Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kashmir: Story of failed support among Indian Muslims

Zaigham Murtaza

For last sixty years, living with an apprehension to prove their political trustworthiness Indian Muslims have mostly neglected the Kashmir movement and have hardly taken any stance. Even, those who never miss any opportunity to raise their voice against discrimination and killing of the minorities in the ever-prevailing riots from time to time keep mum on the killing of civilians in Kashmir. To the dismay of Kashmiris, Muslims from rest of India and their Human Right activists failed to notice the recently found, unmarked mass graves in Kashmir.

“We are sorry but have no complaints from our brethren in India”, says Yasin Malik, a known face of resistance in Kashmir who has now adopted a Gandhian way of non-violent politics. “They keep silent for their very own people, although they find time and voices for far away Palestine, Iraq and even Libya, he complains.

Actually, the Kashmir has become a point to prove one’s patriotism in India. To side with the Kashmiris is not less than siding with the Pakistan, who is being accused for all the problems including the militancy in the region. The nationalists raise occasionally the slogans to save Kashmir in the programs that may have not a single point of relevance with the state.

“Kashmir itself is a complex problems for Indian Muslims”, says Dr. Mohibbul Haq, professor of Human Rights at Aligarh Muslim University. “So complex that causes more problems to our own peaceful life”, he says while adding that the intensity of the nationalist sentiments can be understood when saving the Kashmir and anti-Pakistan rhetoric becomes an election agenda for some groups in the states like Gujrat, Uttar Pradesh and even the south most Karnataka.

Interestingly, in Kashmir the security forces have encountered with militants with foreign nationalities, including the Afghans, Uzbeks, Arabs and Pakistanis but the intelligence reports and the data from military establishments never found any such involvements from the Indian Muslims during last 65 years of struggle in Kashmir.

Now, when the state Human Rights Commission in Kashmir is claiming that they have found 2730 bodies in the unmarked graves in Kashmir, the issue has found no buyers among the Indian Muslims. Earlier it was assumed that these bodies may have been of the unidentified militants killed in military operations, but the assumptions have been proved false as more than 500 bodies have been identified as locals and more revelations are expected after the DNA and similar test reports comes in. This also has been ignored by the Indian media which was busy in covering the anti-graft movement of Gandhian social activist Anna Hazare. Prophesising peace and Gandhian philosophy all around the world, even no Gandhian found the time to condemn the killing en masse and the people responsible.

SA Aiyer a leading columnist raises the concern over the response of the Indian people over such findings. “Even Pakistan is responsible for these killings, why aren’t people come out”, he asks, while adding that after all people killed are humans first.

Interestingly, killing of around 2000 people in the Gujrat’s infamous mayhem of 2002 is still a big issue for the near about 140 million Muslims residing in various states in India. The secular politics in the nation is more about the talks of anti-riots and victims of more than 200 riots the minorities have faced during last 65 years of Independence. But for Kashmir, there is not even a single voice of dissent. For the article we tried to contact many clerics, politicians and the social activists but no one dared to challenge the notion of patriotism bound with the sentiments for the state of Kashmir in India.

On the term of anonymity, one cleric only says that he has sympathy towards the Kashmiris but cannot make a comment as he don’t wants to be a part of any political controversy.

“You know our situation”, he says while adding that he will only attract opposing nationalists, intelligence agencies and lot more controversies at his doorstep if he talks about killings in Kashmir.

Although, the Indian Muslims fail to take any clear stand they have a general notion that both the states of India and Pakistan have ruined the fortunes of the people who once boasted to be the residents of paradise on the earth.

“The issue of Kashmir is the case of false ego and hypocrisy”, says Syed Hasan Kazim, scholar at Nelson Mandela Institute of war and conflict studies at Jamia Millia Islamia Universsity in Delhi. “If Junagarh was integrated to the nation on the grounds of Muslim ruler against the will of majority subjects, then Pakistan has a valid case on Kashmir”, he says, discussing the fact that during the integration process of the Union of India the states of Junagarh, Hyderabad and Bhopal were annexed to the Union of India on the grounds that there the population was Hindu in majority with a Muslim ruler and their decision either to go with Pakistan or remain Independent as per the Mountbatten Plan was against the will of the subjects. If such was the issue than why not the majority Muslim population under the Hindu Dogra ruler in Kashmir was allowed to decide their own fate.

