
jewels, gold and other precious metals. In the wake of
these attacks on enemy power, ordinary people were
rarely targeted. Thus, for instance, when a Mughal
army attacked Kuch Bihar in northern Bengal and
destroyed the idol of the state-deity of Raja Bhim
Narayan, the chief Mughal qazi of Bengal, Sayyed
Muhammad Sadiq, issued an order to the Mughal
soldiers that, 'nobody should touch the cash and
property of the people', laying down that those who
infringed this order would have then hands, ears or
noses lopped off.
34
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Opinion
If the destruction of temples were, above all,
powerful political acts, so too were instances of
patronage extended to temples by BB^l^M>-
rulers, Hindus as well as Muslims.
Thus, in addition to Hindu rulers, many
Muslim kings endowed temples
with large land grants. A fourteenth
century Sanskrit inscription records
that thirteen years after his annexation
of the northern Deccan, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq appointed a
Muslim official to repair a Shiva temple
at Kalyana. The much-maligned
.Aurangzeb, who is said to have
destroyed some Hindu temples, is also
known to have made extensive grants
to other Hindu shrines. Thus, in 1659
in a royal order issued to his officers in
Benaras, he wrote:
Cases of destruction
of places of worship
were not restricted to
Muslim rulers alone.
Several Hindu kings
are reported to have
destroyed the royal
temples of their
vanquished foes to
signal their victory.
In these days, information has reached our court that
several people have, out of spite and rancour, harassed
the Hindu residents of Benaras and nearby places,
including a group of Brahmans who are in charge of
ancient temples there. These people want to remove
those Brahmans from their charge of temple keeping,
which has caused them considerable distress.
Therefore, upon receiving this order, you must see
__„___ that nobody unlawfully disturbs the
Brahmans or other Hindus of that region,
so that they might remain in their
traditional place and pray for the
continuance ofthe Empire... According
to the Holy law (shari'at) and the exalted
creed, it has been established that ancient
temples should not be torn down'.
Eaton, after closely examining the
historical record, shows that the temples
whose destruction Aurangzeb had
ordered had been associated with his
political rivals. If temples belonging to
Hindu political rivals were targeted by
Muslim kings, thev did not desist from
similarly brutally attacking their fellow
    Muslim foes and rebels. The history of
Muslim rule in India is replete with stories of Muslim
kings fighting among themselves, and some of them are
even said to have destroyed mosques in the territories
of their opponents. Hindus and Muslims alike, then,
have been equally guilty of destroying places of worship,
and, in this regard, as in any other, neither has a
monopoly on virtue or vice. ft
Fifth South Asian Orientation Course in Human Rights and Peace Studies
Applications are invited for the Fifth South Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Orientation Course of the South
Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The course has two components -
distance education in human rights and peace from July 1 to August 31, and a direct orientation course in peace
studies to be held in Kathmandu from 5 September to 20 September, 2004. The course is intended for peace and
human rights activists, media persons, researchers, academics studies, and policy makers.
Registration fee for South Asian participants is US $ 100 (or its equivalent in Nepali Rupee) and participants from
outside the region US $ 400. Participants will have to look for their own funding for travel. SAFHR will assist deserving
participants from South Asia to obtain travel supports from other donor agencies. Select course material for the
selected candidates will be provided by SAFHR. Board and lodging is also provided. The age limit for participation
is (35) years. Women, human rights and peace activists from conflict areas are particularly encouraged to apply.
Applications must reach Peace Studies Desk in the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (3/23, Shree Durbar Tole,
Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur, Kathamndu, Nepal; GPO Box 12855, Tel: 977-1-5541026; Fax: 5527852, E-mail
peacestudies@safhr.org by 15 April 2004. Applications by fax or e-mail will be valid. Applications will have to be
supported by full particulars, 1000-word summary of the relevance of the course to the work of the participant, and
names of two referees whose recommendations should reach independently SAFHR peace studies desk. In
selection of candidates the 1000-word summary will be accorded importance. Applicants are encouraged to visit
SAFHR's website, www.safhr.org for information about the course. Language of the course is English and proficiency in English is essential. The course will be participatory, will involve fieldwork, audio-visual studies, interactive
sessions, participants' workshops, public lectures and presentation by participants. Frontline activists and
researchers on human rights, peace and reconciliation will share their knowledge and experience with participants
towards developing an enriched collective understanding of issues of justice and peace in South Asia.
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
 The problem of waste is not north-south, but between the powerful
and powerless everywhere.
by Lila Rajiva
Summers at home in India pass rn a precarious time
warp. I can fax, chat on the net or make a ceE-
phone call abroad but when I walk over to my
nephew's house, only a nule and a half away in a rural
campus, my journey has a Victorian arduousness to it.
