Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Saffron politics with education in Assam

BJP is on a roll and has won many of the Indian states' legislative assemblies including Assam, next to Bangladesh, showing its ugly fascist Hindutvadi face. The state has a significant population of minority Muslims many of whom sent their children to madrasas for education.
It is worth noting here that the Madrassa Education Board was established as long back as 1934 and has been regulated since. There are more than 700 schools under this board.
Assam's current deputy chief minister is Himanta Biswa Sarma, a die-hard Hindutvadi, of the BJP government wants to stop madrasas in Assam. He has no moral qualm to grant Rs 10 crore to the schools run by Vidya Bharati, a sister organization of RSS, the Hindutvadi fascist organization.
The minister’s fixation with government-run madrassas is an example of his recent fondness for promoting Hindutva than a real intent to reform education. A few months ago, Sarma announced that state-run Madrassa schools would be closed only on Sunday and not on Friday, a day which is considered holy in the Islamic calendar and which has been general practice in Assam. He went on to point out that it was only madrassas in Pakistan and Bangladesh that remained closed on Friday.
A few days ago, Sarma tweeted that separate directorate for Madrassa education would be abolished and its functions supervised by the Board of Secondary Education.
As noted by Uddipan Dutta it is too early to comment on the modalities of this proposed change. However, one needs to be watchful of the manner in which Sarma is surreptitiously pushing a saffron agenda. This certainly doesn’t augur well for Assam which is rightfully proud of its long cherished secular tradition in education.

Come clean on Middle East air strikes: HRW

Human Rights Watch has demanded the Defence department come clean on past air strikes in Iraq and Syria and the extent of civilian casualties.
The department has begun a new attempt at transparency making fortnightly reports available on its website.
The day before the federal budget in early May, it's first report carried a brief descriptions of seven strikes in Mosul, Iraq, between April 18-30, but did not specifically mention any civilian casualties.
The second report was due to be released on Monday.
Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Elaine Pearson said the reports were a good first step and urged the department to provide backdated reports from the past two and a half years.
She called on Defence Minister Marise Payne to detail any past investigations carried out into civilian casualties and the outcomes.
"We urge you to immediately release details on civilian casualties caused by Australian air strikes, and if you are not collecting such information, to start doing so without delay," she said in a letter to the minister.
Ms Pearson said reliance on video assessments taken from the air wouldn't give the full picture of casualties, especially in densely populated areas.
"The government should actively seek this information and not wait for it to be publicly reported before beginning an investigation," she said.
Documents released under freedom of information in March said the federal government did not collect "authoritative" data on the enemy or civilian casualties.
Ms Pearson said the government should also collaborate with Airwars, a non-government group monitoring air strikes and civilian deaths in the Middle East.
It estimates 3530 civilians have been killed in coalition air strikes.
The US-led coalition acknowledges an estimated 352 civilian deaths.
Airwars last year rated Australia one of the least transparent members of the international military coalition.
A spokesman for Senator Payne said Defence would disclose allegations of civilian casualties if they were made but ruled out issuing backdated reports.
The US is the only member of the coalition against Islamic State militants that has admitted to causing civilian casualties.

Read more at http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/05/22/13/45/come-clean-on-middle-east-air-strikes#dFCXhQc9AAZEhVkw.99

Monday, May 22, 2017

Commencement speech of Mahsheed Mahjor

This evening, while listening to the PBS Newhour, I was simply amazed to listen to the commencement speech of a young Afghan student studying in the USA. Her name is Mahsheed Mahjor, a graduate of the class of 2017 from Muhlenberg College, PA. She delivered her student address at commencement on hardships and inequities around the world, the role of citizenship and the value of her education.
Hers was a very powerful speech, which must be listened by many. I have not heard too many of her kind. It is really worth listening to this young girl who is already so wise at such a young age. Simply impressive!
You can hear her speech by clicking here.

Shame on India!

Major Nitin Gogoi, who tied a civilian to an army jeep as a human shield in Kashmir, has been awarded by the Indian Army for counter-insurgency operations.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has awarded Gogoi with a commendation card for 'sustained efforts' on counter-insurgency operations.
"Major Gogoi has been awarded Chief of Army Staff's Commendation Card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations," Army spokesperson Aman Anand said.
This news is simply shameful! It bares the ugly side of Indian occupation of Kashmir. Shame on India and its army chief!
The army had come in for criticism one the video was out, with reports saying that the act constituted a war-crime.
Sources said Major Gogoi was given the award during Gen Rawat's visit to Jammu and Kashmir last week.
The Army Chief's 'Commendation Card' is considered a prestigious award and is given for distinguished services and devotion to duties.
A video, showing the man tied to the army vehicle during polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election on April 9, had triggered a public outcry, prompting the Army to institute a probe.
The CoI was tasked to look into the circumstance that prompted Major Gogoi to tie the Kashmiri youth to the jeep's bonnet as a "human shield".
The man, who was seen tied to an army jeep on polling day had been identified as Farooq Dar, while the army unit involved in the act was 53 Rashtriya Rifles.
Dar was later quoted as saying, “I am not a stone-pelter. Never in my life have I thrown stones. I work as an embroiderer of shawls, and I know some carpentry. This is what I do.”
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In a separate news, I was equally perturbed to learn that a former Bollywood actor and now a BJP  Parliamentarian Paresh Rawal has tweeted that writer-author Arundhati Roy should be used as human-shield in the Kashmir valley instead of stone-pelters. Rawal's tweeting is simply inexcusable and sickening and shows where is India heading these days under Hindutvadi fascists.
Booker Prize winner Roy’s causes have all landed her in conflict with the Hindu Right that freely bandies the phrase ‘anti-national’.
In a tweet that instantly attracted a series of crticism as well as support, the Padmashree winning-actor made an open attack on Roy who has, on various ocassions, spoken against the human rights violation in Kashmir.

Why Tulsi Gabbard cannot be defended

Today while browsing the Internet, I was surprised to see an article in defense of Tulsi Gabbard, the hypocrite congresswoman from Hawaii.  It was probably posted by a staffer working for Tulsi. It was a shameful display of indefensible argument for Tulsi to support a controversial petition HR 608. I have reviewed Tulsi's hypocrisy in the past quite thoroughly and find her insincere and opportunist.
The interested reader may like to click here to read my points of view on Tulsi.

Hypocrisy and Condescension - by Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. Here is the link to his latest article on Trump's visit of the Middle East.

Not remembering USS Liberty attack

It is safe to assume that when President Donald Trump lands in Israel Monday, he will not have been briefed on the irrefutable evidence that, nearly 50 years ago – on June 8, 1967 – Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 U.S. sailors and wounding more than 170 other crew. All of Trump’s predecessors – Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – have refused to address the ugly reality and/or covered up the attack on the Liberty.
It is not too late for someone to fill Trump in on this shameful episode, on the chance he may wish to show more courage than former presidents and warn the Israelis that this kind of thing will not be tolerated while he is president.
A new book by Philip Nelson titled: Remember the Liberty: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas, is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand what actually happened to the Liberty and to contemplate the implications.
To read more on this subject, click here.