Friday, May 30, 2008

** Land of raising sons

Asia: The land of raising sons
By William Sparrow
Asia Times

BANGKOK - Many people felt deep sympathy for the plight of Japanese Princess Kiko when she was under relentless pressure to bear a baby boy as an heir to the emperor. Japan has long had a male-centric interpretation of familial ideals about procreation in the pursuit of carrying on the family name. The scrutiny placed on 41-year-old Princess Kiko, formerly Kiko Kawashima, has had far-reaching, having negative effects on some Asian societies and the fallout has been both dangerous and sad.

It can be unfair to the women of Asia that that the responsibility of bearing a child of a specific gender is the responsibility of the female. This attitude ignores the basic scientific fact that it is the male spermatozoa, with either an X or Y chromosome, that determines the gender of a child.

In a joyous outcome, Princess Kiko, after much anticipation, bore her third child on September, 6, 2006; a baby boy named Hisahito, sparking much celebration within the royal family and throughout Japan.

Princess Kiko is a salient example of the pressure placed on women to produce a male heir. In her case, it was to guarantee the continuation of the monarchy, as Japanese society as a whole does not have a preference for male babies.

In contrast, it is in India and China, the two most populated countries in the world, where cultural and societal issues are leading to a serious problem in regard to gender discrimination in reproduction. Both countries suffer from decades of male preference, which has caused a disproportionate gender ratio in both countries.

The United Nations Development Program reported as recently as 2006 that the female-to-male birth ratio is believed to be 850:1,000 in China, while a 2001 census in India found the ratio to be 927:1000. These are national averages - provincial and state-level numbers can be even more dismal, such as the Indian state of Haryana, where the 2001 report found the ratio to be 820:1000.

Some experts believe that as many at 3 million female fetuses are terminated through gender-selective abortions each year between China and India. The long-term effect of these lost females can be devastating both socially and economically. The reasons for this male preference vary between these two countries.

In China, there is strong familial pressure to produce a baby boy to carry on the family name; this has been exacerbated by China's "one-child policy" that was implemented in 1979. The intent of the one-child policy was to stem an exploding population, and though this may have helped, the unexpected side-effect has been abandoned baby girls, female infanticide and gender-selective abortions.

China has tried to reverse this trend in recent years by allowing a couple having a girl as their first child to be exempted from the one-child rule, offering subsidies to families having a female child and more subsidies should the second child be a female as well.

India has similar issues behind its preference for boys. Foremost is a deep-seated bias against baby girls. India practices a "reverse dowry" system, opposite from most other societies. In India, the responsibility of providing a dowry is on the female and her family, and can often be costly.

In a country where poverty is a critical issue, it is understandable that the burden of marrying off a daughter might make some families think twice.

In India, like China, the birth of male children is essential for carrying on a family name.

As a result, India has suffered problems with female abortion, abandonment and infanticide. India has taken similar moves in trying to reverse the trend; in its case it outlawed the practice of a dowry needing to be provided.

Unfortunately, it is still widely practiced as it is seen as a long-standing tradition. Subsidies for female children also have been started. While gender-selective abortion has been outlawed in both countries, it is still widely practiced.

Whether abandoned at birth or later, many of these women face exploitation in the sex industry in both China and India.

Sometimes their own parents sell unwanted girls into the sex trade for money, at other times it is simply to ease the burden of another mouth to feed.

The dearth of females has also created some desperate bachelors in China and India.

A subsequent effect has been a boom in prostitution, sexual assaults and rape. Many men lack sexual outlets, and many bemoan their chances of finding a girlfriend or wife. Families selfishly assume that some other family will provide a princess for their little emperor, but the sad truth is that Chinese and Indian men are finding it increasingly difficult to find their Cinderella.

"The authorities are shocked at the bride shortage in [India], and they are suddenly clamping down in a big way," said Richa Tanwar, director of women's studies at Kurukshetra University in Haryana, speaking to the Times of India.

"But even the bride shortage is not going to change things in [our] society ... The attitude is, 'okay, let the neighbors have daughters, I still want my sons'."

Sons are believed to be an economic asset, daughters are thought of as a liability - and such attitudes are nothing new to Asia. It is not past some parents to murder baby girls through suffocating, starvation or a fatal dose of opium.

India, China and many Asian countries need to increase the value of females in society. They are, after all, mothers, sisters and daughters.

And don't look now, but women throughout Asia are becoming increasingly successful and often just as able to support their families as their male counterparts. Providing healthcare, education and empowerment will ensure the success of the next generation of women.

Societies such as China and India will become more successful when they can bridge the social and economic woes caused by the gender gap. Maybe Chinese and Indian couples need to be reminded that their daughter could become the next Bollywood actress or Miss China or better, a powerful politician or doctor ... the possibilities are endless and it's time to stop taking away the potential of women without even giving them a chance.

