Sunday, March 30, 2008

Discovering a genesis of hope

Bad things happen when the pace of change exceeds our ability to change, and events move faster than our understanding. It is then that we feel the loss of control over our lives. Anxiety creates fear, fear leads to anger,anger breeds violence,and violence - when combined with weapons of mass destruction - becomes a deadly reality. The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities discovering a genesis of hope ---- Jonathan Sacks

Mark Tully's India

There are some modern western authors who love to stay in India, Mark Tully is one of them .Sir Mark Tully was born in Calcutta in 1935. He was the chief of bureau, BBC, New Delhi for twenty-two years he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

He has written several books about India including No full stops in India, India in slow motion (with his partner and colleague Gillian Wright), and The Heart of India.

His latest book is again about IndiaINDIA’S UNENDING JOURNEY. This book reflects his deep attachment and understanding of India. The book has eleven chapters from Puri to varanasi. It seems that Mark Tully is impressed by the humility of Indians; he writes in his first chapter that I have learnt from India is to value humility. In several chapters of this book Tully seems to be arguing on importance of religion and religious dialogue. Criticizing the west of it anti-religion attitude he writes “for the decline in religious observation in Europe is an aggressive secularism that is as dogmatic as any religion and which has become the dominant philosophy of life in the west.”

He enjoys the Indian tradition of conversation. He writes “Conversation is an integral part of the Indian tradition that has influenced me. “Mark Tully seems convinced that religious doctrine should change with time, he writes “Doctrine has to develop in the light of new knowledge and the changing norms of society.” The idea of balance between reason and revelation isn’t new but it has taken several turn after the triumph of militant secularism.

Tully exhibits his behavior of learning through out his book. He talks about the communal harmony to sexuality and from unity to growth and development. It is really an addition of adventurous as well thought provoking book on my rack.




ISBN: 978-1-84-604017-7


Thursday, March 27, 2008

VIEWS - Karen Armstrong in her book Muhammad

At the end of her book Muhammad, Karen Armstong wrote:
The reality is that Islam & the West share a common tradition from the time of prophet Muhammad.Muslims have recognized this but the west cannot accept some muslims are beginning to turn against the cultures of the people of the book,which have humiliated & despised them.They have even began to islamize their new hatred.The beloved figure of prophet became central to one of the latest clashes between islam & the west during the Salman Rushdie affair. If Muslims need to understand our western traditions & institutions more thoroughly today,we in the west need to divert ourselves of some of our old prejudiceperhaps one place to start is with the figure of Muhammad"a complex passionate man who sometimes did thingsnthat it is difficult for us to accept,but who has genius of a profound order & founded a religion & a cultural tradition that was not based on the sword - despite the western myth and whose name'Islam'signifies peaceand reconciliation.


Since the end of Second World War, the world discovered a new god, god of development. This god has been exultantly worshipped by all developed countries of the west as well as in the poverty-stricken countries of Asia and Africa. This god of development has a great impact on not only nations but on every individual living in a civilized society. The impact is so incisive that it is a nightmare to think of a life without development. The development known to the world is the development of economics only. More there will be economic development; more will be the pace of global development. Every soul must strive hard to achieve that economic prosperity whether in this journey of glee, humanity lives or die. In the worship of this god man has become so blind, that he is walking on the road of development by crushing the human values and humanity, but he can’t realize. This journey is not only disastrous but it would lead to such serious repercussions that man can’t even imagine. As the German scholar, Wolfgang Sachs says “the lighthouse shows cracks and is starting to crumble. The idea of development stands like a ruin in the intellectual landscape.” In fact, “this epoch is coming to an end. The time is ripe to write its obituary.”

The Age of turbulence or the age of inequality

Alan Greenspan in his latest book ‘The age of turbulence’ talks about the future of the world, economic injustice, China’s development along with his experience with life. But it seems that this age is more of inequality which is leading to turbulence. According to human development report of 2005 the interaction between poverty and violent conflict in many developing countries is destroying lives on an enormous scale. The growing rich poor gap or economic polarization in the world is contributing to a global chaos.

Despite a glut of food, and a spectacular increase in the globe’s capacity to grow more, hunger remains one of the world’s major problems. According to the international food policy research institute in Washington, 850 million people worldwide, or one in seven human beings, go hungry every day. According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year. And according to a different report of Human development, every hour more than 1,200 children die away from the glare of media attention.

Poverty is the major challenge for the world today. Nobel laureate Mohammed Younus writes in his book ‘Banker to the Poor’ that “Poverty does not belong to civilized human society.” But poverty not only stays in civilized society, it is the fate it seems with a sense of irony. Based on National Sample Survey data, this shows that a frightening 77 percent of India’s population lives on a pathetic Rs.20 (half a U.S. dollar) a day.

Here are some more data which explain the inequality and disparity in the world

· Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day

· The world’s richest 520 individuals have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million (HDR’05)

· Richest 2 percent of the world’s adults own more than half of global household wealth (World distribution of Household wealth report)

· The richest 1 percent alone owned 40 percent of global assets in2000, for 85 percent of the world total.

· There is a perceptible increase in inter-personal wealth in-equality in India between 1991 and 2002( national sample survey data)

· The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.

· 20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the world’s goods. The top fifth of the world’s people in the richest countries enjoy 82% of the expanding export trade and 68% of foreign direct investment — the bottom fifth, barely more than 1%. In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much

· The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined incomes of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion

· A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World

· About 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s assets in 2004

This is the story of rising inequalities and disparity almost everywhere in the world. India has now the honor of having the richest person of the world here, but the inequality here is so apparent and high that it has change the vision of India to be a developed country by 2020 into a day dream. Praful Bidwai writes “The contrast between this obscene concentration of wealth at the very top, and the prevalence of mass poverty, with the most appalling conditions of life at the bottom, should shocks us all. Not only in this morally indefensible and unacceptable in itself; but coupled with deep and entrenched inequalities of opportunity in this super-hierarchical, casteist society, it is especially repugnant.”(The question of inequality, frontline, Nov 2, 2007)

Social Problems

India after sixty years of independence failed to get rid of some of the serious social problem. Caste system is still prevalent, and spoiling the society from every corner. The problem of child labor is one of the serious issue which the society today witness. India has the highest number of child labors in the world. Along with poverty, debt, social problems, inaccessible education system and inefficiency are some more factors which is contributing to its ‘development’.

India has 5 lac formal school for a population of 239 million. Of which 14% has no building, 38% has no black boards, 30% has only one teacher and 50% has no drinking water. In result 4 out of 5 children don’t enter into school and 70% dropout before they enter class 4. Not only this but one out of three of the world’s malnourished children live in India. There are 2, 70,000 child prostitutes in this country. Society is on the verge of collapse the widening difference between have and have not will certainly lead to disaster.


Mahbub ul haq, founder of Human development report explain development as “The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people's choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives."

Development must help in nourishing human soul and human values. Development without values will always cause injustice, inequality and turbulence. The role of develop society is not to humiliate and ruin the weaker one but to create opportunity for the development of all. The paradox of global development is apparent. In a world where people are dieing of hunger and poverty, the paradox is that in the same world individuals have enough money to spend on lewd things. According to a report available on internet every second $ 3,075.64 is spent on pornography, every second 28,258 internet viewers are watching pornographic sites and the annual revenue of pornographic site for the year 2006 was $ 97.06 billion. This ad hoc, abrupt and rapid change need to be checked to save not only humanity but the eco system as well.

Syed Musab iqbal