I have to pick my way gingerly through the dusty path
cutting across the field, alert for dozing vipers, lantana
thorns, cantankerous goats tethered to the bushes, and
random puddings of animal and human excreta. At
first, it is a mystery where these come from because the
villages are a good bit away. But distance does not dim
the force of IMIMBY {not in my backyard) which until
recent years has been the motto of Indian civic life.
And so houses are walled and gated here without
apology. Our wall, solid grey and concrete, was
supposed to have been a formidable seven-and-a half
feet, but it sank to six after it was buEt. StiE it's not
enough. A neighbour's son shins up a tree on their side,
leans over, and plucks fhe mangos on our side. Every
so often, cricket balls, clods of earth, stones, and other
less identifiable flying objects land on the lawn that my
parents weed and cut every week with missionary zeal.
Across from our house on an empty piece of land,
someone's garbage shows up with mysterious regularity no matter how often we clear the space. Waste water
from the gutters spiEs over onto the streets every time it
rains. Little ones and sometimes not so little ones
wander off into the fields to relieve themselves with
innocent nonchalance. But the houses from which they
saunter out, though they encroach on the streets far
beyond the prescribed limits, are themselves immaculately clean, the earth in front swept, washed, and
decorated with ritual white-powder kolams (patterns
and designs). NIMBY.
Cultural factors underEe problems exacerbated by
over-population and poverty. The cities of an early
Indian civiEzation in the Indus river vaEey had complex
sewer systems and some of the oldest extant toilets that
date back 4,500 years. But over time, Hindu religious
teachings forbidding defecation near dwelling places
as polluting to one's caste made the cleaning of "night-
soil" (a Southasian euphemism) the work of "untouchables".
UntE Exnora came here, my parents, retired medical
professors, were fighting a losing battle with community sanitation unable to get neighbours to cover open
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Steel Mill and related
retirement/reprocessing
industry
Road from Chittagong to
Dhaka
Scrapping Yards (beach)
Intertidal Zone
Fishing area
Subtidal Zone
ditches or to dispose of their garbage on their own
property. An acronym for Excellent Novel and Radical,
Exnora is the brainchild of MB Nirmal, a bank official
turned civic activist who founded it in 1989 to clean up
Madras, capital of the southern state, TamE Nadu, and
the fourth largest metropolis of India, which was
disintegrating under massive problems of poEution and
sanitation. Now, my father tells me, the Exnora man
comes by on his cycle every week to collect the garbage
sorted out beforehand into recyclables and wet waste
which they compost to provide cheap high-quality
manure used, among other things, to
reforest the denuded pre-Cambrian hills
that ring the campus. The municipality has
talked of greening for years, but only
Exnora, an NGO, had actuaEy taken steps.
Almost a thud of India Eves in the city,
and about hah the population in the major
cities is concentrated in slums. Lack of
sanitation accounts for 80 percent of Indian
health problems from polio, of which half
the world's reported cases occur in India,
to diarrhoea which kills half a million
children annually, that is, as many children who have
died from sanctions in Iraq in a decade.
In Madras, a study by Exnora shows that a crucial
reason for the unsanitary conditions in the city is that
over 267 million litres of sewerage is discharged
everyday into the city's waterways because of
malfunctioning sewage pumping-stations and treatment plants. According to experts, sewerage-connected
primarily because the sewerage system needs not only
a sufficient quantity of running water, but also a regular
supply of water for waste disposal, the cost of which at
the rate of USD 150 a unit would be USD 500 bEEon. As
of now, there are no sewerage and sanitation services
for more than half the population Eving in cities. ToEets
are not available to about a third of urban residents
and proper waste coEection services have yet to reach
almost three quarters of the population in Madras.
This means that the problem of waste must be central
to the issue of sanitation. Exnora's goal of "zero waste"
is based on its philosophy of waste as a type
of "wealth" to be managed rather than
eliminated. "Zero waste" programs separate
garbage when it is collected into recyclables,
hazardous waste, and wet waste (the largest
component). Wet waste is taken to special
sites (only 20 by 40 feet per 500 families)
where it is compacted and turned in 40 days
into dry manure by the introduction of
earthworms. Vermiculture is odourless, bio-
friendly, and inexpensive and it is only one
of Exnora's grassroots operations which also
include citizen monitoring of polluted waterways, tree
planting, and community education.
