HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A tribute to Khalid Azam

Link: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-tribute-to-khalid-azam.html

Every now and then, you feel the irresistible urge to appreciate and say good things about an individual whom you have come to respect over a period of time. That person is Mr. Khalid Azam, and Indian American from Hyderabad. 

Khalid is an active participant at DallasIndians@yahoogroups.com with 1692 members comprising Indians of all regions and religions. Unlike any other group, our members respectfully exchange some of the most difficult issues the nation faces, particularly surrounding the current government. 

There is a steady calmness about him. When dealing with polarized minds, we have a few choices; aggravate the conflict further, run away, call the others names and shut down the dialogue.  Khalid consistently seeks to provide facts, which the opposite site may not acknowledge it, but grudgingly accepts it. This is very important in a dialogue, and he stands his ground where needs to be. 
As a moderator of the group I have been observing Khalid's responses and have come to admire his approach. No one can beat you up, if you quote the facts. 

A few members keep jumping out of bounce and post anti-Muslim stuff even though it is not about Muslims of India. 

A few members post critical articles about BJP’ rule and the other few get riled up and make negative statements about the group. We keep going! 

To practice true democracy and freedom of speech, we have opened the forum to all expressions. If we want to see the whole picture we have to learn to hear some of the toughest comments. No personal attacks are allowed but you can counter any topic in discussion.

This is where Khalid Azam has excelled in dealing with differences gracefully.  No matter what fellow members say, Khalid remains to facts. He does not resort to throwing numbers or statements; he always backs it up with references.  It is difficult for the naysayers to argue with him.

 If he points someone’s fault, it is not just a blank statement, he quotes them.  He does not spare any one, and I am glad he was critical of me too.  We have to learn to face things and not shut others down. 

He does not attack individuals but attacks their take on the issue with facts. 

He is Mr. India; he knows the facts and figures and is a reservoir of knowledge about India and Islam. We may differ on our take on traditional Islam, but I have always respected him for being straight forward and factual.  I count on him at times to respond to claims of extremists among Hindus of India, who are the mirror of of extremists among Muslims.  Fortunately the % of extremist remain small; 1/10th of 1% of each group.
Khalid Azam is a founding member and trustee at the Indian American Muslim Council, a group dedicated to promoting and preserving the tolerant and pluralistic ethos of India. He actively works with various religious communities in the United States and India to advance human rights and religious freedom at an institutional and foreign policy level. He wrote an opinion piece at George Town’s Berkley Center for Relgion - http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/responses/india-s-shrinking-religious-freedom

I thank Khalid for being an exemplary citizen on the net. He is an asset for the Indian community in general and Muslims in particular.

DallasIndians@yahoogroups.com was formed in 2004 and has 1692 members. The group was formed to exchange information about the Indian community living in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex. It is all about our Culture, Events, Politics, Religion, Bollywood, Music, Achievements, Consular Services, Concerts and everything else that binds us. If you are an Indian, you are welcome to join the “moderated group” by sending an email to Subscribe-DallasIndians@yhoogroups.com

~  Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslampolitics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him at TheGhousediary.com and several blogs listed there in. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

India's Major Political Parties

India's Major Political Parties | Mike Ghouse for India
I was researching for major political parties around the world, and could not resist taking a snap shot of India's major political parties - by the number of seats in the Parliament. There 'were' several other major parties that got wiped out in the BJP sweep across India, which are not included.

The website foundation for pluralism is being converted to Center for Pluralism, it will be about pluralism in politics, religion, society, cuisines, costumes....  Pluralism is respecting the otherness of others. 

One of the few reasons I took the snap is because - 4 major parties of India have 3 women leaders, which we are proud of.  However, we need to pass strong laws to zero in on rapists and women harassers, and work on educating our new generation to believe, feel and act equal with women folks. 

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine, motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) at www.MikeGhouse.net and www.TheGhousediary.com for his exclusive writings.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Indian Curry's Global Journey

Indian Curry

I love the way non-Indians write about India and Indian things. The way Marcus Bell describes the curry is fascinating.  You have to figure out how the phrase came about.. kare raisu sounds so much like Kannada more than Telugu, some one said its' Tamil. You have a surprise in this, the British think it came from France. 

