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Saturday, November 20, 2010

TED talk of Sunitha Krishnan

Sunitha Krishnan has dedicated her life to rescuing women and children from sex slavery, a multimilion-dollar global market. In this courageous talk, she tells three powerful stories, as well as her own, and calls for a more humane approach to helping these young victims rebuild their lives.

Sunitha runs a NGO, Prajwala. The philosophy of Prajwala evolved based on the need of women and children who are victims of trafficking. Prajwala emerged as an anti-trafficking organization, which believes in preventing women and children from entering prostitution, which is the worst form of sexual slavery.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations

Name Office of Adviser to PM, Government of India
Location Delhi, India
Industry Presentations / Communications
About The Office of Adviser will undertake the task of reviewing, developing, utilising and scaling public information infrastructure in the country to help improve productivity, efficiency and quality of the systems and processes to deliver public services for citizen empowerment. The Office of Adviser will discuss, debate, analyse, articulate, and sensitise the need to innovate, at all levels and in all sectors in the country with a focus on inclusive growth, global competitiveness and prosperity, and create a Roadmap for a Decade of Innovation to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

View more presentations from Office of Adviser to PM, Government of India.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Interview of Ayaan Hirsi-Ali

Ayaan Hirsi-Ali was born in Somalia in 1969 and is a Dutch feminist and political writer. Ali is the daughter of the prominent Somali politican and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. At the age of 8, Ali and her family left Somalia to move to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, before Ali obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. Ali is a vocal critic of Islam whose writings deal with what she sees as the subordination of women by the religion. Her work is controversial and Ali has received many death threats, leading her to live under guard. Ali's most famous books include a collection of essays called The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam and Infidel an autobiography published in 2006. Ali now lives in the Netherlands at a secret address.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Questioning Faith

I tried to explore the view that cultivating fear of an invisible external enemy usually serves internal purposes. Let us start with quote of Voltaire who had rightly remarked more than two centuries ago, “So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannise will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.”

Today, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and all organized religions are destroyed by the light of knowledge. Christianity in Europe have been diluted in their view due because once Greek and Roman civilization existed with thinkers like Aristotle, Plato and Socrates without faith based religion. Since church was not able to destroy the records of the past knowledge completely, renaissance and scientific thinking emerged from the fathoms of dark ages.

That was not the case with Islam. Islam is strongly dominated by morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet. Today, extremist have been attacking whatever they consider ‘unIslamic’ according to their puritanical version of Islam. And the moderates defend Islam as pure and correct while pointing defects as old cultural norms. And this defunction of moderates to see nothing wrong with Sharia law and blaming every wrong laws on patriarchal society diminishes any chance of reform within Islam. Moderates doesn't realize that extremism does not rest after it has defeated its ideological opponents because then it goes on to destroy even those supporters whom it deems too soft or moderate.

In the end, the one who diverges from the correct path prescribed in religious scriptures have to suffer from the hands of extremist in any religion. And Islamic purist tends for stoning to death on the charges of adultery or apostasy to be punishable by death. Islamic Moderates are most likely a Taqiyya driven individual who may not commit acts of terror themselves, but will surely defend Islam and deny the problem within while Reformists will honestly see the problem within their own, do not defend Islam but attack the evil within and don't condemn anti-jihadists for pointing out the obvious. We need more Reformers not the moderates to fight evil within Islam.

Nothing that is observable in reality is exempt from rational scrutiny. Clear, rational thought, based on evaluating current circumstances and real-life issues in all their fluid complexities and contradictions, is always threatened by a stagnant dogma that single-minded sees all situations as excuses to reproduce itself in the minds of the young and vital.

No one is admitting that the fault is in the design of the Islam that is same with any other faulty religious doctrine. Religion is a minor part of the identity of an individual, not the vice versa. In the case of veil, most of us agree that women should be able to wear whatever makes them feel safe and beautiful. Still, we fail to see rules of 'Haraam' and 'Halaal' in Islam that takes choices away from an individual.

Religious scriptures didn’t articulate idea of God because they appeared true in their time and place. No. The ideas are true because Religion said them. Such is the logic. Thus, even providing correct information is no antidote to false beliefs of follower at later stages of education.