For last sixty five years the issue has been at the core of the controversy in Indian subcontinent leaving the two nations, India and Pakistan having fought the 4 wars and busy in anti-insurgency operation. But, it seems that the Indian Muslims have submitted there will to the majority voices, who want a tight hold on Kashmir at any cost, even if there are more 70,000 bodies are found, the official number of people get killed during last 6 decades of violence in the state.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Myths of Women Political Empowerment

You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.
- Jawaharlal Nehru

History of democracy in India ways back to during the 6th century BC with the historical evidences to the existence of republics (The Ganas and the Sanghas). Diodorus, the Greek historian without offering any details mentions the existence of small independent Democracies, with Licchavi prominently highlighted.
The official existence of Panchayat bodies in India also dates back to the ancient times. The historical books, the ancient scriptures and epics talk about the existence of Panchayat bodies. “The multitude of ethnicities and people provided for the autonomy and self-determination of the villages, city-states, republics and constitutional kingdoms through the observance of Dharma. The villages ruled by their elected representatives and were, therefore, autonomous and self-governing administrative units having the power to manage their educational, economic social, administrative and other requirements”.
With the advent of British rule in India, the Panchayati Raj system eroded which could only be revived after the Independence in 1947 and that too took so many years. During the decades of 1950 and 1960 several states adopted the Panchayati Raj system or the local self governments. In 1992, the system was given a constitutional cover by the 73rd amendment to the Constitution of India.
With all the golden scribes on Democracy the Indian political system all carries the blot of partiality and marginalization of the females. Although, at Panchayat level the women are shielded with quota system and certain number of seats are reserved (ranging from 33% to 50% varying from state to state) for them in local Panchayat bodies or the three tier system of local self government (the village Panchayat for rural, the municipal bodies in urban area, the block level and district Panchayat bodies), the women have failed to secure an independent position in the socio-political system.
The disparities exist not only in the field of education, jobs and the status in society but also in political arena. Provisional data released for the census of 2011 In 2011 India counted only 914 girls aged six and under for every 1,000 boys. Also the census data suggests the big gender gap. The data shows male literacy rate of 82.14% whereas the females lag behind with a wide gap of almost 20 percent at 65.46%.
Economically too, women are still dependent on males as most of them are not allowed to work outside their homes. Female employment rate varies from state to state (4.4% to 48.8%) and in northern states shows the poor trends with total of 31% of the total workforce in India.
Politically, they may have found representation at the lower levels, but that too is conditional (with actual powers vested in the hands of male members of the family). At the top women have failed to gain an equal opportunity status despite some individual and exceptional performances and have seen a stiff resistance from the political blocks and the parliamentarians for the proposed women representation Bill.
Even the voting trends show the poor rate of participation of women in the political process. Almost half the women remain aloof of the polling booth are forced to do so. At non-reserved seats, hardly any women dare to pose a challenge to male candidates. Very rarely, women win an election at non-reserved seat.
At Panchayat level the condition is worst as most of the elected females are either illiterate or bound to the shackles of patriarchies. At most of the time either the father, brother or the husband participates in the proceedings meant for the elected members of local bodies. Even officials have failed to curb the practice and even sometime they are supportive to the practice. Women are being used as a rubber stamp and their thumb impression has no freewill of its own.
It doesn’t mean that everything is wrong with the system. There have been some extraordinary outcomes from the existing system itself. There are the examples when the women representatives in local bodies have been an agent to real change. There are names like Changuna Raoji Sinalkar, sarpanch of Ranmala village in Maharashtra who made a path breaking success in the implementation of government policies, Anjibai who won the best sarpanch award in 2007 and 2009, Chhavi Rajawat of rajastha who probably is the first MBA sarpanch in India.
But these are just few to count. Majority falls into the second category of powerless, illiterate and unaware. They can be brought to the mainstream of success but this needs a stiff effort. They need to be made aware of their rights which they really deserve. Unless and until they are educated and trained for the actual participation, the objectives of reservation cant be met.
This can be achieved through awareness generation, capacity building, constant training and education. The target s cannot be achieved overnight, neither one should expect a drastic change in near future, But a start is to be made and should be made today. With every day passing the condition will only worsen and the vision of equality, justice (social and political) mentioned in the constitution of India will only further go blurred.

