The article originally appeared on India Today.

Amnesty International has said Saudi Arabia’s women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been arrested again. The Amnesty release said that no reason was given for her arrest and she was not allowed to contact her lawyer and family but added that it might be due to her rights activism.

Loujain al-Hathloul, 27, is one of few women voices in a conservative country with one of the most regressive societies for women where they are cursed to live a life of second class citizens.

They are not allowed to travel alone. They are not allowed to drive and they were now allowed to vote and stand in elections until the local polls of December 2015.

They survive under the strict glare of male guardianship and before last month, they were not allowed even to go to a doctor or have their studies without the approval of their male guardians. An order by Saudi Arabian king Salman last month gave them limited freedom to access education and healthcare on their own.

There has been a growing voice against these atrocities but treatment meted out to Loujain says nothing much has changed. Amnesty International’s Campaign Director in the Middle-East Samah Hadid said Loujain was arrested on June 4 at King Fahad International Airport in Dammam in Saudi Arabia and she is due for interrogation in Riyadh by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution.

Before it, Loujain was arrested on November 30, 2014 for violating Saudi Arabia’s driving ban imposed on women and was in jail in 73 days. To further choke women voices and probably to make her case an example to deter others, her case was transferred to a terrorism court. Loujain has a wide following on Twitter and the Saudi government found her social media posts dangerous enough to crack down.

According to a Washington Post report, she holds a driving license that allows her to drive in every other country of the Arabian Peninsula and when she was arrested in November 2014, she was trying to enter Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates. Since then, she has not tried driving.

Loujain also stood in 2015 civic polls but Saudi authorities didn’t allow her name on the ballot papers. The pain of being treated like second class citizens with borrowed lives echoes in Loujain’s words.

Last month, US President Donald Trump was in Saudi Arabia along with his daughter Ivanka Trump who found Saudi Arabia’s progress on women’s rights encouraging but Loujain questions such events involving a close circle of influential Saudi women who trace their success thanks to their male guardians. She questions the system where the success achieved by a handful of Saudi women is not theirs but due to the opportunities provided by men.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

According to a Dunya News report, Pakistan is going to deny the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Kulbhushan Jadhav case, an Indian national whom Pakistan has sentenced to death alleging of espionage and sabotage in Pakistan. The Dunya News report said “Attorney General of Pakistan was reportedly briefed on Friday over Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s issue and according to the sources, Pakistan is to deny jurisdiction of International Court of Justice (ICJ) to over cases that have Pakistan’s national stability at stake.”

According to the report, the briefing states that “Pakistan does not accept international court’s jurisdiction to order the state in issue that involves its national stability.”

In another report of Daily Pakistan, “Pakistan revised its commitment to the ICJ and had withdrawn all domestic and national security related issues from the jurisdiction of the court on March 29, thus making it impossible for Modi led India to pin down Pakistan in this case.”

The Daily Pakistan report further states that Pakistan, before handing over death sentence to Jadhav, had informed the ICJ about changes it made though its UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi. “Disputes relating to or connected with any aspect of hostilities, armed conflicts, individual or collective self-defence or the discharge of any functions pursuant to any decision or recommendation of international bodies, the deployment of armed forces abroad, as well as action relating and ancillary thereto in which Pakistan is, has been or may in future be involved”, the declaration by Pakistan read.

India had approached the International Court of Justice on May 8 with its plea which requested the UN judicial body to stay Jadhav’s execution till it hears the matter and reaches to any conclusion. India in its plea had accused Pakistan of “egregious violations” of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). Both India and Pakistan are signatory to VCCR. India had requested for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav 16 times but Pakistan denied it every time. But according to the Daily Pakistan report, the Vienna Convention cannot help India as it applies to diplomats and not spies.

After India’s application, the ICJ, using its powers under the ‘Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes of 24 April 1963’ had stayed Jadhav’s execution and had issued notice to Pakistan. The public hearing in the case by the ICJ would be held on May 15.