From a local initiative, the NGO, now a member of
the environmental group GAIA, has grown into
hundreds of 'civic exnoras' affiEated with an 'international exnora' and has been cited as one of several
hundred 'best community practices in the world' by
the United Nations. Its example has been foEowed in
toilets remain out of the reach of the majority of Indians     Sri Lanka and Hong Kong and its approach to tackling
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
37
 pollution is in Ene with the most progressive in the
West where for some years incinerators, especially
medical incinerators, have been regarded as the source
of pollutants like cancer-generating dioxins and have
been closed down, held to higher standards, or in
Europe replaced by autoclaves and microwaves.
The global garbage business, however, has its own
form of NHvlBY both at home and abroad. In the UK, the
group Communities Against Toxics was outraged when
after six years of spreading highly contaminated ash
from its incinerators around Newcastle, at the end of a
law suit Byker Combines Heat and Power Plant was
only penalised with a small fine. In New Soutii Wales,
Vivendi, a French multinational notorious for its
corporate practices, was impEcated in creating the "big
pong" of 1997 (the stink that spread over Adelaide from
the Bolivar sewage treatment plant). Defying the so-
called "rationality" of the market, Vivendi-owned
companies are responsible for providing filtered water
from the very same dams and water tables next to which
Viviendi subsidiary, CoUex, dumps waste. Paid by fhe
ton, Collex has little incentive to recycle and thus reduce
its output. These instances indicate that although
activists often treat the export of waste as a north-south
issue, it is more accurately an issue of the powerful and
powerless whether at home or abroad.
Still, developing nations do bear the brunt of global
NIMBY. Batteries, PVC plastics, genetically modified
foods, multilayer packaging, obsolete weapons, and
even ships are sent overseas to poor countries to be
broken down and recycled in horrendous conditions.
Obsolete technology that has been discarded in the West
tries surreptitiously to resuscitate itself in a climate that
is environmentally less rigorous. In the 1970s, trash
was dumped in iAfrica with the help of local middlemen
until an international outcry stopped the trade. More
recently, electronic wastes from phones and computers
are being sent to India, Pakistan and China, where they
are disposed off in highly dangerous conditions. At
least 30,000 tons of scrap from the World Trade Center
wreckage has been exported from the United States to
Sabari Exim Pvt Ltd. in Madras, raising concerns in
Greenpeace, India, and other NGOs. Still, the Basel
convention on the control of transboundary movements
of hazardous wastes and their disposal (adopted in
Basel, Switzerland on 22 March 1989) which has in
effect banned hazardous exports from the developed
nations has so far not been signed by the United States.
Inefficiencies of scale
There is, however, one crucial difference between
corporate and peasant dNIMBY. My parents can always
retreat behind that gray wall and enjoy sanity and
sanitation no matter what happens outside. But there
is no private sphere into which a community can retreat
once corporations enter the picture. Far from being
conservative in culture, multinationals are inherently
radical, disrupting, dislocating, and creating new
inefficiencies of scale, while, turning semantics on its
head, the so-called 'radical' organisations Eke Greenpeace and Gaia try to 'conserve' local resources and
local networks. This is no 'free market' - the iVTNCs come
armed with the big guns of national and international
(IMF and World Bank) subsidies. The NGOs, truly private
entrepreneurs who are actually filling consumer needs,
operate on a shoe-string.
In Madras, for instance, the Exnoras have become
the latest victim of the MNCs. Again, it is Vivendi and a
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Opinion
subsidiary, Onyx, who are repeating their Australian
rob-Peter-to-pay Paul act, dumping right next to the
most important water table in the city from which they
are simultaneously drawing water. Again, paid by the
ton, Onyx has no incentive to recycle, with the result
that Exnora's carefully buEt up system of separation at
the source as well as its crucial public education effort
have been undermined. Onyx in fact had been guilty of
disrupting local recycling in Egypt in 2001. When it
signed its seven-year contract, Onyx was supposed to
be bringing in the latest technology. aAnd those who
were happy to see the garbage off their streets but not
especially concerned with where it went after that
pronounced themselves satisfied. However, it was soon
apparent to everyone that the whole operation,
involving the transport of unsegregated waste in
uncovered trucks, was medieval.
