July 01, 2015

Tension in Muzaffarnagar village, Muslims remained besieged in a mosque for half a day

The Indian Express

Tension in Muzaffarnagar village, Muslims remained besieged in a mosque for half a day

Mourning family members at Bhumma village on Tuesday.(Expres Photo by: Azad)
Written by AMIT SHARMA | Bhumma (muzaffarnagar) | Updated: July 1, 2015 7:32 am

A group of Muslims from Bhumma village in Muzaffarnagar remained besieged in a mosque for half a day after it was surrounded by angry villagers protesting the killing of a Hindu youth nearby.

The Muslims were rescued on Tuesday afternoon after police dispersed the mob with a lathicharge and by firing shots in the air.

Trouble began Monday night after four motorcycle-borne assailants allegedly shot Satveer (25) outside his house in Bhumma. Soon, dozens of Hindus gathered outside the victim’s house to protest police inaction. Three policemen were reportedly in the area when the murder took place.

Police said the mob pelted stones and even fired weapons. “Several Muslims who live close to the area took refuge in the mosque. They remained there till Tuesday afternoon till we rescued them after dispersing the mob,” a senior police officer said.

He added that a police constable was injured in the mob rampage. The protesters also torched a vehicle and damaged several others.

Police said two of Satveer’s assailants — Yaqub and Monu — have been arrested. “We have arrested two persons, while a massive hunt is on to arrest the other two. The situation in the town is tense but under control,” said Rakesh Jolly, Superintendent of Police (Crime), Muzaffarnagar, who has camped in the area since Monday night.
Bhumma Muzaffarnagar, Bhumma village Muzaffarnagar, Muzaffarnagar clash, Muslims Muzaffarnagar, Hindu youth killed Muzaffarnagar, Satveer Muzaffarnagar, Assault by Muslim, Muzaffarnagar clash, Muzaffarnagar violence, Muzaffarnagar News, Uttar pradesh News, India News, indian express Satveer’s mother waits for the body. (Express Photo by: Azad)

Meanwhile, Satveer’s family blamed police inaction for his death. “He was shot dead in the presence of three policemen, including one inspector, but they did not even attempt to nab the culprits, who managed to flee,” Arjun, Satveer’s younger brother, told The Indian Express.

Following the incident, the station house officer of Meerapur police station, Shoaib, and three other policemen posted there have been suspended by SSP H N Singh.

Villagers are demanding that a murder case be lodged against them.

“A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been announced from the Chief Minister’s discretionary fund, while a note has also been forwarded to the government for a job for his younger brother Arjun. The locals demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh initially but a settlement was reached,” said Ram Kishan Sharma, ADM (Finance).

This is the third incident that has led to communal tension in western Uttar Pradesh in recent times.

On June 27, in Rampur Maliharan in Saharanpur, one Wasim died in cross-firing between two communities. In Bhojpur, Ghaziabad, the next day, 18 persons were injured following a row over the use of loudspeakers in a temple next to a mosque during evening prayers.
First Published on: July 1, 2015 1:41 am
-- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/tension-in-muzaffarnagar-village-muslims-forced-to-take-refuge-in-mosque/99/

The Indian Medical Association demands strict action against Ramdev

The Indian Medical Association demands strict action against Ramdev

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev

The Indian Medical Association has demanded strict and immediate action against yoga guru Baba Ramdev stating that his claims to cure heart diseases, diabetes and cancer were false.

“His claims are in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement Act), 1954, which prohibits quackery. Baba Ramdev has a large fan following and though we appreciate his propagating yoga and its benefits, we will not allow anyone to make claims about helping cure cancer, diabetes and heart diseases,” said IMA joint secretary Dr. Anil Bansal.

“This is not the first time that we have complained against Baba Ramdev and his claims about offering cure. However, no action has been taken against him or his group so far. We now appeal to the Drug Controller of India and the Union Health Ministry to take action against Baba Ramdev,” added Dr. Bansal.