Girls Outshine Boys @

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

** While India Sleeps.....

While India sleeps, Chinese threat grows
Bharat Verma
May 26, 2008

New Delhi's portrayal of the humiliating defeat at the hands of Chinese in 1962 as 'betrayal' and 'surprise' is untrue. The pacifist Indian leadership that was crying hoarse from rooftops for friendship at any cost remained blind to Communist China's repeated claims on Tibet and large part of Indian territories. Mao termed Tibet as the palm of a hand with its five fingers as Ladakh, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and North East Frontier Agency. He claimed that these were Chinese territories that needed to be 'liberated'. Tibet was 'liberated' by force while New Delhi slept.

The historical characteristics of the Chinese and the statements issued by the Communists from time to time clearly exposed their expansionist ambitions in Asia that spelt out a direct threat to India's well being. Despite such overt indications, if we could not prepare ourselves to meet those challenges, the fault lies with us. Instead of pretending to be surprised or betrayed, it is time we face the truth for the fiasco in 1962 and prepare our military for the serious threat posed by the Chinese.

To Mao and the Chinese what singularly mattered was achieving the final goal. The means whether fair or foul to win were irrelevant. If New Delhi had deciphered what Mao was advocating in 1946 and studied the historical Chinese characteristics, alarm bells should have clearly rung in the South Block.

Mao repeatedly said from 1950 onwards that Taiwan, Tibet, and Hainan Islands were Chinese territories and they will be re-possessed. The predominant trait in this claim is the Chinese attraction for acquiring new territories. On the take over of China by the Communists, maps depicting large parts of Korea, Indo-China, Mongolia, Burma, Malaysia, Eastern Turkestan, India, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan as Chinese territories were produced. Despite such demands, New Delhi always overlooked the basic fact that Communists inherited both, the traditional Chinese expansionism as well as imperialism.

Tibet and China that were part of Mongolian Empire at one point in history now became part of the Chinese Empire under Mao, in reverse order. Strangely, from this it follows that since Tawang or Sikkim which have been closely related to Tibet in the past, needed to be 'liberated' and made part of the new Chinese empire. If the leadership of independent India had bothered to study and understand the British mantle that was inherited, Chinese aims would become crystal clear -- Mao the great strategist, always announced his goals publicly and never wavered.

Further Mao often quoted a famous Chinese saying, "If the east wind does not prevail over the west wind, then east wind will prevail over the east wind." This clearly indicates another trait of the Han Chinese of their obsession to dominate other nations in their vicinity. If Nepal in history paid tribute ever as a vassal state to the Chinese Emperor, than whenever the regime in Beijing was powerful, it would ensure Nepal accepts its orbit of influence. With Maoists taking over Nepal, the designs of the Communists in China have succeeded and pacifists in New Delhi stand compromised on our geo-political interests.

While Indians were bending backwards to force their friendship in the last 58 years, China was busy consolidating its hold on Tibet and other occupied territories. It extended its influence in Asia through economic and military power, unprecedented development of logistic infrastructure and demographic invasion. By 1987 it poured in 75 million Han Chinese into Manchuria, 7 million in Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang), 8.5 million into Inner Mongolia, and 7.5 million into Tibet. Similarly it bolstered itself against India militarily by building roads up to the borders in Tibet and connecting its Sinkiang province by cutting a road through Indian Territory Aksai Chin. Yet we were not alarmed as a nation and continue to swim in the euphoria of five principals of Indo-Chinese friendship termed Panchsheel!

Historically Indian and Chinese influences in Asia have coexisted. However, possibly for the first time in history, India and China were rising almost simultaneously. This produced two contenders for the leadership of Asia. On the chessboard, while Nehru took the initiative to lead Asia -- without developing military sinews and powerful international alliances -- through The Asian Relations Conference in 1947 and a second Conference on Indonesia in 1949, a year later, Mao's army executed the liberation of Tibet in one masterstroke.

Mao, thus demonstrated to the world that China was the actual leader of Asia and India merely a paper tiger, good for holding conferences but incapable of defending a small country in its vicinity. He also understood strategic importance of Tibet, which provided the base in the Himalayas, from where a large part of Asia could be engulfed in its sphere of influence.

Despite the invasion of Tibet, New Delhi did not understand the significance of the Chinese Communists growing up as a military organisation, unlike other movements. Their core competency lay in the Peoples Liberation Army and military virtues were promoted throughout the cadres. If China today dares to claim Arunachal Pradesh and piece of Sikkim, it is primarily based on its military prowess. On the other hand, the fine Indian military machine built by the British continues to be degraded and demoralised by the Indian civil leadership � it's like axing the branch one sits on.

Traditionally Chinese leadership leans on teachings of Master Sun Tzu. Mao in particular was highly influenced by Sun Tzu, who said, " To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

Therefore, a willing proxy was found in Pakistan. For the first time in history, nuclear weapons and missile technology were transferred to countervail and further boost its hatred against India. Of course, we all know how preoccupied Pakistan has kept our national security managers and resources, while Chinese developed a free run in Asia.

