LET INDIA NOT ASSUME THE ROLE OF CONSCIENCE KEEPER OF TALIBAN’S AFGHANISTAN - The Daily Guardian
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LET INDIA NOT ASSUME THE ROLE OF CONSCIENCE KEEPER OF TALIBAN’S AFGHANISTAN

Indian investments are going to be the cementing factor for the relationship between the Taliban’s Afghanistan and India and are likely to act as a deterrent against the nefarious designs of China and Pakistan.

Mir Junaid

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Indian media and Realpolitik are like two banks of a canal that never meet. The US having stationed its military might in Afghanistan for two decades chose to leave for her own geopolitical strategies; never addressed the Taliban as terrorists. The US still deals with the Taliban. No world power and/or Nations who matter in world affairs addressed the Taliban as terrorists, and this includes India. It is one thing to internationally denounce an ideological framework of people and quite another to label them as terrorists. While the Taliban have been denounced for their attitude toward women and their violation of human rights, yet not labelled as terrorists, but the Indian media freely uses that invective against the Taliban. For all the noises made by the media the world over on various issues since its inception, it has never influenced the Realpolitik dynamics and shall never be able to do so.

The media is for public consumption; maybe for the satiating intellectual appetite of some and creating job opportunities for graduates in journalism and it is a disjointed set with no intersection with the superset of world politics.

HISTORICAL FACTS

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is all too well known for funding the spread of Wahabism in countries with a substantial Muslim population; also known for funding extremist organisations; her record of human rights and treatment to women is too well known to be detailed in this piece. Yet she was and remains to be the biggest and trusted ally of the US! Why? The US was/continues to be driven by her geopolitical and economic interests and has always shown the willingness to look the other way when confronted with issues like human rights and/or religious extremism. The US never said a word against the massacre of Chinese students in Tiananmen Square. The US bombarded Iraq to Stone Age on a totally false premise because the US did not approve of Saddam Hussein’s political ambitions dictated by Baathism; not to forget that the US and Iraq were allies and that the US had supported Iraq in her war against Iran. The list is too long to be continued with.

The OIC—a conglomeration of 56 Muslim countries—have not said a word against China for her treatment of Uyghur Muslims; not a word when the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, attacked the Lal Masjid in Pakistan for his own reasons; imagine a mosque being invaded and no admonishment coming from the KSA!

NATIONAL INTERESTS ARE SUPREME

From the historical facts, one can see that all along in their relationship/response with/to the other nations, the Nations have been guided by their respective interests in the region and not by the ethics and morals as embedded in the sociopolitical and socioeconomic set up of the countries of interest.

Between the two nations, the relationship is transactional and there is no assured permanence in there. How much of a benefit each nation can derive from a given relationship shall decide its content and tenure. The relationship is also governed by ‘how equal’ or ‘how unequal’ the two nations are; one example being the US and Pakistan. Pakistan was ever ready to be used by the US for the latter’s geopolitical interests, only if the US agreed to shower dollars on Pakistan. The US thoroughly used Pakistan for her ends and Pakistan used a substantial part of the dollars on promoting insurgency in Kashmir as per Operation Topac but in today’s scenario the US President has not even made a courtesy call to the PM of Pakistan and Imran Khan is dying to receive one.

Similarly, the Taliban have declared the Uyghur Muslim issue as internal to China. Taliban have repeatedly told India that her assets are under no threat and that India is welcome to complete all the projects undertaken by her in Afghanistan. To an extent, India has responded favourably by re-sending some of her embassy staff back to Kabul. All this from the Taliban end because they realise the importance of doing business with the countries in their vicinity to boost their economy by raising the GDP and per capita income and expenditure of their people.

 In recent times, the KSA has displayed her propensity to move towards a more free and open society wherein the women would have a role to play; the Crown Prince has also talked about reinterpreting Sharia and judiciously choosing Hadith in a way that would be in line with the international law so that the economic paradigm of the KSA is enlarged and the economy gets integrated with the world economy. All this is being done to become an economic power to have a say in world affairs and it would also increase per capita income and expenditure of her people.

NO SERMONISING ON MORALS AND ETHICS

No nation-state can claim to have a perfect human rights record and an ideal environment for the womenfolk. The very definition of human rights is too vague and therefore subject to misuse like “activists” vouching for the human rights of those who explode bombs and annihilate lives.