On April 10, the Pakistan Army chief confirmed Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence, which was handed down by a Pakistani military court that held Jadhav guilty of espionage. Pakistan claims Jadhav, who allegedly used the alias Hussein Mubarak Patel in Pakistan, was attached to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Pakistan arrested Jadhav in March 2016.

The Indian government has maintained that Kulbhushan Jadhav is a formal Indian Naval officer turned businessman who was on a routine business trip to Iran when he was abducted by Pakistani intelligence. Reports say he was captured by the Taliban and later sold to the Pakistan Army.

India has also said that Jadhav is innocent and there is no evidence against him and that Pakistsan carried out a sham, secret trial in a military court where no information on charges and evidence was given. India has warned Pakistan of ‘dire consequences’ equalling Jadhav’s death sentence with pre-meditated murder and has time and again asked for the consular access to him.



The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

After a meeting between Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif and its army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa today, it seems the issue of Dawn leaks has finally settled now. According to media reports in Pakistan, its army’s public relations wing has issued a clarification that the Dawn leaks issue is closed chapter after it found the action taken by the government on the inquiry committee’s report satisfactory and withdraws its earlier tweet that had rejected a notification issued last month by the Nawaz Sharif government over action taken in the matter.

The Dawn leaks case refers to a front page story by the Daily Dawn’s columnist Cyril Almeida’s last October, quoting government sources, on rift between Pakistan’s civilian and military establishment over crackdown on Pakistan’s terrorist groups active in India and Afghanistan. The article had further written quoting government source that this dichotomy was forcing Pakistan to a diplomatic isolation. It had caused quite a stir in India’s volatile neighbourhood and had seen a standoff between its all powerful military and Nawaz Sharif’s government that threatened to snowball if something was not done to appease it.

And the action was swift. Official rebuttal were issued. Almeida was banned from travelling abroad. Pakistan’s information minister Pervaiz Rasheed was forced to step down pending an inquiry, a move that has been endorsed by the inquiry committee that was formed in November to investigate the matter. This is the only addition to the notification issued today otherwise contents of both notifications are similar.

No one knows and nobody will probably ever know what transpired in the top-level meeting between Sharif and Bajwa as the contents of the inquiry committee report that the government has decided not to make public. But its outcome is exactly opposite to the Pak army’s earlier stand after the Sharif government had announced last month its follow-up action to be taken on the inquiry committee report.

After the Sharif-Bajwa meeting today, the Ministry of Interior has issued another notification, that looks more or less same, as the one issued last month and was rejected by the army saying it was not as per the recommendations of the inquiry committee report. On April 29, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had tweeted expressing Pak army’s displeasure over the Dawn leaks report. After today’s development, the tweet has become infructuous.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor‏Verified account
Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.
3:22 PM – 29 Apr 2017

Nawaz Sharif has accepted the recommendations of the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee and has issued directions of disciplinary action to be taken against the daily, its editor Zaffar Abbas and its reporter and columnist Cyril Almeida. The notification issued by Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior also says that “the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee recommends that the role of Daily Dawn, Zaffar Abbas and Cyril Almeida may be referred to All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) with a direction to take disciplinary action against them.”

Besides this disciplinary action, the inquiry committee has also emphasized on the need to develop “a code of conduct for print media especially when dealing with issues related to security of Pakistan.”

The Dawn leaks report has cost another high profile person his office. Nawaz Sharif had to sack his Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, Tariq Fatemi, for leaking information of the high level civilian-military leadership meeting. Also, disciplinary action has been recommended against a the principal information officer of Pakistan’s foreign ministry.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

In a major late night development, the International Court of Justice on Tuesday, in an interim order, placed a stay on the hanging of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage.

Jadhav’s sentencing has kicked off a diplomatic row between India and Pakistan, with New Delhi slamming Islamabad for carrying out a “farcical” trial and for refusing to allow consular access to Jadhav.

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court or The Hague, is the main judicial organ of the United Nations and operates out of the Netherlands in Europe.