Solution to environmental Hazard named Plastic

Plastics along with the convenience to our life have brought lot of miseries for the environment. As a non-degradable material used plastics are choking our daily life. Only option available is recycling the plastics to make them usable, thus lessening the burden on environment.
Causing lot of civic problems ranging from choking the pipelines and drains to the waste management for the municipal bodies all over the world. The basic problem is that the plastics if burnt in open cause lot of pollution, if they are left they don’t decay.
• If plastic doesn’t biodegrade, what does it do? It “photo-degrades” – a process in which it is broken down by sunlight into smaller and smaller pieces, all of which are still plastic polymers, eventually becoming individual molecules of plastic, still too tough for anything to digest.

• For the last fifty-odd years, every piece of plastic that has made it from our shores to the Pacific Ocean, has been breaking down and accumulating in the central Pacific gyre.

• In Handbook of Environmental Health, published by CRC Press in 2002, Herman Koren claims, “By the year 2000, 9.4% of the waste was plastic, or approximately 39.4 billion lb. Since 1960, plastic production has grown at two to three time the rate of the gross national product. More than half of all discarded plastic is packaging.

• Michelle Allsop highlights the danger of waste plastic to marine animals in Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, published by Greenpeace in November 2006 when she states, “Ingestion of marine debris is known to particularly affect sea turtles and seabirds but is also a problem for marine mammals and fish. Ingestion is generally thought to occur because the marine debris is mistaken for prey. Most of that erroneously ingested is plastic."
The plastic When compared to other materials like glass and metal, plastic polymers require tough processing to be recycled. Plastics have low entropy of mixing, which is due to the high molecular weight of their large polymer chains. A macromolecule interacts with its environment along its entire length, so its enthalpy of mixing is large compared to that of an organic molecule with a similar structure. Heating alone is not enough to dissolve such a large molecule; because of this, plastics must often be of nearly identical composition in order to mix efficiently.
When compared to other materials like glass and metal materials, plastic polymers require greater processing to be recycled. Plastics have low entropy of mixing, which is due to the high molecular weight of their large polymer chains. A macromolecule interacts with its environment along its entire length, so its enthalpy of mixing is large compared to that of an organic molecule with a similar structure. Heating alone is not enough to dissolve such a large molecule; because of this, plastics must often be of nearly identical composition in order to mix efficiently.
When different types of plastics are melted together they tend to phase-separate, like oil and water, and set in these layers. The phase boundaries cause structural weakness in the resulting material, meaning that polymer blends are only useful in limited applications.

Another barrier to recycling is the widespread use of dyes, fillers, and other additives in plastics. The polymer is generally too viscous to economically remove fillers, and would be damaged by many of the processes that could cheaply remove the added dyes. Additives are less widely used in beverage containers and plastic bags, allowing them to be recycled more often
Also it is a tough task to collect bottles from scraps, home & industrial wastes and recycle them only to be used again.
Plastic recycling is gaining popularity all over the globe, although in India it needs to be kick started. It will not only solve the environmental and civic problems to much of the extent but can also provide livelihood to many.
How to recycle the plastics
Interestingly, the most commonly used plastic are easier to recycle. The soda and water bottles, medicine containers, and many other common consumer product containers fell in this category. Made up of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) these bottles and containers can be recycled to furnished products like fiberfill for winter coats, sleeping bags, life jackets etc. The recycled plastic can also be used for making the furniture, home utilities, gardening baskets, auto accessories, combs, tennis ball felt etc.
PETE is assigned number 1 by The Society of The Plastic Industry (SPI) to allow consumers and recyclers to differentiate types of plastics while providing a uniform coding system for manufacturers (1 to 7 surrounded by triangle of arrows. This sign is displayed mostly at the bottom of the product.
The class 1 plastics are easy to recycle, can be converted into by products conveniently. The process is easy, cost effective and the technology involved is readily available at nominal costs.

