HOME | ABOUT US | www.MikeGhouse.net Google Profile | C.V. | Interfaith Speaker | Muslim Speaker |Motivational Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. I wish I could have them all, but will have to live with a few. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com


Sunday, August 15, 2010

An Indian Muslim scholar sets an example

An Indian Muslim scholar sets an example of faith in democracy
By MUQTEDAR KHAN • August 10, 2010

http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20100810/OPINION09/8100322/1004/OPINION/An-Indian-Muslim-scholar-sets-an-example-of-faith-in-democracy

On Aug. 15, India will celebrate its independence from British colonial rule. Congratulations to India. For nearly 200 years the British occupied and exploited India and its resources. But we all know this aspect of British culture firsthand and it does not need much elaboration here.

India, too, has emerged as a democracy after independence. It used to be a great civilization, now it is on its way to becoming a great world power.

India is not only a successful democracy and an emerging fountain of knowledge for the world; it is also the other Holy Land. There are only four religions with more than a billion adherents. Two come from the Middle East (Islam and Christianity), and the other two were made in India (Hinduism and Buddhism).

Whether it is Indian software engineers, doctors or professors, Indians are not only scripting a phenomenal story of growth in India, but are also driving growth everywhere in the world.

In the U.S., too, Indians and their progeny are making an incredible impact. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, Fareed Zakaria and Sanjay Gupta of CNN, Deepak Chopra, 11 Nobel laureates and thousands of scientists and entrepreneurs are making America a more scientific and prosperous nation.

Kalpana Chawla, one of the brave astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia accident, was Indian-American.

And then there is yours truly.

One of the most important reasons for India's tremendous post-independence success is its unwavering focus on education. One of the earliest architects of India's freedom struggle and its focus on education was a Muslim scholar -- Maulana Azad, a close companion of Mahatma Gandhi and the first minister of education of free India, from 1947 to 1958.

His policies, which created the world-renowned Indian Institutes of Technologies and brought education to women very early on, played a big role in India's social and economic development and its ability to nourish its democracy.

Maulana Azad was a remarkable man by any standards. He was a freedom fighter, a journalist, a scholar, a politician and a statesman. He was born in Mecca in 1888 to a family of Islamic scholars who taught Islam in Mecca and Calcutta. He received a traditional education in Islamic sciences, but in his early teens he recognized that much of his education was religious indoctrination. So he rebelled against it and declared his intellectual freedom and took the nom de plume Azad.

(2 of 2)


Azad means free.




He became a prominent player in India's freedom struggle, motivating millions of Muslim Indians to join the movement through his various magazines and leading the Indian National Congress during the crucial years 1940-1946.

He was an Indian Muslim leader and Islamic scholar who believed in Hindu-Muslim unity and opposed the partition of India. He believed that a secular, democratic India would safeguard the freedoms both of Muslims and Hindus.

Azad's faith in communal harmony came from his belief in the fundamental unity of all religions. He based this on his reading of the Quran, which claims that God has sent prophets with the divine message to all people, some of them known to Prophet Mohammed, others he was not aware of (40:78), and that all religions are but one (23:52). It was this belief that made him reach out to Hindus, Christians and Parsees successfully.

In spite of his political responsibilities, Azad found time to write books. His magnum opus was a thirty-volume commentary on the Quran. He wrote several other treatises on the Quran and a history of India's struggle -- "India Wins Freedom."

No leader in the Indian subcontinent, Hindu or Muslim, could match him in erudition and scholarship. No contemporary leader in the entire Muslim world is able to combine political leadership and Islamic scholarship like Azad.

Muslims who live as minorities need leaders like Azad who emphasize respect for pluralism, believe in democracy and eschew mental and social ghettoes.

Leaders who use religious identities as political instruments not only undermine the social harmony of societies, but also do more harm than good for the very minorities whose interests they claim to advance.

We live in an age of globalization, where boundaries are gradually losing their salience. In this age, politics of religious boundaries are artificial and counterproductive.

I hope that American Muslims will discover Azad and learn how to live and lead in a secular democracy; and that non-Muslim Americans learn that not all Muslim leaders in history were divisive and partisan. Many, like Azad, seek political and religious unity.

He became a prominent player in India's freedom struggle, motivating millions of Muslim Indians to join the movement through his various magazines and leading the Indian National Congress during the crucial years 1940-1946.

He was an Indian Muslim leader and Islamic scholar who believed in Hindu-Muslim unity and opposed the partition of India. He believed that a secular, democratic India would safeguard the freedoms both of Muslims and Hindus.

Azad's faith in communal harmony came from his belief in the fundamental unity of all religions. He based this on his reading of the Quran, which claims that God has sent prophets with the divine message to all people, some of them known to Prophet Mohammed, others he was not aware of (40:78), and that all religions are but one (23:52). It was this belief that made him reach out to Hindus, Christians and Parsees successfully.

In spite of his political responsibilities, Azad found time to write books. His magnum opus was a thirty-volume commentary on the Quran. He wrote several other treatises on the Quran and a history of India's struggle -- "India Wins Freedom."

No leader in the Indian subcontinent, Hindu or Muslim, could match him in erudition and scholarship. No contemporary leader in the entire Muslim world is able to combine political leadership and Islamic scholarship like Azad.

Muslims who live as minorities need leaders like Azad who emphasize respect for pluralism, believe in democracy and eschew mental and social ghettoes.

Leaders who use religious identities as political instruments not only undermine the social harmony of societies, but also do more harm than good for the very minorities whose interests they claim to advance.

We live in an age of globalization, where boundaries are gradually losing their salience. In this age, politics of religious boundaries are artificial and counterproductive.

I hope that American Muslims will discover Azad and learn how to live and lead in a secular democracy; and that non-Muslim Americans learn that not all Muslim leaders in history were divisive and partisan. Many, like Azad, seek political and religious unity.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is an associate professor at the University of Delaware and a fellow of the Institute for Social policy and Understanding.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Indian Muslims - The Lamb's share

Muslims
The Lamb’s Share
There’s funds, schemes aplenty, but the Muslim lot is no better. Why?
Abusaleh Shariff

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?266661

It is essential to begin this essay by emphasising that minorities, including the Muslims, maintain aspirations and seek opportunities for development like any other community in India. Yet an empirical review suggests that Muslims are lagging practically in all spheres of development, including education, employment, income, assets and so on. There have been efforts by both the Centre and state governments to overcome deprivation amongst the Muslims across India, but a quick review of outcomes suggest little improvement. There is a need for durable changes, a recognition that deprivation amongst the minorities/Muslims exists due to systemic causes which can be set right only through broad-based public policy initiatives, not just through special purpose vehicles such as the minority/Muslim-oriented programmes; in fact, it would be best to assist them to strive to access their share within the mainstream line of ministries, departments and programmes.

India, through the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment, has made a strong sociopolitical statement of its arrival as a mature democracy, championing multi-layered decentralised governance, sharing substantial powers and a national pool of resources with the states. Further, the enduring canons of governance and economic development are grounded in the principles of socialism, inclusiveness and secularism and fully conscious of regional imbalance.

Like the other main communities of India, the Muslims should have been able to pursue social, economic and educational aspirations within the framework and support of state-provided infrastructure, opportunities and political awakenings. One expects that the ‘diversity’ natural to our population would be reflected in public spheres such as in educational institutions, public and organised sector employment, political systems and governance structures at all levels. Yet, in spite of the fact that practically all social, educational and economic spheres of living are governed and regulated by the states, one finds substantial differences (often unacceptable levels) between varied social groups and across states. Such differentials are prominent in spite of special constitutional provisions bestowed upon the minorities since Independence.

Maintaining diversity in public spheres is a must. If it does not happen naturally, it has to happen via state intervention.

Over 150 million citizens, just about 14 per cent of all Indians, profess Islam as their religion and reside in all parts of India. Muslims are the largest (80 per cent) of all the identified minorities. They reside in substantial numbers and proportions in states such as Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, UP and Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra and so on. There are examples and best practices found within India. Consider the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, all have devised policies favouring Muslims at two levels. Muslims here have relatively better access to quality mass education (both elementary and higher level) and employment; and given the history of relative deprivation of the Muslims, the states have extended the benefit of reservations in a certain measure of fractional-proportions linked to their size and share in the population. Such quotas are enabling Muslim girls and boys to catch up with their peers amongst the Hindus and Christians, both in education and employment. Similar provisions enable Muslims to participate even in the political spaces. AP has made a beginning by promoting a system of ‘co-option’ or ‘nomination’ system to the mandals, zila parishads and municipalities/nagar panchayats (AP Panchayat Act, 2006).

Maintaining diversity in public spheres is essential. When this does not happen naturally, it has to be made to happen through government intervention. Legislation can be one way (the mechanism is to remind the government and the institutions that ensuring diversity is their responsibility). Diversity can also be assured by offering incentives/credits to government departments, institutions, universities and so on. Another means is to provide institutional access to citizen representatives (including those from the minorities) to ensure ‘equity’ in the public sphere. An ‘Equal Opportunities Commission’ will go a long way in both ensuring diversity as a key state objective, and also as an institution to enforce redressal.

The Centre has made some efforts during the past 3-4 years to address various aspects of Muslim deprivation. Under the revised 15-point programme, a special investment programme is on in about 100 minority concentration districts (MCDs); exclusive scholarships have been announced for the first time to cover minorities, both in elementary and at higher levels of education. The RBI is consistently sending memos to public sector banks to increase funding to applicants from the minorities and so on. However, a review of all the above suggest that the MCD programme has not even made a presence in many states like West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Gujarat. The overall utilisation is less than 20 per cent of the total funds earmarked for the programme since inception. Similarly, the scholarship programme, although very popular, is able to cover only a fraction of total applicants. And it appears that the public sector banks have not even taken note of the repeated requests by the RBI, a matter of utmost concern.

The larger malice of exclusion has to be fought unitedly by all ‘regular-line departments’ and ministries at the national and state levels. It also needs collaboration and partnership with civil society and private institutional structures. Will a separate ministry ensure the implementation of the over 300 programmes that aim to alleviate poverty and improve human development, promote inclusiveness of the excluded, whether they be SCs, STs or Muslims?

In the absence of any timeline, programme-specific implementative strategy and clarity on monitoring mechanisms, no results will be forthcoming. It is important to mention here that a flat policy of earmarking 15 per cent of budgetary allocations to favour the minorities is not implementable. Rather, the service delivery procedures must use population shares at the “programme-specified operational levels” such as the district, taluka and block levels so as to ensure maximum coverage and provide a sense of equity. The early euphoria and expectations are dying out. UPA-1 took many initiatives to diagnose the problem; now UPA-2 must ensure that inclusive policies are actually implemented before the people at large become disappointed. I only hope that government procrastination on issues related to Muslims does not lead to frustration.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(The author is an economist who oversaw the writing of the Sachar Commission report.)

Proud of my India, happy independence day

http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2010/08/proud-of-my-india-happy-independence.html
Proud of my India

We are proud of our heritage - a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-regional and multi-linguistic society, where we have come to accept and respect every which way people have lived their lives.

For over 5000 years, India has been a beacon of pluralism - it has embraced Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i and Zoroastrianism to include in the array of the indigenous religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.


India led the way to the freedom movement, since 1947 every country has been liberated from colonialism. Indian democracy is a shining example to the world, where the people have peacefully transferred the powers. Indians are inherently secular and economically capitalistic. They believe in "live-and-let-live" life style, which is the essence of capitalism.

Through the years we have expressed the highest degree of maturity on handling extreme situations; the more divergent opinions we hear, the larger our heart grows, the bigger our embrace would be and we can cushion more differences. Let’s continue to honor the concept that there is always another side to the story, as finding the truth is our own responsibility.

Our goal is to seek ideas and make attempts to move towards solutions to ensure continuance of our Pluralistic Heritage. The world is one family; Vasudhaiva KutumbakamWe must be open to ideas from the fanatics of the divide to the intellectuals. It is the only way we can learn all aspects of an issue.

Any long term policy will have to be based on factoring in all expressions. We cannot overlook the voices that are meek or extreme, as some day they could be explosive. The stability of a civil society depends on how the powerful treat their weak. Mighty empires have come and gone, whereas good governance will last and be remembered.Multiple ways of worshipping the divine has been a way of life through out our history. Our people have believed that all rivers lead to the ocean. That open mindedness has allowed us all to embrace diverse ideas and expressions with ease. India is proud to have all expressions of divinity from Atheists, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Jewish, Sikh to a Zoroastrian.

Hinduism, the land’s oldest practicing faith can sum up one of the purposes of life is to become Brahman. When one becomes a Brahman, he belongs to all, and everything belongs to him. A man becomes free from all prejudices and the elements like ignorance, ill-will, malice, anger and desires. That is one’s struggle to get freedom from the bondages and one’s effort to be good to all mankind. That is the single most important item of faith that Prophet Muhammad taught thru Islam, and that was the message in every religious tradition. To be good to others and good will come to you.


I wish a very happy India Independence day to my fellow Indians around the world.

Now, it is your turn to bring independence to the millions who are entrenched in misery and poverty.

We also need to gain freedom from bias towards each other on religious, nationalistic or ethnic basis. We need to be free and achieve the Mukti, Nijaat, Nirvana, Moksha, Salvation and real freedom from our own littleness.

I am proud of my heritage and am proud to be an Indian-American. Please join me in the discovery of India at IndianPluralism@yahoogroups.com as time permits and share the wealth of knowledge you have on this forum. Play and enjoy the two versions of our national anthem:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7399792002477900458

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh26zOjIh9I&feature=related

and listen to some 20 Patriotic Songs in a row -
Mere Desh ki dharti is repeated twice in a row
http://tinyurl.com/IndianPatrioticSongsbyMike

Jai Hind


Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism, Islam and India offering pluralstic solutions to the media and public on issues of the day. His work is encapsulated in 22 Blogs and 3 Websites listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ramadan Mubarak - Happy Ramadan

Muslims around the world will begin fasting from Wednesday, August 11, 2010 and for a whole month thereafter.

Thanks to Washington post, they will publish three articles on Ramadan; The Politics of Ramadan, The Rituals of Ramadan and the Spirit of Ramadan towards the third of Ramadan.


True fasting is self-purification; and from this, a rich inner life brings about values such as justice, generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and empathy - values that are indispensable for the success of the community.Consciousness of behavior and vigilance over action are the most profound dimensions of fasting: the fasting of the heart focuses on the attachment to the divine.


That is when Ramadan really becomes a source of peace and solace, just as Christmas goes beyond the rituals to bring forth kindness, charity and caring.For fasting to be truly universal, its benefits must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims and must extend to forging a common humanity with others.


Fasting is meant to impart a sense of what it means to be truly human, and its universality is reflected by its observance in Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Wiccan, Zoroastrian, other faiths and importantly the native traditions.


Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Islam and Pluralism and is a frequent guest at Media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. His work is listed on 22 of his blogs and two websites listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/