IMA has noted that Baba Ramdev’s action was in clear violation of the law.

“Baba Ramdev has advertised claiming to offer cure for several diseases including hypertension, arthritis and thyroid disorders. We are receiving a lot of complaints about the wrong treatment given by Baba Ramdev or his associates. A lot of people have suffered by taking his medicines. Diabetic patients have suffered a lot of complication by taking his treatment .Hypertension patients have suffered stroke because these patients had left their allopathic treatment and started taking Baba’s medicine in the hope of cure,” he added.

Chairman (Anti-Quackery Cell) Delhi Medical Association Dr. V.N. Sharma noted: “We have been asking the Government to take action but so far haven’t met with much success. The fact that the Western countries have refused to take ‘medicines’ made by the Baba Ramdev’s group should have been alarm bells enough for the Union Health Ministry to take action against what he is doing in his own country. Since Baba Ramdev has a large fan base, we need to urge the Government to take immediate action to ensure that more people don’t fall prey to his claims.”

Source : The Hindu

India: Delhi University has gotten lost in a quagmire of parochial interests


Parochial forces put DU in coma
1 July 2015, New Delhi, Sidharth Mishra

Delhi University has gotten lost in a quagmire of parochial interests.
Having been intimately associated with the functioning of Delhi University for over three decades now, first as a bright-eyed student and then as a reporter on the university beat, I can say with a certain force of conviction that the once hallowed campus is passing through a very dire phase. The annual farce, which has come to be enacted in the name of admission cut-off list, speaks volumes about the calibre of those responsible for administering the university and its several colleges. I am tempted to recall what late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to say on the matter of granting independence to our country. Churchill had famously presciently predicted, “Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.”

It is utterly criminal of the Delhi University college principals to have announced such stratospherically high cut-off lists. The result of this imprudent decision was that seats in the prestigious university found few takers, if any. An interesting newspaper report about College of Vocational Studies (CVS), which announced a cut-off of 100% in one of the courses mentioned, “A day after College of Vocational Studies (CVS) announced its cut-off for BSc Computer Science (H) as 95-100 per cent, the campus was next to empty with very few coming to take admission.” When the principal of the college was quizzed on why he kept such a sky high cut-off mark, he gave a very pedestrian reply, “We had to keep the cut-offs high because last year there were over admissions in many departments like History and B Com. Although we had 62 seats, we ended up admitting 150 students in History. We wanted to avoid such a situation this year,” .That the Delhi University and its colleges have not been able to find a scientific method to establish a reasonable cut-off percentage and goes by the trial and error method instead reflects very poorly on both its faculty and administration.

What is pushing the Delhi University to this state of comatose? Historian Ramchandra Guha in his seminal essay on Pluralism in the Indian Universities wrote, “In the history of the Indian university, the forces favouring pluralism have had to contend with the opposing forces of parochialism. These are ever present, often powerful, and sometimes overwhelming. One form of parochialism is identity politics. Particularly in staff appointments, the claims of caste or region or religion can play as significant a role as academic qualification or distinction. Often, the candidate with the best connections gets the job rather than the best candidate. And so the disputes that now dominate many if not most of our universities are not over the principles and methods of science and scholarship; they are over pay and promotion and the distribution of seats and posts among different castes, communities, and factions.” If Guha needed to validate his pet theory on parochialism, he could commission a fresh study of Delhi University to get sound empirical results which support his theory.

In the early 2000s, I had the privilege of working closely with the then vice-chancellor Deepak Nayyar. He was an eminent economist, who gave up his job in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) for a career in academics, and had initiated reforms in the selection process of college faculty despite vociferous opposition. “If we do not arrest the decay now, Delhi University would never recover,” he had mentioned to me during an interaction. He had then initiated the process, wherein the university representatives came to have a greater say than the college management body members. This system did help restore some credibility to the selection process of faculty and the decay was perhaps arrested for the time being.

