Saturday, November 12, 2011

Knots in the tie?

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh have vowed to open a new chapter in bilateral relationship.

In an hour-long meeting, prior to the opening of the 17th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), the two prime ministers predicted more constructive and result-oriented talks in the near future.

However, the Indian side has made it clear to the Pakistani side that unless there is some action against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaatud Dawa, it wouldn’t be possible for the two nations to move forward together.

“The discussions between the two countries had yielded positive results, but more needed to be done,” Manmohan Singh said.

While Prime Minister Gilani added: “The next round of talks will be more positive, more constructive and will open a new chapter in the history of both countries.”

Despite the public willingness to open a ‘new chapter’ in ties, are the talks at the Saarc Summit once again mere lip service?

Will they, like previous efforts, fail in resuming a proper dialogue?

More importantly, is the crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa the only obstacle in Pak-India ties?


ABOUT SUNDERBAN/History of Sunderban




Press Release from CLNB


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Swami Agnivesh on Bigg Boss: 'It's not about the money Read more at:

Mumbai: Activist Swami Agnivesh held a press conference this morning in Mumbai to explain what prompted him to join reality show Bigg Boss.

The 74-year-old activist enters the Bigg Boss house tonight, but says he is a guest and not a participant. He also says he is not being paid for his appearance on the show. Swami Agnivesh exited the anti-corruption movement fronted by Anna Hazare after a public and bitter falling out.


* Was approached 5 days ago by show producers
* Saw many episodes
* Didn't see anything objectionable
* See it as a powerful medium to reach the youth with my message
* Not interested in the money
* I want to help introduce change in society
* People fight on the show but no worse than how MPs sometimes behave
* Hoping through the program will be able to remove the negativity in people's minds
* People need a guru and this is a good way to reach people
* Religion today has too much dogmatism and ritualism.
* Glad Anna is talking about changes in his team . I was saying this all along as well. Should be greater transparency and accountability even among us
* We may exchange allegations (on Team Anna) but we are all working towards the same goal - ending corruption
* I am hoping I will not be asked to dance
* I am not a contestant. I am a guest
* Want to address social evils like dowry deaths, female foeticide, hunger deaths

Read more at:

Personal but public

It is an inevitable part of the human psyche to quickly carve out a social profile of a person you’ve just met based purely on first impressions and appearance. The woman wearing the hijab (no doubt oppressed according to popular culture), the man sporting a beard (watch out for explosives….) and the clean shaven Muslim (beware of these guys – their lack of bearded faith is contagious) – these are all stereotypes to one degree or another that circulate within contemporary social cultures of Muslim communities.

Starting university now and meeting other Muslim students I’ve been asked why I don’t keep a beard, to which I reply that faith is a personal matter. As ever one needs to marshal scriptural and textual arguments but also appeal to a certain sense of spirituality that allows for an intimate encounter between the One and the individual.

And from this innocuous looking answer a controversy ensues about the very meaning of “personal matter”. Friends misunderstood the word “personal” as meaning to remove religion from the public sphere and to ban religious symbolism in wider society. It is true that I have no taste for self righteous religious imagery in any society but I still maintain that it is a fundamental right for a person to talk, preach and openly display their faith in a public setting if that is their wish. But this only adds to the confusion – because there is a very strong viewpoint within Islamic thought that suggests to keep faith a “personal matter” is to tow the line of hard line French secularism. Automatically, suspicions arise that I must be a “secularist” (read lax Muslim or worse atheist) who doesn’t believe in the true authenticity of Islamic revelation.

But nothing could be further from the truth. When I say that faith should be a personal matter it’s about limiting the rule and interference of the clergy and the State. Power should always be kept in check and faith should always be free from those who pursue absolute rule. It is no business of the State or the clergy to monitor if I pray or indeed how many times I do pray because the very act of prayer is dependent on my conscious choice. True faith is inextricably linked with a sense of free will, liberty and conscientious engagement free from coercion or tyranny. With liberty there can be no faith, without freedom there is no religious experience and without the right of self determination faith simply couldn’t work.

When we speak of keeping faith a personal matter I don’t mean that faith should be a “private” matter that should be kept behind close doors – on the contrary, because faith is a critical factor that informs political choice and social action. It is our democratic right to use religious traditions as a source of moral and political reflection – and it stands that most faiths not just Islam are very public affairs. The act of congregational worship is a public act and one that clearly has a significant presence in the public sphere.

Faith will always be a matter of public contention because of the political and social implications of using religious experience to animate your moral conscience. But faith should never be manipulated by the State.
And here is the critical distinction be made – public Islam as in the free and open discussion of religion within civil society should be allowed in a democracy, as should be the voluntary display of religious symbols. But crediting religious authority with positions of unbridled power and government is a dangerous road which often leads to violence and despair. But underlying the distinction between “public Islam” and “State Islam” should be the recognition that faith is an intensely spiritual experience. And being a spiritual experience it is subjective and every individual will have a unique experience vis a vis with the One – therefore it only follows naturally that faith is a relationship with God and that relationship is a personal one.

Furthermore, being a person of faith shouldn’t mean that we should be uncritical to that type of religious symbolism present in our societies. Pointing out hate speech and self righteous arrogance in our mosques, university campuses, and community centres is a critical duty. Accepting the narrative offered by the clergy and conservative Islamic movements must not be accepted out of some misplaced desire for “unity”. Too many times people hide their sadistic brand of theocratic tyranny by pulling out the “Islamic unity” card. And sadly in our time the harsher the behaviour, the more outrageous the rhetoric, the louder the rant then Mashallah the more “Islamic” the individual! This form of super Islamic peer pressure crushes any scope for independent intellectual experience.

Going to Islamic centres and mosques in the UK it is clear that Muslims no longer think about psychology or the complexity of human emotion – all there is to witness is mindless repetition of worn out dogma. And this, I suspect is a universal occurrence throughout the Muslim world. By losing this sense of religion being a matter of personal conviction we no longer treat each other as complex beings – everything is either black or white with no shades of grey. Muslims today are reacting with anger and blind passion to the situation throughout the Islamic world – and too often these volatile emotions manifest themselves in tremendously tragic acts of bloodthirsty violence.

The golden rule I was taught about the practice of faith was that to have a conscientious and sincere relationship with the Divine no matter what faith you belong to is the first step towards starting your spiritual journey. In fact it doesn’t even matter what faith you keep or if you even have a faith – but instead having a sense of sincere personal conviction that ultimately leads to conscientious ethical duty is the best hope we fallible humans can ever hope for.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Long.March+Dhaka-Sunetro, October 28-31, 2011, National Press Club (Dhaka) to Badshagonj (Sunetro-Sunamgonj)

Long.March+Dhaka-Sunetro, October 28-31, 2011, National Press Club (Dhaka) to Badshagonj (Sunetro-Sunamgonj) Mixed 3GP Video of "National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports" (Edit & Remake by sazu).
Visit This Please!/vsazu/status/132740342675025920
ঢাকা-সুনেত্র (২৮-৩১ অক্টোবর) চারদিন ব্যাপি লংমার্চ এর (তেল-গ্যাস-খনিজ সম্পদ ও বিদ্যুৎ-বন্দর রক্ষা জাতীয় কমিটি কর্তৃক আয়োজিত) বিভিন্ন স্থানে দেয়া নেতাদের বক্তৃতা, বিভিন্ন মিছিল, পথ নৃত্য ও সাংস্কৃতিক অনুষ্ঠানের পথে পথে ধারন করা ভিডিও সমুহের সংযুক্ত-সম্পাদিত 3GP ভিডিও