Friday, February 13, 2015

17 commandments for Modi: The country has a stable mandate after a long time, BJP must not blow it - By Chetan Bhagat - THE TIMES OF INDIA

The Times of India

17 commandments for Modi: The country has a stable mandate after a long time, BJP must not blow it

February 14, 2015, 12:00 am IST


Let me forewarn: this is not going to be pretty. After the Delhi loss, there are plenty of articles on what BJP did wrong. While that has been well understood, it is important to note what it will take now to get out of this mess.
Here is a list of 17 action points if BJP wants to remain the dominant political party in India. After a long time, we have had a stable mandate at the top. If BJP blows this opportunity it will set India back by a decade. So, here goes.

Realise the Delhi election loss was a pure, unmitigated disaster. It has ended the halo around Modi, or the Modi wave. It has also shown the top leadership has no clue about the feelings of people on the street or their own party workers. It also casts doubt on Modi’s actual execution ability.

The PM, with all due respect, is floating too high. Come back to earth. Don’t try to present an image of a global statesman. You have won an anti-incumbency election when Congress was weak, by increasing BJP’s vote share by a few percentage points. You have not transformed India yet. Don’t go to Fiji. (Sorry Fiji, just that we have more important issues here.)

Don’t just get claps from NRIs. If they love you so much, ask them to pay. If one lakh NRIs commit to paying BJP $1,000 a year, that is a hundred million dollars of clean money annually. Use that to clean up BJP’s funding. When are you going to do that anyway?

Get the Lokpal. Have a good, independent CBI and CVC office. Clean up corruption systemically. Don’t say if Modi is there, nobody can be corrupt. What if Modi isn’t there tomorrow?

Don’t bully the media or juniors in the party. Inspire respect, not fear. Don’t be smug. Don’t kill talent in the party because it could be a threat to you one day. It’s not in BJP’s DNA to be a one-man party.

Shut up regressive Hindutva fanatics. They talk. You ignore. They are your supporters. You have to tell them loud and clear this is not OK. The young generation doesn’t find it cool to support a leader who doesn’t believe in a free and equal society. Send some of your old-fashioned partymen abroad to learn about gender issues and minority rights. They will make you sink otherwise.

Don’t be overconfident in your speeches. Keep a circle of critics around you, not just those who keep singing ‘Modiji is awesome’. Everything you utter in public must be pre-checked. If you did that, the Naxal and Bazaru comments would have been edited out. A PM cannot be a rabble rouser.

Dress down. Charisma comes from integrity, competence and compassion. Not from expensive clothes.

Stay connected to and do something visible for the youth. They screamed for you in the Lok Sabha election, filled their twitter and FB walls in your praise. What have you done for them? You went to SRCC to give a speech before election. Have you visited any college after that? Why not? Is Fiji more important (sorry again Fiji)?

The party president may be really clever. But sometimes it isn’t about who is most clever but who genuinely cares. Chess moves don’t win elections all the time. A connect with people does. The party president, given his perceived persona (which may be at variance with who he really is), doesn’t inspire confidence. You
standing next to him is Amitabh Bachchan standing next to Amar Singh. Did it help Mr Bachchan?

Don’t talk down to people. Talk to people. Don’t address people if you never want to take questions. Don’t give monologues on radio. It reminds one of Indira Gandhi and North Korea. It’s not cool. Do you really think a kid in Delhi University will tell his friends, hey, can’t miss that Mann Ki Baat on radio?

Open more colleges. Open up tourism. Reduce taxes on high employment sectors. Give tax breaks for companies that move headquarters to smaller cities. Do anything to take skills and
jobs to the interiors. Fix the primary schools. They have to teach well. Half our school kids can’t read properly.

The cities need extensions with very low cost housing solutions, with good water, electricity and transport infrastructure. That is the only way the urban poor can live a life with dignity. Give them dignity. They didn’t vote for you in Delhi, remember? Win them back.

Be real. Have work life balance. Why can’t the PM catch a movie sometimes? Or eat chaat in Delhi somewhere? A humanised PM works better than a glorified PM.

No statues, please. School or statue? Hospital or statue? No need to explain further.

No personal attacks on opponents no matter how punchy the joke or the temptation to say it. Again, run it past those critical advisers first.

