Friday, February 27, 2009

I have seen it all...

I have seen it all.
Those dazzling lights shine so ecstatic,
that glitter, the glamour and the night
-so neurotic.
As the smell of biryani chased the burning moon,
the bride and the groom danced to the frantic dhoon.

That place is now empty.
That flimsy night sky has lost her sufi soul,
Rebels brawl and the tanks roll.
Gunshots fired in thick air breathe so deep,
Dead bodies swirl in drain water -
These lives are so cheap !

Nights now growl here with sadness,
I am left here with only madness.

I have seen it all -
Darbar Hall.

27th Feb. 2009 - 7 am

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Did you know ?

Lieutenant General JFR Jacob (Jacob-Farj-Rafael Jacob) is widely known in India as one of the military masterminds behind India's successful liberation of Bangladesh in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

He is a former governor of the Indian states of Punjab and Goa and Lieutenant General (Retired) of the Indian Army.

His family were Baghdadi Jews who were originally from Iraq but settled in the Indian City of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in the middle of the 18th century.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, Jacob has paid many visits to Israel. Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin invited him to attend the Jerusalem 3,000 celebrations. On his recent visit here, he contributed items of Judaica from his parent's home to the Museum of Babylonian Jewry in Or Yehuda. His home in New Delhi has for years been a pilgrimage site for Israeli diplomats, researchers and security officers.

In the late `90s, Jacob joined the Hindu-majority center-right Indian political party "Bharatiya Janata Party". He served as the party's security adviser for many years.

Lt. General Jacob is the author of the book: "Surrender at Dacca : Birth of a Nation"

Friday, October 05, 2007

Help ! Mom ! There are Liberals under my Bed !

Fugstar reminded me that I need to do some blogging ! So here I am blogging after a long time. Yesterday I was watching the daily show with John Stewert and it showed both sides of the bipartisan book publishing in the US. I liked the title of the children's book published by a conservative- ' Help ! Mom ! There are Liberals under my Bed !' The liberals, on the other hand, published a book called 'Why my mom is a democrat'. Isn't it time the conservatives publish some books like these in Bangladesh ? Too many ignorant copy cat liberals in Bangladesh - they really give me bad stomach !

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bush Seals Hasina's Fate ?

Today George Bush has expressed his support for the present CTG. So what does this mean to the 'voice of resistance' Hasina ? It seems that she will never be able to become the prime minister of Bangladesh again and she could even end up spending rest of her life behind bars. Ah ! so sad !!

U.S. President George W. Bush has lauded a drive in Bangladesh against corruption and terrorism as the country's army-backed interim government prepares to hold a general election late next year.

"Both the countries have strong values in upholding democracy and were committed to work together against terrorism," a Bangladesh foreign ministry statement quoted Bush as saying.
"We support your efforts to fight corruption and collect taxes" and appreciate the interim government's efforts for "sticking to its promise to hold elections in 2008.."
Bush, according to the statement, said that Bangladesh "affirmed and re-affirmed its dedication to democratic principles in numerous elections" and termed the country as an "example of moderate and tolerant Muslim nation."
Here is a video of Bush making fun of himself ! Hope you enjot it -

The next video is a cartoon of Jesus visiting Bush. Great comedy !

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stop the Clash of Civilizations !

OK I am back again ! I was in hibernation for a long time beacuse I was busy with my research. Anyway, this video titled "stop the clash of civilizations" is one of my favourite videos and I thought why not start the blogging again with this wonderful message. I hope you enjoy the video as much I did.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Nationalism, Islam and Bangladesh