The womenfolk have suffered oppression and abuse for ages that are still glaringly on in some parts of the world. In India also, the womenfolk do face discrimination and harassment at home and office including female child foeticide; the bride burning cases for want of dowry used to be too conspicuous by their occurrences and the cases of kidnapping, molestation and gang rape no matter what age. Implementation of laws specific to such cases may have helped in bringing down the numbers and perhaps frequency of occurrence of such cases, but it has taken a huge effort on the part of successive governments to bring forth such laws for their implementation in the public domain. Yet to claim that Indian society is free of such crimes would be a huge travesty of truth.

To ill-treat women has not been specific to any community/race/religion, it has been truly “secular” and only its manifestations have been different; like in the UK until 1885, women did not have voting rights! That girls in India have been going to schools and pursuing vocational education and womenfolk are found serving in all available offices, is a phenomenon that has slowly evolved over the last 70 years breaking the social rule that girls and women are meant to do only household work and raise a family in a civilised way for the children to grow into cultured beings.

The Taliban from their press statements have been reassuring the world that they want to have a good relationship with all and from their public statements, it can be inferred that they are trying to move ahead with regard to the role of women in society. No transformation comes overnight; the Taliban suffer from a huge trust deficit not only among the comity of nations but also among the Afghans. The world needs to take a call: trust or not to trust the Taliban for their pronouncements and also weigh consequences under both situations.

INDIA CAN LEAD BY EXAMPLE

In the worst of times, those who set precedence(s) create history and the rest follow them. Time is opportune for India to create history and history can’t be created without a risk element—big or small.

India after weighing the costs involved in risking a transactional relationship with the Taliban’s Afghanistan should go ahead with this enterprise (even at the risk of higher costs) if she aspires to be the world leader. The Taliban have been assuring India about everything to allay her apprehensions; without waiting for some other Nation to take a lead India must lead.

The theories pertaining to China-Pak-Taliban axis to liberate Kashmir from India or to dismember her are only speculative; even if realistic, India’s military strength should be able to respond appropriately to any kind of aggression; the way India stood up to China on the LAC and succeeded in mobilising world opinion against the expansionist designs of China which also helped in strengthening the Quad in the Indo Pacific.

Further, if India engages herself with the Taliban’s Afghanistan in carrying out development projects under soft loans/grant schemes the Taliban would be politically incorrect to joing hands with Pakistan and China to harass India on her western front because such aggression would halt Indian investments in Afghanistan and Taliban would not be sure of the net outcome of their aggression on Indian borders.

Indian investments are going to be the cementing factor for the relationship between the Taliban’s Afghanistan and India and are likely to act as a deterrent against the nefarious designs of China and Pakistan. India has an added advantage in Afghanistan in that the Taliban know that Afghans love India and Indians for the effort put in by India in the last 20 years.

There is no love lost between the Taliban and Pakistan as can be inferred from the press statements of the Taliban spokesperson and more significant is the stand taken by the Taliban on TTP in regard to the latter’s propensity to attack within Pakistan; the Taliban have declared it as an internal matter of Pakistan; it implies that commonality of religion is not going to decide the international relations for the Taliban.

INVESTMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN A HUGE DETERRENT FOR CHINESE DESIGNS IN SOUTH ASIA

Like in the Maldives, so in Afghanistan, India can design an economic and development package for the Taliban’s Afghanistan that shall be more lucrative and beneficial than the one that China may offer. The difference between the two being political intent, if Taliban are made to appreciate the colonial mindset of China and purely economical development intentions of India (by citing various examples) then it is probable that the Taliban may lean towards India and weaken the China-Pak nexus as Pakistan in such an eventuality would be only a helpless spectator. Undoubtedly, it is in the geopolitical interests of India to checkmate China.

NOT TO MISS THE BUS

Hopefully, India will not miss the bus and shall make her presence felt in South Asia as an economic power to reckon with.

Trusting the Taliban for their words would be a huge impetus for the relationship between the two countries and remember: Pashtuns are not an ungrateful people and Afghans love India.

Boarding the bus may most likely turn out to be a win-win situation for both parties.

Mir Junaid is the President of Jammu Kashmir Workers Party. He is a political activist and a writer. He writes for many international papers and magazines. Mir is an alumnus of the Law School of Kashmir University. He can be reached on Twitter @MirJunaidJKWP

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We have a state-of-the-art facility at Jindal Bricks: Lakshay Jindal

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Lakshay Jindal, Director & CMO, Jindal Mechno Bricks recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Lakshay spoke about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks in great detail. Read excerpts:

Speaking about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks, especially his role in it, Lakshay said, “I oversee marketing and awareness campaigns run by the company. I also help setup distributions across the country. Jindal Mechno Bricks, or more popularly, Jindal Bricks is a machine-made brick and tile manufacturing company. We started in 1972 with hand-made brick manufacturing and in 1996 we shifted to machine-made brick manufacturing. We have a plant, highly advanced plant, in Delhi NCR. We are currently one of the largest manufacturers of machine-made brick and tile with production capacity of over 200 tons per day.”

