Ostrich Syndrome!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beheading Islam in Peshawar

The news of beheading of two Sikh youth in the Peshawar region of Pakistan has not come as a surprise to the world. What more can we expect from a rabid race of Talibanis, born and brought up on the fodder of hate and violence. The news in fact brings to light the hollow rhetoric of the Pakistani establishment when they claim to have contained the menace of Taliban.
What surprises me is the eerie silence of the Muslim ulema in the subcontinent (particularly in India) in their condemnation of this cowardly act of appalling brutality. Where are those who leave no opportunity to condemn what is inconvenient to them, no matter how comfortable it might be to Islam in general and Muslims in particular? What happens to all those voices which grow louder at times of trivial issues which they think place Islam in danger? What more danger can await a religion than accusation of the kind which we see after such heinous atrocities? When can the Islamic ulemas realize that acts such as these are the ones which actually put Islam in danger.
The blood of innocents in Palestine is mourned. The brutalities of Narender Modi’s pogrom in Gujarat were mercilessly damned. Then what happens when it’s time to condemn the most bigoted and rabid of Muslims? By being mum to the brutalities of Taliban the Muslim ulemas are giving voice to those who perpetrate violence. What justification can we give to the condemnation of the likes of Modi and Sharon in future? What message is passed on to those who stand and fight for the cause of underprivileged and minorities in this country? Shouldn’t this usual tale of the ‘victim becoming the perpetrator’ be put to rest once and for all?
The threat from Taliban is not confined to Sikhs, Jews or Hindus. They are running amok with a real danger to the spirit of Islam. Non Muslims across the globe can secure themselves against any Talibani attack. They can build fences, walls and iron shields. But what happens to the global Muslim community? What fence can stop the condemnation of Islam in global drawing rooms? What wall can prevent the filtration of pure hate against Islam and its proponents amongst Sikhs? Where do we buy an iron shield to repel the cutting suspicious look against a bearded Muslim at an airport?
There are many who argue that Taliban does not represent true Islam. Definitely yes, they do not represent the common Muslim of the subcontinent. But unfortunately they have been made to appear as the face of real Islam in this polarized world. They are the ones who get the media attention and most unfortunately they are the ones who think that THEY represent Islam in their own brutal way. How much we may argue, for an innocent Westerner, Taliban is the face of Islam.
There is a war between moderation and fanaticism, between love and hate. The esoteric Islam of the subcontinent faces a monster in the new, cruel definition of the religion. It’s time we realize this danger before the monster grows too large to restrain. The means to contain this ogre are many. Physical force, debate, condemnation, every weapon in the armamentarium should be used. We are already fighting a losing battle. The tacit support of the Pakistani and American establishment at one time has fed the Taliban strong. It requires real commitment of the moderate Muslim forces in the region to come out and take the bull by its horns.
My heart aches for Jaspal Singh, who was murdered by a group of thugs who are the so called torch bearers of Islam. Can we imagine his pain and fear as he would have been finally dragged to the altar amidst a sea of drolly dressed men chanting “Allah-o-Akbar”? What all might have gone through his head in his final moments? How detestable he would have been to Islam and its followers? His pain, his trepidation, his final gasps for breath, all for perpetrating the cause of Islam? I am sure that day, it wasn’t Jaspal Singh who was beheaded, it was Islam beheaded in Peshawar and we all should mourn this death.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why I am Man

I am a man because I have the right and power to molest a teenager and abet her to commit suicide. I am a man because I have the courage to throw acid on any girl who refuses to marry me. I am a man because I have the audacity of ripping apart the modesty of the girl next door. Finally, I am a man because I was born in India, the land which gives unconditional supremacy to its masculine gender right from inception of life. In fact I was allowed to be born because I was a man! India is not short of such men of substance, SPS Rathore, Manu Sharma, KPS Gill, Vikas Yadav, Babu Bajrangi. The list is endless and so is their enormous and teeming masculinity.
The events of last few weeks have heated up the urban debate on sexual chauvinism in this country; as if sexual chauvinism never existed in India! With a female sex ratio of 865 to every 1000 males in the cosmopolitan and modern Delhi (in 2001) we can only imagine how hideous things are in the rural heart of India. Rapes, molestations, dowry deaths - can you imagine any single day when you had picked up a newspaper and hadn’t come across this ugly jargon? What do we mean when we say that Goa has become dangerous for females? The truth is that it was never safe. There would hardly be an inch of land in this great nation which can be called safe for its citizens of “lesser sex”.
As a doctor I am horrified by parents deliberately forgetting to count female siblings when asked, ‘how many children do you have?’ Apathy to the birth of a baby girl in India is well known. I can recall all those sad faces waiting outside the labor ward, when told that their “daughter” has given birth to a “daughter”. It is usually left to an experienced hospital ayah to break the news, “bechari key larhki hui hai” (the poor lady has given birth to a baby girl). I think we are the only nation on the face of earth where a mother becomes miserable on delivering a baby girl!
The fight for survival for the Indian female starts in the womb. If she is lucky to be born, she becomes ready meat for men of substance. Men like SPS Rathore, masculinity of whom is pampered in the cosy cot of political power. I presume it is easy to molest a girl in India than to get a mobile phone connection! I feel that Rathore was able to do what he did not only because he was a senior police official with absolute power but because of total apathy and insouciance of the Indian society towards females in general. We worship Durga we, revere Sita but we fail in the fundamental duty of sexual equivalence. Male dominance in India is a natural occurrence of birth. In fact I won’t be wrong if I conclude that Rathore was not responsible for the events leading to the suicide of Ruchika Girhotra. We all were. Indian society should share this collective blame. Rathore was just using the cold hearted attitude of our sexist society.
Why do we sacrifice mothers, daughters and sisters for fathers, sons and brothers? Why do we have to plunder a Lakshmi in the name of dowry? Why do we deprive our Saraswatis of basic education? Why can’t we give justice to Durgas of this land? Things can change only if we change. Female upliftment is the sine qua non of social progress. The civil society of India needs to understand the dynamics of sexual equivalence. The likes of SPS Rathores can only be kept at bay if we start loving our daughters and treating them at par with our sons.