Similarly Maoists in Nepal supported clandestinely by the Chinese are in cahoots with the Indian Maoists who now control 40 percent of India's territory. If you think that's not smart enough for warriors of Sun Tzu, than take a look at the borders from north to east --Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar are under the spell of Beijing, shrinking India's influence in its vicinity without recourse to war. It's a matter of time before the Chinese upstage Bhutan and Sri Lanka due to our inaptitude.

China, over a period of time, has cleverly managed to deploy two authoritarian streams of threats against India to break its will and the territorial integrity. Foremost is the Communist threat that originates from Beijing and the second is the Islamic fundamentalist threat from its proxies. Besides other threats like Nepal Maoists or getting the Indo-US Nuclear deal blocked by their comrades in India.

Today for China to threaten Arunachal Pradesh and demand a slice of Sikkim after assured of its vice-like grip on India, is a natural progression even as New Delhi continues its slumber.

In 1999 the Dalai Lama in hindsight admitted, " When Tibet was free, we took our freedom for granted In former times Tibetans were a war-like nation whose influence spread far and wide. With the advent of Buddhism our military prowess declined " The Dalai Lama could easily have said the same for India.

Pacifist philosophies may be good for the individual's soul but are definitely bad for nation's security.
The writer is editor, Indian Defence Review. His email:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

** Pak leader on madarsas
Pak leader links terror to madarsas

New Delhi, June 1: A politician whose party is a partner in Pakistan’s ruling coalition today surprised a conference on terrorism here by declaring that madarsas in his country were “breeding grounds” of terror.

Hasham Baber, additional secretary-general of the Awami National Party, said political sermons, not just lectures on Islam, were delivered in such institutions in the federally administered tribal areas, bordering Afghanistan.

“The breeding grounds should be removed because on Fridays, it isn’t Islam that is taught but political sermons. Both Afghanistan and India will benefit,” he told the conference organised by Jama Masjid United Forum. The Speaker of Afghanistan’s senate, Safghadullah Mojaddedi, was also present.

Most reacted cautiously to the comments. The Jama Masjid’s imam, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, made it clear that Baber had only expressed his “own views” about affairs in Pakistan.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi disagreed with Baber, saying madarsas in his state weren’t teaching terror.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad spoke of the threat from “Right-wing Hindu schools in tribal areas” and about the kind of “mob terrorism” seen during the Gujarat riots.

Teesta Setalvad @

** In the name of FREEDOM

INDIA: In the name of ‘Freedom’?
South Asian Analysis
by Swati Parashar

I would not have written this article if Omar Abdullah did not have an uncle who is not Indian enough! A media news report made it a point to inform us that Omar Abdullah has referred to his uncle in his blog - an uncle who disagrees with the events of 1947, who does not carry a passport and who refuses to travel by ‘Indian’ airlines.

For those of you who are curious, Omar Abdullah is very fond of his uncle who he respects and admires. He believes that his uncle’s views are acceptable in a ‘free world where people have the freedom to make choices’.

I at once thought of the people in Jaipur who lost their lives in the bomb attacks last week. Like Abdullah’s uncle they also lived in a free world, making their choice to go about their normal lives like visiting temples and market places. The bomb attacks deprived them of their basic freedom and right to live.

I do not feel the need to remind the readers of this website how in the last few years terror attacks have claimed innocent lives, beyond the immediate conflict zone of Kashmir. Cities in the north, south, east and west of India have been targeted in recent times, and bomb blasts have claimed several civilian lives.

Except for the bogus claims of responsibility by obscure email addresses and terror groups, these attacks have not been conclusively investigated and their perpetrators have made a mockery of our state institutions and investigating and law enforcement agencies.

The first lesson we learn about terrorism is that it is a form of political violence, a strategy in support of a particular brand of nationalism. Clearly, terrorists in India have in the last few years established that their terrorism is different from the Palestinians, the LTTE, the Chechens, Afghanis or even the Iraqis. Their terrorism stands out not as a means to an end but an end in itself. There is something nihilistic about bombing men, women and children in mosques, temples and market places, without any clear sense of who is fighting whom or how the warring sides are constructed.

Terrorism of the kinds we have witnessed in recent times cannot be attributed solely to groups operating from outside the country. The immediate response of governments that neighbouring states sponsor terrorism in India is a rhetoric we are not ready to believe anymore.

Let’s face it - they live amongst us, plan against us, and then surprise, maim and kill us with the lethality that gets worse with each attack. And exactly what incentives do the Muslims have to speak out against those that are maligning their faith? None whatsoever!

Communal divides have been deepening over the years, sometimes social forces responsible, but at most times the vote bank politics and devious political ideologies at play.

The British initiated ‘divide and rule’ and todays politicians cutting across party lines brilliantly execute that policy.

