On Martin Luther’s prescription to inculcate the Bible on the youth

January 2, 2019


— Nasir Khan

“I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.”

― Great church reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546).
—————–

The great church reformer, Martin Luther, would be glad to know if someone can pass on this information to him, no matter wherever he may be at present, or in whatever form he may be, that schools and the educational systems in many European countries have faithfully followed his ‘pious prescriptions’ for many centuries. However, some independent thinking was also allowed in European educational system because of the great struggles in the last century by educationists and thinkers.

Meanwhile in other parts of the world – especially in Asian and African countries – people have followed the age-old teaching methods where children and youngsters have been taught in their old dogmas and stories as eternal truths. Such a schooling had and still has a lasting effect on them that can’t be shaken off. Because of such a traditional indoctrination, for most people dogmas and dogmatic thinking are more like their second nature; they cannot liberate themselves from such ways of thinking. Any dogmas internalized at a young age take a permanent hold on the minds of the people.

Advertisements

Maintaining Institutionalized Ignorance

December 28, 2018

— Nasir Khan


Renowned American writer Saul Bellow (1915-2005) says: “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance.” This pithy saying speaks volumes if we analyze it at greater length. But I will offer only a few fleeting remarks here.

It may surprise some if I say that ignorance is not a simple matter. In fact, a complex phenomenon serves various social, political and religious interests. It is directly related to influence common people and their consciousness of the social reality that surrounds them. However, the task of the brainy purveyors of ignorance is not to inform, but to raise the barriers that would not let any truth slip into the masses! That means if the particular interests are to be protected and masses duped then ignorance has to be institutionalized, fortified and perpetuated by the powerful and the influential people who are at the helm of affairs.

Who can buttress the citadel of ignorance better than the people who are dubbed as intelligentsia, intellectuals and the ‘educated’ ones that separates them from the ordinary people? There is no doubt, they do an excellent job when they have rich and resourceful people to patronize them and institutions to hire their services. They are closely attached to upholding the interests of the ruling elite and justify their actions and policies. I call them modern-day gladiators!

Are socialists non-believers?

December 26, 2018

— Nasir Khan

Socialists are not non-believers. The people who believe in social justice, social equality of men and women, believe in a just and non-oppressive social, political and economic organization of society in the interest of all, believe in the advancement of knowledge free from the power of the ignorant people who keep society back, and who stand for humanity and human values for all without showing favour to any one religion, one special colour or race are believers on a higher level than the followers of dogmas and superstitions beliefs, worshipping stones and all sorts of natural or man-made objects.
—-
A former Facebook friend of mine (she is no longer on my friends’ list) and some other readers have come up with some strong criticism of Communists and their crimes under Communist leaders. In fact, her views are quite common in many parts of the world. I am adding my reply to her for other readers to see as well:

Dear XY: My piece is not about Stalin or Hitler and their actions. In it, I clarified in a summary form that socialists are also believers, and not non-believers as some people falsely assert. How are they believers that I’ve discussed. It is about the principles on which socialism is based and the principles which are the core of socialist thinking.

If a socialist or a communist has committed such crimes as you mention, then the fault does not lie with the principles of socialism but with any person who misuses the principles of socialism. In the same way, as Hitler, Franco, Pinochet, George W. Bush killed millions of innocent people; these leaders were Christians. The principles or dogmas of Christianity or even Jesus Christ did not stop them from killing millions of people for their political objectives.

The conquistadors in the New World (America) wiped out millions of the native Americans. All these killers were Christians from Europe. The same thing happened in Australia. The people who wiped out the native populations were Christians. But as a socialist, I do not blame Christianity for what these killers did. I can add to the list a lot more. But I wanted to give you only a short reply.

The threat of Hindutva fascism in India and Indian Muslims

December 18, 2018

— Nasir Khan, December 18, 2018

Badri Raina is well-versed in India’s political and social issues. Over the years he has has been busy pouring forth his ideas and suggestions in his articles and columns with great vigour and in earnest. As a result, we find much food for thought in what he says or focuses on in his analyses or reflections. One may even look upon this retired professor of English as a political guru for well-educated Indians!

There are many glaring contradictions that an outsider like myself comes face to face when looking inside the Indian political system and judging its main political actors. On one hand, the fundamental principles enshrined in the secular, democratic constitution of the Indian Union are praiseworthy, but, on the other hand, the forces operating against the fundamental values of a secular democracy have been and are a constant threat.