Wah bhai wah, Bharat ne duniya ko kya kya diya hai! 
Mera Desh Mahan hai!

Article at: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2016/04/indian-currys-global-journey.html

Mike Ghouse


# # #

From India To North Korea, Via Japan: Curry's Global Journey

Katsu curry: The British navy brought its anglicized interpretations of Indian cuisines to Imperial Japan in the 19th century. By the end of the century, the Japanese navy had adapted the British version of curry.
Katsu curry: The British navy brought its anglicized interpretations of Indian cuisines to Imperial Japan in the 19th century. By the end of the century, the Japanese navy had adapted the British version of curry.
I hadn't been in Japan more than a few weeks before I was hooked on Japanese karē raisu, or curry rice. It was the rich, unmistakable smell that seeped under doorways and filled the undercover shopping markets of Osaka that first caught my attention.
I followed the scent down an alley and into a tiny eatery not large enough for more than a half-dozen customers. Behind the wooden counter perched two large vats — the source of the seductive aromas. In one, the potbellied chef told me, is spicy curry. In the other is sweet curry. Perhaps noticing my indecisiveness, he picked up two small, wooden bowls and dished out a ladle of spicy into one bowl and a ladle of sweet into the other. "Try," he commanded.

Continued: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/04/08/473376519/from-india-to-north-korea-via-japan-currys-global-journey 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Parchment of Kashmir: Any unitary discourse claiming to encompass reality will be lopsided and suspect

The problems in a society emerge and erupt, when the social, political, cultural and religious climate goes awry. It is the duty of every citizen to restore the society back to its equilibrium, so people live a normal life. The following article by Dr. Nyla Ali Khan just does that. 

Published at: www.WorldMuslimCongress.com and http://MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com 

Mike Ghouse

Parchment of Kashmir: Any unitary discourse claiming to encompass reality will be lopsided and suspect

The concept of Kashmiriyat is not only cultural but political as well, which can be revitalized by the resuscitation of cultural institutions and the redressal of political grievances   

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

There is a plethora of opinions on the political future of the conglomerate of Jammu and Kashmir. Is Jammu and Kashmir a principality? An autonomous unit within the Indian Union? An integral part of India? A subversive unit with the Indian Union? A bilateral issue between the nation-states of India and Pakistan? Is the mainstream Indian understanding and interpretation of the Kashmir conflict the only credible one? Is the mainstream Pakistani understanding and interpretation of the Kashmir issue the only credible one? Do the people of Kashmir have a voice in the matter? Is there a space within Kashmiri society in which the democratic aspirations of the populace of Kashmir could be nurtured? Is there a critical discourse on Kashmir that foregrounds the views of scholars and lay people from the state, even if that discourse is in opposition to the mainstream one? These questions have been causing irrepressible angst in me for a while now. Can we break the silence? Can we bring the instability to an end, for our generation and the generations yet to be born?

A large majority of the populace Jammu and Kashmir is troubled, dispossessed and mocked by the processes of democracy, by United Nations resolutions, by armed insurgency, by counter-insurgency, by militarization, and by revisionist histories. The people of the state are yearning for the right to dignity; the right to live decent existences devoid of bestial militarism; the right to work and enable their families to enjoy the basic necessities of life; the right to hold opinions of which others take cognizance; and the right to an existence in which brutalization, demoralization, trauma, and rage are a thing of the past. In addition to the denizens of Jammu and Kashmir, diasporic Kashmiris also suffer from the indelible scars of having lost their homeland, and mourn a lost innocence.

After reviewing the firrst edition of my book Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan, published in June 2009, several Kashmiri academics pointed out to me that autonomy was an inadequate solution to the Kashmir con?ict. The intractability of the Kashmir conflict has made advocates of conflict resolution rather wary of applying a seemingly workable but facile solution to the complex political conflict. Mainstream media, intellectuals housed in academic institutions, formulators of public policy, and think-tanks are quick to point out that regardless of the bloody and seemingly infinite nature of a political, ethnic, or racial conflict, a viable solution can always be found to dilute the fierceness of a conflictual situation. But one is cautioned against glibly advocating a kitsch solution to the Kashmir conundrum by the complexity of the Kashmir conflict, which embodies the brutalities of nation building devoid of myth or self-infatuation.

Although the idea of self-determination collides with military oppression on the contentious site of nationalism, political accommodation can lead a war-weary people out of the prison of duplicitous rhetoric, political domination, and forceful imposition. The debate among political thinkers, scholars, and policy makers about finding viable ways to do justice to marginalized ethnic minorities in Jammu and Kashmir has seemed infinite. Which is the most viable solution to the Kashmir conflict?

Several questions were asked by the students in my Senior Seminar on World Literature at the University of Oklahoma in spring 2010 during the class discussion on translations of Kashmiri short stories at the Senior Seminar on Muslim Women’s Memoirs, in fall 2011, while discussing women in conflict zones. “What is the political status of Kashmir?” “Can Kashmir exist as an autonomous enclave, the security of which is guaranteed by India and Pakistan?” “This might be a dumb question, but does Kashmir have credible politicians?” “If Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint, why are most Americans unaware of the complexity of the Kashmir issue?” “Does Kashmir have fields of gold and mountains of silver?” “Are you familiar with the Led Zeppelin song, ‘Kashmir’?” “Are any women in positions of decision making in that part of the world?” “Is the exotic description of Kashmir in novels, poems, and travelogues an attempt to dehistoricize and decontextualize the region and its people?” “How is the reductive portrayal of Kashmir as a romantic and exotic locale going to make the primarily Western readership of, for example, some short stories on Kashmir and Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories 3 aware of the political upheaval in the region?” “Why are we talking about political allegory?” “Is there an inextricable link between pedagogy and politics?” “Why can’t the intelligentsia in Kashmir and diasporic Kashmiri intellectuals forge a coalition to come up with feasible solutions to the conundrum?”

I have always enjoyed teaching translations of Kashmiri short stories because some of the stories represent the mythical beauty of Kashmir, on the one hand, and the stultifying atmosphere created by murky politics, on the other. Before getting my students to do a close reading of the stories, I explained the historical backdrop of the Kashmir con?ict; the political situations and maneuvers orchestrated by the two nation-states of India and Pakistan; the onset of the armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989; the simmering resentment, rage, and alienation of the people of Kashmir that added fuel to the insurgency; the unpopularity of formerly populist leaders whom the masses no longer deemed genuine representatives; the nostalgia of expatriate Kashmiris who had been uprooted, dislocated, and dispossessed; the trauma generated by the loss of innocence in a militarized culture; the exclusionary discourse of Indian nationalism, which over the years has subsumed the discourse of Kashmiriyat or a unitary Kashmiri nationalist identity within it; and the erosion of cultural myths, legends, and folklore upon which the edi?ce of Kashmiri society is built.

My students had been unaware of the political swamp in Kashmir prior to our discussion; therefore, it was encouraging to hear them make intelligent comments about world views other than Western-centric ones: about issues of sovereignty, legitimacy of state- hood, representative nature of democracy or lack thereof, discourse of human rights and the bounden duty of international powers to protect fundamental rights in politically conflictual environments, pluralism as an antidote to the orthodoxy of ethnocentric politics, the construction of identity politics, and the implosion of the boundary between state and religion.

The issues that my students came up with can be summarized in the following way: the intricate relationship between the political and cultural power that emanates from metropolitan centers and the peripheral territories in which it manifests itself requires the formation of cultural practices that sustain the persistent disparity in power between the center and the “peripheral world.” This observation helps answer persistent questions. Is the effective political sovereignty of India over Kashmir achieved by force, by political collaboration,or by economic, social, or cultural dependence? Does the political sovereignty of India over Kashmir exist in its most potent manifestation in ideological and cultural practices?

After delving into the role of discourse in constructions of identities and subjectivities for a long time, I have found that dominant political powers use “discourse”— political, militaristic, gender, religious, and cultural—to disseminate the values that mold the ethnic and cultural identities of the dominated as well as the dominator. The strategy of fortifying domination with structures of knowledge creates an unbridgeable gulf between the “center” and the “margin.” Let me generalize using the language of postcolonial theory. The totalizing form of the discourse of the center, and its overpowering impulse to exclude, repress, and incorporate threatening forces, generate a dichotomy between the center and its peripheries.

