Archive for May, 2008

Racist Indians?

Well, there is definitely a partiality in outlook. Fairer is considered better and superior.

Is it the influence of two centuries of Cololianism?

Dark Attitudes

Let’s face it, we are pretty racist

As Indians, we take offence to even a sliver of racial slight. But let’s face up to some bitter truths.

We are pretty racist ourselves. Reports that two dark-skinned cheerleaders of the IPL’s Mohali team were allegedly asked to leave has brought this unfortunate fact back into focus. To be fair, the details of the matter are still unclear.

The women in question say officials of Wizcraft International Entertainment, the event management company hired by the franchisee, told them that their colour would not go down well with the crowds. Wizcraft denies this charge. Be that as it may, what we cannot deny is that as a people we carry a bagful of prejudices — racial, ethnic and sexist.

Take this quick test: When was the last time you cracked a Sardarji joke? Or, used the terms Bhaiyya, Maru or Madrasi? Chances are, it was not long ago. Who does not enjoy a good laugh at the expense of another’s — or for that matter one’s own — community? Stereotypes abound in our social milieu. Marwaris are miserly, Punjabis are pushy, Bengalis are lotuseaters and south Indians are dark and short.

Unthinkingly, we tend to paint all people of shared ethnicity with the same brush.
What’s wrong with that, you may ask. Is it not more or less true that people who fit in any of the many ethnic labels we have in India all share peculiar attributes? The problem is that these seemingly harmless generalisations are often prejudiced.

And, when articulated in the public sphere, can play themselves out in not-so-harmless ways. The propagation of pejorative stereotypes is often at the root of discrimination of one sort or another. And from words and attitudes trickle out the bile of racism.

At worst, they can nurture animosities, providing selfserving elements like Raj Thackeray fertile ground to undermine the republican principles on which our democracy thrives. It unfolds in other insidious ways as well. For instance, the stereotyping of people from the north-east as not being particularly bright could impede their chances of finding employment.

In the advanced world, racism has not disappeared. But articulation of racial slurs in public is strictly clamped down upon. There are institutional safeguards to ensure this.

And it’s unacceptable to crack ethnic jokes in public. India is a unique experiment in which people of various ethnicities and races have been brought together to think of themselves as one.

If we want to keep the experiment going, we must make racist behaviour unacceptable, through public education as well as legislation.

 

Id Prayers: Shia – Sunni Divide

Scholars reject proposal for common Id prayers

Mohammed Wajihuddin I TNN

Mumbai: Senior Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq’s proposal to hold common Id prayers for Shias and Sunnis has drawn flak from members of the two sects. Calling it an immature and impractical suggestion, both Shia and Sunni scholars have summarily rejected the proposal.
    “This is an impractical advice. He may go to any congregation he likes on an individual level, but it will not be acceptable to the community in general,’’ said Shia scholar Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi, adding that instead of wasting energy on organising common prayers, Maulana Sadiq should focus on other problems common to both the Shias and Sunnis.
   

      To build bridges between the Shias and Sunnis who are at loggerheads, especially during the month of Moharram, the Lucknow-based Maulana Sidiq recently suggested common Id prayers for the two sects.

         The namaz rituals of the Shias are different from those of the Sunnis and the two feel uncomfortable praying together. One of the basic differences, scholars point out, is over the imam (the person who leads the prayers). “The Shias put too much importance on the imams and rigidly follow the rules while the Sunnis are flexible in the selection of their imams. Most Sunnis will not accept a Shia scholar as their imam,’’ explains Maulana Abu Hassan Nadvi, a Sunni cleric.
    

     Maulana Nadvi said namaz is a “very delicate issue’’ and should not be meddled with. He recalled an incident at an iftar party hosted by the US consulate in Mumbai a couple of years ago.
   

      Some Muslims asked Maulana Nadvi, an eminent cleric, to lead the evening prayers at the consulate’s lawn. But before he could step forward, a faction of Muslims chose another imam.
  

       “If all Sunnis cannot pray behind one imam, how can Shias and Sunnis agree to pray together behind a common imam?,’’ asks Maulana Nadvi, who maintains that there are better ways of removing the Shia-Sunni feud. He describes Maulana Sadiq’s move as “sensational’’, which should be ignored. “Such statements keep Maulana Sadiq in the news. He knows that members
of both the sects will not accept his plan. It’s a futile attempt,’’ said Maulana Nadvi.
 

        However, secular Islamic scholars feel the two sects can pray together despite differences in their rituals.
 

       “We pray to Allah. It doesn’t matter much who leads the prayer as long as the intention is to submit to the will of God. Both the Shias and Sunnis can pray together despite their differences,’’ says Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer. “He has given an idea and it should initiate a debate.’’

 

 

 

Parsi Punchayat:Now, every Parsi above 18 can vote to elect trustees

Now, every Parsi above 18 can vote to elect trustees

TNN

      Mumbai: In a landmark judgment, the Bombay high court this week approved a new scheme sanctioning universal adult franchise for the Parsi community, which ends a century-old practice. Now, every Parsi above the age of 18 would now be able to vote to elect seven trustees to the Bombay Parsee Punchayat (BPP).
    

      The 350-year-old Punchayat is the apex body for the Zoroastrian community in the city. There are about 45,000 Parsi-Irani Zoroastrians in Mumbai.
   

        The BPP has a corpus of Rs 85 crore, controls 4,500 community flats and holds land in the city worth crores, including the sprawling Towers of Silence property at Malabar Hill.
    

       “The entire community has accepted that it is time that every adult is given an opportunity to select the trustee and the said power should not be vested only in a limited body as that of Anjuman Committee,’’ said a division bench of justices S Radhakrishnan and Anoop Mohta, adding, “It is in the general interest and in fact, will further the interest of the trust.’’
   

       The judges directed that the process should commence forthwith setting a deadline of six months time—two months for enrolling new members and updating the electoral rolls.
  

        Another four months will be required to complete the election process.
   

        Under the existing scheme sanctioned by the high court in 1910, there are only around 3,000 eligible voters. A Parsi could become a voter only if he donated Rs 25,000 to the Panchayat or was elected through an electoral college to the Anjuman.
    

        In 2006, the community was thrown into turmoil when four trustees of the BPP submitted their resignations. Though the resignations were subsequently withdrawn, it ignited a debate in the community over the issue of elections. The trustees then framed a scheme proposing that every Parsi who had completed 18 years of age should be eligible to vote.
    

       The proposed scheme, also allows a donor member two votes during the election. Further, no trustee can hold the office for his whole life as the new rules restrict the term of a trustee for a total of three terms or 21 years.
    shibu.thomas1@timesgroup.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Please DO NOT WASTE food

Received this in email. Needs to be verified by calling Child Helpline at 1098. However, this sounds like a great initiative.

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If you have a function/party at your home in India and food gets wasted, don’t hesitate to call 1098 (only in India) – child helpline. They will come and collect the food.