The Hindutva fascism has taken firm roots within the Hindus, thus posing an existential threat to Indian Muslims, who are the main target of the right-wing Hindu militant organizations and their political parties. The expansion and influence of the Hindutva ideology and political brainwashing of the Hindu masses to regard Muslims as enemies and unwanted people has been phenomenal. The enmity and hatred towards Indian Muslims and Pakistan among the Hindu population, including ‘liberal’ Hindus, is bewildering.

Will Rahul Gandhi as the leader of Indian National Congress be able to stem the tide of Hindutva fascism? To succeed, even to a moderate degree, he will need all the active help of democratic people in India. Let’s hope the optimism Raina shows in this column is not misplaced.

In any case, I stand with all those who work for secular democracy, non-discrimination against any religious community and safeguard the human rights of all for a peaceful co-existence under the rule of law.

———————–

 

Gandhi underscores that Hindutva is a neo-fascist theory which is far removed from Hinduism.

It is never a good thing for politics to go just one way in a democracy as pluralist as India’s.

The defeat of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the three Hindi heartland states, therefore, must be seen as a salutary course correction.

A hitherto supine Indian National Congress is clearly up and about, and a feisty revival of its self-confidence is visible everywhere. It will be graceless pusillanimity to deny that Rahul Gandhi as the new Congress president had anything to do with this. Gandhi has battled self-doubt and derision with a steady and humble self-application to the complexities both of his own party and the national zeitgeist, and he emerged triumphant.

Gandhi’s sifting of the campaign agenda and his denomination of personnel at all levels has, for the most part, been impeccable and untainted by small-minded considerations. As has been his refusal to answer the politics of hate and chicanery by similar means. He has earned his spurs the hard way and decisively put to rest speculations about his leadership. It may be said that his career graph defines a heroism of sincerity.

Most electoral campaigns in democracies tend to follow largely predictable axes of propagation, but three aspects of Gandhi’s campaign invite particular attention.

Also read: Here’s What Congress Needs to Do to Continue Its Winning Streak in 2019

Throughout the Congress’s campaign, Gandhi has sought to take the party more to the Left than could have been expected. He has relentlessly attacked the crony-corporate friendliness of the Modi dispensation and countered it by highlighting  agrarian distress and joblessness – issues that have yielded considerable traction among the populace – both in the rural and urban sectors.  The severity of these mass predicaments  has been far too real to be fobbed off by the regressively emotive shenanigans sought to be unleashed by the Hindu rightwing.

More controversially – and for most liberal commentators, problematically – Gandhi, after listening to the findings of the A.K. Antony report, has sought to boldly embrace his Hindu identity.

On the face of it, this aspect of his campaign must seem dismaying to those who hold on dearly to the secular principles of constitutional  politics. There is no doubt that this new turn within the campaign has caused deep apprehension among minority communities, especially  Muslims, who, regardless of their misgivings, see in the Indian National Congress some guarantee of secular safety.

Upon deeper reflection, however, a more constructive and long-term interpretation of this turn seems warranted.

An overdue agenda of India’s cultural politics has been to intelligently deny the Hindutva camp proprietorship of Hindu cultural identity. More acutely, Gandhi’s articulation here underscores that Hindutva, far from being a religious construct, is essentially a neo-fascist political theory of state and polity. Therefore, it’s far removed from Hinduism as practiced by India’s majority population. Where quotidian Hindus – like quotidian Muslims – have always practiced their faith in non-sectarian ways, Hindutva has viciously stoked sectarian and hate-filled cultural proclivities.

It cannot be detrimental for this contrast to have been flagged during the campaign. Gandhi, then, did not so much as succumb to Hindutva as he sought to dethrone its pernicious content with the virtues of personally-held faith. I make bold to say that if the Congress party works this agenda with intelligent discrimination and in tandem with demonstrated pluralism in government and on the ground, such praxis may rid us of a menace against which Indian politics seems helpless.

This must now involve re-owning India’s minority populations with conviction and without fear of the hitherto accusations of ‘minority appeasement’. Given that, however subtly, Gandhi has shown Hindutva to be the larger and more detrimental appeasement politics, Indian Muslims need not suffer any longer on account of an opprobrium that the Congress party has caved into off and on.

