Category Archives: India

How India’s sacred cows are creating havoc on the streets

For many Hindus, who make up nearly 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion strong population, the cow is a sacred animal. In Hindu mythology, the animal is depicted as accompanying several gods, like Shiva, who rides on his bull Nandi, or Krishna, the cowherd god.

In ancient Hindu texts, the cow appears as “Kamdhenu” or the divine cow, which fulfils all desires. Its horns symbolize the gods, its four legs, the ancient Hindu scriptures or the “Vedas” and its udder, the four objectives of life, including material wealth, desire, righteousness and salvation.


Is India waging a ‘war’ on Islamic names?

What’s in a name? For India’s cities and villages, seemingly plenty.

More than 100 of them, including the most prominent, have been renamed since Independence – Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai.

Names mangled by British rulers have been corrected, and colonial names rejected.

Identity pride, cultural assertion, linguistic nationalism and plain whimsy have all led to renaming in the past. And now, to appease its Hindu nationalist base, Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP appears to have embarked on a new renaming frenzy.


Refugee report reveals clues why India’s Modi government is at odds with Trudeau

John Ivison: How a trickle of Sikhs fleeing India for Canada became a torrent

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s visit to the sub-continent earlier this year has become a political punch-line, even among Liberals.

“India? We didn’t go to India,” is the response when the subject is raised internally.

But Trudeau did — and there were substantive reasons why the visit went so badly.


Indian village bans Muslim names for children, public prayer and beards after row over dead calf

An Indian village has banned Muslim practice including sporting beards, praying in public or giving children Islamic names.

In the wake of the death of a female calf, allegedly at the hands of a Muslim boy, the elders council, or panchayat, in Titoli, Haryana, made the decree – while baring the youth from the village for life.

The panchayat, held in the Hindu-dominated village on Wednesday, also barred Muslim residents, numbering around 800, from offering nawaz (prayers) outside their homes.


Indian government criminalizes ‘instant divorce’

India’s government on Wednesday approved a new law that criminalizes Islamic “instant divorce.” The process of “triple talaq,” that is, a husband saying the Arabic word for divorce three times in quick succession to his wife, is now punishable by up to three years in prison.

Although the practice was ruled unconstitutional by India’s Supreme Court last year, Federal Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that this had done little to deter many men. Indeed, his office has seen 201 cases of instant divorce since the court ruling.


Indian Court Drops Case Against Actress Accused of ‘Blasphemy’ for Winking

The Supreme Court of India has quashed an FIR filed against actress Priya Prakash Varrier and the makers of Malayali movie ‘Oru Adar Love’. ‘Somebody in a film sings a song and you have no other job but to file a case’, the SC bench also rebuked the people behind the FIR.

The 30-second video clip in which many young actors were seen had gone viral on social media. The scene where the actress Priya Varrier winks and smiles at the male lead had become immensely popular over social media platforms and made Priya Varrier a household name all across the country.

Soon after the song video went viral, some Muslims in Telangana had filed an FIR in Hyderabad alleging that the song, which mentions the love affair between prophet Mohammad and his first wife Khadija has been represented in a blasphemous way in the video as winking is against Islam.


Two more lynched in India as police struggle to contain WhatsApp rumours of child kidnappers

Police in India’s north-eastern Assam state have arrested 16 people after two tourists were allegedly lynched, after rumours they were child kidnappers circulated on social media.

Monday’s arrests followed violent state-wide protests against the killings of audio engineer Niltopal Das, 29 and digital artist Abijeet Nath, 30, late Friday evening in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, 117 miles from the state capital Dispur.

Both had gone to a picnic spot in the area to visit a waterfall and were viciously attacked on their return by a mob that accused them of being “child lifters”.



Terror allegations against B.C. man politically motivated, lawyer says

The lawyer for a Surrey, B.C. man who has been accused of terrorism by the Indian government says the allegations are false and politically motivated.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar is only being targeted because he supports a referendum campaign calling for Sikh independence in the state of Punjab, human rights lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.

“We will defend Nijjar against any attempt to extradite him to India,” Pannun said in a statement. “Indian authorities often label Sikh activists as terrorists, (when they) are simply trying to raise awareness in Canada about human rights violations.”


Ostracised and fetishised: The perils of travelling as a young black woman

‘However, in Swaziland, I found the people and their activities to be quite familiar- so much so that I often grew bored. Yes, there are cultural differences, including cultural events that are unique to the region, but the day to day life of a Swazi closely mirrors that of those in the Western world.

Swazis are normal people with normal worries – people who think about school, getting to work on time, music, relationships and popular culture like everyone else.

The country, just like the US, is diverse. There are city people and rural people, the affluent and the less fortunate, the good, the bad, the lazy, and the hard-working. More importantly, through it all everyone manages to stay fully clothed and the spears stay tucked away. I wondered why this side of Africa was never shown.

But the biggest surprise was how I was treated. It wasn’t a warm embrace.

The Peace Corps had selected the community I would be staying with and the people there had been told to expect a US volunteer.

“When is the American getting here?” I was asked on arrival.

I am the American, I said. They were shocked. Just like I had images of what a typical African should be, they too had an image of a typical American. And that was not a 22-year-old black woman.

To them, I was a fake American. Some even suggested that I was a spy from an English-speaking African country. This is not an uncommon reaction to volunteers of colour. In addition to black volunteers, Asian, Latino, and Native American volunteers are sometimes greeted by disappointed community members who assumed that they would look different – that they would be white.

I completed my two years of service in Swaziland with the Peace Corps. Despite continual challenges that I faced there due to my race, I stayed – because being there meant that I was continuing to learn more about Swazis, as well as allowing Swazis to learn more about me. Following my time there, I travelled from south to north Africa, mostly overland, to further enhance my knowledge about Africa’s diverse cultures and people.

…I had been travelling around Asia since August 2017. Like many tourists venturing into communities lacking diversity, I’ve been used to being stared at, but the attention I received in India felt different.

The looks didn’t seem like expressions of curiosity. They seemed sinister and unwelcoming. When people (young and old) see someone with black skin they stare, point, laugh, make jokes, clear paths, run as if you are chasing them, and fix their face to display an overall look of disgust. Too many people were rude, incredibly childish and treated me poorly. When not being ostracised, I was fetishised.

One of the most pivotal experiences came when a middle-aged man asked me, innocently, about the sexual prowess of black people.

The whole thing is very interesting. Not necessarily what you’d expect from the title.