The model for social sector
The social organizations can
• Take a social initiative to motivate the people to use bio-degradable plastics as well as bring in the habit of collecting the plastic wastes in homes for recycling.
• Awareness generation against the use of plastics and its hazards for the environment.
• Social organizations can work on the collection of the plastics and forwarding them to recycling units
• Also, they can take initiatives for the production of recycled plastics, manufacture goods from recycled plastics and marketing of such products.
The Outcome
• The livelihood: The unemployed youth, the poor, the destitute and rag pickers can get a sustainable livelihood.
• The environmental impact:
a) The action will bring awareness against the use of plastics in the project implementation area.
b) The participation of communities will bring curb the mismanagements of plastics.
c) The plastics recycling will help the environment to sustain
For sustainable development solutions, we all will have to take the responsibilities and that too at the earliest. If we don’t act we will run fast towards the dooms day and that won’t be natural, rather all the disaster will be men made.
We all need small but effective solutions based on community involvement. These can be locally based social interventions. We will have to develop the models where each individual have the role to contribute and a duty to share. The plastic recycling may not bring drastic change to the health of environment but it can at least ensure that we are conscious for the cause. We together can bring change and someone has to come up with initiative, Small but effective.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Myths of education in Karnataka

With 54,529 primary schools attended by 252,875 teachers and 8.495 million students Karnataka may have the haven for primary education, but the state’s total literacy rate of 67.04% suggests the different story. The government endeavors like Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and the School Chalo Campaigns have failed to erase the blot of illiteracy from the state. Interestingly, almost half of the female population in the state is still illiterate.

This eighth largest state in India boasts itself for the literacy rate slightly higher than the national average and the structure of higher education that is better than many of the states and union territories in India. This is one side of the story. Education is still a daydream for much of the tribal population, the scheduled castes, the poor and the marginalized people.

In its report due to be submitted to the Karnataka High Court, a committee headed by the former NHRC member Shivraj Patil to study the causes of child marriages the committee said poverty, illiteracy and lack of awareness were the prime reasons behind the social evils in the state. This admittance came when most of the government bodies were boasting the raise in the levels of literacy and living standards of the people of Karnataka.

Recent census data also suggest the poor state of education in the state, specially of the SC, SC and the minorities. Karnataka can claim that their position is far better them many other states but it is only a cosolation. Specially when we claim that the state is the home to the prestigious institutions of higher and technical educatin, home to the IT industry and much more, the slow progress in primary education is a dangerous sign.

Need of Urgent Action

Reasons behind the illiteracy on the same side are poverty and lack of awareness. Also, the social practices contribute a lot to raise the problem. There is an urgent need to address the issue. To meet the millennium development goals of 2015 education can be the best tool.

How the problem can be met out?

Total literacy cannot be achieved, until and unless each and every citizen is involved in the process. The deprived, marginalized and the poor shall be given equal opportunities. Also, there is an urgency to run an awareness program to address the issue so that the social stigma can be broken.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Street Children:They Need Care too

The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing:

>That the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;

>That children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

Abstract from Art 39 (Constitution of India)

