It is laudable that the Gates Foundation and Rotary International have expressed concern about the polio eradication programme. There has been an increase in polio cases and the government and NGOs need to act fast and come up with viable solutions to tackle this. One of the possible solutions is using IPV that is used in developing polio-free nations.
Shades of fundamentalism
Barkha Dutt in Fundamental issues (November 24) has the courage to call a spade a spade while the secularists in the Congress and Left are ready to condemn non-Islamic fundamentalists at the drop of a hat. But when it comes to Islamic fundamentalism, they lose their steam and develop cold feet. Islamic fundamentalists are getting away with it for they know that no government has the courage to rein them in. Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is the minority that has a stronger voice in formulating the policies of our country.
It has become fashionable to be the champions of Muslims only to be in the good books of the ruling party. Supporting painter M.F. Hussain, who deliberately insults Hindu goddesses to spite Hindus is fashionable. Does a work of art, particularly a nude, need to be labelled by the name of a Hindu goddess? Will it become less artistic by any other name?
The incident of Taslima Nasreen proves that we are not a secular State. The shameful plight of the writer who expressed her views in her autobiography is a blot on us. The right thing would be to allow creative artists to put forward their views until and unless they offend religious sentiments. Expressing one’s views that the purdah system is wrong does not inflict any communal harm. Her plight projects the Constitution as a mere showpiece of our secular status.
I wish to clarify that there is no contradiction in the BJP’s demand for a permanent visa for Taslima Nasreen and wanting Hussain to be prosecuted for his derogatory paintings of Hindu goddesses. Taslima is fighting for the honour of Muslim women even at the cost of decrying some of the basic tenets of her religion. On the other hand, Hussain is degrading Hindu goddess’s honour. Kudos to Taslima who fights for justice without fear.
I fail to understand why there is so much hue and cry over Taslima Nasreen. She is a controversial person because of her writings. If she is true to herself, rather than taking refuge in India and spoiling the environment, she should have pleaded to the United Nations for help. When the Bangladesh government is unable to protect her, why is our government showing so much generosity towards her? Freedom of speech and expression sounds good as long as it is in harmony with society’s sentiments.
Musharraf on test
With reference to the editorial It suits him just fine (November 29), the political developments in Pakistan raise the question of whether Pervez Musharraf, as a civilian President, will be able to walk the country’s political minefield and foster the stability which Pakistan needs. Musharraf’s rule has no legal sanction and the Emergency which he has said he will lift soon casts a further blot on the fragile democratic structure in the country. It is the coming months that will show whether Musharraf had been a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It seems people of Pakistan are still not sure whether the game being played by Musharraf is well-intentioned or is to fool them and please the Western world. Not just the people of Pakistan, even the people of India should watch Musharraf’s next moves to determine whether he will uphold democracy or scuttle it.
It is a matter of regret that Sitaram Yechury has chosen to make such a categorical statement without even going through the writings of Taslima Nasreen (Our con artists, November 30). Had he gone through Lajja, he would have known that she writes neither against Islam nor against the Prophet. In fact, she merely narrates stories dealing with male domination and hypocrisy, as well as the domination and hypocrisy of the maulvis. Does this amount to denigration of Islam? Yechury finds nothing amiss in nude paintings of Hindu goddesses by M.F. Hussain.
It is a sad reflection on Indian political leaders that instead of repenting for their ugly deeds, they adopt the strategy of projecting the uglier deeds of others as a smoke-screen. If Yechury feels sorry about Nandigram, he must say so clearly. Otherwise, if he feels that Nandigram is the beginning of another cultural revolution, let him not commit the historical mistake of saying sorry.
In the dock
Apropos of the report Jurists go after Sabharwal (November 29), the manner in which issues pertaining to the judiciary are reported in the press needs to be curbed. Any reckless reporting can lower the faith of the general public in the judiciary. It is unfair to drag the top-most judicial officer into controversy and run the risk of lowering the esteem of the august institution.
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