June 15, 2019

Demographic impact of Christian Missionaries: India needs the equivalent of Russia’s Yarovaya law

Demographic impact of Christian Missionaries: India needs the equivalent of Russia’s Yarovaya law

It would be appropriate if the Government of India recognized forced and deceptive religious conversions as a real social issue and brought laws banning proselytizing similar to the parts of Yarovaya law in Russia.


JUNE 15, 2019


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In 2004, when BJP, under Prime Minister Vajpayee, lost election and Congress came back into power, an Indian Pastor narrated to a foreign interviewer the following details –

The previous government in India (BJP) was a “Hindu” governmentThey did nothing except building 68,000 Hindu temples in the last 5 yearsThe Congress party is in the government now and they love ChristiansNow they have another window of 5 years to take Gospel of Christ to villages in India

Short 2 minutes video of this interaction can be watched here.

Fifteen years later today in 2019, Christian Missionaries are still aggressively targeting the economically deprived section of India’s population and rapidly converting them into Christianity with a mission to increase the number of “believers”.

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Pastor Jonah’s website articulates “Mission 2019” that includes a ten minutes video on India. Pastor Mohan Lazarus proclaims in this one minute video that 25,000 Indians are converted every day. This one-minute video shows how 23,000 Indians have been converted by a single organization and this two minutes excerpt from a TV report on CBN News in the USA shows how 300,000 Indians have been converted over 10 years in Rajasthan alone.

Screen grab from the video of Indian Pastor

How do they do it?

“Direct Sales” methods which involve hard selling miracles of Jesus in public places (e.g. this 30 seconds video from Delhi DTC buses) requires a lot of hard work but is rarely effective.

Hence, a plethora of other methods, ranging from deception to creating fear are used by the missionaries to convert people.

Missionary organizations create deceptive stage shows where gullible people are made to believe that their miseries would end if they started believing in the “True God”. Many such events have been captured on video where –

some paid actors enact as if they are possessed by the devil but a pastor cures them immediately with a magical touch (3 minutes video)a lady claims that her backbone is broken, both her kidneys have failed and she couldn’t even stand without support. A pastor heals her within 5 minutes with the magical touch and she starts running (5 min video)one person claimed that his “one lag has become shorter than the other”. The pastor takes the name of Jesus and grows the leg so that they become equal (2 minutes video)another lady claimed that she had lost her hair completely and became bald, but the pastor blessed her, and her hair suddenly grew back (1-minute video)

Invoking fear is the other most frequently used method. People are told that Hindu deities are monkeys and elephants – they are “fake Gods” and won’t protect them. The “True God” would take away their pain and misery if they converted to Christianity, as illustrated in this one minute video. 

Why do they do it?

Missionaries believe that God has commanded them to spread his name all over the world. They pursue it as their religious duty. Consequently, the obsession to spread the name of Jesus runs much deeper than most people realize.

In 2018, John Chau, a 26 years old missionary from the USA bribed some fishermen to take him to one of India’s Andaman islands. His target was the Sentinelese tribes that have evaded any contact with the modern world till today. They are a protected tribe and under Indian law, it is illegal to contact them. He was killed by bows and arrows when he approached them and even his body could not be recovered.

The excerpts from his diary later revealed that he wanted to “declare Jesus” to those people. He was fully aware that he broke Indian law by approaching those people. “The Milky Way was above and God Himself was shielding us from the Coast Guard and Navy patrols”, he wrote in his diary. The full story of John Chau becoming a missionary and his longtime fascination with Sentinelese tribe in India can be read on Newyork Times and CNN.

Similar aspects are shown in the case of Mother Teresa who is otherwise known for having dedicated her life to helping the poor in India. Christopher Hitchens wrote in an essay titled The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, that the Missionaries of Charity had a conversion agenda too.

According to Mr Hitchens, they were encouraged to secretly baptise the people on their deathbeds. Susan Shields, a former member of the order, told him that “Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if they wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend that she was just cooling the patient’s head with a wet cloth, while in fact, she was baptising him, quietly uttering the necessary words”. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptising poor Hindus and Muslims. In another article published in 2003, Mr Hitchens described Mother Teresa as a “fanatic, a fundamentalist and a fraud”

Why India?

“Joshua Project”, an organization based in the United States maintains ethnological data to support Christian missions. It highlights the ethnic groups of the “unreached” world or the areas with the least followers of evangelical Christianity.

Their data shows 1.8 billion followers of Islam (red dots in the image below) scattered across multiple countries but 1 billion followers of Hinduism (blue dots) located in a single country – India.

Source: Joshua Project Website and Twitter

This makes India the most attractive target for most missionary organizations.

Global Hope India” mentions on their website that “India represents the most unreached country in the world. Over 1 billion people have never held a Bible”. “Mission India” mentions on their website that their mission is to transform communities in India by planting Churches. “Christ for India” mentions on their website that they started small in Kerala but now they have a presence in 24 states of India with 4550 Churches. “India Go” mentions on their website that they are “dedicated to planting Churches in each of India’s 28,000+ postal codes”

Source: Website of “India Go”

Demographic Impact:

As per the published data from Center for the Study of Global Christianity, by the year 2000, there were 5400 missionary agencies around the world who send about 440,000 missionaries to foreign countries for evangelizing and proselytization

Lakhs of such missionaries pursuing India as their prime target for many decades has been sufficient to make significant demographic changes in parts of India specially the states in North East. Census data shows a rapid increase in followers of Christianity in the 10 years period from 2001 to 2011.

Meghalaya (70% increased to 75%)Arunachal Pradesh (18% increased to 30%) – in 1971, it was less than 1%Nagaland (80% increased to 90%) – in 1951, it was 52%Manipur (34% increased to 41%) – in 1961, it was 19%In the same period, the Hindu population in Nagaland has declined from 14% to 7%In Manipur, Hindus being converted to Christianity has brought down Hindu and Christian population to equal proportion at 41% each. In 1961, it was 60% and 20% respectivelySource: Hindustan Times

What should India do:

Indic religions largely believe in liberal principles like “God is one supreme power; people over the world call it by different names”. Hence Indic religions like Hinduism do not go around asking people to follow their religion. However, Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam tend to believe that only their God is the “True God” and it is their religious duty to increase the number of followers.

This obsession is not limited to Christian missionaries only. In another article, this author had talked about Love Jihad. A sting operation by India Today had uncovered that organizations like PFI in Kerala are running an organized conversion factory with an objective to aggressively increase the followers of Islam in India.

Battling against such preying forces, Indic religions are sitting ducks with no legal framework or government support to prevent this menace.

In 2016, as part of what is popularly known as Yarovaya Law, Russia banned all missionary work (defined as spreading information about one’s faith to make non-members join) outside of any places of worship.

It would be appropriate if the Government of India recognized forced and deceptive religious conversions as a real social issue and brought laws banning proselytizing similar to the parts of Yarovaya law in Russia.

