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By Mahua Venkatesh
Afghanistan, especially its social hue, in the last two decades has dramatically changed, something that the Taliban or even Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that played a key role in government formation in the country after the US troops withdrawal, may not have accounted for.
Foreign policy watchers told India Narrative that the young Afghans – typically those who are in their 20s and 30s-- are now used to a different life which has been free, democratic and open.
"For the Taliban, the biggest challenge is to gain acceptability of the people of Afghanistan, who are now used to their freedom and are quite conscious of their rights—men and women both," one of them said, adding that it may not be easy for the hardline government to manage them even in the medium term.
Women at a cycling rally in Kabul, 2018. wikimedia
As the Taliban took control of Kabul, the prominent faces of the outfit including the that of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai among others had portrayed that the second innings of their regime would be a moderate and inclusive one. However, the relatively moderate faces of the Taliban have been conveniently sidelined. Essentially Taliban 2.0 is just a repeat of Taliban 1.0 which is austere and anti-modern. Paksitan's ultra-conservative Inter Services Intelligence which cut its teeth after former President Zia Ul Haq had instituionalised Islamisation of the military, played a seminal role in yanking back the Taliban into its ultra-orthodox roots. ISI chief Faiz Hameed camped in Kabul to form a "caretaker" government which had the terror tainted and criminalised Haqqani network at its core.
The UN blacklisted Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund-led government has already passed a diktat, asking women to stay at home.
Afghanistan traditionally known for its progressive thinking had granted equality to its women in 1964. Though under the Taliban rule in the 1990s, these rights were snatched away, they were restored in 2004.
Afghan women in 1927, during the reform period of Amanullah Khan. wikimedia
"This is a turning point…sooner or later the country will break into a serious civil war…that apart men and women of the country are unlikely to accept the Taliban rule," the analyst pointed out.
Afghanistan and Afghan women changed over the past two decades, said Ramzia Abdekhil, a university student told Hurriyet Daily News.
"The Taliban should understand this: Today's Afghanistan is not like the one they ruled 20 years ago. Back then, they did whatever they wanted to do, and we kept silent. Not anymore, we'll not remain silent. We won't accept whatever they say, we won't wear burqas and sit at home," the newspaper quoted Adbekhil as saying.
Notably, women from across the country have been spearheading protests.
That apart, the world community is closely watching the developments in Afghanistan. Apart from China and Pakistan and a few others, the world community has not come forth in showing their willingness to work with the Taliban.
Several countries in the Middle East that gave immediate recognition to the Taliban last time have also maintained stoic silence. Not just that. Several of them, including India have made a clear distinction between the people of the country and the Taliban regime.
"In today's context the Taliban's calculation may have gone wrong, we will have to carefully watch the situation that unfolds in the next few months," the analyst said.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)(IANS/HP)
keywords: Taliban, Afghanistan, Afghans, Afghan women
A person visiting Mumbai in the month of September can easily notice a mild fragrance lingering in the air. The fragrance is none other than that of the hibiscus flower. The hibiscus flower, commonly known as the shoo flower is believed to be the favourite flower of Lord Ganesha. In the month of September, every Mumbaikar is deeply immersed in Ganeshotsav. Some start preparing for the next Ganeshotsav as soon as the current one ends.
Before the festival of Ganeshotsav, or Ganesh Chaturthi, became an Indian cultural phenomenon, one can trace it's origins to Maharashtra. Ganesh Chaturthi as a festival has been historically observed in the province of Pune. Pune (also known as Poona) is dubbed the educational hub of Maharashtra. Historians see Pune as the last bastion of the Marathi manoos.
Ever since the era wherein Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire, ruled over most of western India, Lord Ganesh was seen as the family god or Kuldevata. With the unfortunate demise of the Maratha empire in the early 19th century, the festival lost its state patronage and became a private family celebration in Maharashtra. It regained its limelight when the extremist Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak reignited its long distinguished flame.
Crowds throng in at a junction to catch a glimpse of the Ganesha idol before its immersion. Photo by Vishal Panchal on Usplash.
