QBullet:Europe’s Dilemma, RSS on the Nation, Kanhaiya in Hyderabad

The day’s top stories, fresh off the press on QBullet

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Belgian army soldiers patrols in the center of Brussels on Monday. (Photo: AP)

1. A Quandary for Europe: Fighting a War on ISIS Within Its Borders

The United States’ War on Terror was largely an external one, writes Steven Erlanger in The New York Times, but Europe faces a different battle with ISIS. The “enemy’s” hideouts are not in a distant part of the world but in ghettos of its own cities, which amount to “mini failed states” in its own borders.

Europe has faced a much harder time understanding and dealing with its own citizens who have abetted the Islamic State’s ascent. These are mostly third-generation Muslim immigrants, who have become radicalised in poor communities left to develop outside the national culture.
Article in The New York Times

The solution cannot be to engage in a war within one’s own borders. Firstly, because it raises questions about civil liberties and freedom and could lead to a civil war-like situation. Secondly, it is precisely what ISIS wants.

Even more, Mr. Heisbourg argued, “talking of war dignifies Daesh [ISIS’ Arabic name], which wants to be seen as having a state and an army of warriors and martyrs.” For angry, poor and isolated young Muslims in Europe, “to be seen as the downtrodden victims of Western colonialism and inequity, fighting the holy war against the arrayed legions of the crusaders,” is precisely what the Islamic State advertises.
Article in The New York Times

2. BJP Wants Strong Signal From Mehbooba That All’s Well

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti and BJP President Amit Shah. (Photo: PTI)
File photo of Mehbooba Mufti and BJP President Amit Shah. (Photo: PTI)

While most people are waiting for the PDP and BJP to announce that they will (re)form the Jammu and Kashmir government after Mehbooba Mufti’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an article in The Hindu suggests that the wait may be longer than expected.

Mehbooba, who had dithered on the alliance for months, seems to have upset people in the BJP with her dithering.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, instrumental in forging the alliance between the parties, said no new conditions had been accepted at the meeting between Mr. Modi and Ms. Mufti. “The Prime Minister asked the PDP chief to speak to BJP leaders and decide the future course of action. Mehboobaji wanted the Prime Minister’s blessings and Modiji assured her of all help,” he said.
Article in The Hindu

The PDP, reports had suggested, was keen to renegotiate the alliance and was seen as having the upper hand. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and the BJP is looking for a “strong signal” from Mehbooba before going ahead with government formation.

3. In Hyderabad, Kanhaiya Pitches for ‘Rohith Act’ to End Casteism

JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday said that the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice of Hyderabad Central University will continue its struggle until the Centre brings out a ‘Rohith Act’. Kanhaiya, who landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad at around 11 am, also said that he will participate and address a public meeting organised by the JAC on the HCU campus this evening, “if the police permits”.

Today, I will first meet Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika and his brother Raja. JAC has invited me to address a public meeting on HCU campus...If police allows me then I will definitely go to HCU and address the students.
Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU Students’ Union President


Rahul Gandhi with Rohith Vemula’s mother. (Photo: PTI)
Rahul Gandhi with Rohith Vemula’s mother. (Photo: PTI)

Notably, the mother and brother of Dalit research scholar Rohith – who committed suicide in a hostel room on the campus on 17 January – had last month met political leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and KC Tyagi, seeking their support for the enactment of a ‘Rohith Act’ against caste discrimination in educational institutions.

4. Muslim Personal Law Outside SC Jurisdiction, Asserts Board

Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Reuters)
Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Reuters)

The Supreme Court’s decision to review the legal validity of the ‘triple talaq’ provision in Muslim personal law hasn’t gone down well with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). The AIMPLB has argued that Muslim Law comes from the Quran and not an act of Parliament, and hence, the courts do not have the jurisdiction to test the legal validity of the controversial personal law.