However, now that people “with sweet tongues and silly hearts” are at the helm of affairs on campus, parochialism in its worst possible form has come back to haunt the selection process. I was told about a perplexing appointment made in a women’s college, whose governing body is headed by a university professor as the vice-chancellor’s nominee. The person who has been appointed is married to an influential RSS functionary and is from the same community, which dominates university leadership today. To facilitate her appointment subject experts were brought in from various universities in Uttar Pradesh, as if no subject matter experts existed in Delhi University to begin with.

It must be noted that the person who presided over this bogus appointment process had graced various newspaper pages some months back. This was when his ‘better’ half was being appointed on a permanent basis in another college which had no workload to begin with. Incidentally, this gentleman too comes from a university in UP. As a matter of fact people educated or teaching at obscure universities of Uttar Pradesh have suddenly found great favour in DU, especially if they happen to be from the life sciences back ground.

I was also informed about the incidence of another life sciences professor, who too has studied and taught in Uttar Pradesh, and is now functioning as chairman of another college as the vice-chancellor’s nominee. He got his daughter appointed as the lecturer overlooking the claims of several other candidates. It is deeply saddening that the quotidian disputes that now dominate many, if not most of our universities, are not over the first principles and methods of pedagogy and scholarship; they are over trivial issues like pay scales, promotion and the distribution of posts among different powerful castes, communities, and factions.

The Prime Minister must make an intervention and try and save India’s most prestigious academic campus. Generations of Indians would benefit greatly if Prime Minister decided to do his next Maan Ki Baat on the state of affairs in my Alma mater.

The author is president Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice and Consulting Editor, Millennium Post

India wasn't the first place Sanskrit was recorded – it was Syria (Shoaib Daniyal)


Fact check: India wasn't the first place Sanskrit was recorded – it was Syria

As the Narendra Modi government celebrates Sanskrit, a look at the oldest known speakers of the language: the Mitanni people of Syria.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons
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After yoga, Narendra Modi has turned his soft power focus to Sanskrit.  The Indian government is enthusiastically participating in the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok. Not only is it sending 250 Sanskrit scholars and partly funding the event, the conference will see the participation of two senior cabinet ministers: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who inaugurated the conference on Sunday, and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, who will attend its closing ceremony on July 2. Inexplicably, Swaraj also announced the creation of the post of Joint Secretary for Sanskrit in the Ministry of External Affairs. How an ancient language, which no one speaks, writes or reads, will help promote India’s affairs abroad remains to be seen.

On the domestic front, though, the uses of Sanskrit are clear: it is a signal of the cultural nationalism of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Sanskrit is the liturgical language of Hinduism, so sacred that lower castes (more than 75% of modern Hindus) weren’t even allowed to listen to it being recited. Celebrating Sanskrit does little to add to India’s linguistic skills – far from teaching an ancient language, India is still to get all its people educated in their modern mother tongues. But it does help the BJP push its own brand of hyper-nationalism.

Unfortunately, reality is often a lot more complex than simplistic nationalist myths. While Sanskrit is a marker of Hindu nationalism for the BJP, it might be surprised, even shocked, to know that the first people to leave behind evidence of having spoken Sanskrit aren't Hindus or Indians – they were Syrians.

The Syrian speakers of Sanskrit

The earliest form of Sanskrit is that used in the Rig Veda (called Old Indic or Rigvedic Sanskrit). Amazingly, Rigvedic Sanskrit was first recorded in inscriptions found not on the plains of India but in in what is now northern Syria.

Between 1500 and 1350 BC, a dynasty called the Mitanni ruled over the upper Euphrates-Tigris basin, land that corresponds to what are now the countries of Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. The Mitannis spoke a language called Hurrian, unrelated to Sanskrit. However, each and every Mitanni king had a Sanskrit name and so did many of the local elites. Names include Purusa (meaning “man”), Tusratta (“having an attacking chariot”), Suvardata (“given by the heavens”), Indrota (“helped by Indra”) and Subandhu, a name that exists till today in India.