The story gets worse. Madras generates 1400 tons of
waste per day which, like 80 percent of Indian garbage,
is organic, moist, of a low calorific value, and best
handled by compacting not burning, as even Onyx has
conceded, as high-cost waste-to-energy technologies
that involve burning are not only inefficient and costly
but extremely hazardous. Incinerators release chlorinated organic compounds and large quantities of
carbon-dioxide which is one of the major contributors
to temperature rises that have plagued south Eidia for
the past few years. Acid gases from combustion and
elements in the garbage interact with oxygen or
hydrogen leading to acid rain, metal corrosion, and the
erosion of buildings. High temperature burning of
chlorinated substances creates potent furans and
dioxins that even in low doses produce an enormous
variety of adverse effects in humans and animals. .An
international symposium on dioxides in Seoul in 2001
revealed the highest levels of dioxin
related substances in the breast milk of
women Eving close to the Perengudi site
where Onyx was dumping, and studies
of nearby families showed a higher
incidence of early death, asthma and
skin rashes. The displacement of
the Exnoras by MNCs was one of
innumerable cases presented at Hyderabad, India, at the Asian Social Forum
(ASF) in January 2003.
Strange that it should be the so-caUed
left which is demanding local solutions,
decentralisation and downward devolution while soi-disant free traders
endorse corporations whose economically nonsensical diktats and sprawling,
incoherent operations would have put    	
the Politburo to shame. Vivendi and the other MNCs are
not private businesses in any Smithian sense at all.
Cartelised and subsidised they are impervious to the
market and feed off the pubEc trough through bids that
are not genuinely competitive and contracts skewered
The Exnoras are
no match for the
combined weight
of the state and
such behemoth
cartels. As for the
public, which
public is it-the
masses, the
middle class, or
the elites?
Even China is not spared: a woman hammering a cathode ray
tube from a computer in Guiyu.	
by kickbacks, overlaps, PR campaigns, and conflicts of
interests. The costs of then operation - transportation,
public health, education, adminis-tration, poEcing —
     and   the   dangerous   bio   hazards
produced by it are all borne by the public
or 'socialised'. But the profits are
'privatised' and siphoned off from the
public domain. The Exnoras are no
match for the combined weight of the
state and such behemoth cartels. As for
the public, which public is it - the
masses, the middle class, or fhe elites?
The voices in the business press demanding more globalisation, fhe activist
green groups demanding less, antiquarians nostalgic for rural India or the
modernists fast forwarding to a technological nirvana?
The fate of the Exnoras should be a
warning to market fundamentaEsts that
those who miss the reaEty of what is
taking place in the Global New World Order by fixating
on the classical meaning of labels such as 'private',
'free' or 'market' are Eable to become as obsolete as the
cumbersome, dangerous technology of the global
sewerage system. A
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
39
 Opinion
The SAFTA mirage
Free trade and investment within Southasia will help usher peace
and prosperity, but a lackadaisical SAFTA treaty will not take us there.
by Abid Qaiyum Suleri and Bhaskar Sharma
SAARC trade ministers could not manage to meet
even once between the November 2001 Doha
Ministerial and the August 2003 Cancun
Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organisation
(WTO). There is no such thing as a 'common SAARC
position' at the gatherings of the WTO, and this is
because the trade interests of the WTO members from
Southasia vary a lot. Against this backdrop, the
adoption of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement
(S.AFTA) at the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad
could be considered a landmark decision. SAFTA is
supposed to open a new vista of regional economic
cooperation and integration. SAARC member states seem
to have, to some extent, set aside their parochial interests
and apprehensions and decided to move forward with
an open mind towards creating a free trade area. First,
the sense of urgency for SAFTA is laudable. Second, the
normalisation of India-Pakistan relations becomes very
critical for the operation of the free trading regime in its
true sense.
SAFTA is slated for launch in 2006, with a ten year
period for full-fledged implementation. The treaty has
taken up some of the issues with very clear provisions
including those on tariff reduction and the procedural
aspects of the application of balance of payment and
'safeguard' measures, as well as a dispute settlement
mechanism. The treaty has clearly stipulated the actions
that contracting states can take while facing balance of
payment difficulties, during import surges or in the case
of disputes. Likewise, the treaty has also laid down a
clear path for tariff reduction, which spans ten years,
beginning 2006.
This meeting also took environmental issues as a
priority area. In the Islamabad Declaration adopted at
the meeting, ministers recognised the need to "undertake and reinforce regional cooperation in the conservation of our water resources, environment, pollution
prevention and control as well as our preparedness to
deal with natural calamities". Ministers also encouraged the establishment of a Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives. Five out of seven SAARC
members have long coastal zones and this management
centre would study the nature of problems such as tidal
surges, cyclones and the greenhouse effect. Ministers
furthermore "stressed the early submission of the State
of the Environment (SOE) reports to expedite the
preparation of SAARC State of Environment report and
the commissioning of the work on drafting a Regional
Environment Treaty". It is pertinent to mention here
that a "State of Environment of Pakistan Report",
prepared by the Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (SDPI) for Pakistan's Ministry of Environment
(MOE) before the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development could, however, never get approval from
the MOE apparently due to the hard facts and critical
analysis presented in the report about the state of the
environment in Pakistan. One wonders if such a report
for SAARC would be digestible to our relevant environmental ministries. Anyhow, the good news is that
environment is on the SAARC agenda now and if
implemented in letter and spirit, the Islamabad
Declaration could be a fruitful juncture for 'trade and
environment'.
Despite the historic adoption of the SAFTA treaty,
the treaty itself does not incorporate all components
that are essential for the effective functioning of a free
trade regime. There are some apprehensions that need
to be immediately, or at least in the near future,
addressed. These apprehensions arise due to the fact
that the SAFTA treaty has some confusing provisions
and gray areas. Besides, many issues that should have
been addressed in the initial treaty itself are lacking. It
seems that the negotiators have not learnt their lessons
from the failed South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) which was inked in 1993. The flaws in
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 Opinion
SAPTA such as the issue of 'rules of origin', 'non tariff
trade barriers', etc., need to be meticulously looked into
for the purpose of realising optimal benefits from SAFTA.
Some of the important and apparent deficiencies in
the SAFTA treaty arise out of the inability of the member
states to draw concrete consensus on certain issues
namely - revenue compensatory mechanism, rules of
origin, sensitive lists, and technical assistance for least
developed members, among others. Moreover, rules and
regulations for the effective implementation of the Trade
Liberalisation Programme and granting of special and
differential treatment to the 'least developed members'
(Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal) have not
been clearly spelt out. These issues form the crux of the
treaty, and until concrete and constructive negotiations
are concluded on them, the future of SAFTA would
remain uncertain.
Southasian LDCs
While many of the deficiencies high- _^_^_
lighted above have been left for future
negotiations and finalisation, the deadlines for completion of negotiations have
not been mentioned in most of the cases.
The only case in which a deadline for
completion has been specifically
mentioned is in Article 11(e) that relates
to rules and regulations with regard to a
revenue compensatory mechanism for the
benefit of the Southasian LDCs. The rules
and regulations are to be finalised before
SAFTA is formally launched in 2006.
Likewise, on other issues such as the
harmomsation of legislation, identification of special needs of the LDCs, the   	
number of products under the sensitive list, areas of
technical assistance for LDCs and rules of origin, the
treaty makes no mention of deadlines. This is likely to
create complications in the actual implementation of
the treaty, unless of course the proposed actions are
completed before the implementation of the Trade
Liberalisation Programme (phasing out of tariffs and
quantitative restrictions).
Likewise, there are some ambiguous provisions in
the treaty which need to be eradicated if the treaty is to
be a legal and binding document. For example, Article
3(2) (f) states that the special needs of the LDCs would
be clearly recognised by 'adopting concrete preferential
measures in their favour on a non-reciprocal basis'. Due
to the lack of deadlines and concrete plans for the
identification of the special needs of LDCs, this provision
is ambiguous. Besides, the treaty has no concrete
provision relating to anti-dumping, subsidies, countervailing dudes, technical barriers to trade, and sanitary
and phytosanitary measures. These issues are pertinent
while a region moves into a free trading arrangement.
It is a fact that world over, except in Southasia, the
trade between neighbouring countries runs up to high
For years we were
fooling ourselves
by giving
concessions to
neighbouring
countries on
commodities
which they do not
produce or trade
in at all.
levels of volume. The trade within NAFTA is 60 percent
of the total trade of the regional countries; similarly 55
percent of the total trade of the EU is within the
European region; this figure is 30 percent for ASEAN,
whereas it is only 5 percent for the SAARC region. It is
expected that SAFTA has the potential to increase
regional trade manifold, but to reap these benefits our
political leadership would have to be pressed to make
SAFTA stronger. We have to work for:
Free movement of people. Movement of capital and
goods would be useless unless there is free movement
of people. Our leaders would have to work for a regime
where simple things like obtaining a visa to travel to
any of the SAARC countries would not be a big task.
Trade in Services. Service sector contribution to
Southasian GDP is increasing. One aim must be to
increase the trade in services.
Improved physical infrastructure: It is natural that
increased movement of goods/services/persons would
^^hm^ require improved physical infrastructure.
Need of harmonisation: For us to
really reap the benefits of SAFTA, harmonisation of custom, banking (including a
Letters of Credit system understandable
to bankers and acceptable to businessmen) and effective insurance systems are
all necessary. There is also a need to
harmonise the quality standards within
the SAARC region.
Finally, it must be kept in mind that
trade follows investment. Trade volumes
cannot increase significantly in the
absence of investment. Hence for SAFTA
    to be meaningful there is a need to work
out a regional arrangement or a framework for
investment promotion as well as protection. Critically
speaking, SAPTA, meant for preferential trade, did not
lead to any real gain. For years we were fooling ourselves
by giving concessions to neighbouring countries on
commodities which they do not produce or trade in at
all. Now we have SAFTA and we must try to make it
successful by being realistic, for surely increased trade
and investment in the region is the key to lasting peace...
It is imperative to conduct empirical research on pros
and cons of implementing SAFTA to make it a win-win
situation for all. WTO watch groups and a network of
civil society organisations including Pakistan's SDPI,
have already started studying these aspects. With
similar studies from public, private and the nongovernment sector, the shortcomings in the treaty would
be identified and our policy makers would be equipped
with the knowledge to rectify those shortcomings in
order to move towards an effective free trade regime
rather than a mirage. /s
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
41
 SQUTHASIASPHERE
The rice and roti routine
The last roti is for her
With which
She has to craft
The next day's sun.
—Premranjan Animesh in Pichhali Roti
MAO ZEDONG is believed to have said that the more
chillies you ate, the more revolutionary you became.
Judging from the fire in the press statements of the
Maobaadi commissars of Nepal, they must have bitten
fistfuls of jyanmaras (killer chillies) in their childhood.
But like most Nepalis, they too must have grown up
eating loads of the staple rice as well. Despite tall claims
of the Maobaadi leadership about the emancipation of
women, indications are that the lot of the 'fairer' sex
among insurgents is no fairer than their fate in the society at large. If we are what we eat, something is seriously wrong with the Southasian staple—rice and rotis.
Eating mountains of rice with streams of daal flowing over is bad enough in terms of gender sensitivity for
mai. More than 16,000 .Afghan women die at childbirth
everv vear, the world's worst maternal mortality rate
outside of sub-Saharan aAfrica. Despite the Beijing propaganda ("Statistics show that in recent years a Tibetan woman in urban areas spends on an average 800
Yuan or more each vear on cosmetics, approximately
half the monthly salary of a government worker in
Lhasa."), Tibetan women in and outside Tibet are no
better off than their other Subcontinental sisters, even
though they work a lot harder than their men.
aAccording to recent Mahbub-ul-Haq Human Development Centre statistics, female economic activity in
Pakistan is only 15.4 percent compared to 57.2 percent
in Bangladesh, 85 percent in Nepal, 43.5 percent in India, 41.6 percent in Sri Lanka and 28.6 percent in
Maldives. But it is the scale of desperation in India that
is Bharat is most shocking. Devinder Sharma wrote recently in the Hindustan Times that a baby girl was sold
by her parents in Orissa for INR 10, less than the price
of a bottle of mineral water. Perhaps it was the poor worn-
Benazir
Chandrika
Vasundhara
Shailaja
we all know who does the cooking, but the roti-eating
male of the species seems to be gastronomically programmed to be a male-chauvinistic-you-know-what. The
female resigned to the fate of rolling rotis and boiling
rice. Rabri Devi, the Chief Minister of Bihar, claims that
she still loves to spend some time in the kitchen, specially
rolling chapattis, for her husband-cum-party president
Laloo Yadav. Women's rights is nowhere on the agenda.
Wot tViat tFiie reluctant 'leactor' is an exception ir\ South
Asian politics. Sheila Dixit has miserably failed to make
New Delhi safer for women. She can claim that law and
order is the responsibility of the central government. But
then she failed to get her party to even raise this issue in
the Indian parliament in an effective manner. The time
and effort the Congress (I) spent in fending off the onslaught on the foreign origin of its president Sonia Gandhi
could have been better utilised to project her as the hope
of half of the population of the biggest democracy in the
world. But Soma's (wo)man-Friday, Ambika Soni, seems
to be too busy projecting her boss as the 'he-man' of her
party. With women like these at the helms, why bemoan
the attitude of the male of the species?
The status of women in Southasia is of course abys-
an's alternative to female foeticide, the procedure of
choice of the comfortably off in the wheat belt of Western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, parts
of Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. Selling girls into the
thriving sex market of the Southasian metropolis from
the disadvantaged section of Nepali and Bangladeshi
population is a curse that is giving nightmares to the
health workers worried about the rapid spread of HIV/
.■MOS in the rci£iov\.
However, all of this has not stopped us Southasians
from electing some high profile presidents, prime ministers, chief ministers, parliamentarians, and legislators.
