Behind criminal acts motivated by religion, bigotry, misogyny, lies fear of change

collagee

Gauri Lankesh, Sabeen Mahmud.

My piece for The Wire on the assassination of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, that reminded me of the target-killing of my friend, activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi. I traced the patterns and similarity behind these murders.

A spoke in the wheel of this “intellecticide” is the ‘anti-intellectual’ nature of the vote for Donald Trump who shares a host of similarities with Modi in India despite differences. The rise of white supremacy in a nation of migrants built after virtually annihilating indigenous populations is a continuation of ongoing racism in the US.

The pendulum swings of history ushers in periods of the rise of the ‘Right’ or the ‘Left’. We are witnessing the rise of the militant Right at this moment with its ensuing bloodshed in India, Pakistan, the US and elsewhere.

But what will continue to rise inexorably, despite bloodshed along the way, are human aspirations to basic rights, equality and justice. There is no going back, no matter how fiercely the chaddis, topis or kluxies fight it.

Read more: In Life, and in Death, Gauri Lankesh and Sabeen Mahmud Battled Powers Fearful of Change

Gauri-Roh-vigil

Protest at Harvard Square: Commemorating Gauri Lankesh’s murder and ongoing Rohingya massacre. Photo: Beena Sarwar

 

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Remembering Indira Gandhi’s Emergency

Jaspal SinghEmail from friend Jaspal Singh on June 25, 2017 that I meant to post earlier about a situation that feels all too familiar to Pakistanis. The long-running democratic political process in India – interrupted only by Indira Gandhi’s three-year long Emergency in 1975 is one of the reasons the country has done so much better than neighbouring Pakistan. Until the current scenario where, fuelled by signals from the top, mob lynchings and vigilante violence in the name of religion are rising. Some argue that the Emergency sowed those seeds. Read on. 

Reflections. June 25,2017

Forty two years ago today, a state of emergency was declared in India by Indira Gandhi  I remember that day very clearly. I had summer job in Vermont and lived in this idyllic village west of Burlington. The rolling hills were full of flowers. There was a small mountain stream in my backyard. I would wake up and go for a bath in the stream. Every where greenery and flowers. It was like being in paradise. I had no TV, no radio. So I was cut off from the world. A friend  who lived close by came and told me that she had heard on the radio that the prime minister of India had declared emergency and thousands of people had been arrested.
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Harsh Mander and his vision of “a world of new solidarity”

My column in Himal Southasian, published 10 June 2016 –  Harsh Mander on why we should raise our voice against injustice

By Beena Sarwar

Photo : Beena Sarwar

Harsh Mander: Committed, consistent and soft-spoken. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Cross-border solidarity isn’t exactly a new idea. The rallying cry, “Proletarians of all countries, unite!…” that emerged in 1848 from The Communist Manifesto has resounded around the globe in many forms since it was first articulated.

Meeting Harsh Mander, one of India’s foremost activist-intellectuals and a courageous former civil servant, again revived the idea for me, but this time, beyond workers. I had first met the soft-spoken Mander in Karachi, when I worked for Geo TV. He had been part of a small delegation from India visiting Pakistan in early 2004, a visit aimed at improving understanding between India and Pakistan, organised by the social-cultural group Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD). Continue reading

India, Pakistan: Build on goodwill, not hate

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

I wrote this for The News on Sunday’s Jan 11, 2015 issue:

Build on goodwill, not hate

In the wake of escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, people on both sides of the border continue to express solidarity through peace initiatives

In an unprecedented and heart-warming gesture from India to Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Modi requested schools in his country to observe a two-minute silence to commemorate the children and teachers killed in the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on Dec 16, 2014.

In another unprecedented, spontaneous show of solidarity, Indians began tweeting with the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan, started by Indian columnist Tehseen Poonawala who tweets from the handle @tehseenp. …  [Read more]

 

India’s Crusader Against Impunity

Manoj Mitta speaking at MIT. Credit: Beena Sarwar

Manoj Mitta speaking at MIT. Credit: Beena Sarwar

My recent article for IPS 

BOSTON, Oct 25 2014 (IPS) – As senior Indian journalist Manoj Mitta was testifying before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress last month about mass violence and impunity in India, President Barack Obama escorted India’s newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Martin Luther King Memorial.

“They were just three miles away,” Mitta told IPS, commenting on the irony of this coincidence, remembering that the United States had banned Modi’s entry on the mass violence on his watch in 2002 leading to the killing of about 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat state. Continue reading

India, Pakistan should focus on children — not bullets

Pakistan has a million Malalas: My interview in Times of India, Oct 15, 2014 

20141015-TOI interview - Anahita Mukherjee

Beena Sarwar is a Pakistani journalist and documentary filmmaker. As an Indian and Pakistani together win 2014’s Nobel peace prize, Sarwar spoke with Anahita Mukherji about the joint award, tension at the LoC – and how Pakistan has a million Malalas:

Will Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel inspire more Pakistanis now — and enable her to return to Pakistan? Continue reading

Modi ji’s NRI government and Badri ji’s ‘Good Non-Resident Indians’ poem (substitute ‘desis’ etc)

Ashis Nandy: incisive, if controversial

Ashis Nandy: incisive, if controversial

As the hoopla and hype about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s triumphalist trip to the USA and United Nations General Assembly dies down, this may be a good time to re-visit Indian politics from another angle. The online publication Scroll.in recently published an interview of the noted political psychologist Ashis Nandy about his views on Modi. Good and bad. Worth reading in full; here’s an extract:

Q. The Swachhta pledge doesn’t even mention open defecation, which is a huge problem. Doesn’t this mean his campaign emphasises on urban priorities and is guided by a certain sense of aesthetics?

A. Absolutely. What will the foreigners think? What will NRIs think? How would they feel when they go to these areas and feel a sense of inferiority about their country? He is brightening the face of the NRIs, as the Bengali saying goes. This is an NRI government. The NRI consciousness dominates this government. Continue reading

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