When asked about the strength of his company, Lakshay shared, “We have a state of the art facility at Jindal Bricks with machines imported from various parts of Europe Italy, Spain and Germany. What is does is, we are able run production 365 days of a year unlike our counterparts. Another very important thing that we boost at Jindal Bricks, is our ability to innovate throughout past few decades. We have been launching new product categories at Jindal Bricks. We have increased the variety product one offer, each category and improve the product itself. We don’t stop there. We welcome customized requests from manufactures of other material need, designers, architects and real estate developers. All in all, we are trying to adapt new trends and advance our self technologically.”

 Talking about cost-selling aspects of the bricks used in related products, Lakshay said, “It is not an ordinary brick by any means or standard. In fact, it is the ultra-light brick with doubled the compressive strength than an ordinary brick. Buyers gets 10% saving in steel and concrete. On top of that, these are face bricks. These are not suppose to be painted or plastered. This means you save both- your time and money, by not using the materials and again and the recurring costs that comes along. One of the main features of our production, in fact, all product category is that we have brick and loop tile. We offer multiple colours in it and all natural-no chemicals or pigments added, so the products are completely eco-friendly. In fact these colours are achieved by mixing various clays procure from different parts of the country and exposing them to the right temperature. Another thing is the thermal and sound-insulation that it has, so our products are engineered to have excellent thermal and sound-insulation, which means lower air-conditioning business somewhere and lower heating in winters. All in all, i mean at Jindal Bricks, we are able to deliver highly durable product with zero maintenance, that is saving you money until the rebuilding task.

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:  

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‘It is an homage to frontline workers’: Konkana Sen Sharma on Mumbai Diaries 26/11

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Actor Konkana Sen Sharma recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List. In the conversation, the actor opened up about her latest project Mumbai Diaries 26/11. Read excerpts:

Talking about her role in the series and what attracted her to the project, the actor said, “My role here is that i am playing Chitra Das. She is the Social Services Director of this Government Hospital in Mumbai. She is not a doctor but she’s from a medical background. The show is in an unusual setting. I would say it’s a medical drama rather a medical thriller because this set is this government hospital, Bombay general hospital with the backdrop of 26/11, which has been fictionalised. For the first time, we’re seeing it from the point of view of the doctors, so it’s really the personal lives of the doctors, the challenges of working in a government hospitals set against the unprecedented events of 26/11, where nobody is really prepared or nobody is ever trained to deal with this kind of circumstance. For me, when i read the script, i found it every unusual. I have never played a doctor. I have not really seen even a medical drama like this and i think today, after Covid, we all have a newfound appreciation for our frontline workers and the difficulties that they go through, so for us it’s an homage to the frontline workers.

 When asked how important is to tell this story through their point of view and the message that the series sends out, Konkana expressed, “Yes, of course, i do think it’s very important. Despite the fact that it may be entertaining or you know, binge worthy or i mean hopefully, you know the fact that it is a thriller. I think it’s an unusual kind of a setting and yes it is very important to remember this. Particularly i think, in a post Covid or at least, you know, now that we have all been through the pandemic and we have even seen how doctors have suffered. There have been attacks on doctors. They often have to deal with a lot of very difficult circumstances, whether they are shortages of PPE kits or working in the government hospitals, where the situation is not always ideal and we have a storage of beds or equipment supplies, etc. We sometimes forget that the doctors are not gods and for them to perform, they need the infrastructure. They need the support also. They have their own personal issues that they are dealing with, plus they have to deal with these kind of things, so i think that this is very relevant, particularly today.

Speaking of 26/11 and where she was she during those days, Konkana shared, “As you know, i was actually not in Mumbai. We had driven outside of Mumbai. The news was trickling in. It was very shocking. I think what happened is, initially we also didn’t have a handle on exactly what was going on because there were events in multiple locations. It went on over three days, we also didn’t know, what and how it’s going to unfold. It was not a contained one-off incident. It was a very insecure and frightening time. It was very confusing. Is it safe for us in our group or we should drive back to Mumbai? What we should do?! That took us sometime, then when we came back, it was a time of shock. We were all in shock and disbelief and everybody, whether somebody on the street or a neighbour, it was very shocking. I think that there was a sense of this very uneasy kind of stillness that was over the whole city. A very heavy silence that something like this could have happened in Mumbai. We never know when something would happen again, that was the fear.