Shayara is determined, like many Muslim women in the country, to fight for a ban on the triple talaq. (Photo  altered by <b>The Quint</b>)
Shayara is determined, like many Muslim women in the country, to fight for a ban on the triple talaq. (Photo altered by The Quint)
Drawing a line between a law enacted by the legislature and social norms dictated by religion, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board through advocate Ejaz Maqbool told the Supreme Court, “Mohammedan law is founded on the Holy Quran and Ahadith of the Prophet of Islam and this cannot fall within the purview of the expression ‘laws in force’, as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution.” “The personal law of Muslims has not been passed or made by a legislation,” it said.
Report in The Times of India

AIMPLB also argued against the Uniform Civil Code because it was no guarantee of national integrity, solidarity or equality. They also pointed out that the Hindu Code Bill, which aimed to bring uniformity and equality among Hindus has not solved all the issues plaguing the community.

Countering the idea of uniform civil code, AIMPLB said the Hindu Code Bill, which was passed in 1956 to bring uniformity in personal law among different sects of Hindus, has failed to achieve integration among different sects of Hindus. “Are there not caste divisions which still exist and has caste become extinct? Is untouchability non-existent? Are there no grievances of Dalits about discriminatory treatment?,” the board said. 
Report in The Times of India

5. In a First in Two Decades, Tamil Nadu Sees Multiple Alliances

J Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu. (Photo: Reuters)&nbsp;
J Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu. (Photo: Reuters) 

Things are getting complicated in Tamil Nadu. Usually, the state witnesses a two-cornered fight between Jayalalithaa’s AIDAMK and Karunanidhi’s DMK, with both major parties forming “rainbow alliances” with other minor political players in the state. This time, though, the field seems to have widened.

As things stand, half-a-dozen formations are in the fray. While the ruling AIADMK is set to go to the people in the company of several minor parties, the DMK has forged an alliance with the Congress and a couple of Muslim outfits. A five-party alliance headed by the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, led by actor Vijayakant, which took shape on Wednesday, would have the two Left parties, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of Vaiko and a Dalit party, Viduthualai Chiruthaigal Katchi, as constituents. The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), projecting former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss as its chief ministerial candidate. The BJP is expected to rope in a few insignificant parties. A pro-Tamil outfit, Naam Tamilar, headed by film director Seeman, has announced candidates for all 234 constituencies.
Report in The Hindu

6. The Molenbeek Myth: Europe’s Jihad Crisis Is the Outcome of Cultural Dislocations

Zaventem airport in Brussels. (Photo: AP)
Zaventem airport in Brussels. (Photo: AP)

Molenbeek is the neighbourhood in Brussels from where both the Paris attackers as well as those responsible for the blasts in the Belgian capital are from. A former textile hub, it has a 40 percent Muslim population and a large number of men from the neighbourhood have become fighters for ISIS in Syria.

For the most part, this week’s carnage in Brussels has been read as part of a crisis of Islam in Europe: Jihadism, it is claimed, is being incubated in the decaying urban ghettos home to many of the continent’s Muslims. The idea is widespread: It serves both Europe’s right, seeking to eject immigrants from the polity, and the left, focused on Muslim disenfranchisement as a cause of rage. 
Praveen Swami in The Indian Express

However, Praveen Swami, argues that a more nuanced understanding is required. Firstly, data doesn’t support the “ghetto as incubator” theory.

Belgian special forces police climb on a building during a raid in Brussels on November 16, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
Belgian special forces police climb on a building during a raid in Brussels on November 16, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
Figures released by Belgium’s government in January make clear that the notion of the ghetto as a medium in which jihadists breed doesn’t rest on robust empirical grounds. Molenbeek contributed 47 of the 451 identified Belgian jihadists in Syria and Iraq — a number identical to Brussels municipality, and followed in close order by relatively affluent, mixed Schaerbeek, with 31. Indeed, the data shows Brussels municipality produces more jihadists, in population-adjusted terms, than Molenbeek. Antwerp municipality, by no reckoning a Muslim ghetto, produced 93 jihadists — almost twice as many as its notorious counterpart.
Article in The Indian Express

The “disenfranchisement” theory also doesn’t explain things, according to Swami.

