Friday, December 11, 2009

Saba's Tutor Update!

I finally got the update on what was purchased for Saba in addition to her tutor, through the generous donations of many of you... :)

Here is what she and her family received:

8 8 months Pvt.Tuitions for the child(grade-II)
1 School Uniform for the child
1 School Shoes for the child
1 School Bag for the child
32 24 Exercise Copies,7 Pens,1 candy for the child
1 Emergency Light
1 Pedestal Fan
2 2.5 kgs of Rice
1 Transport Cost

I will get a letter from Saba soon in the mail, but the Children International people were nice enough to forward me the photos and information electronically beforehand.


Varun Shekhar said...

A little bone to pick with Liz, over her comment in "Sepia Mutiny" a while back, which I have just read. It was grotesquely inappopriate and insensitive to raise the subject of communal prejudice in India( Liz's recollection of her talk in India, where some people voiced prejudice against Moslems) so soon after India experienced one of the worst ever terrorist attack, and the second worse in recent times after the world trade centre. This was not prejuduce; it was pure mass murder conducted by terrorists coming from Pakistan. The equivalent would be if some Hindu militant group would land on the shores of another country, and go on a shooting rampage. This is not the time to raise stereotypes along the lines of "Jews tend to be cheap" or "Italian women are fat". This was mass murder instigated by a neighbouring country.

linzi said...

Varunm, first, thanks for your comment, but I must confess, I don't really know which comment you are referring to. If you could give me a quote or link that would be helpful, as I comment on sepia mutiny pretty regularly and I don't know exactly which comment you are talking about.

Secondly, my name is not Liz, but Lindsey (or Linzi, if you prefer).

Since I don't know what quote specfically you are talking about, I can reply generally to your comment without the background knowledge of what you are refering to....

First, I make a very large distinction between Muslims and Islamic terrorists.

I don't think terrorist acts have anything to do with prejudice, they have to do with terrorism, pure and simple. Hence, if people have prejudice attitudes towards Muslims because Islamic terrorists commited a horrific crime, then that is obviously wrong and people need to speak out against that. They are many more Muslims in the world who are normal people going about their daily lives-- and their lives are just as badly affected by Islamic terrorists as the rest of us-- if not more because they have to deal with the backlash from the terroist acts from people who them equate all Muslims as terrorists.

If you would like ot talk more specifically about the comments I made that upset you, please copy them here or link to them so I can respond.


Varun Shekhar said...

Lindsey, this is the comment from "Sepia Mutiny", which I just read today.

"I was just reading some of the comments that argue that in Pakistan people are taught to hate the 'other' (i.e. Indian, Hindu, etc). I just wanted to point out that the same is very often done in India. I can recall very distinct cases of racism against Muslims voiced very openly in front of me in India. In one case, I was teaching an English class an a international institute in Delhi to a group of businessmen. We were discussing culture and traditions and they started asking me about cultural norms in the U.S. I was explaining that in the U.S. there are people from all over the world and of many religions, so there are lots of different traditions.. I mentioned that Muslims lived in the U.S. and suddenly my students started going on a tirade against Muslims.. they were called cheaters, and one guy said they should all be removed and sent to Pakistan. And everyone (who all happened to be Hindu) in the room agreed (except one guy who kept silent) and began slandering Muslims as a group until I put a stop to it. I was really shocked, not just at their views, but how comfortable they felt opening expressing these views in a classroom.

This is just one of the many experiences I had on this issue.. but I think that this acceptance of hatred and labeling people as 'other' is rampant not just in Pakistan."

You can see the problem with the above comments. There is an equation made between India and Pakistan on the issue of "prejudice" or even hostility. But prejudice and hostility is not what descended on Mumbai( the subject of Sepia Mutiny) that November night; rather, sheer, relentless mass murder with a view to kill as many people as possible, and to damage India's economy. India, whatever its problems and shortcomings, is a country that is pluralistic, open, dynamic and secular. Pakistan is just a military dominated state that promotes terror. In one sense, the terror attack on Mumbai was even worse than the world trade centre. Not in terms of lives lost, but in the duration of terror. There were people hiding in hotel rooms or floors for up to 48 hours, waiting for the terror to end. This is not the same thing as loudmouths making derogatory remarks about a community.

linzi said...