The influential American writer, H. L. Mencken had once said that “the average man (also woman) does not want to be free. He (and she) simply wants to be safe.” That might be the overriding concern of most Indians at this point.

The deeply entrenched communal divide will not be bridged in a day least of all by hollow appeals to peace and communal harmony by politicians.

I believe that there is little option but to enact stringent anti-terror laws and enforce them in a just and efficient manner.

Terrorists attack both Hindus in temples and Muslims in mosques. Terrorism, therefore, has no religion but electoral politics in India does, votes do.

This government has always been worried about minority votes, over the lives of both minorities and the majority. Those negatively affected by the abuse of terrorism laws such as the POTA surely do not outnumber those that have to die in the absence of such laws? And what speak of a ‘politically correct’ government that repealed POTA (we know why), instead of working on its strengths and making it more efficient and responsive!

It is like doing away with a car because one does not know how to drive it. After all there are no limits to what can and has been abused and misused - freedom, ‘victimhood’, religion, and most of all human life.

Going back to Omar Abdullah’s uncle’s sense of freedom, suffice to say that while “we are free to choose our actions; we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.”

Abdullah says about his uncle “it is not that he is carrying a gun or placing bombs in marketplaces. It is his way of expressing his sentiment and that is the way he has done it. At least it is peaceful and not bothering your life or mine.” I again see the unfortunate parallel when those carrying guns or placing bombs in market places also justify their actions as a way of marking their ‘freedom’ and expressing their sentiments.

On another note, it is well known that not just this obscure uncle but even Omar Abdullah’s renowned Grandfather was absorbed in self doubt several times about his ‘Indian-ness’ because it was ‘Kashmiriyat’ that Shaikh Saheb cherished over and above everything else.

May be Omar’s uncle is also in search of that elusive ‘Kashmiriyat’ which I hope also includes Kashmiri Pandits. Does Omar Abdullah also acknowledge the ‘freedom’ these Kashmiri Pandits exercised in turning up as refugees in their homeland? Did Omar Abdullah or his uncle ever have the freedom of choice and time to visit the shanty towns where these Kashmiri Pandits live?

I shall have to leave these and other questions for his blog.

To conclude, freedom entails responsibilities just as rights entail duties. Terrorists exercise freedom without responsibility and the state gives us neither freedom nor acts responsibly.

In such a situation we could perhaps change the definition of freedom a little bit as I end here with a quote from the famous French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. “Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.”

(Swati Parashar is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Sydney, Australia, and a PhD Candidate at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University, United Kingdom. She can be contacted at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

** Cost of Progress

Material progress: At what cost?
By O.P. Batra

The neo-rich Indians and politicians may feel elated and proud that four Indians are among the ten richest people in the world, as per Forbes 2008 list. This may also be a proud moment for the achievers.

Yet, this pride seems to be paradoxical and paranoiac, if compared with the plight of majority of poor Indians, who are even unable to procure two-times meals for their families.

The richness of the few Indians has also brought with it the morbid urge of vulgar spending, inculcating in the process a maniac spendthrift tendency among the wealthy, virtually an instinct of insanity to acquire more pelf by means fair or foul.

It is also witnessed by the visible hike in foreign jaunts and excursions by these worthies and indulgence of glamorous life styles. In the modern jet age, everyone, big or small, is infatuated by materialistic progress, its glamour and glitter.

However, the harsh truth is that under the influence of this advancement the Indians, youth and children in particular, are drifting far away from the age-old traditions of value system.

From times immemorial, the Indian society’s elites, rishis, saints and even righteous rulers laid stress on the impartation of moral education from the nascent stage of a child. Based on different religions’ right perceptions and specific guidelines, the observation of a moral code of conduct was formulated and adopted. These pious teachings were considered crucial for a deep impact on the minds of children and their overall healthy growth.

Discordance of these moral-based guidelines by the present highly debased and dehumanised modern era has torn to shreds the virtuous and chaste fiber of the Indian culture and heritage.

The love for tinsel money has multiplied manifold, totally engulfing our society. Modern gadgets and information technology have entirely changed our complexion conceptions, aspiration and habits. Their use has created thinking more akin to and analogous with the western thought and misplaced ideas.

Motion picture, TV serials and visuals show to the impressionable audience the violence, vulgarity, sexual exploitation and even the rape scenes unabashedly, leave a lasting imprint on the adolescent and teenage minds.

With the passage of time, these impressions change into diehard beliefs, paving the way for our youth to shun the decent values of life, totally impairing their morality. Transparent revealing a scanty dress, worn by the fashion models, considerably arouse sensual feelings.

The recent hype in the murders of kids and children by their friends and classmates are the direct result of violence displayed in the movies.

The immoral behaviour of our elders, their indulgence and involvement even in rapes, malpractices for financial gains, concealing their real incomes from the Income Tax net, too, are the other perverse habits and attitudes adopted in our current highly liberalised economy.

The wrong precedents set up by our worthy political, social and religious leaders for their personal gains and self-aggrandisement, have affected all, especially the younger generation.

The novel techniques of mulcting the public funds and exchequer in collaboration with the corrupt bureaucracy to become superfast rich are being avidly and blindly followed by the young aspirants. The sure result is that every segment of Indian masses, high or low, is falling an easy prey to the greed of tinsel money. The emulation of these malpractices with impunity and gusto, has brought the entire moral infrastructure of the nation on the brink of disaster.

There is no denying the fact, that, while the modern home—sapient boasts of his emancipation from theology and superstitions, yet, he has failed to bring true economic, social and political emancipation of the poor gentry.

Besides, this unquenchable appetite for amassing huge wealth has put to demise the moral code of conduct that transcends all religions and faiths.

Each sane person is bound to concede that though we may exult over the modern progress, yet it has not helped us to shed our intolerance, animosity, repugnance and hostility towards each other.

The most tragic part of this malady is that we have transferred our personal family and sectarian aversions and prejudices to national, racial and religious hostilities.

Is it therefore not more ideal and befitting to observe and conclude that our modern progress, growth and prosperity have turned to be essentially unworthy and retrograde?

Undoubtedly, if the advancement of science technology and economic liberalisation have failed to uplift and upgrade the human instincts and feelings and instead, degenerated our moral fiber and conduct, we are paying very heavy price for our material progress, which has not transformed us to attain spirituality and character, but only to attain material gains, which are transitory ruining the national indirectly.
Delhi, Rape capital @

Thursday, May 1, 2008

** Religious Harmony

Towards Religious Harmony
April 2008,Crusadewatch
by H. DeSilva

Christian evangelists are on a roll in Sri Lanka. During the past few decades many reactionary Christian organisations originating in the west have swept into Sri Lanka with the single aim of converting all non-Christians to Christianity.

Having arrived in a "third world" country, their reasoning is that all niceties and norms of decency can be dispensed with; evangelism is carried out through whatever means necessary without any thought for the consequence, even if this means creating a religious conflict.

Sri Lanka must be on high guard if she is to preserve her religious harmony, for looking around the world it can be seen that religious conflict has not been far behind wherever Christian evangelists have set up shop.

Moderate Christians in the country have opposed the acts of the minority Christian fundamentalists, but this opposition has been much too soft and has been relegated to a few personalities. If the articles in various national papers are anything to go by, more often than not we come across members of the mainstream churches supporting and encouraging the evangelists and their insidious activities. By throwing their weight behind the Christian fundamentalists, moderate Christians are only doing what the fundamentalists want them to do: join in the offensive against other religions. Such an outcome does not bode well for the future of this country, and a deep reflection on the issue ought to be undertaken by moderate Christians siding with (or leaning towards) the evangelists.

It is true that we have heard some sections of the Church condemn the insensitive and indecent activities of the evangelists, but nothing has been done to reign in those who continue with these provocative activities.

No concrete steps have been taken to stop abusing the poverty and destitution of a war-scarred population in order convert them, and no concrete steps have been taken to stop once and for all the iconoclastic practice of smashing Buddhist and Hindu statues to signify total conversion to Christianity.

We are left to believe that the public condemnation is merely a ploy to appear moderate and tolerant, and that the Church continues to support such activities in secret.

But surely this cannot be true? For if it were, we have the makings of a religious imbroglio that could overshadow the current national conflict itself.

It is unfortunate but true that the history of the Church in this island has not been one that it can be proud of. If truth be told, the mainstream churches, hand in hand with the colonials, engaged in vicious forms of evangelism, trying to convert all the non-Christian natives to Christianity and bring them to the "civilization" that the Europeans supposedly first brought to this country inhabited by brown-skinned "pagans."

The Church played a leading role in trying to wean away the natives from their culture and national religion - Buddhism or Hinduism, and used whatever means at their disposal to carry out this task.

They shamelessly paid new converts to go around villages degrading Buddhism and they had no qualms about providing education through their schools if only the Buddhist and Hindu children would convert to Christianity.

Churches were built on the desecrated remains of Buddhist and Hindu temples, and for a long time the inveterate enemies of the Church remained the two religions of Buddhism and Hinduism which were adhered to by the vast majority of Sri Lankans.

So it is with much concern today that the people of this country regard the lack of action taken by the Church to arrest the activities of the evangelists.

Is the Church falling back into its past history of openly attacking and trying to annihilate other religions?

Is this the case in this "age of enlightenment", and if so, how can such an openly hostile attitude towards other religions be conducive towards religious harmony? The established churches in Sri Lanka must be wary of providing support to the evangelists who are conducting an ideological war against against non-Christian religions.

By providing overt or covert support to the activities of the evangelists, the mainstream churches are only inviting the displeasure of the vast majority of Sri Lankans who do not look kindly upon the provocative methods of proselytism employed by the Christian fundamentalists.

