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Since Burqa Has No Quranic Injunction, Why Annoy Host Societies?

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Since Burqa Has No Quranic Injunction, Why Annoy Host Societies?

~By Saeed Naqvi

In normal times Britain’s former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s observation that burqa clad women resemble walking “letter boxes” and “bank robbers” would evoke laughter. But these are not normal times.

Just when liberals were beginning to pelt stones at him, a startling turn to the debate was given by Taj Hargay, Imam of Oxford. “The burqa is a Wahabi fifth column……we will wake up in the Islamic Republic of Britain.”

Johnson’s observation is mischievous, and has a political purpose, the Imam’s an exaggeration. The observations are troubling for an Indian Muslim. I would avoid being judgemental on a community which has been under immense pressure because of rampaging Islamophobia since the 90s. And yet, I cannot help asking: is the burqa a response to nasty Islamophobia or a means of aggravating it?

Aggravation of the problem is surely not our purpose. Then whose purpose is served by Muslim women floating around Oxford Circus in gear which distances them, in geometrical progression, from the host population? The clerics, eager to consolidate their congregations? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these congregations had in their midst scholars, doctors, writers, scientists, entrepreneurs, rather than pliant women fitting Boris Johnson’s description.

I am troubled for another reason. After extensive travel around the world, I am inclined to cast my vote in recent years for Britain as a society where Human Rights, Rule of Law, Race relations are most secure. That is why I am uneasy at the two observations.

Let me turn to India to bring out my point, by comparison, in bolder relief.

Since Burqa Has No Quranic Injunction, Why Annoy Host Societies?

The depths to which Hindu-Muslim relations have sunk in India is attributed by pundits to the brazenly communal politics of the ruling BJP under Prime Minister, Narendra Modi since 2014. If an ancient civilization, embracing 1.25 billion people can be so totally transformed in merely four years, Modi and his cohorts deserve to be celebrated as miracle men. No, the present government has clearly accelerated the communal agenda but the ground for it was diligently laid over 71 years of independence. The ruling party for most of these decades was the Congress.

Social disharmony was built into the manner in which Partition was affected. The Congress was firmly opposed to the two-nation theory enunciated by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan – that Hindus and Muslims constituted two separate nations. But the Congress accepted Lord Mountbatten’s June 3, 1947 plan for Partition in double quick time.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, former President of the Congress and others warned Pandit Nehru that Partition would mean “unadulterated Hindu Raj”.

By that logic once the Congress Working Committee had accepted a Muslim state, with a small Hindu minority, named Pakistan, it logically followed that the rest of India would be Hindustan or a Hindu state with a substantial Muslim minority. In other words, on August 15, 1947 India glided seamlessly from British Raj to Hindu Raj but Nehru chose not to use the term “Hindu” for a variety of reasons. A “Hindu” state was an affront to his self image. Self image was important to Nehru. In his evolution, there was a phase when he was angry with his father for having hired an English governess for his sister, Vijaylakshmi Pandit. “Bhai (brother) was cross” Mrs. Pandit told me, “because British aristocracy those days preferred French governesses.”

The basic reason why Nehru avoided the term “Hindu” to describe the new found state was Kashmir. How could a Hindu state claim the Muslim majority province of Kashmir on the principle of contiguity?

Look at it from the hard core Hindu perspective. After a thousand years of Muslim rule, 200 of British, the Muslim state of Pakistan does come into being. But, alas, no Hindu state. The sophistry of why it is so, is lost on the millions. This is where the Hindu communalist pitches his tent.

It turns out that, over the decades, a compulsive hatred for Pakistan has emerged an acid test for nationalism. Into this bubbling cauldron has been pushed a boulder – the post 9/11 war against terror. The Islamophobia this has generated globally has been grist to the Hindu communalist’s mill too.

I have argued in my book “Being The Other: The Muslim in India” that calling a spade a spade at the very outset would have minimized the social disharmony that has plagued us for 71 years. From day one we should have declared ourselves a Hindu state. This would have obviated the need for an unsettling, double distilled Hindu Rashtra or Hindu Nation. The Hindu in this “raj” would have been at the steering wheel but the minorities would have struck a stronger bargain for education, seats in Parliament, jobs in the cabinet, Civil Service, Police, Armed Forces and so on.

Detractors raise a howl of protest. How can a theoretic state be secular?

In the recent elections in Pakistan three Hindus, Mahesh Malani, Hari Ram Kishwari Lal and Giyan Chand Essrani, won from general seats in Sind – one for the National Assembly and two for the Provincial Assembly.

The fact that Britain is a Protestant monarchy did not come in the way of Sadiq Khan serving as London’s high profile Mayor. Last year Donald Trump banned travel to the US from several Muslim countries. He was therefore not accorded a “state” visit to Britain because in that event protocol would have involved the Mayor of London. Saving Sadiq Khan this embarrassment was important enough for the organizers to deny Trump a state banquet with the Queen.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid may not be a practicing Muslim but he is there high in public profile to make a bid for the top job. Two years ago when I watched a test match there were four Muslims in the English cricket team. I have met doctors, teachers, civil servants, entrepreneurs from the sub continent, both Hindus and Muslims, thriving. The Anglican Church never came in their way. In India’s circumstances in 1947, a Hindu India may have been better, than the one cloaked in a hollow and bogus secularism where the police watch on as one Muslim (or Dalit) after another is lynched, some to the accompaniment of expert photography.

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Poland Minister Wladyslaw T Bartoszewski says India is a superpower, should play role in World affairs

The Polish Minister said it is time to take the relations between the the two countries to a higher level. He said India has developed into a phenomenal country and is the 5th largest economy in the world. The minister said the Polish economy has also developed and both the countries have much more to offer each other.

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Secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Poland Wladyslaw T. Bartoszewski on Monday said that India should play a bigger role in global politics. He said India is a superpower now and hence India should play a role that fits superpower at the global scale. He said the relations between Poland and India have been extremely good. He said they have not had any problems.

The Polish Minister said it is time to take the relations between the the two countries to a higher level. He said India has developed into a phenomenal country and is the 5th largest economy in the world. The minister said the Polish economy has also developed and both the countries have much more to offer each other.

He said the Polish government wants India to play a more active role in World Politics. He said India is the largest democracy in the world and shares values with Poland as to how the world should be organised. The Polish Minister said he is looking to partner with India. He said Poland is looking at potentially creating the India-Central Eastern European Forum to discuss amongst a few countries.

He said there are a lot of topics and Poland wants to partner with India to play its role in the world affairs. Bartoszewski highlighted the remarkable economic growth India has made under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said Warsaw would like to work in closer co-operation with New Delhi. India and Poland share strong bilateral ties.

After the Ukraine war began, Poland helped in India’s Operation Ganga by aiding in the evacuation of Indian students from the war struck country in 2022.The Polish minister commented on the Russia-Ukraine war which has been going on since the last two years. He said the war will end if immediately if Russian President Vladimir Putin withdraws his forces from neighbouring Ukraine.

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71st Miss World contestants visit Raj Ghat and pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi

The 71st Miss World will take place between February 18 and March 9 which will unfold across various venues, including the Bharat Manadapam in New Delhi. 120 contestants from countries around the world will participate in various competitions and charitable initiatives, serving as ambassadors of change.

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Miss World contestants, accompanied by Julia Morley, chairman and CEO of the Miss world Organisation, visited the Raj Ghat, also known as the Gandhi memorial, on Monday, where they paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi. The 71st Miss World participants also visited the Gandhi Museum.

The 71st Miss World will take place between February 18 and March 9 which will unfold across various venues, including the Bharat Manadapam in New Delhi. 120 contestants from countries around the world will participate in various competitions and charitable initiatives, serving as ambassadors of change.

Julia Morley, chairman and CEO of the Miss World Organisation said in a statement that her love of India is no secret and having the 71st Miss World Festival in this country means a lot to her. She thanked Jamil Saidi for his herculean efforts to make the return of the event to India a reality. She said the Miss World Organization has assembled the best team for the 71st edition.

The 71st Miss World will end with a dazzling grand finale at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai. India last hosted the international pageant in 1996. Manushi Chhillar was the most recent Indian to win the pageant, having bagged the crown in 2017. Previously, Reita Faria Powell, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Hayden, Yukta Mookhey, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas have also won the competition.

India is currently hosting Miss World 2024 in Delhi and Mumbai after 28 years. The competition will begin on  Februray 18, with the grand finale scheduled  on March 9, the 71st Miss World Pageant will feature 120 contestants from 120 countries and territories, which includes India and will feature various competitions and charitable initiatives. The 21-day fashion and beauty event will feature a variety of events that will empower young women as change agents and future leaders.  

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates first BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The BAPS temple is the first stone Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi which has been built using ancient architectural methods with scientific techniques. The temple has been built with over 300 high-tech sensors to measure temperature and monitor seismic activity.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Mandir- first Hindu Temple – in Abu Dhabi, UAE. On reaching the grand temple complex, the Prime Minister was greeted by the members of the Indian community. Many celebrities including Bollywood star Akshay Kumar and actor Dilip Joshi also attended the opening ceremony of the temple.

The BAPS temple is the first stone Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi which has been built using ancient architectural methods with scientific techniques. The temple has been built with over 300 high-tech sensors to measure temperature and monitor seismic activity.

Similar to Ayodhya’s Ram Temple, in BAPS temple also, no metal has been used in the construction and instead fly ash has been used to fill up the foundation. The grand temple has been built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha on a 27-acre site in Abu Mreikhah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, at a cost of around Rs 700 crore.

The Temple authorities said it has been built according to an ancient style of construction and creation mentioned in the Shilpa and Sthapathya Shastras, Hindu scriptures which give a detailed description about temple design and construction.

The architectural techniques have been joined with scientific methods. About 300 high tech sensors have been installed at every level of the temple to measure the temperature, pressure and seismic activity. The sensors will provide live data to research.

Swami Bhrahmaviharidas, head of international relations for the BAPS said if there is an earthquake in the area, then they will be able to detect it and will be able to study it. No metal has been used in the construction of the temple and fly ash has been used to fill up the foundation which has replaced 55% of cement in the concrete mix.

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