I have a similar problem with your equation of Pakistan to terrorists. I would hope you have noticed that currently terrorists have been committing horrible acts against the Pakistani people in the current time periods.

Terrorism is always wrong and always something to condemn, but we also have to analyze the situations that create terrorism... one often told tale is of young men from a poor background without much hope who get into the wrong crowds who teach them to blame a certain group of people for these problems. The wrong crowds them feed them full of hatred and lies that give them some kind of hope they cannot find in their own lives, and hence terrorism is born.

There are terrorists in every religious group-- Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc. Terrorism is not specific to any one religion-- we need to understand that.

India and Pakistan have been fighting back and forth since partition-- and Indians and Pakistanis have really spent a lot of time accusing and blaming each other. But really, if people want to move on from this kind of conflict, they must examine themselves and their own actions which may contribute, and also their actions as a nation. As a nation, neither America or India has done much to encourage normal life-loving Muslims chances to live in peace and have successful lives-- this kind of situation can cause angry and frustrated youth looking for an outlet for their emotions.

If you notice from my comments, I am not the kind of person to make the things I sound "nice". I rather try to reflect on the happenings in the world, and use it to better understand what's going, and how to learn form our mistakes.

I don't see any problem in that-- and I would be just as willing to reflect on the U.S. attitude of hatred towards Muslims (and their ill-treatment of many Muslim countries) as I would the kind of hatred I heard in India against Muslims.

If we ignore the kind of things going on in our own countries, then how will we learn and grow?

Varun Shekhar said...

Again, you are making false equations on at least two issues: One, equating the terror in Pakistan to what India went through in Mumbai. The terrorism in Pakistan is the backlash of the very same Islamic terrorists that the Pakistani state itself was supporting in Afghanistan, and partly in India as well. It has nothing to do with India, except insofar as India is a potential victim. The terrorists who shot up Mumbai were Lashkar-E-Toiba operatives, Islamic radicals who are directed specifically at India- though if they can kill a few Americans, British, Israelis etc, that is a bonus for them. The idea of India and Pakistan being equally victims of terror is thus misconceived from the beginning. There is also an ever present danger of India being struck again, by the same group.
Another false idea is the 'terrorists are there in every religion' line. Hindus may, and have, rioted in a localised, reactive way. But going around the world massacring people out of a sense of injustice, or hatred for non-believers( as in Mumbai) is of a magnitude altogether different. There are also religions where one can find virtually no terrorists i.e people who kill for the faith or using the faith as a rationalisation: Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, Spirit Quest and other Aboriginal expressions. It's only really in Islam where you find the widespread use of violence as an ideology, and as a political cum religious means of achieving an end.

linzi said...

Varun, first of all, I never said that India is responsible for the terrorism happening in Pakistan currently. My point was that Pakistan as a nation is not responsible for the terrorism in India. Terrorists are responsible for terrorism, and both countries are suffering.

I think you are very quick to paint India as an innocent bystander and Pakistan as the evil villian. All I am saying is that it is not so clear cut. Pakistan has many issues it has to deal with-- the government, and the terrorism that is happening quite regularly now.

But India also has it's own issues to deal with. Hindus can and have been terrorists too, and just because they are not traveling outside the country (though many Fundamentalist Hindu groups do have supports outside of India)does not mean that attacking Muslim neighborhoods raping and killing Muslims specifically is not terrorism. It definitely is terrorism, and I think you want to try and ignore that happens. Not to say most Hindus are like that, they are not, just like most Muslims are not like that.

The danger is when people begin to group all people together-- if someone feels angry because of terrorism committed by Islamic extremists and then they go on to blame all Muslims, they will create anger, sadness and discontent among some of the normal Muslim population. The same for any group. I know Hindu fundamentalists committed horrible acts of violence, murder and rape in 2002, but if I start saying "all Hindus are evil and violent" then common people who had nothing to do with the horrible acts will start to feel angry being grouped with such people.

If you are going to argue that Islam is a inherently violent religion, then you should also say the same for Christianity-- just take a look at the history of Christianity-- currently in it's modern day form people see if as a generally peaceful loving religion, but it has in the past been used to commit violent acts against other people as well.

All religions can be used for good or evil, depending on how people want to interpret it. There can be terrorists in any and every religion-- Buddhism included--look it up.