Government of India urgently needs to implement a pan-India legal framework that –

bans approaching anyone with an objective of religious conversionsbans any religious preaching in public placesallows religious preaching only inside clearly marked and designated places of worshipallows only willful seekers to approach the place of worship and learn about other faithsmakes it mandatory to register faith conversions to ensure that conversion is not under duress or deception

A law drafted around such principles could go a long way to curb the nuisance of forced or deceptive religious conversions while allowing the freedom to practice any religion by choice.

Shashank Goyal

IIM-A alumnus, Software Sales Professional,
Writes about business, economy and politics; Passionate about numbers, facts and analysis
Tweets @shashankgoyal01


Kashmir: What Pakistan needs to know

Expert Comment

What Pakistan needs to know is that within the Kashmir Valley, realisation is gaining ground that nothing is to be gained from Pakistan.

▶Equally and gradually, it is dawning on the Kashmiris that a fate similar to that of PoK and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would await them were they to join that country.

▶Also, the type and extent of financial assistance that have flowed into J&K from India is unlikely to come from Pakistan.

▶ In fact, the existing financial condition of Pakistan indicates it has nothing to offer and it is actually the financial state of J&K that runs the risk of being exploited.


INDIA: Muslim students bag 80% of government scholarships

Updated : June 15, 2019 11:57 AM IST

*Among the students who received scholarships, 88 lakh were Muslims, 8.26 lakh Christians, 5.45 lakh Sikhs and 5.2 lakh Hindus.*

*More than 1.4 crore applications were received in 2018-19, of which 1.08 crore were verified.*


Students from the Muslim community received about 80 percent of total scholarships offered under 20 Central government schemes in 2018-19, official data shows.

Those from the Christian community came in at second place with 7.5 per cent share while it was 5 percent for Sikhs and 4.7 per cent for Hindus, according to the National Scholarship Portal managed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

More than 1.4 crore applications were received in 2018-19, of which 1.08 crore were verified.

Among the students who received scholarships, 88 lakh were Muslims, 8.26 lakh Christians, 5.45 lakh Sikhs and 5.2 lakh Hindus.

There were 1.94 lakh (1.8 percent) Buddhists and 1.07 lakh (1 per cent) Jains in the list of beneficiaries.

The total amount disbursed under these scholarship programmes sponsored by 14 Union Ministries was Rs 2,157 crore in 2018-19.

Of the total amount, Rs 1,032 crore was spent on scholarships for Muslims students while Rs 183 crore was spent for Sikhs and Rs 128 crore for Hindus.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs topped the list of allotments with 77 percent scholarships of the total offered.

Ministry Of Labour and Employment, Department of Higher Education, Department of School Education and Literacy, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities also featured among the top five.

West Bengal, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Kerala were the top five states to receive scholarships.

In terms of the amount received under these scholarships, Uttar Pradesh came first with Rs 356 crore, followed by West Bengal at Rs 281 crore.

PAKISTAN: Multiple fronts

Multiple fronts

Irfan HusainJune 15, 2019

ONE of the fundamentals of strategy, as taught in military academies around the world, is that a successful commander avoids fighting on multiple fronts.

But here we are, facing many political, economic, military and ideological problems internally. Externally, we are virtually isolated, relying on Saudi Arabia and China to bail us out. To make things worse, most of these problems are of our own making. Instead of blaming outsiders for creating them, we need to confront our own demons.

However, before a problem can be solved, we first need to acknowledge that it exists. The next step is to evolve a consensus, and forge the political will to take the tough measures needed. But in a security state like ours, it is not always national interest, based on logic and reason, that dictates decision-making. Instead, we have permitted a warped ideology, developed and pushed by the establishment, to take over the public discourse.

In this brief overview of the multiple threats we face today, let us begin with the fragile state of our economy. After seven decades of skewed priorities, we can’t afford to educate all our children, or even provide them with clean drinking water. Just to give an idea of how bad things are, the budget proposals announced recently allocate over half of government resources to defence and debt servicing. Keep in mind that considerable sums relating to defence are shown under other heads.


Our population growth continues unchecked, and has now reached around 220 million. Compare this with the 34m who inhabited what is now Pakistan at Partition. After the 1970s, successive governments have pushed this explosive issue under the carpet. Fear of a religious backlash has kept family planning out of reach of most women.

Many factors have fed into deep resentment.

Education is another area where governments — both military and civilian — have failed. It’s not just that funds are lacking: every year, a significant proportion of the education budget remains unspent. The political will to improve state schools and universities is clearly missing.

Our treatment of minorities is a national disgrace. In addition, we have virtually marginalised most women, denying millions of girls an education and the opportunities that come with it.

None of these problems can be blamed on outside forces. However, our past adventurism beyond our borders provoked a predictable backlash from Afghanistan and India.

Take the long-simmering insurrection in Balochistan as an example of our failure to solve problems politically. The Baloch have long complained of neglect by the centre, and blame Islamabad for the exploitation of the province’s resources without the local people benefiting from them.

Gas from the Sui fields has been a particularly sore point. Baloch nationalists have pointed to the injustice of gas being piped to distant cities like Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore while towns in Balochistan are deprived. Similarly, nationalists allege that copper deposits and other minerals are being mined for export while the province gets nothing.

But per capita, Balochistan receives a bigger slice of the development budget than the other provinces. One problem is that while it represents 44 per cent of Pakistan’s landmass, it only has 5pc or so of the population. Providing roads, electricity and schools across vast distances is a major challenge. Also, Baloch sardars who traditionally get elected are known to divert much of the development budget into their own pockets.

All these factors have fed into deep resentment and growing violence. India is said to be financing and arming separatist groups like the Baloch Liberation Front and the Baloch National Army. They have claimed responsibility for killing a large number of security personnel as well as innocent non-Baloch workers.

These bloody acts have won them no friends in the rest of the country. But instead of talking to them and trying to meet them halfway by granting greater autonomy and more resources, the state has responded with violence and oppression. A peaceful resolution to the conflict is all the more pressing as much of the CPEC initiative is focused on Balochistan.

Externally, our enduring enmity with India has only served to isolate us. Of course the fault for the strained relations lies on both sides. Recently, we stood on the brink of yet another armed conflict. How long will this confrontation endure? And more to the point, for how long can we sustain it?

Given these — and many more — problems, it seems odd that the ruling combine has seen fit to open additional fronts in KP as well as with the Supreme Court. One would have thought the government had its hands full of ongoing crises without poking a stick into more hornets’ nests. But as the saying goes, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”


Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2019


June 14, 2019

GCSC Cyberstability Update, 14 June 2019

GCSC Cyberstability Update, 14 June 2019

Your news update on the GCSC, its members, and relevant developments in the field of international cyber affairs. Join the conversation and receive weekly updates by signing up to the newsletter below. For more information about the GCSC, please visit www.cyberstability.org.


Global Commission Meeting in The Hague, the Netherlands

This article was published on the GCSC website, 23 May 2019

The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace will hold its third meeting of 2019 in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 16-17 June. The Commission meeting will take place prior to EuroDIG, being held at the World Forum in the Hague from 19-20 June 2019.

