Posted on October 24, 2016 by beenasarwar
A slightly revised version of my article in The News on Sunday on Oct. 23… The world watches as the last three polio endemic countries strive to relegate the crippling virus to history
Polio survivors Ramesh Ferris and Minda Dentler share their experiences – and dreams about a polio-free world. Photos: Beena Sarwar
“In 1955 Dr Jonas Salk invented the preventive vaccine. It is outrageous that 25 years later I contracted polio,” says author and global health advocate Ramesh Ferris.
Standing on his good leg, a crutch compensating for the paralysed one in braces, eyes gleaming behind black-rimmed glasses, Ferris passionately addresses the audience of about a hundred physicians, scientists and international diplomats. They include representatives from the world’s three remaining polio endemic countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Continue reading
Filed under: Health, Human rights | Tagged: Afghanistan, CDC, Gates Foundation, Global Citizens, Minda Dentler, Nigeria, Pakistan, polio, Ramesh Ferris, unicef, World Polio Day | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 13, 2016 by beenasarwar
The eminent journalist P. Sainath, author of the groundbreaking collection of reports Everybody Loves a Good Drought, is headed to the USA from his base in India. He will give a series of talks at various campuses about his work and the unique, empowering, online journalistic endeavour he launched last year, the People’s Archive of Rural India – PARI. Worth going to hear him speak if you are in the area. See my article about him: Travels though history with a rural archivist.
Campus times and dates below, with some posters by a PARI volunteer. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Resistance | Tagged: agriculture, economy, farmers suicides, history, India, Politics, poverty, rural India, Sainath | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 8, 2016 by beenasarwar
My Personal Political column in Himal Southasian, Aug 3, 2016, published also in Aman ki Asha and TOI blogs, posted here with additional links and visuals.
Author Amardeep Singh shares a story from his travelogue. Photo: Beena Sarwar
Finding lost heritage
“If you could visit any place in Pakistan, where would you go?” asks Amardeep Singh whenever he gives a talk to introduce his recently published travelogue Lost Heritage – The Sikh Legacy In Pakistan.
The question, aimed primarily at Sikh members of the audience, invariably elicits two answers: Sikh holy places. Their ancestral village.
It was the same in Boston on June 18, 2016 at the E-5 Center where Amardeep Singh gave his 42nd such talk. He understands the response all too well. After all, he too once had the same “myopic” reasons, as he says, for wanting to go to Pakistan, which he considers his “homeland”, being the land of his ancestors and also where Sikhdom’s holiest sites are located, like Nankana Sahib, birthplace of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. Continue reading
Filed under: Culture, Interfaith, Pakistan-India | Tagged: India, Lahore museum, Pakistan, religious pilgrimage, Shared culture, Sikh heritage | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 6, 2016 by beenasarwar
“Secret” – fine art photo by Ali Mehdi Zaidi
The struggle of Muslim homosexuals in Pakistan, South Asia, or as expatriates is not just about LGBTQ rights but part of the larger fight for inclusion and pluralism within Islam. My essay published in The Boston Globe Ideas section (July 31, 2016) on South Asian and Muslim attitudes towards homosexuality, reproduced below with additional links, info and photos, as well as parts not included in the final published version. The attack in the Orlando gay nightclub put the spotlight not just on the perpetrator, but his victims — Muslim gay (queer) folk who are particularly vulnerable to homophobia besides facing as Islamophobia in the West, and receiving little or no support from the Muslim community at home and abroad. Plus they are now increasingly being targeted by extremists claiming legitimacy from Islam. Thanks to all those who took the time to speak to me, gave me feedback and entrusted me with their stories, and to the Boston Globe editors for their empathy and openness. Continue reading
Filed under: Art and activism, Culture, Human rights, Islam, Southasia | Tagged: Deepa Mehta, Eiynah, Fawad Khan, Fire, gay rights, hijra, Islam and homosexuality, Kapoor and Sons, khwaja sera, Muslim LGBTQ, My Beautiful Laundrette, My Chacha is Gay, Orlando attack, Purdah, religion and homosexuality, Transgenders | 4 Comments »
Posted on July 22, 2016 by beenasarwar
Dr Govinda KC: fighting for pro-poor medical reforms
UPDATE: Sign the online petition
“If South Asia has a viable public health icon after the passing of Edhi in Pakistan, this man is it,” says a Nepali friend.
Dr. Govinda KC is a man who is considered a saint in Nepal – a middle-class doctor who on his own expense offers medical help wherever there is a disaster: Haiti, the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan, Bangladesh floods.
By all accounts an incredible human being, he is entering the third week of his hunger strike, a fast unto the death for reforms in the medical education sector. His demands: lower the cost of medical education and create a public health system that allows access of all to quality care, in the place of Nepal’s present highly privatised and centralised system. Continue reading
Filed under: Education, Health, Human rights | Tagged: corruption, democracy, Dr Govinda KC, Dr KC, health care, health reforms, Lok Man Singh Karki, medical education, Nepal | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 17, 2016 by beenasarwar
Women and men in Peshawar protest Qandeel Baloch’s murder. Photo via Javed Aziz Khan
Pakistani model and social media icon Qandeel Baloch rocked the boat with outrageous antics like offering to strip if Shahid Afridi led the Pakistan cricket team to victory against India in the T20 match a few months ago. Yesterday, her brother in Multan strangled her to death in apparently because she was bringing a bad name to the family — a family she financially supported. Continue reading
Filed under: Gender, Human rights | Tagged: Gender, Malala Yousufzai, Mukhtiar Mai, Qandeel Baloch, VAW | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 16, 2016 by beenasarwar
A man lies in front of a tank near Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport early Saturday, July 16. Ismail Coskun / AP
The coup in Turkey is a reminder of the dangers of impatiences with flawed democracy. Democracy, like peace, is a process, not an event. In the long run, the worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship. Agree with the Awami Workers Party, Pakistan – “The solution to imperfect democracy is not to abolish it, but to deepen it”. Sharing their statement below: Continue reading
Filed under: Progressive politics | Tagged: coup, democracy, Erdogan, military coup, Pakistan, Turkey | Leave a comment »