Lastly, I would just like to point out-- ironically, we are having this conversation on a specific post of mine. Take a look at the picture of that little girl and tell me if she is inherently violence? How about her mother? Do they look like terrorists to you? Because, guess what, they are Muslims.

Varun Shekhar said...

Linzey, India is a victim of the Pakistani ideology, fundamentalists and military, which are entrenched deep within Pakistan. It doesn't matter what some tea-server on the streets of Karachi says or does. Mumbai was a particularly diabolical incident of mass murder that was planned at least one month in advance. The killers in Mumbai were in constant touch with their handlers in Pakistan( somewhere in the Lahore district) through cell phones, as was shown in that chilling British made documentary about the slaughter. Hindus rioting and killing in Gujarat, that too after a serious provocation, is an internal matter of India. You are going on too much about this false matter of whether all Moslems are terrorists or support them. The real issue is global Islamic terror, particularly that emanating from Pakistan. India is the single biggest democratic,pluralistic victim of this terror. In this context, it is grossly inappropriate to equate India with Pakistan, to score a point about how people in India say derogatory things about Moslems- and hence India is equivalent to Pakistan. It was also inappropriate to compare the US favourably with India on this point. Let the US suffer multiple serial bombings of its major cities, and see the result. The WTC was a one-shot incident.
And yes, I'm aware that all Moslems, including that girl, are not terrorists. These are the Moslems who are well integrated with India, and who identify with India as much as anyone. They are as much on the hit list of Pakistan as any non-Moslem.

linzi said...

Ok, first and foremost, we obviously differ in opinion.. that said, I don't really understand your argument at all.

It seems to be this:

1.) Pakistan is a terrorist nation.
2.) Pakistan is responsible for terrorism in India.
3.) India is a wonderful country.
4.) India is not responsible for anything and has no problems with religious Hindu fundamentalists from inside the country.

My point is that when looking at these issues it is EXTREMELY important to make distinctions between a government, a terrorist, and a citizen. All three of these are different, and especially in Pakistan, where democracy does not exist, citizens don't have the same voice in government. The vast majority of Muslims in the world are NOT terrorists and have NOTHING to do with terrorism. So my point that there is prejudice against Muslims in India is pointing out there is UNFAIR prejudice and discrimination against Muslims in India, just as there is against minority groups in the U.S. That is not deniable.

If we want terrorism to end in the world, we need to be able to correctly IDENTIFY the terrorists, and figure out WHY people become terrorists and find ways to stop that from happening in the future. One way to do this is to reflect on current situations. One situation in India is the communalism and the openly expressed prejudice against Muslims.

linzi said...

Even your statement, "These are the Moslems who are well integrated with India, and who identify with India as much as anyone." reflects an ideology of marginalization of Muslims in India. "Integration" means someone from OUTSIDE who has become part of the world they now lie in. Most Muslims in India are indigenous people, they are not from outside! They are just as much Indian citizens as you are, regardless of whether you see them as 'behaving'.

Lastly, since you, like many others, seem to think that because I point out problems, that means I am generalizing about everyone. I am not. As I said before, EVERY religion has people who use it for evil, and many more who are normal, peace-loving human beings. The vast majority of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, etc are all not evil or terrorists.

Not all Indians are prejudice against Muslims. My point in he original comment was that people feel very FREE and OPEN to discuss their discrimination in places of learning and public places. If you want me to explain my experiences further, I have been in quite a few situations in India were I have been openly told horrifyingly hateful things about groups of people, including Americans.

I know that for myself, being harassing on the streets for being an American and a woman, being told I can't rent an apartment because I am an American woman, and we are all whores, being screamed at by drunken men on the streets for meeting my students for dinner, in the company of other teachers, simply because my students were African.

These experiences showed me how it feels to be stereotyped-- to feel hatred and aggression against you, to feel unsafe and scared to live your daily life and walk down the street, visit your friends etc.

Knowing this, and seeing similar sentiments doled out against Indian Muslims, I can understand how frustrating and upsetting it must be for NORMAL Indian Muslims to have to constantly defend who they are and that they also BELONG to India. I am not saying it is India's fault that terrorists attacked them, but I DO think by reflecting on things, we can explore the interactions in the country and ask ourselves.. 'How can we make this world a better place? How can we encourage people to become part of maintstream society instead of a terrorist group?"

For me, there are a few general answers to this question, and many more that would be specific to different terrorist movements.

1.) Opportunity: young people without opportunities and without hope for the future look for a way out-- some find terrorism a choice over a life of poverty and hunger.

Ways to give opportunities?

a.) good quality education for all.
b.) combat discrimination against groups so they have an equal chance as everyone else and do not get marginalized

Build a society based on cooperation:
Different religious/ethnic/cultural groups need to learn about each other, and find ways for their communities to work together. Religious communities need to unite and stand together against violent acts and terrorism-- instead of pointing the blame at each other as an entire religion/etc.

linzi said...

.) Trying to get your government to act in the best interest of humanity. Many governments have committed atrocious acts against certain countries or religious groups (the U.S. is a prime example of using and abusing other nations in ways that allowed terrorism to flourish) We can reflect on Pakistan's actions and see that they made many grave mistakes, allowing Taliban and so forth to filter in from Afghanistan-- now the country is facing terrorism from these very groups they were soft on. Unfortunately, the common people of Pakistan are the ones that have to pay for this very bad policy made by the Pakistani government. of course, as you pointed out, since India is a democracy, it is much easy for people in your nation to speak out and have an impact on your government polices than Pakistan-- which as you rightly pointed out- is not a democracy nor a voice of the people. What you missed was that I don't think that the current Pakistani government is what people had envisioned for the nation either.

Lastly, I think we as human being need to reflect on our own thoughts and reactions to others. It is easy to see terrorism committed by Islamic fundamentalists and then feel angry towards all Muslims-- but this is a false conflation, and one should challenge themselves to see through this and identify their feelings and whom they should truly be directed at.

Fighting terrorism can happen at all levels- the world, the nation, the community, and self. That is how I see it.

linzi said...

One last response to your comment:

"Hindus rioting and killing in Gujarat, that too after a serious provocation, is an internal matter of India."

What does that mean exactly? That as long as Indian fundamentalist groups are committing terrorist acts against each other, rather than in another nation, that it is OK? Or do you mean to insinuate that if one evil act happened (torching of a train and killing of many innocent people) that it is than OK for a MOB of people to go around a city and slaughter and rape people simply because their religion matched that of the perpetrators?

Just imagine what that philosophy brings about in the world:

"Someone in group A hurts someone in group B"

"Group b is angry, and doesn't know who hurt the person in their group. Instead of trying to find the person who commited the act, the respond by killing 10 people from group A"

"Group A is angry at the killing of the 10 innocent people. Instead of finding out who hurt them from Group B, they also lash out, and kill 12 people from group B"

and so on. It reminds me of the quote by Gandhiji "An eye for an eye makes the who world blind". Though in this case, I don't see it as even 'an eye for an eye", more like, 'a life for an arm for two eyes for an eye'.

Varun Shekhar said...

A couple of things: When I refer to those Moslems who are well integrated, I mean Moslems who identify with India, its history, including its pre-Moslem history, and their own Hindu/quasi-Hindu roots. These are the true Indians. The rest are separatists and anti-nationals, and there should be no sympathy for them. I have difficulty with your empathy toward Pakistan. This is a country whose very raison d'etre( reason for existence) is hatred/dislike/fear/insecurity of India and of Hinduism. Its founders made that pretty clear. Now, if there are people in Pakistan who have totally transcended that awful founding ideology, well and good. But rest assured, they are tiny as far as making a difference to the ideology and power structure of Pakistan. They are not really worth bothering about, except in someone's idealistic dreams. It's safe to say that in Pakistan's biggest province, Punjab(from where the military and most of fundamentalists come from), a majority of the population is anti-India and hence supports to whatever degree terror against India. That's a pretty hefty number.
Again, in reference to Gujarat, no, there is no ideological equation between what occurred there and the Mumbai assault. People who were fed up and bitter about Islamic violence and extremism and separatism, simply lashed out viciously, and innocent people were indeed killed. I fail to see how this is any way comparable to such pre-meditated mass murders as Mumbai and the World trade centre. Remember the context: this was soon after the World trade centre attack, the India parliament attack, the bombing of the Kashmir provincial assembly and of course Godhra, the immediate provocation. People simply had had enough of aggressive, violent Moslems.
Hindus, Buddhists, Jews,Aboriginals, even Parsees, have their injustices, grouses, anxieties, disagreements. But they aren't going around the world blowing up airplanes or massacring hotel guests. And as a matter of fact, large numbers of Moslems do in fact link Islamic terrorism with real or perceived injustices toward Moslems.