Nationalism is an ideology that holds that a nation is the fundamental unit for human social life, and takes precedence over any other social and political principles. Nationalists see nations as an inclusive categorization of human beings - assigning every individual to one specific nation. In fact, nationalism sees most human activity as national in character. Nations have national symbols, a national culture, a national music and national literature; national folklore, a national mythology and - in some cases - even a national religion. Individuals share national values and a national identity, admire the national hero, eat the national dish and play the national sport. Nationalists define individual nations on the basis of certain criteria, which distinguish one nation from another; and determine who is a member of each nation. These criteria typically include a shared language, culture, and/or shared values which are predominantly represented within a specific ethnic group. [1]
Nationalism is a concept that imposes unity based on ethnicity and tribalistic ties, whereas Islam does not impose but rather calls for unity based on a person’s ideology. Therefore, according to Islamic principle, an individual has the right and the freedom to choose whichever group he/she wishes to be associated with based on his/her ideology. As a universal religion, Islam is nominally opposed to any categorisation of people not based on one's beliefs. Islam condemns the division of mankind on the basis of blood and territory in national and racial units, and grants no authenticity to national and racial differences. Its only test of individual worth is chastity, belief, faith and good deeds.
Islam promotes a strong feeling of community among all Muslims, who collectively constitute the Ummah. A common ideology is the basis of the unity of the Islamic Ummah, not race, country, language or even culture. The goal of nationalism is to create national units, whereas the goal of Islam is universal unity. To nationalism what matters the most is loyalty and attachment to the homeland, whereas to Islam, it is God and religion. Nationalism gives authenticity to geographical boundaries and racial distinctions, whereas Islam negates them. Nationalism inclines to limitation and race, but Islam assumes a universal outlook. Nationalism attaches value only to the historical traditions, culture, civilization, ideas and historical figures of its own nation, but Islam's vision goes beyond the frontier, race, tribe and nation [2]. These are the reasons why nationalists seek separation from Islam a condition for nationalism to succeed, even if they do not utter it. Their acts reveal their hatred towards those who seek Islam.
It should be noted that at the advent of Islam and the Islamic revolution, the only social and political organizations of the pre-Islamic Arabs were the tribe, race and language which were used as measures of superiority or inferiority. Blood and tribal bond was the basis of unity, a rough and raw form of modern nationalism and racism. Language, too, was regarded as a sign of superiority and for this reason, the Arabs considered non-Arabs as “Ajam", which means dumb [2].
The Prophet (s) who founded the classless and universal society of Islam, actually brought various nations together and removed their tribal hues. At a gathering of three Muslims from three countries, namely Salman from Pars, Soheib from White Romans and Bilal from Black Ethiopia, an Arab named Gheys-bin- Motateba entered and addressed the above as 'foreigners'. The Prophet (s) said in anger: “Your father is the same and your religion is the same, and the Arabism of which you seem to be proud belongs neither to your father, nor to your mother (meaning Adam and Eve are the parents of all of you)". Then he declared: “He, who propagates the creed of tribal solidarity or fights for its sake or offers his life for it, is not of us." [Abu Da'wud]
And in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) referring to nationalism and racism said: "Leave it, it is rotten."

Also, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,

"Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride of arrogance of the age of Jahilliyah (ignorance) and the glorification of ancestors. Now people are of two kinds. Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and Adam was made of clay. People should give up their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of Hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah (swt) will consider them lower than the lowly worm which pushes itself through Khara (dung)." [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]
Various incidents narrated in different hadiths demonstrate that tribal ties have no place in Islam. Muslims are commanded to stick together and not to disassociate themselves from each other just because they come from different tribes. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) also said,

"The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever." [Muslim],

"The faithful are like one man: if his eyes suffer, his whole body suffers." [Muslim],

"An Arab is no better than a non-Arab. In return, a non-Arab is no better than an Arab. A red raced man was not better than a black one except in piety. Mankind are all Adam's children and Adam was created out of clay." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Musa]

Meaning that the Muslims, whether they are of Chinese, African, European or Asian origin, are one Ummah and they cannot be separated from each other. No tribalistic ties should ever break their unity. It should be noted that the Constitution of Medina, an early document said to have been negotiated by Muhammad (PBUH) in AD 622 with the leading clans of Medinah, explicitly refers to Jewish and pagan citizens of Medinah as members of the same Ummah.
When East Pakistan broke away from the main Western part of the country to form Bangladesh in 1971, it was in opposition to the notion that all Muslim areas of former British India should unite in one state. The Awami League, which led the struggle for independence, grew out of the Bangla language movement, and was based on Bengali nationalism, not religion. At the same time, independent, secular Bangladesh became the only country in the subcontinent with one dominant language group and very few ethnic and religious minorities. It should be noted that, in 1971, apart from Islamists many hardline socialists were also opposed to the idea of a separate Bengali state in Bangladesh, which they branded as “bourgeois nationalism.”
After the war of liberation in 1971, myth-making attempts have been made to project the groups in power and exclude others from the process. The list of exclusion is very long. There is no place for Maulana Akram Khan, Abul Qasim Fazl Haq, and Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy as they were the products of pre-Partition politics and contributed nothing to Bangladesh. Even Maulana Bhashani was pushed outside the pail of the new history and his role marginalized. Instead, Mukti Bahini became the main force that fought bravely against the Pakistan army and successfully liberated the country. Atrocities and genocide of the Pakistan army emerged as the second element in mobilizing the people emotionally in order to convince them that freedom was not cheap and people paid a heavy price for it. Mujib emerges as the great leader who led his people through all ups and downs. Mujib and his party took full advantage of the situation to assume total power. Soon the sacrifices and atrocities were forgotten and the people were denied participation in the power structure. Rakshi Bahini, a praetorian force, was used to silence the opposition. The leftist politicians were marginalized, bureaucracy became dominant, and the personality cult of Mujib was established. To keep the nation united, violence was permitted. Thus ended the era of romantic nationalism and the hope of the people for a better future collapsed. [3]
It was decided to make 1971 as a starting point of the new history. This raised the question: how then should Bangladesh nationalism be defined? If language becomes the basis of nationhood, how should West Bengal, which is now a part of India, be treated? To extricate themselves from this paradox, the historians chose to deny Bengali nationalism and instead promote Bangladeshi nationalism. This has consequently brought back religion as an element in the construction of Bengali national identity. [4]
Today, following an initial brutal secular dictatorship run by the original "fathers for freedom,"[4] Bangladesh is a more economically diverse state with good relations with other Muslim countries. One where the majority of the people are in-favor of an Islamic lifestyle and want to see a sincere effort to abide by it within strong institutions.

2. Islam and Nationalism by Dr. Ali Mohammed Naqvi
3. Bangladesh and its Nationalism by Mubarak Ali

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On the present situation in Bangladesh - "state of emergency" declared

The political climate in Bangladesh remains as violent and unstable as ever... but has electoral politics, for the moment, derailed workers' struggle?
After a year of intense nationwide class struggle in 2006, (see our previous reports here) for the last 3 months Bangladesh has been in a different kind of turmoil. Media sources give the impression that the class struggle has been largely submerged by political conflicts between the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP) bloc and the Awami League-led opposition alliance, as they jockey for position in the run-up to the General Election (now postponed). The opposition has led several large blockades of major cities - involving strikes, riots, transport stoppages - as a political lever to influence the composition of the Election Commission overseeing the voting procedure; appointments by the BNP were challenged and some eventually overturned as being too favourable to the ruling party. The updating of the Electoral Register also remains a source of major conflict, with disputes over dead persons fraudulently registered to vote etc. 35 people have died in the street clashes; in one incident TV cameras captured the public lynching of several rival activists by Awami League militants.
Clampdown, meltdown?
Yesterday (Thurs 11th Jan) BNP President Iajuddin stood down as chief of the caretaker government - though he still retains effective control and has now declared a countrywide state of emergency/martial law in a bid to restore order amid the opposition protests and disruption of the economy by their political blockades. Curfews (11pm -5am) and roadblocks were last night established, and police and army control the streets. A gagging order was also issued by a government "official of the Press Information Department (PID) to the TV news channels and the press not to print any news, pictures and cartoons and editorials critical of the present government". (Daily Star, 12/Jan/07) The President stated he still looked forward to resolution of political differences and eventual "free and fair election to be participated by all political parties". But the UN, EU and Commonwealth have suspended their election monitors, seeing little imminent chance of this; and the President said today that, due to problems with the Electoral Register, elections set for January 22nd are now not likely for some time. The prospect of indefinite turmoil, possibly leading to a bloody civil war, becomes a stark, if not immediate, possibility. The southern port city of Chittagong is a well known centre of the illegal arms trade; the main political parties all have affiliations with the arms 'godfathers' dominating the business. Smuggled weapons are plentiful in the local bazzars and the city also contains several underground arms manufacturing workshops.
Lawyers trash court!
The political divisions run right through the Bangladeshi ruling class: in late November pro-Awami League lawyers attacked the Supreme Court building, damaging courtrooms and the chief justice’s chamber. The car of a former state minister of law, parked on the court premises, was also set on fire. 12 Supreme Court lawyers were later charged with vandalism. This attack was a response to perceived pro-government bias by the higher judiciary. Legislation enforcing separation between government and judiciary had been stalled by pro-government legal factions, led by the Chief Justice. A retiring High Court judge this week commented on the blatant political corruption of the legal system; “I have seen during my long 13 years in judicial career how the evil partisan political influence engulfed the sacred institution..." (Western democracies are generally more subtle, and therefore more stable, in their means of control.)
Now that the Awami League has achieved many of its gains and the Election remains the central issue, the murky corruption of Bangladeshi politics becomes more open - the smaller parties in both rival blocs begin to complain they have been short-changed by the leading parties by the small number of nominations they have been allocated. There has been much argument about nominations, with the judges ruling in their political masters' favour; "...on December 20, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court stayed [halted] the operation of the High Court’s verdict that made it mandatory for parliamentary candidates to furnish their educational status, criminal records, if any, statement of assets and sources of income while filing nomination papers." The situation would be little different with the equally-corrupt Awami League in power.

The four major political parties of Bangladesh on the basis of the 2001 general election are BNP, Awami League, Jamat-e-Islam and Jatiya Party (E). The first and the last named hold almost identical views and manifestos although they are in the opposite camp at the moment. ... They represent bourgeoisie character and pursue open market policy, Islamic values, not Islamic state, and Bangladeshi nationalism.

Jamat-e-Islam strives hard for a welfare state based on the model of the Republic of Medina during the time of the Prophet (SM). This party discards secularism but nurtures religious tolerance. On the contrary, the Awami League tracks open market economy, secularism and Bangali nationalism, ignoring the existence of the several lakhs [hundred thousands] tribal people. This party is also of bourgeoisie character and stresses on the warm relations with India.
Of the remaining parties, the Communist Party of Bangladesh still dreams of a socialist state while the other Islamic parties eye on a conservative state, however, without detailing. (New Nation, 10/Jan/07)
Or... class struggle
It's hard to tell if local reporting has just largely ignored class struggle in the run up to the election or if the violent political party rivalry dominating Bangladeshi society has simply limited the class struggle. Maybe the poor are waiting to see how the election plays out before taking any more decisive moves. Certainly the garment workers remain in dispute with the RMG (Ready Made Garment) bosses - the concessions promised after the mass workers revolt of May 06 have not been delivered. There have been occasional reports of strikes and violence; On Tuesday this week there were clashes in the Dhaka RMG zone between workers and factory security thugs, leading to walkouts ( coverage here). Jute mill workers in Kulna were also again on strike at the end of December, as they have been regularly over the past year:


Workers "removed railway slippers and damaged hoardings and shops during a blockade of highway and railway in the industrial belts of Khalishpur, Daulatpur and Atra in Khulna on Friday, the fourth successive day of their programmes to push for their demands.The mill workers under the banner of the Khulna-Jessore unit of the Jute, Yarn and Textile Workers and Employees’ Acton Council have been enforcing the non-stop blockade from December 26 to push for their eight-point charter of demands.The demands include payment of all dues and festival bonus, reopening of the closed mills, abolition of all anti-labour laws and placement of sufficient funds by the government at the mills for the purchase of raw jute.The mill workers removed some railway slippers at three points and set them on fire near Natun Rasta.They damaged a number of hoardings at Khalishpur and Daulatpur where they also battered the shutters of many closed shops.The mill workers barricaded nine kilometres of the Khulna–Jessore Highway from Baikali, disrupting traffic.All types of transports stayed off the main road in the Khalishpur industrial belt and neighbouring areas. No trains could leave the railway station."(New Age) "
With limited information, the picture is necessarily confused. Both workers and bosses have complained about the political blockades; bosses lose profits and workers lose wages by being unable to work. This is particularly serious for a workforce who live largely hand-to-mouth, barely receiving a living wage. Prices of basic commodities have risen consistently recently, partly through hoarding and speculation by suppliers, increasing hardships of the poor. The Awami League has opportunistically organised several 1 day 'general strikes' on popular grievances such as price hikes. To what degree workers' participation in such actions is simply a convenient way of expressing dissatisfaction or if it extends to some expression of support for the opposition alliance is, at this distance, hard to judge. The political blockades also sometimes make it impossible for workers to get to the workplace. But in all their most radical actions of the past year - from the mass revolt in the garment industry, the Phulbari mass uprising against a proposed open cast mine project, numerous other strikes and riots against attacks on living standards of the poor - the Bangladeshi proletariat have shown themselves quite capable of a high level of autonomous self-organisation.
by Ret Marut on Fri, 12/01/2007 on