Children are the foundation stones of the Human development. Abusive childhood doesn’t causes problem for an individual but also for a society. The notion of a healthy, crimeless and developed society loses its relevance if so many numbers deprived of the opportunity to grow live within its boundaries as the studies suggest that India is home to almost 20 percent of the 100 million populations that falls under the category of homeless street children.
The term ‘street children’ is usually applied to children under the age of 18, who either live or make a living on the streets. Some may have family connections, but others are simply abandoned or choose to run away from home, often due to domestic violence .Estimating the number of street children is extremely difficult due to the transient lifestyle they lead as well as the debates surrounding the precise definition of the term. Recent UNICEF estimates are as high as 100-150 million around the world.
Street children are highly concentrated in countries with struggling economies, but are also present in developed countries. Regardless of their location, they face hardships and exploitation. Street children are generally deprived of their right to education and have little or no access to the formal education system. The majority of them are illiterate and have either never been enrolled, or have dropped out of the formal education system, and it is difficult to secure funding for the kind of informal education which suits street children’s lives.
According to an estimate 33% of the total street children are below 10 years of age, while another 40% fell into the age band of 11 to 15 years. These children, who may have played an important role in the national and human growth, are living a miserable life. Exposed to various abuses, trafficking, and poor health, they need special care to be the part of mainstream.
Although various agencies have been trying to address the problem but no one has come up with a viable solution. A solution which may help these children to live a normal life and a normal life, that’s the fundamental right of every citizen.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Aspirin a day!

Aspirin, a commonly available headache pill is in news for its ability to curb certain type of cancers but our own specialists are suggesting that improper dosage of aspirin can lead to health disasters.

AN aspirin a day minimizes the risks of certain type of cancers, according to the recent research conducted in Britain. Brit researchers have claimed that aspirin reduces the overall death rates fell by 34 per cent for all cancers and 54 per cent for gastrointestinal cancers and longer the people were given the drug, better was the protection.

The British researchers also claimed that those who took the low dose of aspirin around the age of 45 or 50 for 20 to 30 years benefited the most and it may be because cancer rates rise with age.

Previously aspirin was found to a good solution for heart attack cases. A 75mg dose can prevent heart attacks and strokes even in people who have not been diagnosed with cardiovascular problems.

This research has further boosted the sales of already very popular aspirin on local counters. People are asking it even without any prescription slips.

“It is a very commonly sold drug”, says Rajiv Singh who runs a pharmacy. “People frequently ask it for common fever and aches”.

But the medical experts flout the idea of consuming aspirin without proper medical guidance. They believe that research may have been done in closed environment and is an objective study. This should not be generalized as the frequent consumption of aspirin can lead to major health problems.

“Aspirin dilutes the blood and hence reduces the chances of heart attack”, admits Dr. A.K Singh a Surgeon. “But I will never recommend aspirin to my patients so generally”, he says adding that it may risk their life and prove hazardous, specially in case one gets injured.

Also, the medical experts warn for not consuming an aspirin occasionally. “The frequent use of aspirin may help in cancers but certainly it will give birth to some new problem”, says Dr. Ashish Asthana, a professor in microbiology.

“All the allopathic prescriptions have one or the other side effect and you cannot avoid them in any condition”, he adds.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Time to connect with Egypt

Indian Universities can help in the development of Urdu in Egypt feels Professor Yusuf Amir, HoD Urdu in Al-Azhar University of Cairo

CCS University will share its experiences on Urdu as a teaching subject and its literature with one of the oldest Universities in the world, the Al-Azhar of Cairo and are also planning for the educational exchange programs among themselves.

India shares warm historical relations with Egypt as the land of one of the oldest civilizations and also with a good number of Urdu knowing population. The department of Urdu, running in Al-Azhar University wants cultural; exchange with Indian universities in order to enrich its knowledge about the language and India, where Urdu was born.

“Although it is a new language but is quite popular among the masses world-wide and in Egypt too”, says Professor Yusuf Amir, who heads the department of Urdu in Al-Azhar. “The language bridges the gap between the people of various countries residing in Egypt and it can further ensure better communication among such people with those of Egypt ”, he says while adding that Indian Universities can help them in the development of curriculum and popularizing Urdu.

At Al-Azhar major Urdu literature and poetry is being translated to Arabic and vice versa. Now the university is looking for educational exchange programs. Along with Aligarh Muslim University, the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Maulana Azad Urdu University, the CCS University is also on the radar of Egyptian University. Reciprocating to the desire of Professor Amir, the CCS University has also shown the interest in the plan.