Many in this country are quite plainly fed up with the crusade of conversion that is being spearheaded by the evangelists, and want the hate campaign against non-Christian religions to end.

If the Church were responsible and tolerant of other faiths, it ought to take into account the thoughts and feelings of the Sri Lankan people, instead of continuously ignoring them in order to satisfy the rather fanciful and intolerant dream of Christianizing not only Sri Lanka, but the entire world.

Christian fundamentalists have sown the seeds of religious discord in this country, and the fruit of their actions can only be disastrous.

It is in the interests of the Sri Lankan nation to take immediate steps to neutralize the war waged by the Christian evangelists against non-Christian religions, and to reinstall and reinforce a climate of religious tolerance and understanding.

Moderate Christians must understand that the religious harmony that was prevalent in Sri Lanka has been breached solely by the irresponsible activities of the evangelists, who care naught for the welfare of Sri Lanka, and who would do anything in their power to "harvest souls" for their God.

By ignoring the principles of tolerance, love, compassion and understanding that are enunciated in the Bible, the evangelists are going against the teachings of Jesus Christ, and are trampling on accepted norms of decency.

No good can come of it, and Sri Lanka should not have to undergo the trauma the Christian fundamentalists are thrusting upon her. United together, Sri Lanka can shake off the unpleasant activities and attitudes of the Christian fundamentalists and move towards greater understanding and co-existence. By doing so, the country can stave off a possible religious war, and maintain its proud tradition of religious harmony.

But as long as the Christian evangelists continue with their ideological war against non-Christian religions, and as long as some mainstream Christians support and aid the intolerant activities of the evangelists, an end to religious rivalry and hostility will not be seen.

The vast majority of Sri Lankans comprising Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, moderate Christians, free thinkers and atheists will not be happy over such a situation. They want the religious fanaticism of the Christian evangelists to end as soon as possible - before it creates debilitating religious rifts among society.

Opposing religious fundamentalism will be of benefit to Sri Lanka both now and for the future. To ignore evangelism today will likely lead to more hostile religious conflicts later on. This is something that Sri Lanka can ill afford after more than 20 years of national conflict.

United together as Sri Lankans who appreciate religious harmony and co-existence, the intolerant worldview of the evangelists and their machinations can and should be defeated. The voice of the tolerant majority must be heard.

** SUFISM:other side

The other side of Sufism

- R.K. Ohri, IPS

A reappraisal of the role of Sufis working as missionaries of Islam

For centuries the Sufi creed and Sufi music have been termed as great symbols of spiritualism and promoters of peace and harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims.

The cleverly marketed concept of Sufi spiritualism has been unquestioningly accepted as the hallmark of Hindu-Muslim unity.

It is time we studied the history of Sufis, tried to track the narrative of their coming to India and analysed their explicit missionary role in promoting conversions to Islam.

More importantly, it needs to be assessed how did the Sufis conduct themselves during reckless killings and plunders by the Muslim invaders ? Did they object to the senseless mass killings and try to prevent unremitting plunder of Hindu temples and innocent masses? Did the Sufis ever object to the capture of helpless men and women as slaves and the use of the latter as objects of carnal pleasure ?

These are some of the questions to which answers have to be found by every genuine student of Indian history.

Most Sufis came to India either accompanying the invading armies of Islamic marauders, or followed in the wake of the sweeping conquests made by the soldiers of Islam.

At least the following four famous Sufis accompanied the Muslim armies which repetitively invaded India to attack the Hindu rulers, seize their kingdoms and riches and took recourse to extensive slaughtering of the commoners.

Almost all Sufi masters were silent spectators to the murderous mayhem and reckless plunder of temples ands cities by the marauding hordes across the sub-continent.

Taking advantage of the fact that the Hindu masses are deeply steeped in spiritual tradition and mysticism, the Sufis used their mystic paradigm for applying sort of a healing balm on the defeated, bedegralled and traumatized commoners with a view to converting them to the religion of the victors.

The following well-known Sufi masters came to India along with the invading Muslim armies which repetitively invaded India in wave after wave:

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer had accompanied the army of Shihabuddin Ghori and finally settled down at Ajmer in the year 1233 A.D.

Khawaja Qutubuddin came to Delhi in the year 1236 in the train of Shihabuddin Ghori and stayed on to further the cause of Islam.

Sheikh Faridudin came to Pattan (now in Pakistan) in the year 1265. Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya of Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin came to Delhi in the year 1335 accompanying a contingent of the Muslim invaders. Additionally, the famous Sufi Shihabuddin Suhrawardy of Baghdad was brought to India for carrying out the missionary work of conversions by

Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan several decades after the Hindu ruler had been defeated and the kingdom laid waste after repetitive plunder and manslaughter.

Like all Sufi masters, his main task was to apply the balm of spiritual unity on the traumatized Hindu population and then gradually persuade them to convert to Islam.