The second reason to question the narrative is that many European jihadists appear to have been exceptionally well-integrated. Salah Abdeslam and his brother, Brahim Abdeslam, who shot up the Bataclan theatre in Paris, were known for spending their time not at the mosque but at the notorious Les Beguines bar. Local residents told media that when everyone in the market would gather at the mosque to pray, the brothers could be seen on the terrace ledge of a building, smoking marijuana. Salah, in particular, had a long string of girlfriends. 
Article in The Indian Express

7. ‘Wasn’t Nice to See Nidhi’s Photo in Papers’

 Nidhi Chaphekar, covered in dust and her uniform in shreds, moments after one of the blasts in the airport in Brussels on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)
Nidhi Chaphekar, covered in dust and her uniform in shreds, moments after one of the blasts in the airport in Brussels on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

Nidhi Chapekar’s photo has been published in every major news outlet in the world. It encompasses the horror, the shock and the sheer helplessness in the face of the deplorable attack on Brussels airport on Tuesday. In her colony in Mumbai, everyone knows that the Jet Airways employee was injured.

That wasn’t the case till she became the face of the tragedy that has shaken Europe.

“Hardly anyone here knew till this morning that the face of the Brussels blast victims is a resident of our society. It was not nice to see Madam’s picture in the morning papers with her clothes burnt and her undergarments showing. The least they could have done is to cover her,” said Lalit Babu, the chief security guard of Orchid Enclave.
Lalit Babu, Chief Security Guard at Nidhi Chapekar’s colony

8. One Nation, One Culture: RSS Ideologue

 RSS activists hold bamboo sticks as
they take part in a march in Bhopal February 23, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
RSS activists hold bamboo sticks as they take part in a march in Bhopal February 23, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

In an op-ed in The Indian Express, RSS ideologue MG Vidya has argued that the JNU controversy, while unfortunate, has led to an important debate on the nature of nationalism. After a somewhat meandering overview of political science definitions of the state and nation, Vaidya argues that the nation is its people and that they are united by a culture. The ‘Hindu Rashtra’ represents this culture. Hindu is not about religion, but rather those who identify with the cultural tropes of his vision of India.

Who are the people who take pride in uttering a slogan like “Bharat Mata ki Jai” or “Vande Mataram”? Who are the people that stretch their history to Rama, Krishna, Chanakya, Vikramaditya, Rana Pratap and Shivaji? And who are the people that share a certain value system? One major principle of this value system is the appreciation of plurality of faiths and religions. These people are known, world over, by the name of Hindu. Therefore, this is a Hindu nation. It has nothing to do with whether you are a theist or atheist, whether you are an idol-worshipper or against idol-worship, whether you believe in the authority of the Vedas or some other sacred book. 
Op-ed in The Indian Express

9. On the Edge of a Desert: Riot-Like Situation Stares at Marathwada

This house in Beed district, Maharashtra belongs to the son of Sanap Bhanudas Satwaji, who killed himself because he couldn’t pay back a loan taken for a well. (Courtesy: Vivian Fernandes)
This house in Beed district, Maharashtra belongs to the son of Sanap Bhanudas Satwaji, who killed himself because he couldn’t pay back a loan taken for a well. (Courtesy: Vivian Fernandes)

There were food riots in the Soviet Union in times of scarcity. Right now, the Marathwada region of Maharashtra stands on the precipice of a similar situation, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

Severe droughts have led to water scarcity, so much so that people gather around wells in large numbers to eke out what they can despite a severely depleted ground water table. Section 144 has been imposed in Latur district to prevent a water riot.

So how do people survive? For the rich, bottled water is the solution. But according to Praveen Purandare, who has filed two PILs in the Bombay High Court for the formulation of water laws, that is also the major problem. “A large number of politicians set up such bottled water plants and they have thus no stake in solving the issue for all times.” But no amount of bottled water can stretch to all people in the region. Hence, Marathwada is facing not just the migration of rural labour but even professionals like doctors, lawyers etc are moving away in large numbers to Bombay, Pune and Hyderabad to escape the situation.
Report in the Hindustan Times
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