 Check out the entire interview on NewsX: 

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‘I just knew that I had to do it’: Sahher Bambba on ‘The Empire’

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Actor Sahher Bambba, who recently appeared on Disney + Hotstar’s new series The Empire, joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation for its special series NewsX India A-List. As part of the conversation, the actor opened up about the response to the series, her first response when the show was offered to her, her experience of working with Kunal Kapoor and much more. Read excerpts:

Speaking about the response to the series ‘The Empire’ on Disney + Hotstar, her role and performance, Sahher said, “It has been overwhelming waking up to amazing messages, people appreciating my performance, people loving the show. It is a very good feeling because the shooting process took a little longer than the usual due to the pandemic. All of us were really waiting for the release to happen. There was a lot of buzz around the show and people are loving it. They are liking me in the show. I am just grateful to everyone who is liking the show.”

Sharing insights into how the show came your way and what was her first response when she was offered the character of Maham, aka, Mallika-E-Hindustan, she said, “Actually, I was the last person to be casted on the show. The makers wanted to start shooting ASAP. The casting director called me one evening and he said, ‘You have to go and meet Nikhil sir tomorrow because he is doing this show . Go test for it and see if you like it.’ I went and met Nikhil sir. When he started talking about my character and the show in general, I just knew that I had to do it and there were no two ways about it. I was very excited as these opportunities are very rare, where you get to play such a character on-screen. It was definitely on my bucket list to do something in the periodic zone and that happened with The Empire and Maham’s character. I love the character and I was very excited to be a part of the show. I remember the first time I walked on the set, I was gobsmacked just looking at the detailing and the costumes. It was just surreal.”

Talking about her experience on sets and working with an ensemble cast, including Kunal Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Dino Morea, Rahul Dev, she expressed, “It was amazing. Also, the fact that everybody was so focused, everybody just wanted to get their Urdu right, their scenes right. There was a lot of focus and discipline in that sense. We helped each other to perform better. Kunal and I shared a great working rapport. Mitakshara and Nikhil sir are absolute geniuses, when it comes to directing and their briefs are so amazing. It just makes our work a lot easier.”

When asked if she found any difference in working for films and digital and would she be open to doing both in the future, she responded, “It is pretty much the same. This was a little different because it is from a different era altogether but I think the process and the filmmaking aspect of it is the same.”

She added, “Not a preference as such but I would want to do more films also. Having said that, I am never going to say no to a good project just because it is going to be an OTT release. The pandemic has changed so many things and the lines are pretty blur. Definitely, I would love to maintain a balance between OTT and films. “

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:

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People are more aware of the quality of products after Covid: Ashish Khandelwal

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, Managing Director of BL Agro Industries Limited Ashish Khandelwal spoke about new initiatives undertaken by his company.

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Ashish Khandelwal joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation for its special segment NewsX India A-List. Speaking about the company, Ashish spoke about how it was formed in 1999 and was made by his forefathers. Having been in the business for the past 75 years, BL Agro Industries Limited has created a niche for itself.

When asked about the reason behind the entry into kitchen ready products, Ashish said, “Basically for diversification, we started it. We are doing distribution and all the customers and retailers ask for quality products. So we decided why not move forward with diversification and move into food products.”

Talking about the response gained for the product, he said, “Just after the launch, Covid-19 pandemic started. It started in January 2020. The journey has not been very long. We faced lockdown. Moving forward, we will hit our targets.” After Covid-19 pandemic hit, kitchen ready products became one of the most searched products and most of the people started exploring various options. Talking about this, Ashish said, “We got a good push in delivery because of this. Otherwise, a new product introduction during lockdown would have been tough.”

When asked about the existing market and new markets in India, he replied, “Right now, we are in northern parts like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Bihar, etc. and we are permanent here. In a couple of months, we are moving to the South.” Stressing on the company’s new marketing strategy, Ashish informed, “We are always after distribution. We try to maintain relations with distributors. So, companies provide sales staff and everything. The sales staff gathers all the market reports and demands and then we work on it. The more prominent and convenient strategy is retailing nowadays because nobody is moving out much and going to market often. Today, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing problems for retailers to move out. So we are trying to maintain our market. We recently started our online portal. Soon it will be fully functional.”