Followers of each religion attempted to transcend reality in order to fit religious doctrine, instead of transcending religious ideas in order to explain reality. If I didn’t understand what Religions were saying, it was because they were speaking to a higher truth that I couldn’t grasp with normal human mind. If their ideas were questionable, I can't remain silent spectator under such tyrannical traditions. Faith cannot exist without testing, and faith without doubt is superficial.

The distrust of other races and nations, often based not on personal experience but on conditioning and hearsay. Literalists distorted religion due to its unscientific and contradictory stands on the issues.  Religious people insist on literal interpretations of outdated dogma and thus deprive religion of universalism for the sake of purity. This has debilitated people's capacity to think, analyze and prioritize. Such religious education gives rise to unrealized individuality in a person and stultifies their reason. Thus, blind faith should be attacked and an inquiring mind for truth should be promoted at an young age of the person.

"Businesses may come and go, but religion will last forever, for in no other endeavor does the consumer blame himself for product failure”.

Mere Jaan Pakistan

Whenever I read about Pakistan, a negative perception gets strong hold. Pakistan is becoming Denialistan whose citizens do not accept their faults- are either label it as conspiracy of other state and religions or quick to justify them by pointing out similar failings of other states.

Whether it is 'Talibanistaion' of society to 'Match fixing scandal' of the cricketers, the events unfolding are taking Pakistan towards downward spiral path. The liberal institutions of democracy, scientific thinking and secularism are failing while attack on Sufi Shrines has been destroying local belief system of tolerance and brotherhood. The terms “Hang the Traitor” and “Burn the corrupt” are becoming common in the public. With destruction of infrastructure in recent floods, this chaos is working in the favour of extremist who wants to impose their version of Sharia law.

Recently released, the Brookings Institute report claims that the real cause of militancy in Pakistan is the public education system, and not religious schools (madrssas) because the majority of Pakistani students attend public school whereas only ten per cent attend madrassas. It states that Pakistani public schools disseminate militancy, hatred, jihad and distort history.

Jahane Rume does analysis of this depressing situation :-

The recent attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is another reminder of the plain truth that the Pakistani state needs to focus on its domestic crises rather than remain obsessive about external threats. The unholy conglomerate comprising al Qaeda, sectarian outfits and elements within the state has targeted Karachi’s best-known public and cultural space. This is a continuation of Islamist battles against Pakistan.

Yet, apologists remain adamant. Butchering of civilians and annihilation of a plural Sufi culture is a reaction, we are told. First, it was the US occupation of Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq and now drone attacks in Pakistan. True, Muslims and Pakistanis are enraged at US policies and its sheer arrogance in dealing with the region. But using anti-Americanism as an excuse to overlook the growing cancer of bigotry at home is disingenuous and dangerous for our future.

Denial is etched in our memory and cultural ethos. Even today we are not willing to admit that the majority of Indian Muslims did not migrate to the Land of the Pure. And that we mistreated the Bengalis. We are also in denial about the ever-growing crop of suicide bombers and how sectarianism has penetrated our society over the last three years.

CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan commented on persecution of Ahamdis-

It is not surprising that conservative religious clerics and figures spew intolerance and prejudice, peddling the idea that Islam is under attack to further their own power agenda. But it is frankly despicable that we continue to cower to those voices. It happened in 1973, when the Ahmadis were declared “non-Muslims” by the state, and it happened again in 1984, when they were legally barred from proselytizing or identifying themselves as Muslims.

Born in 1948 in the Pakistan town of Rawalpindi, Ahmed Rashid experts on the Taliban, commented on Pakistan :-

In recent years there has been a strong increase in the "Talibanisation" of Pakistani society. Even in the big cities, like my hometown of Lahore. Young madrassa (i.e. Islamic school) graduates make the law in the streets, attacking representatives of other lifestyles and forcing young women to veil themselves. Naturally there is still a strong urban middle class, but it is suffering more and more from Pakistan's decline and pressure from the militants. I doubt that the militants are currently in a position to force their stone-age ideas on the urban centres, but the lack of resistance is certainly alarming.


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