The Indian masses have seen enough of the depredation wrought by Hindutva as a political-cultural posturing now to know that it is anything but Hinduism. Gandhi has courageously taken on the onus to exorcise Hindutva jinn from India’s statecraft and body-politic. However, should the Congress be seen jittery again in embracing India’s minorities, especially Muslims, it would only end in paying a fatal compliment to the adversary it seeks to vanquish.

Also read: Assembly Elections 2018: What Does This Loss Mean for the BJP?

The third aspect of Gandhi’s tenure as party president concerns his style of leadership. By all accounts, his democratic humility is no mere posture. The stunning revival of the party structures from top to bottom seem intimately connected with his determination to respect opinions on as wide a scale as party functioning permits. He seems truly to have encouraged First Amendment rights, so to speak, to workers, satraps, regional leaders and party spokespersons to a point where they now seem both unafraid and all the more committed to the party’s ideology rather just to his person. This is a fine prospect for India’s multi-party democracy and for the Indian National Congress particularly.

But, having ousted the BJP from its heartland bastions by appraising the electorate of the hollow nature of political jumlas, the Congress must now ensure that its own manifesto does not similarly remain a fake gesture. It will be crucial for the party that its governance remains rooted in delivering upon its promises. Where if fails to do so for objective reasons, it must be able to forthrightly communicate to the people the constraints which prevented it from performing in those areas.

Much of the party’s credentials to play a leading role in unifying political opposition against the BJP in the upcoming general elections will depend on its people-oriented governance.

Badri Raina taught English literature at Delhi University for four decades. He is the author of Dickens and the Dialectic of Growth, The Underside of Things: India and the World, Kashmir: A Noble Tryst in Tatters and other books.

Christmas, Palestine & Kashmir

December 18, 2018

Nasir Khan, December 18, 2018

The break-up of Pakistan in 1971

December 10, 2018

— Nasir Khan

In 1971, under the orders of President Yahya Khan Pakistani army unleashed Operation Searchlight in East Pakistan. What the army was asked to do was to crush all opposition after political negotiations between Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to form the national government failed. In fact, it was Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League that had won the majority of seats and its leader, Sheikh Mujib, was entitled to become the prime minister of Pakistan. But it did happen this way.

Some prominent politicians in West Pakistani didn’t want Sheikh Mujib to gain power or were unwilling to share power with him. This led to public protests in East Pakistan and opposition to West Pakistan’s domination. Soon the opposition became a rebellion that became a war of independence for the people of East Pakistan to overthrow the yoke of West Pakistan’s political and economic domination. After making enormous sacrifices and receiving military help from India to defeat the beleaguered Pakistani army, the Mukti Bahini, the volunteer liberation army, achieved independence. Bangladesh came into existence as a new sovereign state.

After the tragic destruction and suffering of the people in East Pakistan and the humiliating surrender of Pakistani army there, Mr Bhutto emerged as the most powerful leader in Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) while Sheikh Mujib became the iconic figure and ruler of Bangladesh.

In 1971, the two-winged Pakistan lost its one wing. Since then it has been flying on only one wing! If the high horizons set by its leaders and its mullahs remain undisturbed, it may soon reach some new universe.

Palestine, Palestinians and Israel

December 6, 2018

 

—Nasir Khan, December 6, 2018

Today, Terry Deans in the public group John Pilger – Hidden Agendas, Honest Debates wrote a comment in response to my exchange of views with Stephanie Schwartz that I had posted there as a member.

I am reproducing his comment, followed by my reply:

Terry Deans wrote:

Well done so far, Nasir Khan. This matter has been a long and complex time in it’s establishment and evolution and, as such, any understanding and/or resolution deserves to be regarded with much more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to a very basic question which on no level takes into account the issues you have raised. And there are more than likely to be many more dynamics to this situation.

Nasir Khan wrote:

Thank you Terry Deans for a politically realistic comment and seeing the problems involved in finding an acceptable solution to the problem Palestinians face. It is common knowledge that Israel has tried a number of solutions to change the face of Palestine and has spared no effort to present the people of Palestine as remnants of a bygone age, which no one should bother about any longer. But for some reason the Zionist rulers of Israel have not tried the ‘final solution’ yet, even though they had all the military power and the technical know-how to resort to it.