Ganesh Chaturthi in its current form was introduced in 1892 when a Pune resident named Krishnajipant Khasgiwale visited Maratha-ruled Gwalior, where he witnessed the traditional public celebration and brought it to the attention of his friends, Bhausaheb Laxman Javale and Balasaheb Natu back home in Pune. Javale, who was also known as Bhau Rangari installed the first sarvajanik or public Ganesha idol following this.
Lokmanya Tilak praised Javale's efforts in an article in his fiery newspaper Kesari in 1893 and even installed a Ganesha idol in the news publication's office the next year, and his efforts transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organised public event. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions and established the practice of submerging the idols in rivers, the sea or other bodies of water on the tenth day of the festival.
Encouraged by him, Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganeshotsav, became a meeting ground for people from all castes and communities at a time when the British discouraged social and political gatherings to control the population. The festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the forms of intellectual discourse, poetry recitals, plays, concerts, and folk dances.
Various Ganpati idols for sale at a workshop in Mumbai. Photo by Mohnish Landge on Unsplash.
Tilak recognized Ganesha's appeal as "the god for everybody". He popularised Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival to "bridge the gap between Brahmins and the non-brahmins and also to find a context on which to build a new grassroots unity between them. The festival was successful in generating nationalistic fervour in the Maharashtrian people to oppose the oppressive British rule.
With the advent of the third wave of Covid-19 in Maharashtra, government officials have started ringing alarm bells. The fear that the ongoing surge in new cases might be fuelled by the lesser-known Delta Plus variant is high among healthcare staff. Ganesh Chaturthi and the Third Wave of the pandemic are in sync, leading to a catch 22 situation for Mumbaikars.
Keywords: Ganesh Chaturthi, Maharashtra, Third Wave, Marathas. September
Firebrand Buddhist Monk Ashin Wirathu was released from prison by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) on Monday, two years after he was booked and imprisoned for making seditious remarks against the former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ashin Wirathu was born on the 10th of July 1968 in Kyaukse province which is one of the numerous offshoots of the vast Mandalay Division of Myanmar (then called Burma). He is a Burmese Buddhist monk and the founder cum leader of the extremist 969 Movement in Myanmar. He was infamously dubbed as the "The Face of Buddhist Terror" by Time Magazine in 2013. Some even went a step further and unceremoniously christened him " Buddhist Bin Laden ".
Ashin Wirathu is known for his fiery stance against radical Islam. He on numerous occasions has given derogatory press statements against Muslims. Once speaking to Time Magazine, he upfrontly said that they [Muslims] are breeding fast. Also, they steal our women only to rape them. They would like to occupy Myanmar, but I won't let them. One must strive to keep Myanmar a Buddhist country.
Myanmar is a predominatly a Buddhist country and Muslims respresnt a tiny fraction of the overall population. Photo by Joseph Gatto on Unsplash.
In yet another interview in 2013, he vehemently declared Muslims as African Carp. Justifying his claims he stated that they breed quickly and are very violent in nature and also they eat their own kind. He even went further to highlight the burden on the masses by saying that even though Muslims were a minority in Myanmar, ordinary Myanmmarse are reeling under the burden they bring us.
He gained limelight when on one occasion, he opined, "You can be full of kindness and love but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog." He mentioned the word "Mad Dog" slyly alluding to the Muslim community.
Ashin is the founder and the leader of the infamous " 969 Movement ", a Buddhist revivalist movement that advocates a complete socio-economic boycott of Muslims throughout Myanmar. It also seeks to ban marriages between Buddhist women and Muslim men and annul the existing ones.
The inspiration for the unique name comes from Buddhist scriptures, with the first number "9" denoting the nine special attributes of the Buddha, the middle number "6" represents the six special characteristics of his Dharma while the last number "9" represents the nine attributes of the Buddhist monastic order or the Buddhist Sangha.
The black flags of Radical Islam. Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash.
When quizzed on his fierce stance against one particular community, he said "I am defending my loved one like you would defend your loved one. I am only warning people about Muslims. Consider it like if you had a dog, that would bark at strangers coming to your house – it is to warn you. I am like that dog. I bark."
With Afghanistan taken over by the Radical Islamic outfit Taliban, jihadism is on the rise in Asia. With the new Delta variant of the novel coronavirus ravaging through Asia, the continent has turned into a hotbed for new deadlier mutations to arise. The belligerent act of the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan has invoked Radical Islamists all over the globe to launch a global offensive. By freeing Ashin Wirathu Myanmar has deployed its best available weapon against the onslaught of Radical Islam.
Keywords: Islam, Radical Islam, Ashin Wirathu, Myanmar, Terrorism.
Vijay Prashad, renowned journalist, historian, and commentator took to TikTok to express his views about the colonial crimes by the British in India and China. In a brief argument, he puts forth a mapping of how India and parts of China have suffered under the British regime. This is what he says,
"Britain has refused to come to terms with its colonial heritage. The English East India Company seized Bengal, where I was born, in 1757, by force. Then the British forced the peasantry to hand over their produce and engineered a famine in 1770 that killed a third of the population. So many famines, I mean there were 24 famines between 1850 and 1899. Tens of millions of people killed. From 1765 to 1938 Britain extracted 32 trillion-pound sterling from India. That was the down payment for the Industrial Revolution. In 1943, Winston Churchill diverted food from Bengal, from my Bengal, to British troops- a diversion that killed at least 3 million Indians. That's another holocaust, a forgotten holocaust. When Britain was thrown out of India in 1947, the literacy rate in India was 14%. So much for the gift of civilization. We were left poor and illiterate. We were denied basic democratic rights. When Britain talks about human rights and its values of freedom and so on, all I hear is the cry of the hundreds of people massacred in cold blood at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919. Not for this or for any other massacre, or engineered famine has Britain apologized. And if you live in Britain, I highly recommend you get involved with the Indian Workers Association and its Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Campaign Committee. Over the course of the past fifty years, the British have denied their colonial crimes including by destroying thousands of fires on a range of issues including the bloody war inflicted on Kenya in the 1950s. The government hides, by the way, 1.2 million files in Hounslow Park, north of London. Files which contain Britain's role in the slave trade, and the Boer war, and the decolonization process. In the margins of a document in the UK's forced labor in Kenya, a colonial official wrote, "It must on no account be published." It must on no account be published, because Britain cannot be seen as having conducted a forced labor regime in Kenya. Forced labor is what other people do. Not the British. Britain refuses to come to terms with its colonial heritage because to do so, would be to cast light on this language of human rights and freedom and liberty. What liberty? From 1841 to 1997, Britain ruled Hong Kong with an iron fist. Where was the talk of democracy then? In 1842, a British official wrote, "The poor Chinese must submit to be poisoned by opium or must be massacred by the thousands for supporting their own laws in their own lands.""
A file photo of the Bengal famines during the British raj Image source: wikimedia commonswikimedia commons
Post independence, India has been in the limelight for various reasons in relation to the British regime she withstood for nearly two centuries. According to the written records of history available in the form of novels and accounts from witnesses, the gruesomeness of the regime is coming to light more and more as colonialism, as an attitude of monarchy, is taking ground. My opinion of this issue comes down to the fact that this part of history has been happening and will continue to happen if power falls into ambitious hands that are not willing to let it go. Perhaps if writing is completely done away with, then the world might appear to be at peace since no one will carry stories of the truth.
Since we have accounts, records, and testimonies that are growing each day, more and more of our attention is being drawn to the rather dark past of our country and most of the colonized world. If one takes a closer look at native regimes, or the monarchies that preceded the English, one will find that despite antiquity, political motives have led to tragic ends. As it is said, it depends on who survives to tell the tale. As for the British apologizing for their crimes, I am sure that they will not see reason to do so, since, according to their agenda in the regime, they were simple exercising power. No one apologizes for being powerful. Besides, an apology will not ensure that the crime will not be repeated. China herself is responsible for various crimes under the identity of the Dragon. India has overcome the British, but there are still regimes to overcome, there are still many political disasters to fight, and freedom and liberty are still at stake. Sometimes, atrocities stem from one's own land, by one's own people. It is all about who wields the power, even in a democracy.
Keywords: British Colonialism, Colonization, Independence, India, China, Democracy, Opinion