No hanging out with rich industrialists. Of course, you may need to officially. But that doesn’t have to be a media event. Hang out with the billion people, not billionaires.

Ultimately, all of the above comes down to the party listening and acting according to the wishes of the people.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

Funeral for Muslims Killed in Chapel Hill Draws Thousands - By JONATHAN M. KATZFEB - The New York Times

The New York Times


Funeral for Muslims Killed in Chapel Hill Draws Thousands

A funerary prayer was held near the Islamic Center of Raleigh on Thursday for three college students who had been fatally shot at their home in Chapel Hill, N.C. Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times
RALEIGH, N.C. — The three friends drove here Thursday from Blacksburg, Va., 190 miles to the north. Dressed in hijab and fashionable dresses, carrying a fabric floral arrangement in a gold-colored pot, they came for the funeral of the three Arab-American students who were gunned down at their home a couple of days earlier.

Once here, the friends found themselves among more than 5,000 people streaming onto a soccer field. Like them, many had traveled from hours away, across the state and region — bearded men in suits and sweatshirts, college students, young white couples dressed in suits and church dresses, Jewish men in skullcaps, and men and women in traditional Muslim dress.

Some spoke Arabic or chatted in Spanish and French. Television journalists from national and international outlets crowded around. Old friends from the region’s many major universities embraced with handshakes and hugs.

At the front of the soccer field, before a covered speaker’s platform, were the coffins of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. The three had been fatally shot Tuesday afternoon outside an apartment in nearby Chapel Hill. A neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged in the killings. They were buried in a Muslim cemetery about a half-hour east of Raleigh, the state capital.

A vigil was held for the dead students on Wednesday night on the University of North Carolina campus at Chapel Hill. Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times

The funerary Janazah prayer was held after noon prayers by the nearby Raleigh mosque. The soccer field was pressed into service to accommodate the overflowing crowd.

Many of those attending said they felt a deep calling to be there. One of the friends from Blacksburg, Yasmin Kubba, a 24-year-old senior studying international business at Virginia Tech, said, “I thought of Martin Luther King saying, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.’ ”

The crowd was set up in traditional Muslim fashion: men in the front block in well-kept rows, with a blue tarp to kneel on. Women, most with their heads covered, sat in a separate section to the rear. Scores of others who did not participate in the prayers stood around a periphery of the mourners’ removed shoes.

The killings have set off an international debate about whether the students, who were Muslims, had been targeted because of their religion. The Chapel Hill police said that the shooting appeared to have been motivated by “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking,” but that they were investigating whether religious hatred had contributed to the killings.

In an impassioned speech to the assembly, the father of the two slain women implored President Obama and law enforcement to investigate the killings as a hate crime. “Please involve the F.B.I. Please investigate. Please look carefully,” said Dr. Mohammad Yousif Abu-Salha, a psychiatrist in nearby Clayton. “I have talked to lawyers. I have talked to law professors. This has hate crime written all over it!”

“It is all about making this country that they loved, where they lived and died, peaceful for everybody else,” Dr. Abu-Salha said.
Without uttering his name, Dr. Abu-Salha referred in his eulogy to the Facebook page of Mr. Hicks, the neighbor charged with the murders, where he frequently made clear his disdain for all religions. Dr. Abu-Salha asked people to ignore what he saw as defamatory depictions of Islam in the news media, and specifically in the current movie “American Sniper.”

On Thursday, the F.B.I. spokeswoman in North Carolina, Shelley Lynch, said the agency was assisting the police in Chapel Hill with processing evidence. After initially saying there was not a separate investigation, the F.B.I. has also opened a “parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case,” Ms. Lynch said.

Asim Haroon, a 43-year-old software engineer from Raleigh, came to the funeral with his wife, Samia, and their 5-month-old daughter, Noor, to stand up for what he called “the values this nation is known for — equality, justice and peace for all.”

Mr. Haroon, who moved to Raleigh more than 20 years ago from Pakistan, said many in the community were scared that anti-Muslim bigots might be inspired to carry out copycat attacks. He differed with Dr. Abu-Salha’s exhortation, saying he believed the authorities could be forgiven for emphasizing the role that a dispute over parking might have had in the murders, and playing down ethnic or religious hatred as a factor, in an effort to cool emotions.