Imagine that: the irritating, snot-nosed Subandhu from school shares his name with an ancient Middle Eastern prince. Goosebumps. (Sorry, Subandhu).

The Mitanni had a culture, which, like the Vedic people, highly revered chariot warfare. A Mitanni horse-training manual, the oldest such document in the world, uses a number of Sanskrit words: aika (one), tera (three), satta (seven) and asua (ashva, meaning “horse”). Moreover, the Mitanni military aristocracy was composed of chariot warriors called “maryanna”, from the Sanskrit word "marya", meaning “young man”.

The Mitanni worshipped the same gods as those in the Rig Veda (but also had their own local ones). They signed a treaty with a rival king in 1380 BC which names Indra, Varuna, Mitra and the Nasatyas (Ashvins) as divine witnesses for the Mitannis. While modern-day Hindus have mostly stopped the worship of these deities, these Mitanni gods were also the most important gods in the Rig Veda.

This is a striking fact. As David Anthony points out in his book, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, this means that not only did Rigvedic Sanskrit predate the compilation of the Rig Veda in northwestern India but even the “central religious pantheon and moral beliefs enshrined in the Rig Veda existed equally early”.

How did Sanskrit reach Syria before India?

What explains this amazing fact? Were PN Oak and his kooky Hindutva histories right? Was the whole world Hindu once upon a time? Was the Kaaba in Mecca once a Shivling?

Unfortunately, the history behind this is far more prosaic.

The founding language of the family from which Sanskrit is from is called Proto-Indo-European. Its daughter is a language called Proto-Indo-Iranian, so called because it is the origin of the languages of North India and Iran (linguists aren’t that good with catchy language names).

The, well, encyclopedic, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, edited by JP Mallory and DQ Adams, writes of the earliest speakers of Proto-Indo-Iranian emerging in the southern Urals and Kazakhstan. These steppe people, representing what is called the Andronovo culture, first appear just before 2000 BC.

From this Central Asian homeland diverged a group of people who had now stopped speaking Proto-Indo-Iranian and were now conversing in the earliest forms of Sanskrit. Some of these people moved west towards what is now Syria and some east towards the region of the Punjab in India.

David Anthony writes that the people who moved west were possibly employed as mercenary charioteers by the Hurrian kings of Syria. These charioteers spoke the same language and recited the same hymns that would later on be complied into the Rig Veda by their comrades who had ventured east.

These Rigvedic Sanskrit speakers usurped the throne of their employers and founded the Mitanni kingdom. While they gained a kingdom, the Mitanni soon lost their culture, adopting the local Hurrian language and religion. However, royal names, some technical words related to chariotry and of course the gods Indra, Varuna, Mitra and the Nasatyas stayed on.

The group that went east and later on composed the Rig Veda, we know, had better luck in preserving their culture. The language and religion they bought to the subcontinent took root. So much so that 3,500 years later, modern Indians would celebrate the language of these ancient pastoral nomads all the way out in Bangkok city.

Hindutvaising Sanskrit’s rich history

Unfortunately, while their language, religion and culture is celebrated, the history of the Indo-European people who brought Sanskrit into the subcontinent is sought to be erased at the altar of cultural nationalism. Popular national myths in India urgently paint Sanskrit as completely indigenous to India. This is critical given how the dominant Hindutva ideology treats geographical indigenousness as a prerequisite for nationality. If Sanskrit, the liturgical language of Hinduism, has a history that predates its arrival in India, that really does pull the rug from out under the feet of Hindutva.

Ironically, twin country Pakistan’s national myths go in the exact opposite direction: their of-kilter Islamists attempt to make foreign Arabs into founding fathers and completely deny their subcontinental roots.

Both national myths, whether Arab or Sanskrit, attempt to imagine a pure, pristine origin culture uncontaminated by unsavoury influences. Unfortunately the real world is very often messier than myth. Pakistanis are not Arabs and, as the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture rather bluntly puts it: “This theory [that Sanskrit and its ancestor Proto-Indo-European was indigenous to India], which resurrects some of the earliest speculations on the origins of the Indo-Europeans, has not a shred of supporting evidence, either linguistic or archeological”.

Dalits are segregated, and have unequal access to public goods in India’s biggest cities

June 30 2015

The stark inequality within Indian cities
Dalits are segregated, and have unequal access to public goods in India’s biggest cities

Pranav Sidhwani

Calling the Indian village a ‘den of iniquity’, the founding father of India’s constitution, B.R. Ambedkar, exhorted Dalits to migrate from villages to cities to escape the shackles of caste. Ambedkar’s view continues to influence the dominant narrative on caste in India.
In the popular imagination, caste is the key marker of identity only in villages. In contrast, cities are often seen as sites of emancipation, where even the lowest in the caste ladder has better access to public goods, and greater opportunities in life. Much of this is been based on anecdotal evidence, and has rarely been backed by empirical research.
An analysis of the latest ward level census data for the 10 most populous cities in India shows that we may need to rethink how we view cities. Most of these cities display a high level of residential segregation, with scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) concentrated in a few areas of the city. Further, access to public goods such as tap water is much lower in these places.
Focussing on wards with an unusually high proportion of SC/STs relative to the city (outlier Census wards), and analysing the level of access to in-house water, a basic public good, and in-house toilets, a basic private good, a stark picture emerges, as the chart below shows.
In the 10 cities analyzed, these “extreme” wards have at least twice the proportion of SC/STs compared to the city average. Moreover, in all cities barring Delhi, these “extreme” wards do worse in terms of household access to in-house water and in-house toilets.
Kolkata merits special mention. Out of a total of 141 wards in the city, with SC/STs making up 5.6% of the total population, it is only in 12 of these wards that more than 40% of the city’s SC/ST population resides in. These wards do significantly worse than average in terms of household access to in-house water, with 43% of households of these wards without water supply in their homes, as compared to 27% of households overall in the city. Even a naïve study of the politics of the city would lead one to expect a different outcome. This finding merits a deeper study of the dynamics at play in the city.
Urban sociologist Robert E. Park noted in 1926 that social relations are inevitably correlated with spatial relations. His insight has driven almost all studies of residential segregation. While there are many studies on segregation of the black community in the US, comparable studies for Dalits and tribals in India are rarer.
As India urbanises, we need to understand that Indian cities are not just spaces for buildings, streets and offices. The city is a space for dispute, citizenship and politics. Cities can offer residents an opportunity to take part in the resources of the city or can restrict the same. The choices that we make would determine whether we would end up with a more inclusive city, as Ambedkar envisioned, or an exclusive, unequal city.
Pranav Sidhwani is with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

India: Were the nuts of the Hindutva Right involved in making Wiki entries on Nehru family from NIC IP addresses?

The Times of India


Wiki entries on Nehru family edited from NIC IP?

Sandhya Soman, TNN | Jul 1, 2015, 03.34 AM IST

MUMBAI: A software that tracks anonymous Wikipedia edits has found that mischievous changes were made to the entries on the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his forefathers on June 26. The revisions, which originated from a government of India IP (Internet Protocol) address, said Nehru's grandfather Gangadhar Nehru was a Muslim.

These edits were later deleted by volunteer editors of the online encyclopedia. The discovery was broadcast by @AnonGoIWPEdits - the Twitter handle of the software that was created by Pranesh Prakash.

Prakash, policy director at Centre for Internet and Society, noted that all these edits originated from the same IP address. When the IP was verified on whois.domaintools.com, it was found that it belongs to government-owned National Informatics Centre (NIC).

"All this shows is that it is an IP address provided by NIC. It doesn't say anything more than that," said Prakash. When asked if the user could be pinpointed, he said that it would be difficult as it isn't clear as to who all have access to the NIC network.

The malicious edits stated, "Gangadhar was born as a Muslim by the name of Ghiasuddin Ghazi but changed his name to a Hindu Ganga Dhar to escape British clutches."

Similar edits were made on the pages of Ganga Dhar's son Motilal Nehru and grandson Jawaharlal. On the former PM's page, salacious details of his "affair" with Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of India's first governor general, Lord Mountbatten, were also added.

Although NIC computers can be hacked into, Prakash said it was highly unlikely that someone would do that to edit a Wiki entry. Spoofing an IP address again takes a lot of skill and Prakash wondered whether anyone would do that to badmouth public personalities.

Prakash started looking into anonymous edits around nine months ago after seeing similar efforts in the UK (?@parliamentedits) and in the US (@congressedits).

"I think it is interesting to see what government people (sic) are editing anonymously," Prakash said.

"Most edits are inane. A great number merely introduce spelling errors," said Prakash. Once in a while, interesting edits like these happen only to be reverted by the strong Wiki community as most of these edits are without citations or attribution. "These changes were reverted in minutes, in one case in one minute," Prakash said.

June 28, 2015

India: Narendra Modi govt plans official celebration of Raksha Bandhan on August 29

The Hindu
NEW DELHI, June 26, 2015

Now, govt. to celebrate Raksha Bandhan

by Smita Gupta

After the much-hyped International Day of Yoga on June 21 that was packaged as a manifestation of India’s growing “soft power”, there are reports that the government plans official celebration of Raksha Bandhan on August 29, with RSS endorsement.

A Ministerial committee, which includes Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani and Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ananth Kumar, will supervise the government-sponsored Raksha Bandhan celebrations, sources said. The annual festival, in which brothers vow to protect their sisters, is one that has always found favour with the RSS. It is believed that celebrating Raksha Bandhan “is a way to protect Hindu culture and live the values enshrined in it”, as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently phrased it.

source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/now-govt-to-celebrate-raksha-bandhan/article7355510.ece

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Hindustan Times

After yoga day, Modi govt gears up for Raksha Bandhan

Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi| Updated: Jun 24, 2015 07:21 IST

Children tie ‘Rakhi’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan in New Delhi. (PTI File Photo)

The NDA government has decided to celebrate the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan on August 29 —possibly not on a scale as huge as International Day of Yoga but matching in fervour and spirit.

The festival, dear to the ruling BJP as well as its affiliate organisations, came up for discussion at a recent cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Following this, a four-member committee, comprising Union ministers Smriti Irani and Ananth Kumar, was set up to supervise the nitty-gritty of celebrating Raksha Bandhan Diwas in a big way this year, sources said.

“Cabinet ministers might be asked to visit their constituencies to celebrate the festival in which sisters tie a sacred thread or rakhi on their brother’s arm,” an official said.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological wellspring of the BJP, had called for celebrating the festival where brothers reaffirm vows to protect their sisters.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said in Bhubaneswar on Raksha Bandhan last year that the festival has national significance. “Celebrating the festival is a way to protect Hindu culture and live the values enshrined in it.”

An RSS Raksha Bandhan function was held at urban development and parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s residence in Delhi in 2014 after the BJP rode to power with an overwhelming majority.

Union ministers, BJP MPs and RSS leaders, including Bhaiyaji Joshi who was chief guest, attended the function.

There were also reports that hundreds of old widows spending their twilight years at ashrams in Varanasi made 1,000 rakhis last year for “new brother” Modi, who made his Lok Sabha debut from the holy city by the Ganga.

source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/after-world-yoga-day-modi-govt-gears-up-for-raksha-bandhan/article1-1362063.aspx