In a statement (read full ICJ statement) issued on India starting proceedings against Pakistan, the ICJ said, “Republic of India instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, accusing the latter of ‘egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations’ in the matter of the detention and trial of an Indian national, Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan.”


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted about the ICJ’s decision last Tuesday night, saying that she spoke to Jadhav’s mother and informed her about the ICJ’s decision. Senior lawyer Harish Salve is representing India at the ICJ, Swaraj added in another tweet.

“I have spoken to the mother of #KulbhushanJadhav and told her about the order of President, ICJ under Art 74 Paragraph 4 of Rules of Court”, Swaraj said, adding, “Mr.Harish Salve, Senior Advocate is representing India before International Court of Justice in the #KulbhushanJadhav case.”

Responding on India’s petition, the ICJ has forbidden Pakistan from hanging Kulbhushan Jadhav until The Hague conducts a detailed hearing on the matter.


In a statement (full statement) issued regarding India’s claim against Pakistan, the ICJ said, “The Applicant (India) contends that it was not informed of Mr. Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights. It further alleges that, in violation of the Vienna Convention, the authorities of Pakistan are denying India its right of consular access to Mr. Jadhav, despite its repeated requests. The Applicant also points out that it learned about the death sentence against Mr. Jadhav from a press release.”

“India submits that it has information that Mr. Jadhav was “kidnapped from Iran, where he was carrying on business after retiring from the Indian Navy, and was then shown to have been arrested in Baluchistan” on 3 March 2016, and that the Indian authorities were notified of that arrest on 25 March 2016. It claims to have sought consular access to Mr. Jadhav on 25 March 2016 and repeatedly thereafter,” the statement added.

“According to the Applicant, on 23 January 2017, Pakistan requested assistance in the investigation of Mr. Jadhav’s alleged ‘involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan’ and, by a Note Verbale of 21 March 2017, informed India that ‘consular access [to Mr. Jadhav would] be considered in the light of the Indian side’s response to Pakistan’s request for assistance in [the] investigation process’. India claims that ‘linking assistance to the investigation process to the grant[ing] of consular access was by itself a serious violation of the Vienna Convention’,” the statement also said.


According to the ICJ statement, India has sought the following:

Relief by way of immediate suspension of the sentence of death awarded to the accused.

Relief by way of restitution in interregnum by declaring that the sentence of the military court arrived at, in brazen defiance of the Vienna Convention rights under Article 36, particularly Article 36[,] paragraph 1 (b), and in defiance of elementary human rights of an accused which are also to be given effect as mandated under Article 14 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is violative of international law and the provisions of the Vienna Convention.

Restraining Pakistan from giving effect to the sentence awarded by the military court, and directing it to take steps to annul the decision of the military court as may be available to it under the law in Pakistan.

If Pakistan is unable to annul the decision, then this Court to declare the decision illegal being violative of international law and treaty rights and restrain Pakistan from acting in violation of the Vienna Convention and international law by giving effect to the sentence or the conviction in any manner, and directing it to release the convicted Indian National forthwith.”

India has also requested the ICJ to direct Pakistan to:

Take all measures necessary to ensure that Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav is not executed.

Report to the Court the action it has taken in pursuance of the required statutes.

To ensure that no action is taken that might prejudice the rights of the Republic of India or Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav with respect of any decision the Court may render on the merits of the case”.


On April 10, the Pakistan Army chief confirmed Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence, which was handed down by a Pakistani military court that held Jadhav guilty of espionage.

Pakistan claims Jadhav, who allegedly used the alias Hussein Mubarak Patel in Pakistan, was attached to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The Indian government has maintained that Kulbhushan Jadhav is a formal Indian Naval officer turned businessman who was on a routine business trip to Iran when he was abducted by Pakistani intelligence.

Reports say he was captured by the Taliban and later sold to the Pakistan Army.

India has also said that Jadhav is innocent and there is no evidence against him and that Pakistsan carried out a sham, secret trial in a military court where no information on charges and evidence was given.

