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By Nithin Sridhar
Hindu activists in Pakistan have accused the Khyber Pakthunkhwa government of practicing discrimination against Hindu minorities. According to a news report published on October 11, the members from All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movements (APHRM) protested against the alleged exclusion of Hindus from the benefits of the newly enacted RTI act.
If the allegations turn out to be true, it would add yet another incident to the long list of discriminatory actions of the Pakistani government towards Hindu minorities.
Hindus in Pakistan have suffered humongous loses right from the days when Pakistan was newly created. Hindus and Sikhs were not only massacred during the riots that accompanied the partition of India in 1947, but a large number of them were also forced to migrate into India leaving behind their home and property.
As a result, the percentage of Hindus in the then West Pakistan underwent drastic reduction within four years after Partition from 15% in 1947 to 2% in 1951. In Karachi alone, the population of Hindus decreased from 51% to 2%, whereas Muslim population increased from 42% to 96% during those four years after Partition. This clearly establishes a mass exodus of Hindus from Pakistan into India in the years following Partition.
But, the hardships of the Hindus who stayed back in Pakistan have continued to the present. They face discrimination in almost every aspect of social life, be it education, jobs, or marriage. Moreover, they are frequently exposed to various forms of oppression- violence, abduction, forceful conversions, etc.
Consider the case of marriages. Pakistan is yet to legally recognize Hindu marriages. The Hindu marriage Bill, which has been tabled multiple times, is yet to be adopted even after 69 years of Pakistan coming into existence. Just this year, in July, the government again deferred the proposed Hindu marriage bill. Previously it was tabled in 2008, 2011, and 2012 and each time it failed to get consent.
The marriage bill is very vital for Hindus in Pakistan because without it they are being exposed to various kinds of socioeconomic discrimination in the society. Hindu women are especially at a disadvantage because without any evidence to prove their marriage, they are exposed to physical exploitation, forceful marriages, and conversions. Further, Hindu women face various difficulties be it in booking a hotel room, getting official documents like National identity cards, or on inheriting husband’s property after the husband’s death.
Regarding the condition of Hindu women in Pakistan, Amritsar-based activist and historian SurinderKochchar says: “They are abducted, raped, and forcibly converted after a forced marriage. They never get justice as neither their families, nor they, can prove that they were married. They also cannot apply for a divorce nor get alimony or remarry as they do not possess any marriage certificates,” as quoted in the Daily Mail.
US Commission on the International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report for 2015 describes Pakistan as representing‘one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom.’ It further describes Pakistan’s legal environment as being ‘particularly repressive due to its religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, including its blasphemy laws.’
The Hindu American Foundation’s report on Human Rights of Hindus in South Asia for the year 2014-2015 quotes a report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace that revealed that around 76% of minority women in Pakistan reported that they were sexually harassed. The HAF report further quotes various NGO’s that estimate that around 1000 Hindu and Christian girls are abducted and forcefully converted to Islam every year. According to another estimate, as many as 20-25 Hindu girls are abducted and converted to Islam every month.
This continued kidnapping and eventual conversion of Hindu women into Islam was also noted by the USCIRF 2014-15 report that stated: “Allegations of kidnappings of Hindu women, followed by forced conversions to Islam and forced marriages to Muslim men, continued to rise throughout 2014.”
Blasphemy laws are another concern for Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan. Defiling of Quran and/or the name of Prophet are considered as Blasphemous. Further, misuse of epitaphs reserved for holy personages are also considered blasphemous. Yet, there is a lack of clarity on what actions exactly constitute as defiling. The punishment for blasphemy is generally a life imprisonment or death.
The UNSCIRF 2014-15 report calls these laws as ‘problematic’ and ‘against human rights protections’. It further notes that: “There is no clear definition of blasphemy, which empowers the accuser to decide if a blasphemous act has occurred. No proof of intent is required, nor must evidence be presented after allegations are made.”
Hence, these laws are highly vague and open for misuse especially against religious minorities. A report by Jinnah Institute states: “Pakistan’s blasphemy laws disproportionately affect Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadis. Hindus have been arrested and abused in recent years due to their religious identity.”
Education is yet another area of concern. The school curriculum is not only factually incorrect at many places but is also highly biased towards religious minorities. A USCIRF’s 2011 study revealed both private owned madrassas and state run public schools ‘devalue religious minorities’ in classroom teaching as well as in textbook contents.
The HAF report quotes a report from 2012-2013 study of textbooks used in Pakistan that revealed that at least 55 chapters from 22 textbooks used in Sindh and Punjab region used discriminatory language against minorities. The HAF report states that: “Hindus have particularly been singled out for criticism in the textbooks, with negative depictions of Hindus pervasive through both“historical distortions and the framing of concepts through religious language that promotes the superiority of Islam over Hinduism.”
This was reiterated in an older report of USCIRF quoted in Dawn newspaper that states:“Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam, whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu.”
Employment condition of Hindus is no better as well. Religious minorities, including Hindus are mostly confined a low wage, menial employment. A Minority Right’s Group report quotes Asian Human Right’s Commission, according to which a large portion of Hindu women in Pakistan’s cities are employed as scavengers or as sanitary workers. They have very low wages and are without any basic labor protections.
Further, the menace of bonded labor also affects the Hindu community in Pakistan. According to one estimate, there are between three and eight million bonded labors in Pakistan. And poor Hindus, especially Hindus of Scheduled Castes are especially vulnerable to this. The HAF report states: “This modern day form of slavery, which disproportionately impacts poor Hindus, operates on a debt bondage system and is characterized by patterns of abuse, detention, and exploitation. Bonded laborers work in a number of sectors, such as agriculture, brick-kilns, mining, and domestic households.”
The marginalization extends to politics and civil services as well. The representation of Hindus in the provincial legislatures as well as in government services is marginal. According to HAF only 0.21% of the federal civil servants are from Hindu community. Further, out of 342 seats in the National Assembly, only 10 are reserved for minorities.
Another issue that Hindus face in Pakistan is the lack of adequate place of worship. A 2014 survey had indicated that out of 428 places of worship for Hindus, only 20 were operational. The remaining places were leased to residential or commercial purposes by the Evacuee Trust Properties Board(ETPB) that was supposed to manage these properties. Further, there are frequent attacks on Hindu holy places and on the pilgrims who visit them. After Babri masjid was destroyed in India, around 30 temples were attacked in Pakistan.
Therefore, there is a sustained and systematic marginalization, discrimination, exploitation, and persecution of Hindu minorities in Pakistan. Moreover, there is a lack of implementation of the few legal protections given to the religious minorities that further exposes Hindu minorities to exploitation.
Though the Pakistan’s constitution provides few rights and protections to religious minorities, they are often either misinterpreted or simply ignored while dealing with issues concerning minorities. The situation is further complicated by some police and law enforcing agents who continuously engage in activities that threaten the security of religious minorities.
As a result, every year, thousands of Pakistani Hindus migrate to India on the pretext of visiting relatives or tourism and refuse to go back. Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), revealed in the PakistanNational Assembly, in 2014, that every year around 5000 Hindus were migrating to India.
The dilemma in which most Pakistani Hindus live can be best summed up in the words of Kapil Dev, a Human Rights activist, who wrote in the Dawn newspaper thus: “That question has always perplexed my mind. Why are we treated as second-class citizens by the state and why are we discriminated in every walk of life just because we are Hindus?
“I can safely say this on behalf of my community that we often feel like citizens of “no man’s land” because here in Pakistan we are treated as Indians and those of us who migrate to India are called Pakistanis. For our love and patriotism for Pakistan, right-wing Indians call us ISI agents, while here just for being Hindu, we are labeled agents of RAW. Where should we go?”
Between zoom meetings, webinars, you're walking a tight rope to balance work from home and domestic chores, in all this its easy to forget about taking care of yourself. It's imperative to squeeze in a few hours to indulge in yourself, whether its a massage or a hair spa treatment.
