The Bangladesh upsurge is a watershed moment in the life of South Asian Islam which is accommodating, deeply secular and has enriched the culture of this region. Can Pakistan see a Shahbag?
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi
As a teenager in the Lucknow of the mid-’70s, I recall cycling once to the older part of the city famous for Awadhi cuisine and high culture. Accompanied by a friend who claimed to know the area well, we set out on a quest to find Lucknow’s famous red light locality. “That’s where we have to go,” my friend gestured enthusiastically towards a dark lane choked with the random clutter of small-time traffic.
When Cairo’s Tahrir Square erupted against President Mohammed Morsi’s attempts to usurp all powers, the divide was clearly visible. On one side were the Islamists, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, and on the other were the secularists, animated by Muslim liberals, Coptic Christians and many of those keen to protect the secular ethos of the Gamal Abdel Nasser era. Women provided the spine to this opposition to Morsi as they feared losing their rights once the sharia laws began to sideline existing ones.
“Your staple diet must be idlis and dosas?” was the rhetorical question from a cheery young waiter at Lahore’s Pearl Intercontinental when he learned I was from India. My prompt protest that, being from Delhi, I ate food similar to what was being served in the expansive breakfast buffet failed to convince him. “This is what we have been told. Try our nihari and halim. I am sure you would not get it in India, which I hear is vegetarian,” he went on.
In the last issue of Hardnews, we wrote about a major Indian business house with growing interest in the UK and beyond, whose senior employees were detained by the London
The Islamic revolution in Iran, followed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, shook the world of Islamic believers
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi
It needed fiction writer and a purveyor of phantasmagoria to reiterate to a world audience why Great Britain ran such a vast empire. So it was in the fitness of things that the organisers of the London Olympics deployed the creative skills of Oscar winning director, Danny Boyle, to cheerfully and unapologetically locate Imperial Great Britain as an Isle that changed the world. His interpretation of the industrial revolution had shades of both Charles Dickens and Adam Smith, which meant toiling working classes juxtaposed with adventurous mercantilists.
Just the other day, a political activist called me up from Patna and shared with me his views about what the ordinary people are going through while an economic slowdown looms on the near horizon. “Sadness and a sense of hopelessness has gripped ordinary people. And this mood is deepened by merciless inflation, power outages for 10 to 14 hours and inadequate supply of drinking water. Worse, there is no leader or a sensitive government to help them out from this crisis.”
Who wants to be a politician these days?
What happens when you lose your way? You pause. Ask people whether you are going in the right direction. Whether you need to go up or down. If you have Google Earth on your smartphone, then you try to find out where you are located to help you go right or left or turn back – depending on the kind of crossroads you find yourself at. Sensible people manage to find their way by adopting such methods and devices, but no such luck for governments.
It was a year ago that the Jasmine revolution swept the Arab world.