Sultan Ahmed writes, of Pakistan: "It is easier to let more
women sit in the assemblies and the Senate than enable
them earn a living to feed their children and tend the
ailing". Sadly, the situation elsewhere in Southasia isn't
much different. Aung San Suu Kyi is the Nobel-pri^e
winner and a symbol of democratic struggle all over the
world, but that hasn't made the Burmese junta more respectful towards their women.
Traditionally, mountain and hill women of the Himalayan region work much harder—and hence command more power—but even they bow to the male au-
42
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 SOUTHASIASPHERE
thority almost unquestioningly. The monarchies of Bhutan and Nepal are yet to amend their succession laws
in favour of the first-born irrespective of sex.
The model for women who seek power—and get it—
is a male figure. Southasian female leaders are more
'manly" in their minds than most of them would care to
admit. Many women leaders have inherited political legacy from their fathers and husbands, and are groomed
to behave like their mentors. Zulfi and Mujib's daughters (Benazir and Hasina) or Zia-ur Rahman and Rajiv's widows (Khaleda and Sonia) have inherited the
male image and are trying to live up to it.
The political pedigree of Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga is a little more illustrious and complex. Her father was a prime minister. And her mother
Sirimavo Bandaranaike had become the world's first
female prime minister back in 1960. Yet, she seems to
draw her inspiration from her father, who was assassinated by a Buddhist monk when she was just in primary school.
Dynastic succession, even through democratic processes, seems to make women behave like men. But even
those who have come up the social ladder on their own—
like the glamorous sanyasin Uma Bharati from Bundelk-
Bharati), Dadi (Sheila Dixit), Amma (Jayalalita), and Cha-
clu (Rabri Devi) as their chief ministers.
Begum Khaleda 'entered' politics in 1981, when her
husband, Zia-ur Rahman, a former general-turned-president, was assassinated by rebel military officers. Ever
since, the sole purpose of her politics has been to prove
her late husband right by running down Begum Hasina, daughter of assassinated prime minister Mujibur
Rehman. Benazir has failed to grow out of the shadows
of her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had vowed to eat
grass but build the nuclear bomb at any cost. President
Chandrika of Sri Lanka prefers to walk the razors edge
of communalism like her father, but times have changed
since 1959. Shailaja Acharya—the most illustrious Nobody of Nepali politics—too likes to allude to the mid-
seventies' conciliatory politics of her late uncle and mentor BP Koirala, without realising that there is no Cold
War rivalry anymore to sustain the world's attention on
any public figure in competition with the monarch.
There is little doubt that we need many more female
Southasians in academia, media, business, diplomacy,
and politics. But our common experience shows that matriarchal leaders are mirror images of their patriarchal
predecessors. The women who succeed in life become as
Mamata
Khaleda
hand or spinster Shailaja Acharya of Nepal—suffer from
an acute masculinity syndrome. It is hard to see how they
are any different from their male colleagues on the all-important question of empowerment of women.
Dowager Ammas
Tliere is a very long tradition of dowager begums and
maharanis ruling small fiefdoms, on behalf of their little
ones, in Southasia. Surrounded by men in their courts,
these women had to measure up to male expectations.
They did so by becoming more like them. From Razia
Sultan to Jhansi ki Rani in the battlefield and from Jayalalitha Jayaram to Mamata Banerji in the electoral arena,
khoob ladi mardani (fought like men) has always been the
ideal of women in statecraft and politics.
No wonder, Indira Gandhi aspired to be an a\lfa male,
and managed to become the only 'man' of all her cabinets
after 1971—masculinity understood by her as the epitome
of aggressiveness, imperiousness, intolerance, and the
dispenser of patronage. The way things are, there is no
reason why the women of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh,
Delhi, Tamilnadu, and Bihar should rejoice that they now
have Bhabhi (Vasundhara Raje Scindia), Behanji (Uma
insensitive as men. Tire challenge then is how to get more
feminine, if not feminist, women in public life in Southasia.
Several likely solutions are suggested by TV Talking
Heads, print Big Foot pens, and radio Loud Mouths. Most
of them end up stressing the supposed role of education
in the emancipation of women. That is a suggestion that
can never go wrong. But given the snail's pace of spread
of female education in the region, it will be quite a while
before we will get women-like-women in positions of
power and authority. Meanwhile, why not tinker with a
change of diet to free our Maa jis and Ammas from rolling
endless number of rotis for the insatiaible hunger of the
ever increasing brood? Did you know that the three of the
eight biggest countries of the world (in terms of population) are in Southasia, and that the rate of population
increase in Pakistan is close to 2.7 percent?