Not a single Sufi, the so-called mystic saints, ever objected to the ongoing senseless manslaughter and wreckless plunder, nor to the destruction of temples, nor for that matter to the ghoulish enslavement of the so-called infidel men and women for sale in the bazaars of Ghazni and Baghdad.

Operating from the sidelines of spiritualism they even participated in the nitty-gritty of governance to help the Muslim rulers consolidate their authority in the strife torn country. And significantly, their participation in the affairs of the State was not conditional upon the Muslim rulers acting in a just and even handed manner. On the contrary, the Sufis invariably tried to help the Sultans in following the path shown by the Prophet and the Shariah.

Another important objective of the spiritual and mystic preachings of the Sufi masters was to blunt the edge of Hindu resistance and prevent them from taking up arms to defend their hearth and home, their motherland and their faith, through the fa├žade of peace and religious harmony. The Naqashbandi Sufis had very close relations with Jahangir and Aurangzeb.

The well known Sufi Saint of Punjab, Ahmad Sirhindi (Mujadid) of the Naqashbandi order (1564-1634) held that the execution of the Sikh leader Guru Arjun Dev by Jehangir was a great Islamic victory.

He believed and openly proclaimed that Islam and Hinduism were antithesis of each other and therefore could not co-exist.

Even the Chishti Sufi, Miyan Mir, who had been a friend of Guru Arjun Dev, later on turned his back on the Sikh Guru when the latter was arrested by Jahangir and sent for execution.

It may be recalled that the great Sufi master of the eleventh century, Al Qushairi (A.D.1072) had unambiguously declared that there was no discord between the aims of the Sufi ‘haqiqa’ and the aims of the Sharia.

The definition given by Al Hujwiri should be able to quell any doubt about the commitment of Sufis in upholding the supremacy of the Islamic faith over all other religions.

That dogma has been the key component of the philosophy of Sufism not only in India, but across the world - from India to Hispania (i.e., the Spain).

The great Sufi master, Al Hujwiri, laid down the golden rule that the words “there is no god save Allah” are the ultimate Truth, and the words “Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah” are the indisputable Law for all Sufis.

In other words, the Sufism and the ulema represent the same two aspects of the Islamic faith which are universally accepted and obeyed by all Muslims. By definition therefore Sufi masters could be no exception.

The renowned ninth century Sufi master, Al Junaid, also known as “the Sheikh of the Way”, and widely revered as the spiritual ancestor of Sufi faith, had categorically proclaimed that for Sufis “All the mystic paths are barred, except to him who followeth in the footsteps of the Messenger (i.e., Prophet Muhammad) [Source: Martin Lings, What is Sufism, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1975, p.101].

As pointed out by Reynold A. Nicholson in the Preface to the famous tome, ‘Kashaf al Mahjub’ (Taj & Co., Delhi, 1982). “no sufis, not even those who have attained the highest degree of holiness, are exempt from the obligation of obeying the religious law”.

In fact, the famous tome, ‘Kashaf al Mahjub’ written by Ali bin Al-Hujwiri, who was also known as Data Ganj Baksh, was widely regarded as the grammar of Sufi thought and practice. Most Sufis have invariably drawn on the contents of this treatise for preaching the sufi thought ( also known as sufi silsilas).

As already stated, on page 140 of Kashaf al Mahjub Al Hujwiri loudly proclaims that “the words there is no God save Allah are Truth, and the words Muhammed is the Apostle of Allah” are the indisputable Law.

K.A. Nizami in his celebrated book, The Life and Times of Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya (Idarah-I Adabiyat-i-Delhi, Delhi) has stated that the Auliya openly used to say that “what the ulama seek to achieve through speech, we achieve by our behaviour.” The Auliya was a firm believer in the need for unquestioned obedience of every Muslim, every Sufi, to the dictates of the ulema.

According to K.A. Nizami, another Sufi saint Jamal Qiwamu’d-din wrote that though he had been associated with the Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya for years, “but never did he find him missing a single sunnat …… ”.

The well known authority on Sufism, S.A.A. Rizvi has recorded in his book, ‘A History of Sufism in India’ that Nizamuddin Auliya used to unhesitatingly accept enormous gifts given to him by Khusraw Barwar which implied that the Auliya was unconcerned with the source of the gift, provided it was paid in cash. Yet the Auliya was a firm believer in the need for a Muslim’s unquestioned loyalty and obedience to the ulema.

As reiterated by K.A. Nizami, Auliya used to preach that the unbeliever is the doomed denizen of Hell. In his khutba he would leave no one in doubt that Allah has created Paradise for the Believers and Hell for the infidels “in order to repay the wicked for what they have done”.

It has been categorically stated on page 161 in the famous treatise, Fawaid al-Fuad, translated by Bruce B. Lawrence (Paulist Press, New York, 1992) that the Auliya confirmed on the authority of the great Islamic jurist, Imam Abu Hanifa, that the perdition of the unbelievers is certain and that Hell is the only abode for them, even if they agreed to confess total loyalty to Allah on the Day of Judgment.