In such a scenario, the most powerful countries, such as the United States and its allies, that dance to the tunes of Zionist rulers of Israel and their lobbies would have looked the other way, as if nothing was happening. The actions of Israel in Gaza are not hidden from anyone; yet western imperial powers fully support the crimes and incremental ethnic cleansing of the besieged and isolated Palestinians of Gaza. Of course, the western mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself is a handy tool for all events, and it would have been used and thus put the matter to rest. Full stop.

Israel as a colonial power

December 6, 2018

The following exchange of views took place in 2012. The basic questions raised are still relevant, and the people who want to understand the political facts about Israel and the people of Palestine will find them useful.

Nasir Khan, December 6, 2012 at 7:06 PM ·

Stephanie Schwartz wrote: Mr Khan, I don’t find the answer to my questions which endeavors to establish legal facts: do you or do you not recognize the international law right of the Jews to sovereignty in their country?

Nasir Khan wrote: Stephanie Schwartz, it will be very naive of me to reply to your seemingly a plain question, simply by saying yes or no. If I did so, any such reply would be of little value in understanding a complicated political issue. However, if you can clarify a few things which can help me better understand your question and its implications then I will be happy to reply to you. Normally I find it difficult to respond to hypothetical questions as concrete facts.

To start with: What do mean by ‘Jews’? Do you use this word to identify these people on the basis of their religious beliefs and customs or for their ethnicity or something else?

The question of right to sovereignty in one’s country under international law presents no difficulties. The answer is clear. But the question of taking over the countries or lands of other people by colonizing them and subjugating their population to the rule and terror of the colonial masters is something different. For example, in this way two continents, Americas and Australia were taken over by Western colonial powers and the original people of these vast continents were either killed or reduced to sub-human existence over the course of five centuries. Would you agree with this view that the true owners of Americas and Australia were forcibly expropriated of their land by European colonists? Does this analogy also extend to the people of Palestine at the hands of the Zionist colonial settler state?

(I had received no response to my questions from Stephanie Schwartz.)

Israel as a colonial power

December 6, 2018

The following exchange of views took place in 2012. The basic questions raised are still relevant, and the people who want to understand the political facts about Israel and the people of Palestine will find them useful.

Nasir Khan, December 6, 2012 at 7:06 PM ·

Stephanie Schwartz wrote: Mr Khan, I don’t find the answer to my questions which endeavors to establish legal facts: do you or do you not recognize the international law right of the Jews to sovereignty in their country?

Nasir Khan wrote: Stephanie Schwartz, it will be very naive of me to reply to your seemingly a plain question, simply by saying yes or no. If I did so, any such reply would be of little value in understanding a complicated political issue. However, if you can clarify a few things which can help me better understand your question and its implications then I will be happy to reply to you. Normally I find it difficult to respond to hypothetical questions as concrete facts.

To start with: What do mean by ‘Jews’? Do you use this word to identify these people on the basis of their religious beliefs and customs or for their ethnicity or something else?

The question of right to sovereignty in one’s country under international law presents no difficulties. The answer is clear. But the question of taking over the countries or lands of other people by colonizing them and subjugating their population to the rule and terror of the colonial masters is something different. For example, in this way two continents, Americas and Australia were taken over by Western colonial powers and the original people of these vast continents were either killed or reduced to sub-human existence over the course of five centuries. Would you agree with this view that the true owners of Americas and Australia were forcibly expropriated of their land by European colonists? Does this analogy also extend to the people of Palestine at the hands of the Zionist colonial settler state?

(I had received no response to my questions from Stephanie Schwartz.)

Richard Falk and Palestine

November 29, 2018

Nasir Khan

Dr Richard Falk’s single-minded struggle to show the situation of the captive population of Palestine stands out as a conspicuous example of a man of conscience who has been an inspiration to so many! For long, the Zionists and their friends have vilified him and distorted what he said or stood for. Yet, despite all that, he has stood his ground with courage and determination. The Zionists have even called him ‘a self-hating Jew’ (!); they were not interested in to know that he was not a self-hating Jew, but a beacon of light for truth and justice, siding with an oppressed people, not the oppressors!

It takes some intelligence and much humanity to see that. The Zionists are not without intelligence; they use their intelligence to mislead, to lie, to cover-up the incremental ethnic cleansing of Palestine and thus further the cause of Zionist expansion while using the name of the Jewish people, as we all know. Their humanity? They had banished humanity for good because of their dedicated service to the cause of imperialism, colonialism and deception.

 

 

Image may contain: Richard Falk, closeup


%d bloggers like this: