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Why India, Pakistan treat their Nobel laureates shamefully

There is a common thread – of undervaluing our achievers; and looking at ideas, values and contributions from the jaundiced lens of partisan politics.

Amartya sen

In the early 1990s, as students of development economics we were told that Amartya Sen, an Indian, had contributed path-breaking insights into welfare economics. We learnt how he had shown the world that relative poverty mattered and that famines were not caused by a scarcity of food. Sen has added a new set of theories to philosophy and economics. By placing human concerns as central, his work on famines, poverty, gender inequality and political liberalism has altered the way development is viewed across the globe. In my practice of international development for the next two decades, Sen’s continuing contributions deeply informed my work.

Much of this South Asian pride melts away as I follow news and views in Indian media especially the unregulated space in social media. Sen is a villain. And his villainy is related to his unsparing comments about Narendara Modi prior to the 2014 Indian elections. Sen created a little disruption in post-Congress-fatigued India that was hankering for change. He referred to the “organised violence” against a minority community in 2002 and considered Modi’s record in office, as chief minister of Gujarat “terrible”.

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Media and mobs – Arundhati Roy versus the terrorists

Arundhati Roy is the conscience of India. Her treatment by a greedy media playing the tunes of fundamentalists is deplorable and condemnable. Roy’s statement issued a day before says it all. As she writes, RSS is trying to deflect attention from the terrorists who attempted to blow up the shrine at Ajmer Sharif. What is wrong with these psychotic militants across South Asia. Sufis were hardly contested in the worst of times but we are living in an age where any message of peace, pluralism and tolerance is a threat to exclusivist ideologies. We cannot be silent about it.

A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson.

The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing). […]

November 2nd, 2010|India|15 Comments

Outstanding rendition – Khwaja meray Khwaja

This is a fabulous, almost flawless performance by Sreeram, an aspirant for the Indian Idol selection. Originally rendered by A R Rahman, this young talent has given a new dimension to this ode to South Asia’s celebrated saint Khawaja Muinduddin Chishty of Ajmer.


Khwaja Mere Khwaja By SHREERAM.flv by […]

July 11th, 2010|Music, Sufi poetry, Sufism, video|3 Comments

Southasian Sufism: a new victim of communalist brigade

After everything Muslim has been trashed by the rejuvenated Hindutva across the border, now Southasian Sufism is also being highlighted as an Islamist-supremacist project. What utter ignorance to write about the syncretic mystics who were not part of power games nor were they parts of the armies. They were wandering mystics who found India’s spiritual landscape exciting and endearing and chose to stay and die there. The saddest piece that was forwarded to me by a reader is linked below by someone who holds forth – rather fumes – on Sufism and makes sure that he is introduced as “IPS (Retd)” – a scion of the Indian Police Service, an abominable legacy of the colonial state and its naked exploitative nature. Small wonder, his communalised veiw of the world is what the architects of his proud service wanted and achieved with much success.

False, pretentious and ill-informed. Alas.

Dark side of Sufism: Reappraisal of the Role of Sufis Working as Missionaries of Islam, R.K. Ohri, IPS (Retd)

For centuries the Sufi creed and Sufi music have been tom-tomed as great symbols of spiritualism and promoters of peace and harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims. The cleverly marketed concept of Sufi spiritualism has been unquestioningly accepted as the hallmark of Hindu-Muslim unity. It is time we studied the history of Sufis, […]

February 27th, 2009|India, India-Pakistan History, Sufism|2 Comments

Sufi Art Festival in Ajmer

My friend Syed Salman Chishty,from Dargah Ajmer Sharif sent me this message. I would have loved to be there but such are the divides and challenges that I simply cannot pack up and go without dealing with the layers of officialdom.

Chishty Foundation is based on the blessed vision ,principle and message of “Love towards all, Malice towards none” which is the blessed message of Hz.Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty (r.a) popularly known as Khawaja Gharib Nawaz (r.a). […]

February 17th, 2009|Soul, South Asian Art, Sufi poetry, Sufism|1 Comment

No One Is Left Hungry at Ajmer

No One Is Left Hungry

By Rajan Mahan, “No one goes hungry in Ajmer during Ramadan” – NDTV – New Delhi, India
For Muslims of south Asia, the Sufi Dargah at Ajmer stands second only to the sacred one in Mecca.

And in the holy month of Ramadan people from all corners of the subcontinent seek the blessings of the Dargah’s immortal 13th century saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

Popularly called Gareeb Nawaaz, the Protector of the Poor, the Khwaja is still revered for his compassion and empathy for those desperate and needy. […]

September 22nd, 2008|Arts & Culture, India, Personal, Sufism|2 Comments

An affair with Sufiana art in Ajmer

My dear friend Salman Chishty is holding an exhibition at the death anniversary (Urs=Union) celebrations of Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty. This is such an innovative tribute to the great Chishty saint. I recall seeing some of these works that he was collecting in Ajmer earlier this year.

This story from the Times of India came as a pleasant surprise …

AJMER: The Sufi message of peace and harmony is being propagated through an exhibition of paintings called ‘Sufi art exhibition’ organized by Salman Chishti, a Sufi Scholar and a curator of art paintings.

He is displaying his collection of 100 paintings on handmade khadi paper at the Chishti Manzil here. The theme of exhibition revolves around calligraphy and paintings depicting Sufi values.

At the exhibition, the Sufi paintings of Najmul Hasan Chishti, a khadim of the Khwaja and a calligraphy artist. The unique feature of this exhibition is the representation of the saying of Sufis in calligraphy, along with its meaning illustrated through a painting in the background.

The principal essence of Najmul’s works is portraying life in ‘Sufi Islam’ and especially on ‘Sama, a form of mediation, widely practiced by the Sufi ‘dervish’. One can observe Rumi poetry in many of his paintings. He had beautifully portrayed the whirling ‘dervishes’ in ecstasy. […]

July 9th, 2008|Arts & Culture, South Asian Art, Sufism|3 Comments