India has warned Pakistan of ‘dire consequences’ equalling Jadhav’s death sentence with pre-meditated murder and has time and again asked for the consular access to him.



The Holocaust is the biggest example of our recent times that shows how history is manipulated.

The world, more or less, is in agreement that the Holocaust was one of the most horrific genocides of humankind and ran though an unparalleled regime of brutality in our modern times which killed millions of humans.

They were simply wiped out from the face of the earth – as they should have never existed.

The world believes in this Holocaust and observes remembrances to revisit the horror, so as to remain on the path of sanity.

Yes, on the path of sanity – but for them only who want to remain humans. It is good for our habitat that majority of us are ‘humans’ in that sense.

But not all of us are.

Naturally, they are from the insane breed that has reddened the earth in every generation.

And has derived its sanctity by manipulating history – in order to get that high pedestal in society first – that would enable them to perpetrate terror in the garb of legitimacy and would further push them to rewrite history – as Adolf Hitler did – as his sycophants did – and as Benito Mussolini did.

We all know that a wide cross-section of Germany was complicit in Hitler’s crimes against humanity. They all benefitted from bodies and ashes of Jews and others who their mad warlords didn’t like. But when it came to trials and punishment, almost of them were let off – in order to begin the process of reconstruction. To a lesser extent, but the same was the case with Mussolini’s Italy.

True, prosecuting hundreds of thousands of Germans would be unwieldy (and time and resource consuming) for a geopolitics that was interested in slicing and dicing the world that would give us the Cold War and geopolitical camps in the future. A war gives winners and losers and winners can rewrite everything as they wish.

Those Germans (or Italians) who were let-off, yes many of them had a conscience crisis for what they had done, but many of them still justified or tried to justify their stand, going as far as to deny the whole Holocaust history as mere propaganda of winners, as some Nazis then and neo-Nazis now, among them have been doing.

Holocaust deniers have had a consistent presence for decades and their propaganda has been there all along, and they have significant number of takers, especially in non-Christian societies, or in the generation that doesn’t care to read history.

As Hitler had got the upper hand in Germany, exploiting the humiliation that Germany faced at hands of the winners of the First World War, manipulating history and records, any autocratic power would do, if it gets the throne. Yes, that is the first thing power gets autocrats to do – they scramble to capitalize on their efforts to rewrite history that they had been trying for years – in order to further legitimize their stay and further consolidate their grip on power.

Nazis, Fascists, neo-Nazis, Neo-Fascists and all other like them have revered the likes of Hitler and Mussolini and they would do all to install them on the highest pedestal of societies when they get a chance to do so. History tells us so.



According to a report in the New York Times, the Chinese authorities have added another layer of restriction on the Muslims of the Xinjiang region, its westernmost province that borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and India and is home to some 11 million Uighur Muslims and other small groups of ethnic Muslims among Tajik, Kazakh and Mongolian communities.

The New York Times report claims to have a copy of the “List of Banned Ethnic Minority Names” that has asked the Muslim parents to desist from choosing names like Muhammad, Medina, Mecca, Islam, Quran, Imam, Hajj, Jihad, Arafat and Mujahid. The directive has banned over two dozen such names which may be used to fan religious and divisive agenda. The list further expands the one notified in 2015 which banned names like Saddam, Hussein, Laden, Fatima, Amanet, Muslime among others.

The New York Times report, quoting Xinjiang officials, says the directive is “part of an effort to “curb religious fervour” in Xinjiang.”

A report in the Financial Times gives more details into this. It says that the Muslim families not complying with this directive will not get ‘hukou’, the registration of their households that gives them access to state benefits of childcare, health, education and employment. According to the report, the municipal authorities in Xinjiang have issued a notice which prohibits “overly religious or splittist names” for newborns. The directive doesn’t stop at naming the newborns only. It further says that “if your family has circumstances like this, you should change your child’s name.”