The GCSC will help kick off the EuroDIG conference by holding a Zero-Day event on Tuesday 18 June from 14:30-16:00 in room Yangtze 2 of World Forum The Hague (Pre 07: “Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace – Towards a Cyberstability Framework).

Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.

Read More

Panel Launches Report & Recommendations For Building an Inclusive Digital Future

This report was published by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, 10 June 2019
In its report, The Age of Digital Interdependence, presented to UN Secretary-General António Guterres today, a 20-person Panel co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma calls for greater cooperation to make sure that the benefits of digital technology reach all of humanity while addressing a range of pressing associated challenges. The report describes a world more deeply interconnected than ever before as a result of digital technology, yet struggling to manage the economic, social, cultural and political impacts of the digital transformation. The report makes a strong call for reinvigorating multilateral cooperation, arguing that it needs to be complemented by a multi-stakeholder approach — involving a far more diverse spectrum of stakeholders, such as civil society, academics, technologists, and the private sector.
Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of CyberspaceGCSC Commissioner Marina KaljurandGCSC Special Advisor Vint Cerf.

Read More or See More here and here

The Economic Value of DNS Security

This report was published by the Global Cyber Alliance, 12 June 2019.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a critical component of the Internet. It serves as a translator between the human-recognizable domain names and machine-recognizable locations on the Internet. When DNS is used as a security measure, aka DNS firewall, the benefits can be significant. Our research has shown that DNS firewalls could have mitigated one-third of the incidents we studied and could have prevented $10 billion in losses in those incidents. Download the report to learn more about the economic value of DNS security.

Tags: GCSC Call to Protect the Public Core of the Internet.


Read More

Bolton Says U.S. Is Expanding Offensive Cyber Operations

This article by Warren P. Strobel was published inThe Wall Street Journal, 11 June 2019
The U.S. intends to expand offensive operations in cyberspace to counter digital economic espionage and other commercial hacks, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Tuesday, while also dismissing talk of a split with President Trump on North Korea and other hot spots. Mr. Bolton said recent U.S. offensive cyber operations, conducted since Mr. Trump relaxed restrictions last year, had been primarily focused on stopping election interference. But the U.S. is now broadening its efforts to counter other attacks as well.
Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of CyberspaceGCSC Call to Protect the Electoral Infrastructure.


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Digital risks for populations in armed conflict: Five key gaps the humanitarian sector should address,ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy blog.

Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.The Highly Dangerous ‘Triton’ Hackers Have Probed the US Grid, WIRED.
Tags: GCSC Norm on Basic Cyber Hygiene as Foundational DefenseGCSC Norm to Reduce and Mitigate Significant Vulnerabilities.Cyber of the fittest: Researchers develop first cyber agility framework to measure attacks,Phys.org.

Tags: GCSC Norm to Reduce and Mitigate Significant Vulnerabilities.Estonia Speaks Out on Key Rules for Cyberspace,Just Security.

Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.Top voting machine maker reverses position on election security, promises paper ballots,TechCrunch.

Tags: GCSC Call to Protect the Electoral Infrastructure.Mitch McConnell is Making the 2020 Election Open Season for Hackers, The New Yorker.

Tags: GCSC Call to Protect the Electoral Infrastructure.Congress to take another stab at 'hack back' legislation, CyberScoop.

Tags: GCSC Norm Against Offensive Cyber Operations by Non-State Actors.House's defense bill looks to protect Pentagon's tech supply chain, CyberScoop.

Tags: GCSC Norm to Avoid Tampering.CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Messaging service Telegram CEO points to China as likely origin of cyber attack, Reuters.

Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.China Summons Tech Giants to Warn Against Cooperating With Trump Ban, The New York Times.

Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.Huawei Represents Massive Supply Chain Risk: Report, DarkReading.

Tags: GCSC Norm to Avoid Tampering.


Entering the Third Decade of Cyber Threats: Toward Greater Clarity in Cyberspace, Lawfare.

Tags: Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.The UN Panel on Digital Cooperation: An Agenda for the 2020s, CircleID.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner Wolfgang Kleinwächter.The Politician Fighting The Spyware Industry,Motherboard.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner Marietje Schaake.DEF CON: From Failed Party and Movie Inspiration to Global Dominance, Exabeam.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner Jeff Moss.Threat from technology should not be underestimated, security officials say, The National.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael Chertoff.Tech Giants Told To Up Their Game, As Faith In Institutions Erodes, Forbes.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael Chertoff.Electric Grid Security Unites Public and Private Sectors, Government Technology.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael Chertoff.Ask the experts: Should the US have a data privacy law similar to GDPR?, Security Boulevard.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael Chertoff.GLOBSEC Forum: ‘No reason to protest, people have a great life’, Babis says, Euractiv.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael ChertoffGCSC Commissioner Marietje Schaake.Democracy & Disconnect, GLOBSEC 2019.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael Chertoff.Austin, Texas: A Case Study in Managing Competitive Crises, Chrysanthemum Marketing.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner Motohiro Tsuchiya.Canada should regulate social media firms to protect election, says international group, Yahoo! News.

Tags: GCSC Co-Chair Michael Chertoff.Canada’s economic future could be ‘difficult’ if it fails to ban Huawei: expert, Global News.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner James Andrew Lewis.Online piracy slows in Russia, Broadband TV News.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner Ilya Sachkov.The Cybersecurity 202: Security experts alarmed that Trump may jettison Huawei penalties as part of trade deal, The Washington Post.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner Christopher Painter.China’s PLA seeks to bring cyberwarfare units under one roof, South China Morning Post.

Tags: GCSC Commissioner James Andrew Lewis.

Xi Jinping attends SCO summit


Xi Jinping was kicking it up in the Kyrgyz capital in on Friday, in anticipation of the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit.

Some context: The SCO and its predecessor, the Shanghai Five, have been around since 1996. The group is a China-led eight-member strong organization, focused on economic and security issues.

For this summit, all eyes will be on:

Problems between member states India and PakistanWhat will – or won’t – be said about China’s Uighur camps in Xinjiang

Why does Xinjiang matter? Kazak nationals have reportedly been interned in the camps. Given that Kazakhstan is an SCO member, we’re curious to see whether Kazakh officials raise any objections with the Chinese.

Xi kept busy while waiting for the summit. Yesterday, he held separate bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

He’s also expected to chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan today.

Get smart: Most people pay little attention to the SCO. But this is a China-led security bloc whose member states comprise close to half the world’s population – not to mention half the Nuclear Club. It’s definitely worth watching.

Xinuha: China, Kyrgyzstan agree to enhance ties to new heights
Xinhua: China ready to join India for closer development partnership

Veera Ballala III of Tiruvannamalai

Of the many reasons why you should go see Tiruvannamalai, one of the main ones is that it is very deeply connected with Veera Ballala III. Now how does a Kannada king be involved so deeply with a shrine in proper Tamil country?

It was the early fourteenth century, a period of great turmoil and destruction for South India. Malik Kafur had come and gone. The next raid by Ulugh Khan uprooted the Pandyans from Madurai and established a sultanate in the ancient Tamil city.

Veera Ballala III, the great Hoysala king, was driven from his capital of Dwarasamudra. And that is when he shifted to Tiruvannamalai. From this temple town he proceeded to resist the complete capture of the south by the Turks.He fought for 30 years before being killed by the Madurai sultanate's forces.

Having lost all his sons to death he had adopted the deity of Tiruvannamalai as his own son and to this day Arunachaleshwara performs the annual rites for his father, the brave Veera Ballala III.

A gopuram built by him still stands in the temple. So does a two and a half feet statue of this sovereign who never gave up a fight.

Come see Tiruvannamalai - the capital of Veera Ballala III, an ancient fire shrine and subject of many poets of Tamil bhakti literature

June 13, 2019

Forget about Dalit voters. Tell us why upper caste Hindus voted for BJP like never before


Forget about Dalit voters. Tell us why upper caste Hindus voted for BJP like never before

India’s upper caste analysts have held Dalits & backwards responsible for Modi’s return to power, keeping their own group away from scrutiny.


13 June, 2019 11:59 am

People at a rally by PM Narendra Modi (Representational photo) | PTI

India’s Left, liberals and the secular analysts have been worried over the past three weeks: why would the non-Yadavs and the non-Jatav Dalits vote for the BJP and bring Narendra Modi back to power? Much of the socio-political analysis of the Lok Sabha election results since 23 May has focused on the backward castes, the underclass, and the Dalit voters and how they shifted towards the Bharatiya Janata Party. The analysts appear to have deliberately sidestepped the fact that it’s the upper castes that predominantly voted for the BJP. But for liberals like Satish K. Jha and Sudha Pai, the burden of defeating the BJP is only on the shoulders of the marginalised groups; the upper castes are free from all scrutiny.

But upper caste Hindus have always been kept away from assessment of all kinds. There are tonnes of literature and research papers analysing and studying Dalits, Tribals, Other Backward Classes and the minorities. But there is none that tells us when and how the upper caste Hindus became comfortable voting for candidates like Pragya Singh Thakur, Giriraj Singh, and Sakshi Maharaj. There are no sociological studies that explain to us how the upper castes are able to support an ideology that instigates the lynching of poor Muslims or the violent treatment of Dalits in Dadri and Una. Isn’t it time the upper caste Hindus are made the subject of academic scrutiny?

Analysts and their 2019 ‘coverage’

Beyond analysing the voting preference of Dalit and backward caste voters, political analysts and the media cheered over the communities’ shift towards the BJP, calling it the victory of development politics, and the end of Mandal and caste politics, especially in north India. Analysts have been unable to hide their glee while writing obituaries of the silent revolution, which shaped the landscape of Hindi heartland politics for three decades.

Take for instance Professor Sudha Pai’s deep dive into the 2019 election results. While exploring the reasons for BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh, Pai came to the conclusion that the “Mahagathbandhan (of SP and BSP) remained anchored in the Mandal discourse of the past, which has lost relevance.” K.K. Kailashtermed the results as the “fall of regional parties”, concluding that “the SP and the BSP have become one-caste dominated parties with the non-Yadav OBCs and the non-Jatav Dalit castes looking towards the BJP.” Ajay Gudavarthy and Satish K. Jha saw the result as one borne out of a political process in which “the BJP played the hard ball with minute caste calculations including the leaders of various non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits.” There is a long list of authors who have written on similar lines.

Also read: The traditional BJP voter is upper caste, upper class & a staunch believer in Hindu pride

Citation bias 

The data on the shift of voters was readily available for anyone who asked. The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) collated this information and disseminated it for writers to form their conclusions. The researchers of CSDS-LoknitiIndia Today-AxisAshoka University’s Trivedi Centre for Political Data and many other organisations collected information on voters’ choices and their caste from polling booths on the days votes were cast in the 2019 elections.

Now whether the survey results are authentic or not, there is a wide consensus that support among Dalits and OBCs (especially the non-Yadav OBCs) for the BJP increased with the 2019 elections. But should the overwhelming support that the BJP got from the Hindu upper caste voters be glossed over, or, better yet, simply ignored?  

According to Lokniti-CSDS survey in Uttar Pradesh, 82 per cent Brahmins, 89 per cent Thakurs and 70 per cent Vaishya voted for the BJP. As per India Today-My Axis’ post-poll survey, 77 per cent people from ‘general’ castes in Uttar Pradesh voted for the BJP; in Bihar, it was 73 per cent. Overall, 61 per cent general category castes in the country voted for Modi’s BJP.



There has been too much analysis declaring the demise of caste politics and of ethnic-regional political parties. But I have yet to find articles, other than one from Rohan Venkataramakrishnan, stating, let alone investigating, the widely known fact that the upper castes voted en masse for the BJP.

For that matter, I am yet to stumble upon any research paper on the topic of the voting preferences of the Hindu upper castes. Like A.K. Hangal famously said in Sholay – Itna sannata kyon hai bhai?

Also read: For upper caste quota, IITs will add 3,000 seats and central varsities over a lakh

Upper castes out of glare

What explains this silence on why upper castes support the BJP, when voting behaviour of backward castes and Dalits, as well as Muslims, is analysed after each election to write commentaries about caste and communal politics in India? Shouldn’t the upper castes’ voting patterns be similarly looked at to determine where the caste politics is headed? Is it possible the community is kept out of glare because it is responsible for sending terror accused Pragya Thakur or people like Giriraj Singh and Sakshi Maharaj to Parliament?

The upper caste Hindus have better access to higher education than the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. It’s a puzzle then that despite being the most educated social group, the upper caste Hindus support communal politics. It also remains unknown why the upper castes turned vehemently communal during the late 1980s and the 1990s, and why that process of communalisation continues to this day. 

There can be two possible reasons, and both linked to each other. It could be because the academia and the media is dominated by upper caste Hindus, and thus the upper caste analysts are uncomfortable to turn the gaze upon themselves.

Prof Vivek Kumar of JNU, in a research paper, has explained how sociology is conducted in India. He points to the domination of the twice-born castes at four levels – as members practising sociology in institutions; in the sphere of production of knowledge while writing chapters of books; producing knowledge with the help of scriptural sources; and at the level of producing data from the field and while teaching. He concludes that their domination works at the ontological and epistemological level and this impacts the choice of subject matters.

The same is true for the Departments of Gender Studies, where most of the research is done about the victims of patriarchy but very few on the perpetrators of patriarchy. Similarly, in the case of industrial sociology, studies look at the issues affecting the labour class but not the strategies and tactics used by the capitalist employers. It is an important indicator to look at who is conducting the study, on whom, and for whose benefit.

Also read: In headlines and in politics: How Modi govt brought the upper castes up

One can conclude that academicians and analysts don’t want the upper castes to be the subject matter of their studies – which explains why there are numerous studies on Dalits, Tribals, OBCs and the minorities, but dissertations and theses on upper castes are extremely hard to find. There are scores of centres for Dalit studies, but I am yet to learn about any centre for Brahmin or Bhumihar or Thakur studies.

American sociologist Martin Nicolaus had raised similar questions in the meeting of American Sociological Congress in 1968. He said that in the United States, sociology has no autonomy in deciding its subject matters. “The eyes of sociologists have been turned downward, and their palms upward. Eyes down, to study the activities of the lower classes of the subject population,” he had said.

There is little possibility of the upper caste sociologists studying their own brethren as envisaged by Nicolaus in his speech: “What if the habits, problems, secrets and unconscious motivations of the wealthy and powerful were daily scrutinized by a thousand systematic researchers… and published.”

At this point, this is not happening in Indian academia and the media.

The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal.


The Indian Dalit man killed for eating in front of upper-caste men

By Vineet KhareBBC Hindi, Uttarakhand

 19 May 2019 India


Image captionJitendra was a carpenter and the only breadwinner in his family

A helpless anger pervades the Dalit community in the remote Indian village of Kot.

Last month, a group of upper-caste men allegedly beat up a 21-year-old Dalit resident, named Jitendra, so badly that he died nine days later.

His alleged crime: he sat on a chair and ate in their presence at a wedding.

Not even one of the hundreds of guests who attended the wedding celebration - also of a young Dalit man - will go on record to describe what happened to Jitendra on 26 April.

Afraid of a backlash, they will only admit to being at a large ground where the wedding feast was being held.

Only the police have publicly said what happened.

The wedding food had been cooked by upper-caste residents because many people in remote regions don't touch any food prepared by Dalits, who are the bottom of the rigid Hindu caste hierarchy.

"The scuffle happened when food was being served. The controversy erupted over who was sitting on the chair," police officer Ashok Kumar said.

The incident has been registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) - a law meant to protect historically oppressed communities.

The Dalits attacked for wearing the wrong shoesWhat is India's caste system?

Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, have suffered public shaming for generations at the hands of upper-caste Hindus.

Image captionGeeta Devi says she found her son injured outside their home

Dalits continue to face widespread atrocities across the country and any attempts at upward social mobility are violently put down.

For example, four wedding processions of Dalits were attacked in the western state of Gujarat within a week in May.

It is still common to see reports of Dalits being threatened, beaten and killed for seemingly mundane reasons.

The culture that pervades their community is visible everywhere - including in Kot, which is in the hilly northern state of Uttarakhand.

Local residents from the Dalit community allege that Jitendra was beaten and humiliated at the wedding.

They say he left the event in tears, but was ambushed again a short distance away and attacked again - this time more brutally.

Jitendra's mother, Geeta Devi, found him injured outside their dilapidated house early the next morning.

"He had been perhaps lying there the entire night," she said, pointing to where she found him. "He had bruises and injury marks all over his body. He tried to speak but couldn't."

Image captionDalits are outnumbered by upper-caste families in the village

She does not know who left her son outside their home. He died nine days later in hospital.

Jitendra's death is a double tragedy for his mother - nearly five years ago her husband also died.

This meant that Jitendra, who was a carpenter, became the family's only breadwinner and had to drop out of school to start working.

Family and friends describe him as a private man who spoke very little.

Why are Dalits in Narendra Modi's India angry?Indian lowest-caste Dalit man killed 'for owning horse'

Loved ones have been demanding justice for his death, but have found little support among the community.

"There is fear. The family lives in a remote area. They have no land and are financially fragile," Dalit activist Jabar Singh Verma said. "In surrounding villages too, the Dalits are outnumbered by families from higher castes."

Of the 50 families in Jitendra's village, only some 12 or 13 are Dalits.

Dalits comprise almost 19% of Uttarakhand's population and the state has a history of atrocities committed against them.

Police have arrested seven men in connection with Jitendra's death, but all of them deny any involvement.

Image captionUpper-caste villagers deny discriminating against the Dalit community

"It's a conspiracy against our family," said a woman whose father, uncles and brothers are among the accused. "Why would my father use caste slurs at a Dalit's marriage?"

"He must have been embarrassed that he got beaten and popped dozens of pills that led to his death," another local upper-caste person said.

But the Dalits in the village, who are livid over Jitendra's death, hotly deny these claims.

They say Jitendra suffered from epilepsy, but insist there is no chance that he overdosed on his medication.

Apart from these expressions of anger, local Dalit families have largely remained silent.

"It is because they are economically dependent on families from the higher castes," activist Daulat Kunwar said.

"Most Dalits are landless. They work the fields of their wealthy upper caste neighbours. They know the consequences of speaking out loud."

Jitendra's family has already experienced some of these consequences - Geeta Devi says they are under pressure to stop pushing for the truth.

"Some men came over to our house and tried to scare us," she said. "There is no one to support us but I will never give up our quest for justice."

June 12, 2019

Can China Solve Pakistan’s Energy Crisis?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurate CPEC projects in April 2015.

Image Credit: Pakistan Prime Minister's Office

CPEC has great promise, but Pakistan must be clear-eyed about the environmental and political costs.

By Sheraz Aziz

June 12, 2019








Pakistan’s energy crisis is a key factor hampering its economic growth. The public bears the brunt of this chronic shortfall, which is caused by several factors. Nothing has worked so far to find a permanent fix to this crisis, so the Pakistani government and the public have welcomed China’s recent intervention.

Beijing is interested in making substantial investments in the country’s energy sector under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC is a part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to connect Europe, Africa, and the rest with China to increase trade and growth.

When President Xi Jinping announced a $46 billion investment, many began to hope that this would end all of Pakistan’s economic problems. Some even equated it with the Marshall Plan. The Pakistani media and the ruling elite have suggested that that the CPEC agreement will end all of Pakistan’s economic woes.

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CPEC promises a number of infrastructure projects of various kinds — roads, highways, bridges, and energy projects — across Pakistan to facilitate trade and connectivity between the two nations. It will also connect China’s western province of Xinjiang to the Indian Ocean through the port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. However, the bulk of CPEC investments – about $35 billion – will go to energy projects, including solar, coal, hydropower, and natural gas. According to official estimates, 21 new projects will generate nearly 17,000 megawatts of energy. Under CPEC, 17 energy projects have been finalized to date and four more are under consideration.

While this massive multi-pronged investment is a great relief, Pakistan must approach it with great caution.

Pakistan should look to China for assistance as an equal partner, but it should not give China a monopoly over its energy sector. There are already concerns that due to CPEC, Chinese firms are benefiting more than their Pakistani counterparts.

In January 2018, Dawn reported that Pakistani firms have been denied contracts for power and other projects. They quoted a senior government advisor who said even equipment and raw materials for the projects were being imported from China.

“Labor is also coming from China. There are no restrictions on Chinese firms to involve Pakistani contractors and use local equipment and labor as they take the lion’s share of infrastructure projects,” the official complained.

Geopolitical issues in Pakistan are another concern, as turmoil in Balochistan poses a constant threat to peace and stability. A recent attack on Chinese investors at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar demonstrated the seriousness of this threat. The Baloch insurgents often target energy infrastructure projects, such as gas pipelines and electricity towers, because they see China as an imperial force that, along with the Pakistan government, wants to plunder Balochistan’s resources. Minimizing violence directed toward infrastructure is vital for the success of CPEC.

Pakistan’s Energy Crisis

Pakistan’s energy sector has been in a perpetual state of crisis for several years. Electricity outages last from 6-8 hours at a time and occur daily throughout the country. These blackouts cost the economy $18 billion in 2015 alone. Pakistan currently produces an average of 25,000 megawatts (MW) and during peak seasons it has an average electricity shortage of up to 7,000 MW, mainly due to inefficient and outdated power plants and infrastructure. To deal with this shortage, industries and households are forced to use diesel electric generators to meet their daily energy demands.

According to Safiya Aftab of the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center, the current crisis started around25 years ago when the country moved its energy production from hydropower to imported furnace oil. Consequently, the cost of power generation increased, while corruption and mismanagement in the energy sector let bills from households slip. This, in return, triggered delayed payments for imported furnace oil, natural gas, and other sources. To remedy this, the government applied for loans to finance the unprofitable energy industry, thus plunging it into a never-ending cycle of debt. For every 100 units of electricity that power plants generate, they only get paid for 30.

World Bank data shows 99 percent of Pakistanis had access to electricity in 2016. However, poor management made it difficult to attract investments in manufacturing and the service sector.

Following China’s Lead – or Finding a Better Path

China’s record of meeting its own electricity demands, coupled with its rapid economic growth, demonstrates that it has the potential to pull Pakistan out of its energy crisis. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China’s energy consumption was at a mere 131 million tonnes oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1965. But with an increasing GDP, it had to meet higher and higher demand, and by 2015, China was consuming 3,000 Mtoe. However, most of their energy production has been fueled by coal, despite China’s commitment to becoming a global leader in renewable energy by 2030 and a reduction in the share of coal in energy consumption from 87.1 percent in 1965 to 63.7 percent by 2015.

China is the world’s largest carbon dixoide emitter. Considering how hard chronic air pollution has hit Beijing and several major Chinese cities, developing countries should be cautious in taking the same path. As Pakistan grapples with climate change as one of the countries being hit hardest by global warming, it should consider how coal plants will affect its cities in the long term. Last winter, Lahore ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world with the worst air smog ever recorded in the country.

While solving its energy needs is a priority, Pakistan should work on renewable energy projects and look for viable solutions to meet its demands. Currently, renewable energy productionstands at one-third of total energy generation, stemming mostly from large hydropower plants in the north. The share of renewable energy from solar power only stands at a meager four percent of the total share of energy being produced in the country. The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates 50 GW of theoretical wind potential in the southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, but this potential remains largely untapped.

Pakistan should solve its energy problems while, at the same time, making it a priority to keep the environment clean. Luckily, there has been some headway on that front.

In January, the government proposedeliminating taxes for solar and wind power manufacturing. It also announced plans to increase the share of renewable energy generation to 30 percent by 2030. The government intends to add 18,000 MW to its grid from renewable energy. While doing so, Pakistan should make renewable energy production a homegrown industry by setting up manufacturing zones to boost the economy.

The Future of Energy

To be a leader in the renewable energy industry, Pakistan should follow the Indian experience, where the government established a chain of outstanding Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). These institutions helped India foresee the future and produce brilliant graduates in relevant fields.

Pakistan must embark on a similar process. This needs consistency and a vision for the future on the part of the country’s leadership. The government should commit to a long-term plan to exploit this industry of the future. It can take advantage of Chinese support and technical assistance, but the attainment of self-reliance must be its ultimate goal.

With its potential in solar and wind power and a massive youth population, Pakistan can become a major powerhouse and a beacon of hope for other developing countries in the world in the fight against climate change. Maybe that’s the Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan) Prime Minister Imran Khan should promise to the nation.

Sheraz Aziz, currently based in Washington, DC, is a Karachi-born engineer who has studied and worked in the renewable energy industry in China.


China Story Yearbook

*Download* 👉 https://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n5274/pdf/book.pdf


In 2018, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was, by most measures, more powerful than at any other time in its history and had become one of the most powerful countries in the world. Its economy faced serious challenges, including from the ongoing ‘trade war’ with the US, but still ranked as the world’s second largest. Its Belt and Road Initiative, meanwhile, continued to carve paths of influence and economic integration across several continents. A deft combination of policy, investment, and entrepreneurship has also turned the PRC into a global ‘techno-power’. It aims, with a good chance of success, at becoming a global science and technology leader by 2049 – one hundred years from the founding of the PRC.

In surveying the various ways in which the Party-state wields its hard, soft, and sharp power, the China Story Yearbook: Poweroffers readers a sense of the diversity of power at work both in China and abroad. Citizens of the PRC have long negotiated the state’s influence; increasingly, diaspora communities and other actors are now being subject to its might. As with previous editions in the series, we place important developments in historical context, and adopt a cross-disciplinary approach: it is our view that economy and politics cannot be divorced from culture, history, and society. The Yearbook provides accessible analysis of the main events and trends of the year and is an essential tool for understanding China’s growing power and influence around the world.


June 11, 2019

Who are behind the termination of IT Commissioner S K Srivastava who exposed NDTV and Chidambaram frauds?


Who are behind the termination of IT Commissioner S K Srivastava who exposed NDTV and Chidambaram frauds?

At whose instigation was the name of S K Srivastava added to the list of corrupt IT Officers?


 Sree Iyer


June 12, 2019

At whose instigation was the name of S K Srivastava added to the list of corrupt IT Officers?

Ye jo hua, accha nahi hua!” These were the words that came to my mind when I saw the list of Income Tax Officers being sent into forced retirement. Income Tax Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, who exposed the 1000s of crores-worth tax violation and money laundering of NDTV and their links with the corrupt former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, was terminated by the Central Government on fake cases of sexual abuse in the garb of the arbitrary Provision Rule 56(J) of Fundamental Rules. This Rule was generally used to terminate the services of persons who crossed the age of 50 years and were caught for serious cases like corruption and those who were not working (considered dead wood).

As and when S K Srivastava found tax evasions and money laundering in the corrupt TV channel NDTV owned by money launderer Prannoy Roy in 2006, the maverick Income Tax Commissioner was under the radar of the then corrupt Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who used to launder his bribe money through NDTV. For the interest of readers, we are bringing out the exact timeline of the expose of Srivastava and the hardships he faced from the corrupt people.

In 2006, Income Tax Commissioner SK Srivastava started smelling tax evasion and frauds in NDTV. He found that NDTV’s Assessing Officer Sumana Sen IRS was in connivance with NDTV and her husband Abhisar Sharma was working in NDTV. Those days Sharma, a junior anchor was getting a dream salary of Rs.1.4 lakhs per month from NDTV, while many known journalists were getting only Rs.40,000 per month. Sumana Sen, as an Assessing Officer never declared to the Income Tax Department that her husband was working in a firm under her Assessing Circle of Income Tax. Sumana and Husband were enjoying many foreign trips also at the expense of NDTV. This gross violation was reported by S K Srivastava. This reporting made Srivastava to come under the radar of the then corrupt Finance Minister Chidambaram who started bullying the honest Income Tax officer. To wreak vengeance on Srivastava, Sumana Sen filed a department complaint that Srivastava harassed her sexually. Her complaint was that Srivastava used to speak ill about her to colleagues and pass lewd comments and wrote sexually abusive comments in file. But none of these complaints found merit in the departmental inquiry.In 2008, Srivastava found another lady IRS officer Ashima Neb, working in the foreign tax division of Income Tax also favouring NDTV. He reported to higher authorities as to how she saved NDTV from money laundering through foreign firms. Srivastava also reported the doubtful purchase of a flat in Delhi by Ashima Neb, accusing her of taking bribes from NDTV and her frequent foreign trips to Dubai and a long stay of 10 days in Mauritius. Ashima Neb was also close to Chidambaram and many higher officials. Ashima, also like Sumana Sen filed allegations of sexual harassment and the complaint was on the same lines as Sen’s – that Srivastava used abusive words against her in official files and documents, etc. This complaint also did not file any merit in the departmental inquiry.Within a few weeks, Chidambaram who had then become the Home Minister, forced Delhi Police to register FIRs against SK Srivastava on the complaints (which already lost merit in departmental inquiry) filed by Ashima Neb and Sumana Sen. Meanwhile using this, when Chidambaram got back to the Finance Ministry suspends S K Srivastava and unleashes a series of departmental inquiries. Srivastava approaches the court and during a heated argument in Delhi High Court, the HC surprisingly orders to send him 15 days to a Mental Hospital in January 2014.  Why the High Court passed such an order is another question. Then the Mental Hospital reports back to High Court that Srivastava is mentally sound. During this period, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, activist, and writer S Gurumurthy, noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, top cop KPS Gill, activist Madhu Kishwar intervened in many forums seeking justice for the honest officer SK Srivastava. Meanwhile, in many forums, Srivastava started winning cases.In mid-2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi orders reinstating of SK Srivastava. But the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a known buddy of Chidambaram, was objecting to Srivastava’s posting in Delhi and posted him in the nearby Noida region. From 2015, SK Srivastava was eligible for promotion as Principal Commissioner and Jaitley, due to his proximity with Chidambaram, was holding the file.The interesting thing was that till last year (2018), Srivastava’s Annual Confidential Records show meritorious grades of more than 90 percent as he has achieved more than his targets.The trial court discharged SK Srivastava in early-2018 on the sexual harassment case filed by Ashima Neb. The case filed by Sumana Sen is still in the preliminary stages.

I hope the readers have read the timeline carefully. So how did S K Srivastava’s name come in the list of corrupt officers facing charges? How unproven charges of sexual harassment, that too filed by the lady IRS officers caught for accepting benefits (in simple language it is bribing) from NDTV became an issue?

It is learnt that Arun Jaitley, in the early weeks of May, approved this list by covertly including Srivastava’s name. And the current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman agrees to this list already approved by Arun Jaitley and the PMO’s Additional Principal Secretary P K Mishra initiates all file movements to terminate S K Srivastava who exposed the NDTV’s frauds and tax evasion and the parking of bribe money by Chidambaram. The billion dollar question is – who do you work for?  Why act and follow up on the fake cases initiated by Chidambaram?

It is high time Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened and secure justice to S K Srivastava, who fought against the mighty and the corrupt.


Lee Byunghun

Dec 3, 2015




Caitlin Byrne

It’s red carpet time again in Brisbane, Australia. Last week the "New World City" hosted the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) for the ninth year in a row. Presenting the best films of the Asia Pacific region to a global audience, APSA is a surprising and quite remarkable tribute to cultural diplomacy.

Far more than just red carpets and glamour, APSA was initiated by Founding Chairman Des Power AM in 2007 with the endorsement of UNESCO and the International Federation of Film Producers (FIAPF). Its mission is quite simple: to recognize and promote the cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the Asia Pacific. Yet, this is no simple task. Depending on your perspective, the Asia Pacific spans from Egypt in the west to the Cook Islands in the east, from Russia in the north to New Zealand in the south, includes some 70 nations, and is home to 4.5 billion people. It represents the world’s most dynamic, diverse and fastest growing region – including in film production.

Film is well known as a powerful medium of cultural diplomacy, particularly when story and craft converge. This is where APSA takes its cue. The films awarded and celebrated by APSA “demonstrate a rich slate of diversity" alongside excellence in the film-making craft.

This year more than 300 films were submitted to the APSA judging process. The final cut of nominees and award winners represented forty feature films and as many nations. Among these were stories that came from the deep countryside of Kyrgyzstan and Tibet, the troubled streets of the Gaza Strip, the openness of the Australian outback, the city streets of Datong and the disturbed dreams of Thai soldiers.

Cemetery of Splendour, a joint entry from Thailand, Malaysia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom was recognized as the best feature film in 2015. As in years past, the best feature film comes from nations not typically known for their red carpet appearances. Nations previously represented in this category include the Russian Federation (Leviathan, 2014), Palestine (Omar, 2013), Greece and Turkey (Beyond the Hill, 2012), the Islamic Republic of Iran (A Separation, 2012), the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong (Aftershock, 2010), Australia (Samson and Delilah, 2009), Kazakhstan (Tulpan, 2008) and the Republic of Korea (Secret Sunshine, 2007).

Similarly, the performances reflect a refreshing breadth of talent and diversity. This year renowned Japanese actor (and grandmother) Kirin Kiki won the best female performance (For An), while Korea’s Jung Jaeyoung was awarded best male performance (Right Now, Wrong Then). Looking back over the many outstanding performances one finds a striking breadth of diversity. Not only in terms of ethnicity, language and age, but also in the roles, relationships and circumstances presented. The most compelling stories are those most often hidden from the conventional view. Far removed from the stereotypes of Hollywood, APSA should be congratulated for the complex portrait of humanity it promotes.

For Australia, APSA is an important demonstration of how the nation can engage – not by imposing its own stories and culture, but by enabling, sharing and celebrating the many stories of a culturally diverse region.

Recognized for their diversity rather than mainstream box-office appeal, these are the films that bring us, the audience, into the inner worlds and lives of those we might see as ‘"the other." They captivate our imaginations and move our emotions. They reveal gritty stories of struggle, conflict and tension that challenge our perceptions and open our minds. They remind us of our vulnerabilities and triumphs, and show us that beauty and magic can exist in even the most bleak and desolate corners of the world.

Through these stories we can come to realize that regardless of our situation we share in similar struggles: between tradition and modernity, family and cause, conformity and individuality, love and war, dreams and reality. They are stories that reveal and reflect our shared humanity and aspirations. Ultimately they are the stories that call us not just to see, but tosee ourselves in the worlds and lives of the "other." Differences forgotten. Understanding found. This powerful interaction is the essence of cultural diplomacy.

For Australia, APSA is an important demonstration of how the nation can engage – not by imposing its own stories and culture, but by enabling, sharing and celebrating the many stories of a culturally diverse region. It is through difference that Australia finds its place in the Asia Pacific. And through the recognition of difference, APSA strengthens relationships in an otherwise unfamiliar region. It is arguably Australia’s most cost effective initiative in cultural diplomacy, and offers a unique model for building collaborative soft power.

Yet APSA holds even greater significance for the city of Brisbane. Hosting the event is critical to Brisbane’s longer-term strategy to build its profile as a “New World City” - where cultures of the region converge, engage and converse. It sits on the city calendar alongside the similarly impressive biennial Asia Pacific Cities Summit and the Asia Pacific Art Triennial, not to mention landmark events like the 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit. As host of these events Brisbane has, over the past decade, successfully crafted an agenda of cultural, economic and political relevance to cities across the Asia Pacific. In doing so, this “new world city” is casting itself as a diplomatic actor of influence in the region. Bravo.

June 10, 2019

The Pashtuns: A developing faultline in Pak

The Tribune, India

Tilak Devasher 

While several factors account for the stunning popularity and mobilisation of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), a key element has been the apathy of mainstream Pakistani political parties, especially the Pashtun ones like the Awami National Party (ANP) towards the plight of the Pashtuns.
Posted at: Jun 10, 2019, 6:05 AM
Last updated: Jun 10, 2019, 6:06 AM (IST)

Cry for justice: Pashtun protests were provoked by the January 2018 extra-judicial killing of a Pashtun youth, Naqeebullah Mehsud.

Tilak Devasher
Member, National Security Advisory Board 

Conventional wisdom in and about Pakistan has been that the dominant Punjabis had coopted the Pashtuns as a junior partner to rule the country. Thus, whether it was the army, the paramilitary or the bureaucracy, the Punjabi-Pashtun partnership was lording over the smaller ethnic groups like the Baloches and Sindhis. However, Pashtun protests during the past year have seen the first cracks in such a narrative.

Pashtun protests were provoked by the January 13, 2018 extra-judicial killing of a Pashtun youth, Naqeebullah Mehsud in Karachi by 'encounter' specialist SSP Rao Anwar who boasted of over 400 such 'kills'. After a sit-in in Karachi, Pashtun youth organised a ‘long march’ from Dera Ismail Khan to Islamabad on February 1. The objective was to seek justice for Naqeebullah and to express their pent-up feelings of anger and alienation at being the victims of constant warfare for decades. The 'long march' morphed into the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) that has over the past year taken the Pashtun belt in Pakistan by storm. 

In the one year of its existence, the PTM has become a broad-based movement challenging the state's attitude towards the Pashtuns during anti-terror operations. Its activities have shown that it was not a fleeting expression of rage and anguish in a war-ravaged region. Rather, it has become the rallying cry of the community that has had enough of the war and displacement that it entailed due to the state's Afghan policy.

Manzoor Pashteen, a Mehsud Pashtun in his mid-20s, has emerged as the leader of the movement. In an article published in the New York Times, Pashteen wrote that at first the militants who escaped to the area after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, terrorised and murdered the residents. Thereafter, the army's operations against the militants brought further misery: civilian killings, displacements, enforced disappearances, humiliation and the destruction of their livelihoods and way of life. 

While several factors account for the stunning popularity and mobilisation of the PTM, a key element has been the apathy of mainstream Pakistani political parties, especially the Pashtun ones like the Awami National Party (ANP) 

towards the plight of the Pashtuns. Having compromised with the army for crumbs of office, the ANP became a mainstream party that chose not to articulate wider Pashtun grievances brought about by the war on terror. This gulf between Pashtun grievances and the ANP was increasingly filled by the PTM. 

Three slogans of the PTM have fired the imagination of the Pashtuns. The first is: "Yeh jo dehshatgardi hai, is ke peechay wardi hai" (behind this terrorism, is the [military] uniform), pointing to a nexus between the terrorists and the army. The second is "Da Sang Azadi Da?" (What kind of freedom is this?). Its latest ‘islar-o-bar yaw Afghan’, i.e ([People of] low and highlands are one Afghan), implying the commonality between the Pakistani Pashtun (lar) and their Afghan brethren (bar). 

Another powerful representation of the movement is the distinctive, embroidered red-and-black Mazari cap. Such has been the symbolism that similar caps have been banned from several places, including the Bannu university, that termed wearing the specific cap 'subversive' and a sign of ethnic divide.  

The main demands of the PTM are (i) the immediate arrest and prosecution of Rao Anwar (ii) stopping of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and their investigation, (iii) an end to the harassment and humiliation of the people of the tribal areas and (iv) the removal of all landmines from former FATA. Over the past year, other demands have been added, like a complete control over their resources instead of their being extracted and transported to Punjab. 

The unique thing about the PTM is that perhaps for the first time in Pakistan a peaceful movement has challenged the holiest of holies — the army — for enforcing rights under the constitution. Not surprisingly, the PTM has across-the-board acceptability since most Pashtuns, especially the youth who were born and grew up during the war on terror, have personal experiences of war and devastation. 

Perhaps, the most important impact of the PTM is its success in demolishing the atmosphere of fear in KPK that had forced people to bear atrocities silently. The movement has given a platform and a voice to the suffering people who had been at the receiving end of terrorist violence and state oppression. According to Pashteen, activism has created awareness that the Pashtuns were mere pawns in a war that was fought for the benefit and interests of others in which there was collusion between the military and the militants. 

The army, suffering as it does from the Bangladesh syndrome, has been suspicious about the PTM from the start. It has tried to crush its activities in the only manner it knows — using the muscular approach. It has even gone to the extent of saying that the PTM's 'time was up' and has accused it of acting at the behest of Afghanistan and India.

The moot question that the Pashtuns are asking is why does the army regard a peaceful rights movement as an enemy conspiracy rather than what it really is — a movement demanding constitutional rights and justice? The Pashtuns are beginning to discover, just like the Baloches, the Bengalis, and the Sindhis discovered earlier, that non-Punjabis do not have the freedom to make their voices heard in Pakistan. Such a belief, if it continues to grow, could have dangerous portents for Pakistan. Equally, coercive action against the already alienated Pashtuns could invite a backlash and sow the seeds of enduring tension between the Pashtuns and the Punjabis. Noted journalist Saleem Safi perhaps best summarised the situation: 'The whole country, the Pashtun belt in particular, is once again inching closer towards a new, dangerous and gory crisis. The situation has reached an alarming level and if both sides don't come to their senses, it could result in a national calamity.' 

— The writer is the author of  ‘Pakistan: Courting the Abyss’ and ‘Pakistan: At the Helm’