Varun Shekhar said...

On another matter, constant gawking, staring at women, making stupid remarks etc, all very unpleasant and disreputable. But again, it's not a legitimate argument to make in the context of terrorism i.e to say that just as Pakistanis are taught to hate Indians and Hindus, many Indians have prejudices against Moslems, and in addition they gawk and make inappropriate remarks toward American women. That's another issue.

LinZi said...

Pakistan came into existence not on a popular vote by the people but by a few leaders of a movement. Not everyone who lived in/moved to Pakistan during partition followed that ideology.

In addition, people are BORN in Pakistan everyday. They didn't get consulted before they were born as to if they would like to be born in Pakistan or not, hence how can they espouse the 'ideals' of Pakistan?

I have meet quite a few Muslims from all over the world, and include many among my friends, and I have yet to meet one who follows the violent ideology you argue is so prominent.

The level of dislike of many Pakistanis for India and Indians for Pakistan is there for sure and has been continued and perpetrated since partition. The issue of Kashmir especially keeps people's wounds open and raw, as both countries jockey for that territory.

But maybe you should take a listen to those tapes of the guys being given orders in the Mumbai attacks again. My personal impression was that the guys doing it a.) had no idea what they were doing and could not have carried it out themselves and b.) had to be constantly 'reminded' of their martyrdom and heaven awaiting them.

These guys were probably some angry kids who got scooped up and brainwashed by some bad bad dudes.

You argue that all these incidents I mentioned are isolated and unrelated, but I think everything is connected. What you do in one part of the world can and will have an impact elsewhere in the world.

When you argue that "On another matter, constant gawking, staring at women, making stupid remarks etc, all very unpleasant and disreputable." you are, first of all, diminishing the discrimination people face-- being denied housing, being physically touched or assaulted are NOT 'stupid remarks' or 'gawking' they are violence and discrimination.

My argument was that when I experienced a VERY small amount of this, I came to understand the frustration one feels with being treated badly not for who you are as a person but who you were born to or where you were born. It is an incredibly frustrating feeling to be discriminated against for something you cannot change (whether or not you even want to change it). In that sense I can understand how difficult it must be to be a Muslim in India if even just a handful of people make comments to you such as "Muslims should all move to Pakistan, they have their own homeland and they don't belong here." or say things like "That boy is bad because he is a Muslim".

I'm just saying people need to reflect on HOW they interact with the world, violence breeds more violence.

Varun Shekhar said...

Okay, good points. But what could India do to help itself be free of the menace of terrorism, other than becoming a perfect society, whatever that is, or whether such a state can even exist. One avenue is to provide speedy justice to the victims of communal rioting. It's likely that such a course of action would decrease the chance of external terrorists finding local disaffected Moslems to help them carry out their plans. But the terrorists would still be plotting and planning their dastardly deeds, and a few of those plots will be 'successful', to some degree, regardless of how enlightened a society India is.
So the real problem then, is not Indians voicing prejudice against Moslems, Indians being stupid or discriminatory toward women, including American women. It comes back to the nature of Pakistan itself- its ideology( anti-India, anti-Hindu, anti-secular, anti-pluralist) and its structure, with the military essentially in control, regardless of whether there is a nominally civilian government in office. It was shocking to learn that 70% of the capitalisation of the Karachi stock exchange is accounted for by military owned firms. Which tells you the nature of that society.
To deal with this menace, India would require the help of countries like the US. But the US is largely looking after its own interests, and seems insensitive to India being a victim, at least on the surface. Whether there is some behind-the-scenes actions being taken against the Pakistani perpetrators is unclear at the moment.

Varun Shekhar said...

And yes, your remark about the people of Pakistan and Moslems is probably accurate. But there's also little doubt that Moslems as a whole did not feel any serious grief or consternation about what transpired in Mumbai. Rather, it was mostly denial, rationalisation or in the case of official Pakistan( and even non-official) outright insolence.
Moslems get far more excited about some cartoons drawn thousands of miles away in Denmark, than about a horrible even like Mumbai or any other Islamic terrorist attack.