Organizations like the Human Rights Watch and Uighur representatives living in exile have condemned this order. The Human Rights Watch has termed it the “latest absurd restriction imposed on people of Xinjiang” while the World Uyghur Congress has termed “China’s policies increasingly hostile”.

Xinjiang, China’s North-western province, that is also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, borders eight countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. It came on the radar of the Chinese authorities, especially after the widespread riots in its capital city Urumqi in July 2009 between the Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese that saw around 200 dead and some 2000 injured. Ethnic Han Chinese are around 40 percent of Xinxiang’s population. China now considers Islamic terrorism emanating from Xinjiang destructive enough to convert into a full blown separatist movement and does all to curb its spread, especially after reports that the Islamic State (ISIS) is eyeing the region to recruit fighters and expand its base.

According to Amnesty International, mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, disappearances, shooting and torture followed the Urumqi riots. China maintains a strong vigil in the region with large rallies of security forces to intimidate the minds who dare to think otherwise. It has banned its civil servants in the region from taking part in religious activities, even if it means fasting during Ramadan, a ban that was extended to students as well. Muslim attire like veils and symbols like keeping beard are already banned.



The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is a bit modified.

In China’s Hebei province, a man convicted and executed for rape and murder of a woman in 1995 has been found innocent 21 years after his sentence was upheld.

China’s Supreme People’s Court has found that evidence in the case was never sufficient and gross miscarriage of justice was done in sending the man, Nie Shubin, to the gallows. The verdict by the apex court of China is being seen as historical in China as its state run media is vigorously reporting about it.


A man was arrested in 2005 in rape and murder cases of some women and during the interrogation, he revealed that the crime for which Nie Shubin was executed was in fact committed by him. That man was also executed in 2007.

That means Nie Shubin’s innocence was proven way back in 2005 and as China’s apex court decided to review the Nie Shubin’s verdict in the light of the 2005 revelation only, who will account for the unacceptable delay of 11 years since 2005? Nie’s mother Zhang Huanzhi and his family has been campaigning hard since then.

What about closure for the family after it lost its son at the young age of 21? What about that mother who broke in China’s Supreme People’s Court when the verdict was read out?


Global Times, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) writes, “It is an implementation of rule of law and a demonstration of social progress and judicial justice, showing that China attaches great importance to human rights.”

‘China attaches great importance to human rights’ – but incarcerates the voices of dissent. Its most notable contemporary example is Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Peace Nobel Laureate who is still in jail as he has called for political reforms and an end to single party rule in China.

When we see the world view about independence and transparency of the judicial system in China, this verdict that is being much touted by the Chinese state machinery, looks ironical.

The report on judicial independence in China from the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China says, “China’s judiciary continues to be subject to a variety of internal and external controls that significantly limit its ability to engage in independent decisionmaking.”

Another report in Huffington Post analyzing judicial independence in China says, “In China, law is a mechanism for the exercise and safeguard of the Party’s power and legitimacy.”

China will dismiss them as the US propaganda but what should we say when voices from China’s judiciary oppose any reform measure based on the universal norms of human rights.

According to a report in The Guardian last year “China’s top court urged officials from the ruling Communist party to shun western-style judicial independence and reject “erroneous western thought”. Bizarre!

The Huffington Post report says that former President of the Supreme People’s Court, Xiao Yang, had said in 2007 that “the power of the courts to adjudicate independently doesn’t mean at all independence from the Party (CPC). It is the opposite, the embodiment of a high degree of responsibility vis-à-vis Party undertakings.”

China’s judiciary is not seen as independent and it wants to maintain the status quo it seems. The world view about the China’s judiciary is that it is subservient to the interests of the state and has been heavily compromised.


China, the world’s second largest economy and the most populous nation, is a closed country run by an autocratic party which never shares the information that can show it in some negative light, even if it is the basic need of a just society. It only highlights a matter when it serves its vast propaganda machinery.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been declared only the third ‘core leader’ Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has emerged as the strongest political leader in China’s recent history. And he is on an image enhancement exercise with his ruthless anti-corruption purge that many say is targeted at purging voices critical of him. Allowing a judiciary that is independent enough to look pro people may be another extension of his outreach tools.

