Press Release: Sikhs [in UK] Fear Discrimination with New Knife Ban

By: on 8 May 2006

I don't have time to blog about this extensively, but I thought i would raise the issue as the symbolic and religious uses of certain items--from kirpans in the UK to hijab in France--continue to raise the problem of how people are going to negotiate their faith with the state's rules. It's a reminder that though India and other countries may be censoring on grounds of freedom of press (e.g. Taslima Nasreen), these things occur rampantly under different guise in Euro- and settler colony countries as well.

Film Brun

By: on 8 May 2006

Now I'm no film critic so forgive me if this is absolutely amateur, but I think I just watched my first desi film noir and that's really exciting.

Being Cyrus was released in November 2005 and from an informal survay of anyone who fit my target demographic (i.e. brown and came into contact with me today) not many people have seem to have seen it. It's got all the classic noir elements.

Minor Annoyances

By: on 7 May 2006

I wanted to write a proper introduction of myself to this blogspace, but I find myself already needing to post something. I hope not to dwell on the random minutiae of discrimination on a daily basis in most of my writing here, but sometimes it just irks you, y'know?

I spent the afternoon at a packing party at my White friend's house in Fort Greene where I was hanging out a few other people--also mostly White--and an adorable dog.

Shamful Politics in Tamil Nadu

By: on 7 May 2006

In October 2002, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-led government passed the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act 2002. The state assembly passed the bill despite the protests of minority groups in a move which brought the AIADMK closer to the Hindu Right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to Section 3 of the Ordinance: "No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by the use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means.'' Contravention can attract a jail term up to three years and a fine of Rs. 50,000. If the convert is "a minor, a woman or a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe,'' the jail term can be for five years and the fine Rs.1 lakh. (Frontline)

Conversion has a long and complicated history in India, particularly among Dalits. B.R. Ambedkar called for Dalits to cast aside the Hindu religion which would not have them as equal members, and instead another egalitarian religion, such as Buddhism. Since then, many Dalit groups have converted to Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, and many others have threatened to do so if their rights were not respected. Conversion has thus become a tool of empowerment for oppressed groups, and a threat to caste Hindus.

Although the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, maintained that the Bill was only intended to prevent forcible conversions, her arguments in the course of the three-hour debate were against conversion itself. "Conversions create resentment among several sections and also inflame religious passions, leading to communal clashes." (The Hindu)

Leave them kids alone!

By: on 3 May 2006

Today's feel-good story was about "child prodigy" Buddhia Singh, the four-and-a-half year-old who ran 65 KILOMETRES IN 7.02 HOURS!

Flanked by cadets of the Central Reserve Police Force , the five-year-old Buddhia completed the distance from Puri Jagannath Temple to Bhubaneswar braving the hot and humid conditions. (link)

The run was, unfortunately, not a total success since the boy COLLAPSED with five km left out of his target of 70 km.

Communal embers re-kindled in Gujarat

By: on 3 May 2006

Four people died on Monday, May 1 in Vadodara, Gujarat, following the Municipal Corporation's demolition of a dargah which local residents say is over 200 years old. Apparently the demolition was necessary because the dargah was obstructing a road which the Corporation had picked out for expansion.

Objecting to the demolition, the residents threw stones at the municipal staff and police. The police lathicharged a mob and fired teargas shells to disperse it. When their efforts failed, police opened fire resulting in the death of two persons and injuries to 14 persons. At least eight others, including police and municipal staff, were injured in stone throwing.

The incident threatened to take a communal turn with two incidents of stabbing reported, including one from a neighbouring locality. (link)

Apparently other structures (including those of other religious faiths) had been demolished as well:

Mayor Sunil Solanki said the demolition of unauthorised structures had been going on for a fortnight to widen roads. He said nearly 1,500 illegal structures had been removed. More than a dozen religious places of different communities had been removed. At many places the members of different communities volunteered to remove the obstructions.

But there doesn't seem to be any effort in the media to find out more about these structures, where they were, which faiths they belonged to, and if in fact they actually existed.

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