The three visitors from Blacksburg said identifying such heinous murders as a hate crime was essential to ensure the safety of people of all races and religions, or lack thereof.

“A lot of people are saying they haven’t felt this scared since 9/11,” said one of the friends, Zuhra Malik, a 22-year-old civil engineering senior at Virginia Tech.

Nida Iftekaruddin, a 24-year-old teacher, agreed. After the Sept. 11 attacks, she said, Muslims were told that they could be safe in America if they had exemplary character. Yet the victims remembered on Thursday were high-achieving students committed to community service, and Americans as well.

“That’s what’s really worrying,” Ms. Iftekaruddin said. “To see that it happened to them means it could happen to anyone.”

North Carolina killings not an act of terror? : AIJAZ ZAKA SAYED - Arab News

Apparently, the 3 Muslims murdered point-blank were not Jews for the world to raise a storm!!! They were just Muslims, even though Americans. 

Hark to the days of Khilafa, when an aggrieved woman's cry in a town bazaar calling the Caliph, 'Ya Mu'tasima', was sufficient for the Caliph to send army from Baghdad to Damascus.

Ghulam Muhammed 


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Aijaz Zaka Syed <>
Date: Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 8:24 PM

North Carolina killings not an act of terror?


Three Muslim university students were gunned down Wednesday in North Carolina, United States. After seeing the ‘breaking news’ alert on my phone, from the UK’s Independent newspaper, I switched on the TV to tune in to CNN. Nothing there. Instead, I saw a suitably stern Christiana Amanpour in conversation with French journalist Didier Francois about the latest ISIS terror. Then I turned to the old, ever dependable Beebs. Nothing there, either. Not even on the ‘fair and balanced’ Fox News or our own Al Jazeera.
In fact, the news about the shooting of the family of three, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammed, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad, 19, all students of the North Carolina University, in their home trickled down on wires much later. And even when it did, the response from Western and international media outlets was limited and understated. No ‘Terror Alert’! No screaming headlines about the attack, or minute-by-minute live coverage. 
President Obama did not rush to condemn the killings as he did following the recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere. As far as I know, the White House has yet to issue a formal statement on the killing. Much of the US and Western media has played it down as a ‘petty crime over a petty issue’ like parking. 
An Associated Press report wondered if the killing had anything to do with ‘hate.’ It answered its own question saying the killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, described himself as a ‘gun-toting atheist’ as if that explained the killings. 
Ripley Rand, the US Attorney for North Carolina, said the “crime appears at this point to have been an isolated incident.” Hicks’ attorney said the man “was frustrated day in and day out about not being able to park where he wanted to.”
So there you have it. It was a minor parking issue. It wasn’t even a hate crime, it seems, let alone a terror attack. As someone quipped on Twitter, terrorism happens only if Muslims go berserk.
Comparisons are odious. But if all lives are equal in the eyes of the world, why do we not see the same global outrage and outpouring of grief and solidarity with the victims that one witnessed following the Charlie Hebdo carnage?
Where are the righteous statements from London, Washington and Paris, condemning the act of terror in this case?
After the Paris killings, an agitated David Cameron had vowed to ‘stand squarely for free speech and democracy.’ Mimicking Blair and Bush, Cameron had thundered: “These people will never be able to take us off those values.” What about the ‘freedom and democracy’ of those killed in North Carolina? Were they any less human? What makes the killing doubly tragic is the fact that the couple had only recently met, during a fund raiser for the Syrian refugees, briefly dated and married. The younger girl was visiting them. They were like any other regular American family. So why doesn’t their murder provoke the same response as other such killings and attacks have?
Truth be told, some are more equal than others, as Orwell would argue. Especially in these perilous times when the whole world seems to have gone stark, raving mad. Islamophobia in the West and around the world has touched unprecedented, alarming proportions. A new USA Today cartoon, picked up from a regional publication, this week portrayed Muslims as the new Nazis and Islam as equivalent of Hitler’s sick, jaundiced worldview founded on hate and hubris. Few eyebrows were raised though. Seems it’s now perfectly okay and cool to wear Islamophobia and worst racial and religious prejudices on your sleeve and get away with it. 
So given the sweetness and light that is spread around these days by western media narrative and even by responsible, elected leaders, targeting a particular people and faith for all sins imaginable, should you be surprised by these killings?
As Mohammad Abu-Salha, the slain women’s father and a psychiatrist, said: “The media here bombards the American citizen with Islamic, Islamic, Islamic terrorism and makes people here scared of us and hate us and want us out. So if somebody has any conflict with you, and they already hate you, you get a bullet in the head.”
On the other hand, can you really blame the world if Islam and Muslims these days find themselves under fire everywhere? The shenanigans of lunatics like the IS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Pakistani Taleban, all in the name of the blessed faith of course, do not just repeatedly shame Muslims, they have played a critical role in fueling the mistrust, hatred and demonization that the faithful face across the world. 
One incident like the Peshawar school massacre is enough to boost their already shining image. Even from its own glorious standards of savagery that the IS has established in a very short time, the manner in which the Jordanian pilot Maaz Al- Kasaasbeh was dealt with — caged, burned to death and bulldozed — was truly diabolic and horrific. 