Most people are used to bigger platforms like Amazon but small companies have also curated their apps that shows whatever product is available. BL Agro Industries Limited has the same plan. He said, “We are launching an app. We will be available side-by-side on the websites. We are trying to fulfil the desire of the customers.”

“We are thinking about expansion, typically in pulses, and other grocery products. In India, it has not been innovated. There are not many innovations. So we have tried to introduce some machines. Right now, we are grinding it with the stone mill which is modernised and is from Austria. We have started vacuum packaging of pulses and food items. Nobody in India does vacuum packs for pulses. Similarly, we try to procure more specific machines and try to give more flavours and more specific aromas and the best quality we can provide,” added Ashish.

He expressed, “After the Covid-19 pandemic, people are more aware of the quality of products. They are more concerned about the quality. So we are trying to produce good and better quality products today. We are focusing on Indian pulses.”

When asked about organic chains, Ashish said, “Right now, we are not planning for organic because organic has lost its quality as every brand is producing organic products. Specifically, we don’t have any tests for organic. That is the problem when we say organic, it needs a specific amount of time. It takes seven years for an organic crop to come and is financially not feasible.”

After the Covid-19 pandemic, people are more aware of the quality of products. They are more concerned about the quality. So we are trying to produce good and better quality products today. We are focusing on Indian pulses.

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EVERYBODY CAN BE A SUPERHERO: VIVEK OBEROI, DR VIVEK BINDRA ON ‘I AM OXYGEN MAN’ CAMPAIGN

Vivek Oberoi, a well-known actor, and Dr Vivek Bindra, founder and CEO, Bada Business, recently joined NewsX and spoke about the campaign ‘I am Oxygen Man’ and more.

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Covid-19 taught us the importance of helping each other. The pandemic, being a blessing in disguise, made the people more empathetic towards each other and etched the concept of humanity deeper into the fabric of the society. Vivek Oberoi, a renowned actor, and Dr Vivek Bindra, founder and CEO, Bada Business, recently joined NewsX’s special series NewsX India A-list to speak about their campaign, ‘I am Oxygen Man’. The campaign has managed to raise around Rs 7.5 crore and helped numerous families in such dismal times.

Talking about the advent of the campaign and the drive behind becoming a co-pilot for this initiative, Oberoi said, “For me, it’s funny how aside from the life of an actor, I live an alternate life of a philanthropist. Vivek Bindra is a friend, and I am the brand ambassador for the CSR work for Bada Business. He reached out to me with a plan to fight the problem of lack of oxygen.”

Highlighting the leadership of Dr Bindra and the zeal of the team at Bada Business, the actor added, “The entire team at Bada Business was hugely motivated to work for the cause, and Dr Bindra is a master motivator. The campaign built up in a matter of four days. What I thought will take at least a month to achieve was executed from nothing in four days. I am just playing a supportive role, and I am proud to be a small part of such a big initiative. More than 800 lives have been saved through it, and that gives me immense satisfaction.”

‘I am Oxygen Man’ is a brainchild of Dr Bindra. Talking about this philanthropic cause, he said, “The idea was to create a human contributing to humanity in difficult times. A businessman always looks at a hassle and creates a premium out of it by solving the problem. Therefore, I believe every negative situation can attract new customer acquisition. Due to this, a businessman is always solution-oriented. Real solutions are those which involve every individual. Through ‘I am Oxygen Man’, we aimed at making every commoner a superhero.”

Elaborating more on the vision, Dr Bindra added, “A comedian, an actor, a journalist, a hotel manager, a rickshaw puller, a railway employee, anybody can be a superhero. Humein doosron ki madad karne ke jazbaat rakhna zaroori hai. We wanted people to come forward to help the community as an Oxygen Man.”

Many celebrities like Sanjeev Kapoor, who gave PPE kits and Kailash Kher, who contributed Rs 25 lakh, also helped achieve the vision that Vivek Bindra and Vivek Oberoi had. Vivek Oberoi also donated a sum of Rs 25 lakh to this campaign. Three organisations together worked for the cause involving ISKON, Kailash Kher Foundation, and Bada Business. “Bada Business basically means Vivek Square (Vivek Oberoi and Vivek Bindra)”, said Dr Bindra. The campaign also garnered a total of 1 million views in just four hours.

Talking about a new initiative for the first time, Dr Bindra said, “I am thinking of starting an ‘Oxygen Man Challenge’, similar to the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’, which was started to raise awareness for ALS and ‘Rice Bucket Challenge’ initiated by Manju Lata Ji, inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which involved cooking a bucket of rice and feeding the poor. A small challenge can bring a big change in the society.”