Much like Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade which has seen many high profile purges well publicized or this case as it also follows up a decision taken by the Communist Party of China during its Fourth Plenary Session in October 2014 to ‘set a new blueprint for rule of law’, as another Global Times report on Nie Shubin’s case says.

Immediately after the October 2014 Plenary, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court took cognizance of Shubin’s case in December 2014 and assigned it to a provincial higher court, started its own retrial in June 2016 and came up with the verdict by December 2016.

Chinese courts boast a conviction rate of almost 100% and though China refuses to provide data, it is believed that its judicial system executes maximum number of people in the world. Corruption runs deep in China and then there is also the pressure from authorities to provide impressive data that looks clean on paper – a practice that results in forced confessions, almost non-existent defence in criminal trials and unjust verdicts like this in China’s criminal justice system.

In jurisprudence, it said that no innocent should ever suffer even if 10 guilty persons walk away. It will be interesting to know how the Chinese judicial system interprets this.



Since November 9, when Republican Donald Trump started tweeting (@realDonaldTrump) again after his landslide (and stunning) victory in the US Presidential polls defeating the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with a wide margin of the electoral college vote (even if Hillary Clinton emerged as the winner of the popular vote), he has tweeted 14 times.

And if we see into these tweets – they tell us how the next phase is going to be in the life of the US President Elect Donald Trump – till January 20 next year when Donald Trump will be sworn in.

And it doesn’t look good.

His first and second tweets (since November 9) were normal – saying ‘happy 241st birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps!’ and – and how his first meeting with Obamas was fantastic.

But his third and fourth tweets were aimed at media and the protests raging against him.

In one tweet, he says them professional protesters and blames media of inciting them. And he doesn’t look to do some course correction in the next tweet when he refers to them as a ‘small group of protesters’. Yes, he says that they (the protesters) have passion for their great country and they (including Trump) will come together but he clearly tries to show them as marginal players while we all know the protesters are not just a ‘small group’. Spontaneous anti-Trump protests have broken out in many US states and even in other countries.

His fifth and sixth tweet since November 9 (November 10 is a no tweet day) are again normal business like – about his team in the government and expressing gratitude on the Veterans Day.

His only tweet on November 12 is again aimed at normalizing an abnormal situation – a divided US society – saying ‘we will unite and we will win, win, win!’ That attitude is a must for him and he needs to practice it honestly if he, indeed, has to see a united America – because the truth is – his election has bitterly divided the US.

And today it looks like about visiting the old foes (and old values again).

Three of his seven tweets today (so far) are about NY Times – that how the publication ‘is losing thousands of subscribers because of its very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the “Trump phenomena”- that ‘NY Times sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me. I wonder if it will change – doubt it?’ – and that ‘NY Times states today that DJT believes “more countries should acquire nuclear weapons.” How dishonest are they. I never said this!’

These three tweets and the earlier one blaming media for inciting anti-Trump protests show we should rule out a near future thaw – given the way Trump’s campaign has been – he didn’t believe in climate crisis; he believed in racial domination; he despised immigrants; he liked dictators like Vladimir Putin; he spoke against Muslims; he promoted populism at the cost of logic like his liberal nuclear doctrine or his anti-outsourcing rant and many more – all ingredients to make any media anti-Trump if Trump doesn’t work to change that.

The signals so far have been mixed.

Though before this hour, he had not said anything outrageous after winning the polls – like he used to do every other day during the campaign phase – and has indicated a ‘softened’ approach to Obamacare, something that he had said he would disband – he just sounded absurd again when he said in an interview that he would soon ‘deport 3 million immigrants’ and the US-Mexican border will be ‘partly fenced’.

These tweets indicate, together with his policy decisions like these, tell us that the days ahead are going to be tumultuous in the US.