What faith can sanction and condone such satanic acts of revolting brutality? Certainly, not ours. If these perverts can do this to a Muslim, imagine the potential of their intolerable cruelty against those considered beyond the fold! And how do Muslims expect to be viewed around the world after such bouts of casual, spine-chilling savagery by folks who claim to speak and act on their behalf? There are bound to be repercussions. 
Of course, the tiny lunatic fringe that is IS and groups of its ilk do not and cannot represent a great faith with 1.6 billion followers and a long and proud history of tolerance. Persecuted minorities like the Jews found refuge in Islamic Spain and Turkey when they were being hunted like animals all across Europe. 
As US talk show host Dean Obeidallah put it, “ISIS is about as Islamic as the Klu Klux Klan, the white supremacist, violent group, is Christian. They just use religion; their real agenda is political.” Obama himself insisted, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria last week, that “99.9% of Muslims reject the terrorists’ understanding of Islam.” Top Islamic scholars have repeatedly rejected and condemned the extremist violence in strongest terms. In September, more than 120 Islamic scholars and clerics wrote a letter to IS denouncing it and its invoking of Islam to justify its shameful actions.
But clearly Muslims have to do more to confront the mindset and conditions that give birth to such nihilist extremism on the one hand and present the real face of Islam before the world on the other. We have to speak out more often and more forcefully and effectively to reject the barbarity, death and destruction being visited on the world in our name. How can anyone kill in the name of a faith that came as a blessing for the whole of mankind and preaches oneness of humanity? It’s the ultimate calumny and injustice to a religion that literally means ‘peace and salvation.’
For their part, Western societies need to do their bit to check the growing vilification of Muslims and other minorities in their midst. All said and done, it is not religion or dogma but historical injustices and double standards that lie at the heart of this conflict. Extremism and violence are born and thrive in the soil of injustice and oppression. Unless these are addressed, all grand solutions and coalitions will fail.

Teesta Setalvad is being framed by Gujarat govt; but where’s the outrage?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Teesta Setalvad <>
Date: Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 6:12 PM
Subject: Teesta Setalvad is being framed by Gujarat govt; but where’s the outrage?
To: Teesta Setalvad <>

Teesta Setalvad is being framed by Gujarat govt; but where’s the outrage?

by G Pramod Kumar  Feb 13, 2015 13:17 IST

The Gujarat Police's overt enthusiasm to arrest Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand no sooner than the state high court rejected their plea for anticipatory bail in a curious "embezzlement" case didn't raise any eyebrows, but justified the perception that the BJP government was on a hot pursuit of the activist.

The BJP leaders and their proxies found nothing extraordinary in the action of Gujarat Police, which landed up at the doorstep of Setalvad in Mumbai in no time, because, according to them, the police was at liberty to arrest the accused when the courts refuse anticipatory bail. Some would even say that the police was duty-bound to pursue the case.

But what was unsaid was the deviousness in the police's insistence of custodial interrogation of the couple for alleged diversion of funds collected by her NGO to convert Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, where 69 people were killed in the 2002 riots, into a museum. The charge was that the couple had transferred Rs 14.2 lakhs from the NGO's account to clear their credit card bills and had transferred large sums of money to their personal accounts. The police said that the expenses included payments for wine and groceries.