In the above mentioned treatise on Sufi philosphy, Fuwaid al-Fuad, a very interesting instance of enslaving the kaffir Hindus for monetary gain has been cited which shows how another Sufi, Shayakh Ali Sijzi, provided financial assistance to one of his dervishes to participate in the lucrative slave trade. He had advised the dervish that he should take “these slaves to Ghazni, where the potential for profit is still greater”. And it was confirmed by Nizamuddin Auliya that “the Dervish obeyed”.

Obviously therefore, neither spiritual ethics and nor justice to all, including the infidels, were the strong points of Sufi saints.

If the narrative of the preachings and acts of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer are taken as indication of his religious philosophy and deeds, he emerges as a sufi master who nursed a deep hatred against the infidel Hindus and showed utter contempt for their religious beliefs.

As elaborated by S.S.A. Rizvi in ‘A History of Sufism in India, Vol. 1 (Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978, p. 117), there is a reference in the book, Jawahar-i- Faridi, to the fact that when Moinuddin Chishti reached near the Annasagar Lake at Ajmer, where a number of holy shrines of Hindus were located, he slaughtered a cow and cooked a beef kebab at the sacred place surrounded by many temples.

It is further claimed in Jawahar-i-Faridi that the Khwaja had dried the 2 holy lakes of Annasagar and Pansela by the magical heat of Islamic spiritual power. He is even stated to have made the idol of the Hindu temple near Annasagar recite the Kalma.

The Khwaja had a burning desire to destroy the rule of the brave Rajput king, Prithviraj Chauhan, so much so that he ascribed the victory of Muhammad Ghori in the battle of Tarain entirely to his own spiritual prowess and declared that “We have seized Pithaura alive and handed him over to the army of Islam”. [Source: Siyar’l Auliya, cited by Rizvi on page 116 of ‘A History of Sufism in India’].

Throughout the Muslim rule all Sufis enjoyed full confidence, royal favour and patronage of the cruel Muslim rulers. Though foolishly accepted as “secular” by most Hindus seeking spiritual solace after being battered, bruised and marginalised, almost all Sufi saints dogmatically followed the commandments contained in the Quran, the Hadith and Sharia.

Historians have recorded that many Sufi saints had accompanied armies of the Muslim invaders to use their spiritual powers in furtherance of Islam’s conquests. Not one of them raised even a little finger to forbid slaughter of the innocents, nor did they question the imposition of jiziya by Muslim rulers.

In fact, most of them guided the Muslim rulers in carrying forward their mission of conquest and conversion by furthering their campaigns of plundering the wealth of Hindus of which many Sufis willingly partook share. It was almost a taboo for Sufis, the so-called saints, to accept a Hindu ascending the throne of any kingdom during the heydays of the Muslim rule. .

In an example narrated by S.A.A. Rizvi on page 37 of his well researched book, The Wonder That Was India (Vol.II, Rupa & Co, 1993, New Delhi) it is pointed out that when the powerful Bengali warrior, king Ganesha, captured power in Bengal in the year 1415 A.D., Ibrahim Shah Sharqi, attacked his kingdom at the request of outraged ulema and numerous Sufis of Bengal.

In the ensuing strife, the leading Sufi of Bengal, Nur Qutb-i-Alam, interceded and secured a political agreement to the benefit of the Muslim community and satisfaction of Sufis. Under dire threat King Ganesha was forced to abdicate his throne in favour of his 12 years old son, Jadu, who was converted to Islam and proclaimed as Sultan Jalaluddin - to the satisfaction of the Sufi masters.

Similarly Sultan Ahmed Shah of Gujarat (1411-42), though a practitioner of Sufi philosophy, was a diehard iconoclast who took delight in destroying temples, as stated in the same tome, by S.A.A. Rizvi.

The Sultan also used to force the Rajput chieftains to marry their daughters to him so that they would become outcastes in their own community. And the endgame of the Sultan could as well be that perhaps some of the outcaste Rajputs might then opt to become Muslims.

Unfortunately due to relentless colonization of the Hindu mind during 1000 years long oppressive Muslim rule, the Hindu masses till date have failed to realise that the so-called Sufi philosophy of religious harmony is a one-way street.

This trend of Hindus praying at tombs and dargahs has been nurtured by the strong undercurrent of belief in spiritualism among Hindu masses, even educated classes. That is the crux of the matter.

Deeply steeped in their traditional belief in spirituality and mysticism, the Hindus have developed the custom of visiting dargahs and continue to pray at the tombs of Sufis, no Muslim, nor any Sufi, has ever agreed to worship in a Hindu temple, nor make obeisance before the images of Hindu Gods and Godesses. For them it would be an act of grossest sacrilege and unacceptable violation of the basic tenets of Sufism.

That is the truth about the Sufi saints and their philosophy of inter-religious harmony.