It comes with a range of accessories which includes the 40mm Airwrap long barrels, 30mm Airwra barrels, a Firm smoothing brush, a Soft smoothing brush, a Round volumising brush, the Pre-styling dryer, a non-slip heat-resistant mat to place your styler on, a Storage case and even a Filter cleaning brush. A Storage bag (Iron/Fuchsia) securely stores your Dyson Airwrap when you're on the move.
The different styling attachments cater to unique hair needs and are designed for different hair styles. | File
The different styling attachments cater to unique hair needs and are designed for different hair styles. For instance the 30 mm barrels create and set voluminous curls. With clockwise and counter-clockwise barrels for symmetrical curls. The 40 mm barrels create and set loose curls or waves. The Firm smoothing brush creates a straighter style with less frizz ad fewer flyways, with firm bristles engineered to control unruly, frizz prone hair. The pre- styling dryer takes hair from wet to damp, ready for styling. The round volumizing brush directs air into the hair to give body, and the bristles create tension to shape hair as it dries, Ideal for limp, flat hair. To create a sooth, blow-dry finish. With soft bristles engineered to be gentle on the scalp.
It features three precise airflow speeds, to suit your styling and four precise heat settings, including constant cold shot. The cold shot immediately deactivates the heating element, for cooler air to set your style. The Coanda to curl barrels harness an aerodynamic phenomenon and the Coanda to smooth which uses Dyson brushes to attract hair to the surface of the brush, propelling air along the hair strands for a smooth, straighter style. It's powered by the Dyson digital motor V9, a 13-blade impeller spins at up to 110,000rpm, generating 3.2kPa. Powerful enough to produce the air pressure needed to create the Coanda effect. The intelligent heat control measures airflow temperature over 40 times a second, intelligently controlling the heating element to keep the temperature under a 150 degree Celsius. Preventing extreme heat damage. "Great styling and takes lesser effort than the usual blow drying. Saving lots of visits to the salon, absolutely love it!" says a salon regular who switched her weekly visits to the salon for the at home Dyson experience. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Dyson, hair, hair styles, styling, airflow, non-slip heat-resistant mat, Pre-styling dryer, olumising brush, smoothing brush, Dyson Airwrap
An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets, using data from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission. The findings, described in a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, showed a planetary system that comprises a star and at least two gas giant planets, each roughly the size of Saturn and located unusually close to one another.
The discovery is significant because it's rare to find gas giants -- like Saturn in the solar system -- as close to their host star as they were in this case. The researchers cannot yet explain why it occurred there, but it makes the finding especially useful because it could help scientists form a more accurate understanding of the parameters for how planets and planetary systems develop.
An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets, using data from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission. | NASA
"The discovery of each new world provides a unique glimpse into the physics that play a role in planet formation," said lead author Jon Zink, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. The findings could be a significant step toward helping astronomers understand which types of stars are most likely to have planets orbiting them and what that indicates about the building blocks needed for successful planet formation, acoording to the study. "We need to look at a wide range of stars, not just ones like our sun, to understand that," Zink said.
The term "exoplanets" is used to describe planets outside of the solar system. The number of exoplanets that have been identified by astronomers numbers fewer than 5,000 in all, so the identification of hundreds of new ones is a significant advance. Kepler's original mission came to an unexpected end in 2013 when a mechanical failure left the spacecraft unable to precisely point at the patch of sky it had been observing for years.
But astronomers repurposed the telescope for a new mission known as K2, whose objective is to identify exoplanets near distant stars. Data from K2 is helping scientists understand how stars' location in the galaxy influences what kind of planets are able to form around them. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Astronomers, discover, possible, exoplanets, telescope, mission, planets
By Dr Anil Batra
The winter comes with its own set of hassles. New moms have to be careful because they have to take care of themselves and their babies. It becomes imperative to protect babies from the harsh season. The immune system of newborn babies is developing, which makes them susceptible to respiratory infections. But, you can take preventive measures to keep your child warm and safe. Newborn babies need extra care until their immune system becomes stronger to protect their bodies from the harmful effects of viruses and bacteria that usually become more active in the winter season. A drop in the temperature can aggravate different processes in the body, therefore, moms need to take extra care of newborn babies during winters.
New moms can follow the given tips to take care of their little ones and protect them from the harmful effects of harsh winds blowing outside.
Keep the temperature warm in the baby's room: Use a portable heater in the baby's room to keep the temperature warm. The air becomes dry due to the excessive use of a heater. Therefore, keeping a humidifier to balance the moisture levels.
Apply moisturizer: The baby's skin is very sensitive and the harsh, dry, and cold air can make the skin dry. Therefore, apply a good moisturizer to keep it soft and smooth. Choose a moisturizer made of milk cream and butter, especially for children. This will keep the skin of your baby soft.
Massage: Massage is important to keep your baby's skin soft and healthy. Massage helps to improve the blood circulation in the body that helps in boosting strength. Use a natural oil to massage the body of your child. Make sure the room is warm where you massage the baby.
Massage helps to improve the blood circulation in the body that helps in boosting strength. | Photo by Khoa Pham on Unsplash
Avoid using heavy blankets: You can comfort your baby by laying a light blanket to keep your baby warm. Avoid using a heavy blanket to cover your baby during winters because your baby would not be able to move his arms and legs while sleeping. In this process, your baby may pull it up on its face and this can cause respiratory distress. Thus, use a light blanket and keep the room temperature optimum.
Dress your baby comfortably: Choose comfortable dressing for your baby. Avoid wrapping your baby in thick sweaters, gloves, and socks. This will restrict its movement and he/she will become irritable. Choose clothes depending on the room temperature. The clothes should cover his/her baby but should not restrict movement. You can use light gloves and socks to cover your hands and feet to keep your baby warm at night.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is the most important activity that can keep your baby healthy. Breast milk consists of required nutrients and antibodies that will enhance the immune system of your baby and will protect him/her against diseases. During breastfeeding your baby will feel warm and cosy that will also give him comfort.
Avoid using a heavy blanket to cover your baby during winters because your baby would not be able to move his arms and legs while sleeping | Flickr
Maintain proper hygiene: Mothers should be careful when handling newborn babies in winters. You will be the first point of contact for your baby. Therefore, make sure you keep yourself clean and healthy. Wash your hands before handling your baby. Germs can easily enter your baby's body through your dirty hands. Therefore, make sure you wash your hands or sanitize them before attending to your baby. Also, ask visitors to wash their hands.
Take care outdoors: If you want to take your child outdoors make sure it is not freezing temperature. Take your child out for fresh air only if the temperature is not too cold and remember to cover your baby properly before taking them out. Taking your baby out will help to give fresh air and will improve their health.
Common issues that may arise in newborn babies during winters:
Winter brings flu and other viruses that can easily spread and affect anyone. Common issues that may arise in newborn babies during winters include the following:
- Skin allergies
- Digestive issues
Parents can take care of their newborn babies from various diseases that may affect them in the winters in the following ways:
* If your baby suffers during the winter season, you should consult a pediatrician.
* You can give a homemade solution if your baby suffers from a cold. Check with the doctor and you can only give a saline solution or nasal drops.
* Keep your baby well hydrated. Keep breastfeeding your baby and also give water if necessary.
* Cuddle your baby lovingly and give him warmth along with other precautions.
* In the first winter, you can take preventive measures to take care of your little ones and keep them safe. Maintain proper hygiene and keep your house warm. Avoid visitors if your child is not feeling well.
It is not necessary to give a bath to your baby every day. You can bathe your baby after 2-3 days in winter. | Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash
How often to give a bath to your baby in winter?
It is not necessary to give a bath to your baby every day. You can bathe your baby after 2-3 days in winter. You can sponge bathe your newborn every other day in winter. Check the temperature of the room before giving a bath to your baby. The room temperature should be warm and comfortable for your baby. Check the temperature of the water. Make sure the water is not too hot or cold. The temperature of the water should be right for the body of your baby. Check the temperature by touching the water with your elbow or wrist. Use mild soap and shampoo to bathe your baby in winter. Also, apply oil and moisturizer to the skin to keep it soft and prevent skin allergies. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Winter, care tips, newborn, baby, hygiene, breastfeeding, blanket