We must eat less rotis, and go back to gruels like
Dhindo (maize), Dalia (pulses), or Khichadi (rice and
pulses) before we mature into eating sprouts that set the
women free from the chulha-chowka (hearth and wash)
routine. The earthen bowls must return to replace the
grain-plates that we eat from. b
-CK Lai
2004 February 17/2 HIMAL
43
 lastpage
PTV and Mr. Khan
T^ he days when people in Pakistan sat glued to their
/   television sets watching 'Waris' on PTV have given
way to moribund 'broiler chicken' productions lacking
the punch to hold viewer interest through even one full
run. Salahuddin Tino might have won an award for
his acting skills at the 12th PTV awards held last October
but his performance or that of his counterpart Farha
Nadeem was not good enough to up the consistently
falling viewer interest in PTV. Even a Survival attempt
by PTV to launch PTV World could not wean the viewer
- the content lacked originality. While the famed 'family
dramas' on PTV have lost their lustre to the host of new
channels  airing game shows
('Maal  Ka  Sawaal'  on   Indus
Vision), entertainment shows
('Hum Sab Umeed Say Hain' on
GEO), current affairs pro-grammes
('Question Time Pakistan' on BBC
World) and even drama serials
('Umrao Jan Ada' on GEO), the
AQ    Khan    apology    earlier
this month on television was a
clincher all the way. It was the
mother of all reality-TV shows for
Pakistan, only this time PTV got
lucky.
"I have much to answer for. The investigations
have established that many of the reported activities
did occur and these were inevitably initiated at my
behest...I was confronted with the evidence and findings
and I halve voluntarily admitted that much of it is true
and accurate...! have chosen to appear before you to
offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a
traumatised nation", said Khan. This was followed by
a presidential pardon on the recommendation of the
cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan
Jamali.
While the craft of 'sweeping it under the carpet' was
on accurate display, a 'carpet fibre' syndrome emerges
in this case as well. It goes back to the mid 1970s when
a certain Zulfikar .Mi Bhutto vowed that his country
would "eat grass", if necessary, to develop nuclear
weapons. This was after the Indian side tested its first
nuclear device. Even in the second half of 2001,
President Musharraf warned in not-so-unclear terms,
regarding threat of Indian aggression, that Pakistanis
had not worn choodiyaan (bangles; gender insensitive
metaphor for spineless) and his references on other
occasions to 'wars which would no longer be conventional'.
One element that comes clear from all of this about
the nuclear status of Pakistan is that - for Pakistan the
bomb was much more than a strategic leverage, it was a
matter of pride. The iconic status accorded to AQ Khan
is nonpareil especially if one sits to compare the
Pakistani public's perception of him, as opposed to
state-felicitation, to nuclear scientists elsewhere so much
so that Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri was
said to have said that 'nobody in Pakistan can "touch"
.Abdul Qadeer Khan'. When a tactical weapon reveals
more than ammunition value, heroes are created and
a^Q Khan was one such hero.
For such attachment to the weapon, it seems rather
surreal that the weapon of pride or parts/designs
thereof could be shuttled around without the knowledge
if not assistance of the military.
When former Pakistani army
chief General Mirza Aslam Beg's
clarifies on BBC World's 'Hard-
talk Pakistan' that the army has
'never been in control' of the
country's nuclear programme,
except in times of military rule, it
seems even more out of place.
Interestingly the prodigal son they
are talking about had a XXX (Vin
Diesel's spy thriller) streak from
much before. That he allegedly
managed to steal blueprints for
making uranium enrichment centrifuges from the
Physics Dynamics Research Laboratory (known as
FDO) in .Amsterdam that conducted research on behalf
of U REN CO, a Britisn-Dutch-German nuclear engineering consortium and for which a Dutch court sentenced
him to four years' jail in 1983 after he was convicted in
absentia of nuclear espionage is less known. The
decision, however, was overturned on a technicality
and Khan still denies the allegations.
The revelations which sparked off the reality-drama
on PTV had a pan Asian sweep. Khan is alleged to have
had an associate called Tahir in Sri Lanka who in turn
had alleged links to the Malaysian prime minister's
son who in turn had a company manufacturing
centrifuge parts which in turn sent this particular
consignment to Dubai from where it was to reach Libya.
Everyone it seems took turns, including AQ Khan on
TV, President Musharraf and even GWB talking of AQK
on TV and now the whole world in turn has no clue as
to why anything to do with the 'N' word was hushed
up in this manner.
Coming back to PTV, they have nothing less than a
Bond movie in their hands. They had the locales and
now they have a story idea. A crime thriller with an
international star-cast would be an ideal beginning to
regain ground lost to the other channels. About time
that the scriptwriter gets to work! A
HIMAL 17/2 February 2004
 HIMAL
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