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Nadim Asrar
Friday , January 04, 2013

An Open Letter to RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat


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Dear Sir, You cannot be more 'right', pun vehemently intended. I am one of the many today outraged by your remarks that rapes happen only in India and not in Bharat. And that they happen because of the evil West. (Heard of fascism? Never mind.) I see a serious shortage of vernacular newspapers and TV channels in your Nagpur office. May I suggest, with utmost humility, an increase in their subscriptions? Also, the Swadeshi TV there may need a set-top box. You get more channels that way! Dear Sir, in such a misinformed Nagpur air, I don't expect you to know (since you're also busy editing the 50-something shades of Paanchjanya or reading the latest on Swadeshi martial art technologies) about the numerous rapes and abuse of women in India's villages, tehsils, forests and coal mines. You may also choose to deny that sexual violence has been an....


Thursday , December 06, 2012

Ayodhya 1992, Gujarat 2002, Mumbai 2012


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Two decades is almost a third of the journey that independent India has covered since 1947. It's been a long journey, chequered with events that challenged, threatened and sometimes even sustained - in their own convoluted way - the idea of the Indian state. The epoch begins with what happened in small-town Ayodhya on Dec 6, 1992 when a medieval mosque, labelled as a monument of Mughal pride and persecution, was pulled down by a frenzied mob of right-wing Hindu 'activists'. One need not go into the well-documented details of what happened that day. The only aspect I want you to consider here for the sake of the argument I will be making later is that the demolition of Babri Masjid, organised by the BJP government in UP and tacitly supported by the Congress government at the Centre, was still considered an assault on the Indian state. It was....


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When your name becomes your worst enemy


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A research officer from the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences was recently harassed in Hyderabad while he worked on a report on terror cases across India. Here is an account on the website TwoCircles.net, which is gradually turning into a huge resource for information related to the Indian Muslims. Its reporter Mohd Ismail Khan, who accompanied the TISS researcher Sharib Ali, narrates how he and Ali were picked up by the Hyderabad police after they met a lawyer who was also the president of the Andhra Pradesh Hindu Vahini. The lawyer and the police repeatedly ascribed to their identity - their names - as their legitimate grounds to be suspicious of them and their work. This is what Sharib had to say on the incident, "This reveals the deepening distrust between communities in the city. As a researcher from a reputed institute, I had gone to meet....


Sunday , August 12, 2012

The Fareed Zakaria episode and the hypocrisy of American media


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In a piece Fareed Zakaria wrote for Time on gun control after the tragic Wisconsin gurdwara massacre, he lifted a passage from Harvard University history professor Jill Lepore's piece published in The New Yorker. The plagiarism was caught. Zakaria apologized while his employers - Time and CNN (both, by the way, owned by Time Warner) - promptly suspended him from his duties as editor-at-large and host respectively, "pending further review". I have no intention to defend Zakaria's plagiarism here. But I am amazed and shocked at the oversight such a celebrated writer committed by not attributing a small passage to a fellow intellectual. Considering the fact that Zakaria was taking on perhaps the most powerful lobby in the world on an issue that the US loves to be evasive about, I wish he had shown more diligence than he did. Having said that, I also invite you -....


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sainik School Tilaiya: an insider's tale


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It's my favourite story from the Sainik School Tilaiya days. It was around 2 am on a cold December night in 1989. The asbestos roof on our dormitory building added to the chill. I was awakened from my sleep by a loud call from behind the white bed-sheet curtains that our seniors hanged to mark their spaces as well as assert their seniority, "Re satvaan class, koi hai re?" 'Satvaan class' was the code for Class VII students, the Sainik School Tilaiya equivalent of bonded labour for their seniors. Class VI students, the junior-most kids in the Tilaiyan hierarchy, were put in a separate dormitory to undergo a year of initiation to the Sainik School way of life. As everyone in Class VII had by then understood, such loud calls were supposed to be ignored during that part of the night. After all, a collective thrashing in the morning....


Saturday , September 10, 2011

An open letter to Americans on a decade of 9/11


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Dear friends and comrades, As I write this, television screens all over the world are already flashing their 'exclusive' coverage of the Big Sunday that will mark a decade of the tragic 9/11 attacks. The chilling images of the planes hitting the World Trade Center in New York - and the aftermath - will be played in a loop throughout the day. Families who lost their loved ones in the attack will come together to share their grief and anger; terror alerts would be sounded across the cities and the airports; analysts will be busy in television studios making a sense of the world since; and resolutions to fight terrorism and make the world a peaceful place will be renewed by leaders across the globe. Today, the world will join you in mourning the tragedy that not only changed your nation forever, but also - in many ways -....


Monday , June 20, 2011

In Forbes' India, Forbesganj remains an anomaly


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Bihar, in a new, resurgent India, is often presented as a case study of what a positive politics of development and inclusive growth can yield. While there are no actual figures to indicate the great turnaround that the state is credited with, the mere fact that a man can register one of the most charismatic election victories in recent times by merely building roads says a lot about Bihar's condition today. In fact, the aura around Nitish and his brand of 'no-nonsense' politics was so alluring that even the Gandhian crusader Anna Hazare succumbed to it when he said that Bihar and Gujarat are the two models that the UPA government at the centre should follow. Although Anna later retracted the statement after his 'civil society' friends objected to him endorsing the man in Gujarat who once presided over the killing of more than 2000 Muslims, in hindsight it....


Friday , May 06, 2011

Can a 'closed' AMU be a model for Muslims?


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If there is one obscure Latin word that the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus is quite familiar with, it's 'sine die'. I think it all started when former bureaucrat Mahmoodur Rahman, after assisting Governor Jagmohan in Kashmir where combing for militants meant forcibly vacating villages, started following the same logic at the Aligarh campus. During the five-year tenure of Rahman (1995-2000), the university was closed at least thrice. Since then, in my almost 18 years of association with the university, I have witnessed at least seven closures of the campus sine die. The incumbent Vice-Chancellor, P K Abdul Azis, has already closed the university thrice in his tumultuous tenure. The regularity of its recourse at AMU has made the administration completely oblivious to the harm it does to the students. The unfortunate regularity of sine die closures has made them a rule at the AMU campus. There is....


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More about Nadim Asrar

After his repeated attempts at being an academic failed, Nadim decided to be a web professional. Before joining IBNLive.com as Editor, News Features in November 2010, he worked with the timesofindia.com as Assistant News Editor for more than two years. Nadim was awarded the MacArthur Foundation fellowship for his PhD in Asian Literatures, Cultures and Media at the University of Minnesota, US. He was also awarded the Ford Foundation-IFP fellowship in 2004 for his masters in Film Studies at the University of Kansas, US. He is the author of 'The Muslim Others of Indian Cinema: Questions of Nation and Narration', published in 2010 by the Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany. Nadim studied journalism at the Aligarh Muslim University. He was elected President of the AMU Students' Union in 1999.

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