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The politics of Indian census data September 24, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , comments closed

Vikas Kumar

Indian governments spend enormous resources to collect data — including 12 billion and 22 billion rupees on decennial censuses in 2001 and 2011, respectively. Yet they appear reluctant to release it. The latest decennial census data on religion, for example, which were released on 25 August 2015, were collected almost half a decade ago in 2011.

During the past 15 years, governments of both national parties have on more than one occasion deferred to political expediency on the question of releasing demographic data disaggregated by communities. In the process governments have contributed to the politicisation of statistics. The troubled past of the census data on religion reveals systemic problems insofar as the statistical wing of the government is insufficiently insulated from politics. (more…)

Hate speech in Hyderabad: Why the Congress is faltering in Andhra Pradesh February 6, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Kimberley Layton

Prior to the 1989 parliamentary elections, the Indian National Congress Party dominated India’s political landscape, commanding impressive parliamentary majorities and forming what were reasonably stable and efficient governments. However, contemporary Indian politics is profoundly different. The decline of the Congress party has ushered in the rise of smaller, regional parties that are critical to forming successful coalition governments.

Akbaruddin Owaisi speaking before his supporters

The Congress party (which fronts India’s governing coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II) is currently undergoing a crisis of confidence among coalition members in states that it currently controls, such as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. (more…)

Resounding Victories for both Obama and Osama May 9, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Roberts, Michael , comments closed

Michael Roberts

Both Obama and Osama are happy.

The killing of Osama bin Laden is a major triumph for President Obama and USA. It is a momentous symbolic victory. “Yes We Can” has been confirmed and underlined. It will boost Obama’s re-election chances immeasurably. The triumphalism displayed on the streets and in media outlets in USA reveals the depths of patriotism as well as the hostility to extreme Muslim fundamentalism. Though Australian human rights crusaders have criticised the action as a “summary execution,” there are no qualms in most of USA. The story of this commando strike is pictured as an “act of justice” not as an “outrage.”

This victory for Obama is also a victory for Osama. Having trod the path of mujahid in the path to Allah, he is now a shahid at the feet of Allah. Sura 9: 111 runs thus: “Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth in return for Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah, kill and get killed. That is a true promise from Him in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an; and who fulfils His promise better than Allah? Rejoice, then, in the bargain you have made with Him, for that is a great triumph” (Cook 2005: 9).

It is no accident, therefore, that the attack on the World Trade centre occurred on 9/11. But alongside this faith in numerology lies a commitment to the “salvific covenant between God and the Muslims” as David Cook has argued in his Understanding Jihad (2005: 9). This “covenant,” stresses Cook, “is presented in contractual terms.” The Muslim believer embarking on the journey that involves a “fight in the path of the Allah” receives an assurance of Paradise at its end. He is before Allah as a monad. (more…)