“It will be good both for them and our students too”, said Dr. Aslam Jamshedpuri about the educational exchange program. “ If we can serve for Urdu what another opportunity better then this will come to us”, he adds.

Presently, long with the University of Al-Azhar, which started teaching Urdu language way back in 1962 in the department of languages, five other universities run various courses in Urdu. With more then 400 research scholars in the language, Urdu is quite popular among Egyptian students. The language can ensure better ties with the major Arab country and with Al-Azhar, which is often termed as the cradle of knowledge for Islamic world and their relations with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

At last, CCS Students to get their Degrees

Finally, the wait of degrees for more then 10 Lakh students CCS University may come to an end, as the administration has decided to distribute the academic testimonials to all those who have been waiting for years.

CCS University will host the annual convocation of February 12 and the University academic council wishes to end the backlog of degrees that has been pending towards the university from the session on 2006-07. Since then, more then 10 Lakh students have passed their respective degree courses from the campus and the affiliated colleges. Interestingly, none of these have been issues the degree certificates.

“The backlog kept on piling year after year and there have been so many reasons behind this”, says Prabhat Ranjan, the University Registrar. “The reasons includes the shortage of staff, the software solution and many more to count on”, he adds.

Approximately 3 Lakh students queue up for their pass out certificates for graduation, post-graduation and professional courses every year. For the last four sessions, students have been handed the provisional certificates and that too on the request. But, university wishes to end the backlog during the current session and want to finish of the responsibility on or before February 12, the date fixed for the annual convocation. University staff is working day and night to finish the task in time.

“This year, University will surely handover all the degrees pending with us”, claims S.C Piplani, the University PRO.

CCS University is one of the biggest state universities in India, but is also infamous for irregular sessions and academic negligence. Recently, CCS University has lost its B++ rating of NAAC, the National Academic Accreditation Council. Now, CCS not only wants to retain its lost pride, the NNAC grading but also wishes to regularize the sessions. This move will not only get back things back to the track but also it will benefit the students who are waiting anxiously for their degree certificates.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Social (Business) networking

Local small business entrepreneurs in Meerut are rushing to popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and myspace for business promotion and expansion.

With rising number of Internet users in India, the local corporate groups and entrepreneurs are busy in exploiting the social sites for their business development.

With more then 10 million net users in India, 650 million global users and many more joining in everyday, Internet family is growing with a fast pace. An average time the Internet users devote is also on a rise. To exploit this growing trend for the net, more and more business organizations are turning to it for their business advantage. Not only they are placing their personalized advertisement but also they are using social sites to grow their network.

“I have found more then 25 clients on the Facebook for my small apparel business” says Shahzad Ahmed. “My network is growing and I can hope to reap the harvest in a better way”, he adds.

Actually the mathematics of social sites is very simple. People look for like-minded people through auto generated friend suggestions and placing the personalized advertisement that are free on many social sites. Also people are targeted through personal messages.

“ Whenever I have a new design or a new product launch, I inform all the members of my network about it,” says Rajiv Singh, a kitchen plastic ware manufacturer. “ I do it for suggestions and feedback, also I get some clientage from it”, he adds.

Another reason being quoted for the social business networking is that the net users devote much of their time with such sites. An average net literate spend at least an hour a day on social networking, according to a recent survey.

“Also it is convenient, cheaper and effective medium to reach your target audience”, says Naveen Jain, a brand promotion manager with an MNC. “Those who cant afford costly ad-campaigns and brand promotion exercise have a best option to join a networking site’, he adds.

Not only for brand promotion, feedback or clientage by the entrepreneurs, consultants and vendors are also using social sites, as it allows them to keep a regular touch with their customers and sharing the business tips.
“Almost half of my customers remain available on social sites for most of the day”, says Pradeep Mitra, a financial consultant, who claims that the social sites have helped him to grow his clientage. “I even share ideas with many of my group members”, he adds.