Setalvad had clarified that credit card expenses that the NGO paid for were not personal, but official such as travel. It’s not unusual for people to use personal credit card for official purposes and then get the official expenses reimbursed. But by conflating the personal (wine, groceries, books etc.) and official, the police tried to besmirch their reputation and make out a case. Similarly, additional money used from the account was for salaries and legal expenses.

That despite an official clarification from the Gulbarg Society, the police went ahead with the case looked clearly motivated. And now their overzealousness in seeking custodial interrogation of the couple nails their intent.

One cannot clearly miss the police targeting Setalvad, but what makes one more worried about their motive is their track record in foisting spurious cases against her. In 2012, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the state for initiating a probe for "illegal exhumation" of the 2002 riot victims. "This is a hundred percent spurious case to victimise the petitioner (Setalvad)," said the court. 

"This type of case does no credit to the state of Gujarat in any way," it further said.

A year later, the police came up with the embezzlement case, despite the official representatives of the Gulbarg Society affirming that they had no complaint, and wanted to arrest Setalvad.

The police's dogged pursuit brings us to the question of who Setalvad is. She is an exceptional character in India’s human rights campaigns - she is the principal reason for getting justice, although partial, to the victims of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. For the first time in India, 117 perpetrators of communal violence, including a minister in the then Modi state cabinet, had been convicted. Had it not been for her and other rights activists, the victims would been gagged to submission. She is also the biggest obstacle to Modi’s image management efforts.

Obviously, Setalvad is a marked person because she is refusing to give up, along with Zakia Jafri, the complainant in the Gulbarg Society massacre case, against the Gujarat state government and the then chief minister Narendra Modi although a Special Investigation Team had found no prosecutable evidence against him. Setalvad and her supporters, point to the dissenting notes by the Supreme Court appointed amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran, who had said that the evidence against Modi was significant.
Setalvad may be particularly unsparing of Modi, as some allege, but that doesn’t allow for continuous police harassment. The victimisation of Setalvad is too evident to ignore. And it hadn’t started yesterday. In 2005, she was accused of pressuring Zaheera Sheikh in the Best Bakery Case to given evidence against the government. The SC had later absolved Setalvad and sent Zaheera Sheikh to jail for a year. "This is a classic example of a case where evidence were tampered with and witnesses won over," the court had then said.

This record of victimisation against Setalvad for the simple reason that she is standing up for her fellow citizens’ battle for justice is a warning to human rights activists and a reminder of the abominable misuse of power by the state.

SC stays Teesta Setalvad's arrest till February 19

Supreme Court on Friday extended its stay on the arrest of activist Teesta Setalvad in the Gulbarg society embezzlement case funds, even as her counsel Kapil Sibal tried to convince the court that there are very few people out there like her who can take on the might of the State.

The Bench led by Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya ordered the continuation of the stay till February 19, the next date of hearing on her plea for anticipatory bail against arrest.

The Gujarat High Court had dismissed her plea on Thursday, following which she urgently moved the supreme court. The supreme court had stayed the arrest till the matter was heard today.

The bench said it will consider her plea for anticipatory bail "independently" and asked Mr. Sibal to not convert this into a political issue.

"We will not go by any name, we will consider this like any other anticipatory bail plea. On the next date, rest assured we will give justice for both (Teesta's side and the State of Gujarat), but there will be relief for only one of you," Justice Mukhopadhaya said.

Starting his arguments, Mr. Sibal read out the allegations against Teesta and her husband, Javed Anand.

He said the Gujarat police claims to have found evidence that she enticed foreign donors to contribute in heavily by showing the photographs of the 2002 post-Godhra riot victims.

"We provided the investigating agencies and the high court with 1500 pages of documents on every entry made by us. If one of these entries is wrong or false, I am prepared to go in. But the high court did not even refer to these documents before dismissing my bail plea . Why did not these so-called 'wealthy foreigners' lodge any complaints against us?" Mr. Sibal submitted.

He said "we stand here before Your Lordships with the passion of our convictions. Don't allow the mighty State to destroy us. This court is our last resort."

Mr. Sibal said how the police had reached Teesta's residence at 2.30 pm, even before the high court dismissed her bail plea at 4 pm. "If this is the case, none of us are safe anymore," Mr. Sibbal said.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for Gujarat government said the evidence found against Teesta was "shocking" and revealed "foreign travels, branded clothes."