The next wave, which is believed to hit children, is problematic. Talking about the road ahead and preparations for the same, Oberoi said, “The thing about Bada Business as an organisation and as a family is that they do not stop. They always think about the next big thing.” Echoing the thoughts on the social media challenge, he added, “Social Media is a potent tool. If people cannot contribute capitally or physically, they can at least use the power of social media to spread the word about the problem and its solutions.”

When asked about how can the viewers contribute to their campaign, Dr Bindra urged the users to post pictures on social media helping others, use the hashtag ‘IAmOxygenMan’ and tag five of their friends. Oberoi added, “We don’t want to be a complaining man; we want to be an Oxygen Man.”

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INDIA SHOULD UPHOLD INDIAN LIFESTYLE & CULTURE EVEN IN JHATKA VS HALAL DEBATE

Only those religious codes which don’t intervene with the lifestyle of other religious groups would be feasible in a democracy like India. As long as Muslims practise or prefer it in their private lives, there aren’t reasons to complain. However, when such practices enter the public domain and question the Indian system and Constitution, these should enter wider public scrutiny and consensus.

Shweta Shalini

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“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last,” warned Winston Churchill. Indian politics has a long history of appeasement. The pandering to the wishes of a small minority who vote en bloc has been a lucrative career choice for decades until PM Modi arrived at the scene and gave a reality check. In many ways, the Indian situation of appeasing the Muslims is more ridiculous than other nations. Just a few generations ago, India was divided on cultural lines and the Indian society had clear ideas of the choices. Muslims who chose to stay back in India have exercised that choice by saying No to an Islamic nation. Given this historical and cultural background, under no circumstances do Muslims expect or require special treatment or religious code. Yet, religious codes exist and demand for Sharia and other Islamic practices find many takers in secular parties and in the Muslim community. The outright appeasement in the Shah Bano case was a defining case in point when the Indian masses said enough of it and rallied behind the nationalists.

Like Sharia law, halal is also one of the core principles of the Islamic way of life. Halal—an Arabic word that means “permissible” runs completely in contrast to the system India has adopted. If an ancient religious code can dictate what is permissible (halal) or forbidden (haram) in India today, it’s a challenge to every legal system which isn’t an Islamic one. But then, the target of those promoting such concepts is precisely to introduce foreign cultural influences to subvert our national life. Strangely, the usual proponents of halal and Sharia are the same set of people who harp on secularism. It’s clear from this double-standard of theirs that what they actually seek is pick-and-choose. They want an Indian secular state to protect where they find themselves weak while also weakening the superstructure by insisting on exclusive religious codes.

The halal and jhatka food debate is part of this larger debate on how many religious sanctions of earlier eras should apply to modern India. One is about sticking to religious dogma while another is a question of a more humane approach to slaughter. The proponents of halal claim that the halal lifestyle is mandated for Muslims. In a practical sense, no religious mandates should be allowed to subvert the lifestyle of anyone else except followers of the specific religion. In the case of halal, it ain’t so. Halal food is food that is slaughtered by Muslims only which makes it a clear case of discrimination and runs counter to our system. Secondly, the brutality incurred on the animal needs to be reduced as much as practical. That’s a humanitarian argument devoid of any religious bias. The Sikhs and others who support Jhatka are taking a better approach when they insist on minimum suffering. Numerous western countries practice stunning the animal to instant death than incurring the woes which it would otherwise suffer. However, halal in Islam isn’t simply about food but encompasses many aspects of the life of which food is just one element. Beginning with halal food, the aim is to introduce halal finance, halal lifestyle and many other aspects which is nothing but a red herring for Sharia. All these tendencies should be nipped in the bud and a strong legal framework should be brought to ensure to avoid pandering to any segment of the society. 

As a final word, only those religious codes which don’t intervene with the lifestyle of other religious groups would be feasible in a democracy like India. As long as Muslims practice or prefer it in their private lives, there aren’t reasons to complain. However, when such practices enter the public domain and question the Indian system and constitution, these should enter wider public scrutiny and consensus. As long as nationalists like PM Modi occupy the seat of power, such appeasement won’t ever happen. It’s up to the Indian system to guard against any attempt to push agendas. In the New India of today, primacy will be to Indian culture and the Indian way of life and nobody has any reason to complain. 

Shweta Shalini is BJP spokesperson and advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis. She is also state-in-charge of the BJP North Indian Cell.

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