The legacy of this polarization is a strongly bounded area of social and cultural knowledge that produces veneration for the monolithic center and obedience of the “margins” to it. The practice of political domination is ratified by the authority of academics, institutions, and governments that formulate a methodology, “surrounding it with greater prestige than its practical successes warrant.” The ideology propounded by the dominant order reflects and produces its interests. The representatives of the privileged center of the discourse of power (political, academic, cultural, religious, and institutional) silence the voices that are on the fringes of society. In order to achieve this outcome, the hegemonic order creates structures that cater to its unquestioned authority.

The rhetoric employed by mainstream Indian and Pakistani rhetoricians, politicians, academics, and policy makers has become the authoritative discourse of officialdom that separates itself from the realm of the Kashmiri people. It is a dogmatic discourse that has been used to assert its ascendancy among other verbal and ideological points of view. Meanwhile, the cultural identity of the Kashmiri people is damaged by the erosion of their autonomous institutions, by traumas and terrors generated by insurgency and counter insurgency. Still, the cruel politics of these neighboring nation-states has not obliterated the legacy of a rich heritage.

Frantz Fanon, in particular, espoused the attempt to refurbish social and political consciousness in order to undermine racist, ethnic stereotypes. Although Fanon’s theories were specifically geared to the Algerian national struggle, his characterization of culture as the contentious site where psychological and spiritual emancipation might be achieved is relevant to the Kashmiri context as well. In the case of Kashmir, the pervasiveness of prejudicial notions, particularly after 1989, undermined the self-representation and self-construction of the Kashmiri people. The struggle for autonomy and, some would argue, the legitimate right of self-determination in Kashmir quickly forged discourses in order to oppose the discourse of discrimination that had created a sense of marginalization in the populace.

Fanon famously propounds an anticolonial nationalism as a therapeutic device to cure the psychological and historical torture inflicted by the dichotomies of the culture of dominance. According to Fanon, the fallacy of the racial and culture privileging of the dominant power is confounded when the natives refuse to follow the trajectory charted out for them by the discursive practices of colonialism.

Cultural nationalism challenges and overthrows the hierarchy of ruling ideologies by enhancing a unity among all socioeconomic classes of an occupied area, which it has failed to do in the Kashmir context. This revolutionary stance can eliminate the petty feuds that exist in an area and can replace them with a sanctified notion of nation. History is no longer imposed on them; now they are able to wield memory as a powerful tool. In this process of nationalist self-imagining, the deployment of allegory, as some Kashmiri short story writers have done in their works, can be used to re-create and preserve a jeopardized way of life. Such narratives rewrite history and create symbols of nationhood. They impart resolvability to a disharmonious history.

Instead of a contemptuous dismissal of the power of myth and fetishes, writers explore these as repositories of culture. This process of recuperation makes the hitherto lost voices of the margin audible. A multiplicity of voices and perspectives, as in Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity, shuns simple decoding.

The concept of Kashmiriyat is not only cultural but political as well, which can be revitalized by the resuscitation of cultural institutions and the redressal of political grievances. Kashmiri society, like other South Asian societies, is by no means egalitarian or unpatriarchal. A rigidly entrenched gender hierarchy also exists in Kashmir; some substantive attempts have been made to deconstruct such a hierarchy. The role of women in a conflict zone; the reconceptualization of a woman’s identity in a politically militarized zone; intersectionalities of class, education, ethnicity, and religious identity in theorizing a woman’s identity; and women’s agential roles or lack thereof are issues that can no longer be relegated to the background. Any attempt to homogenize Kashmiri society or the politico-cultural discourse on Kashmir would be a dangerously ?awed exercise. People on the margins of society lack the same access to political, religious, cultural, and economic discourses and institutions as those in positions of privilege and power.

The tradition of Rishiism is not dead and buried in the Valley: it continues to bolster a cultural and religious identity that the militarization of Kashmir has not been able to do away with. To that end, the vaakhs of Lal-Ded and the shrukhs of Nur-ud-din Wali form a very important part of the vernacular of semi-literate and illiterate people in Kashmir. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I emphasize that any unitary discourse that claims to encompass the reality of Kashmir would be lop-sided and suspect.

Nyla Ali Khan is a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network. She is the author of The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism (Routledge, 2005); Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).