If Trump would continue with his absurd but populist ultra-nationalist agenda of expelling immigrants (and fencing borders and so on), he will rightly be questioned by media and it will certainly propel the anti-Trump protesters who are quite a sizeable chunk (and are growing) to do more against the Republican President.

His other four tweets of the day are about thanking people and announcing his upcoming TV interaction.



October 10 is an important day, for it has three observances that make for intense societal debates – World Day Against the Death Penalty – World Mental Health Day – World Homeless Day – the scourges of our organized societies – the results of our organized societies.

Abolishing death sentence is a raging debate the world over including India. According to Amnesty International, 2015, with 1634 executions, was the deadliest year on gallows since 1989. In its report, Amnesty says the figure is from some 25 countries and it could go up to 2000.

What does it say?

Do crimes and criminals have increased in our societies or societies are becoming more tough and hardened on criminals?

There will always be proponents and opponents and mere statistics cannot define it. If a victim demands death penalty for the perpetrator, we cannot go and tell him that he is wrong. It will be immoral. Similarly, an activist who demands that death penalty be abolished, is also correct in his approach. A wrong can never be answered by another wrong. So, even if someone has taken away someone’s life, we do not have any right to do the same to him.

This dichotomy will last till human civilization is here.

To continue..



God is for everyone. God is of everyone. That is the ideal position but something that has been a deep rooted ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon universally, in almost every religion with different hues, in every society, in every country, including India.

We worship women. In Hinduism, Goddess Shakti is revered like the supreme deity. And it doesn’t end here. I am sure every religion has its own female deities. Yet we deny women the basic right – the right to equality in the places of worship.

And that’s why the court decisions like the one on the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai yesterday or the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmadnagar in April this year allowing women’s entry in the inner sanctum, so far barred for women, are important – away from the debates of such demands being being a mere publicity stunt – like we saw in Trupti Desai led movement that resulted in Shani Shingnapur verdict – or away from the political lethargy we see when the political class refuses to budge from its position keeping equations of the votebank politics in mind and it ultimately comes to the courts, the top custodian of our Constitution.

Court verdicts like these pull our attention to this very important discrimination prevailing in our society that we have so subtly legitimized – again in the name of religion – and have efficiently co-opted women to perpetuate such practices – out of fear psychosis – or emotional bondage – or cultural blackmail. You will find a major cross section of women advocating the women entry ban, be it Shani Shingnapur or Haji Ali. When women activists were planning to storm the Shani Shingnapur temple, women of the Shingnapur village and the nearby villages were preparing to stop them and a multi-layered security around the sanctum sanctorum.

Our scriptures say God is for everyone. They say He knows what is in our conscious and He comes to everyone. They say our faith is as important for God as God is for us. The Bombay High Court while delivering the order observed, “It cannot be said that the said prohibition `is an essential and integral part of Islam’ and fundamental to follow the religious belief; and if taking away that part of the practice, would result in a fundamental change in the character of that religion or its belief.” The High Court further summed up the spirit in its verdict, “There is nothing in any of the verses which shows, that Islam does not permit entry of women at all, into a Dargah/Mosque and that their entry was sinful in Islam.” (From the BombayHigh Court’s verdict)

When we worship our deities of both genders with equal faith and devotion, why do we discriminate between their devotees based on their genders? Why men fear women presence in innermost religious circles? That brings us to this point that religion is one of the most primitive tools to maintain male domination/hegemony in the society.

The court’s verdict on Shani Shingnapur was a slap in the face of orthodox Hinduism the same way as the yesterday’s is on Muslim fundamentalists, especially when women were allowed entry in Haji Ali’s inner sanctum till 2011-12. Haji Ali or Shani Shingnapur, they say the practice to deny women their basic rights in the religious places is not restricted to any particular religion. In fact, women have been historically denied their religious rights – and the problem is acute in religions like Islam or Hinduism or in different tribal sects. There are many taboos humiliating and restricting women rights in our society and this is one of them – a practice that has been made socially acceptable even if it is fundamentally wrong.