Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Demand For Telangana Intensifies

By Media Scan Desk
Telangana issue is back on the boil. The demand for a separate state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh has gained momentum. Several days of the assembly’s monsoon session were lost to the issue. The Congress state government has been pressurized to come up with an immediate acceptable solution. Resolution For Telangana Demanded The Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, which has spearheaded the movement since 2001, demanded that a resolution to create Telangana be passed in the assembly. Such a possibility, however, was ruled out by the state Chief Minister Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy. The CM said that majority members in the assembly belong to Seemandhra and though resolution is passed, it is sure to be defeated. Mr. Reddy said that it was up to the centre to decide over the issue and they have to consider many issues. The interest of the state and the country are to be kept in mind before taking any decision as the government has the responsibility of protecting the interest of the people, he said adding that nobody could influence the centre to take a decision to divide the state. Telangana March To press for their demands, the pro-Telangana parties and groups will be holding a Telangana March on September 30. A similar event last year resulted in violence; protestors desecrated and vandalised the statues of cultural icons on Necklace Road. For long the demand for separate state of Telangana is made. But the government did not budge to it. This time, Telangana leaders say, it will be a fight to the finish. The agreement of the Congress over splitting Andhra, however, will lead to intensified demands by the separatist movements throughout India. More Political Support For Telangana Interestingly, the positions of political parties have also changed in the last few months, giving a fillip to the Telangana demand. Now, almost all the non-Congress parties are advocating for Telangana. The Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP’s) N. Chandrababu Naidu has finally decided to support the Telangana demand after numerous flip-flops. The YSR Congress Party, floated by Jaganmohan Reddy, which initially stood for a united Andhra but has now come around. The growing influence of BJP in parts of central Telangana is also working up the sentiment for a separate state again. The BJP has again promised a separate Telangana if NDA is voted to power. The senior leader L.K. Advani recently said that the party will include the promise to create Telangana in its Lok Sabha manifesto and would fulfil it as soon as possible. He said that the NDA regime which created Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand as part of fulfilling its poll promise would have created Telangana too if it had been included in the manifesto in the 1999 election. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has even offered to merge with the Congress if a separate Telangana state is declared. The Congress is bewildered. It could be a chance for the Congress to lay claim to power in the proposed state and make up for the losses in the rest of Andhra Pradesh, where it is expected to perform badly in the 2014 elections. Nevertheless, the party legislators and MPs from the coastal districts and Rayalaseema are threatening to resign if the state is bifurcated. All Party Meet On The Issue According to the reports, the Congress at centre is preparing for an all party meeting on the issue. It summoned the Governor ESL Narasimhan and the Chief Minister Reddy for discussions on the vexatious issue of Statehood for Telangana. This followed a meeting of Sonia Gandhi with the party core committee members on the issue. Earlier, 13 cabinet ministers from Telangana had demanded in a letter to Gandhi an immediate solution to the problem. The decision should favour and respect the sentiments of the four crore people of the region, they had urged. Drawing Attention of International Community The decision of the Telangana Joint Action Committee to hold the march on September 30 is said to be an attempt to draw the international attention to the issue. Just a day before the march Hyderabad hosts the much-awaited UN conference on biodiversity on September, set to be attended by 4,000 delegates from 180 countries all over the world. Apart from the Chief Minister, the Governor also personally urged TJAC to postpone the march to some other day. TJAC convener Kodanda Ram said that there was no question of rethinking the date of the march. He, however, said that the “march will be peaceful and it will be a reflection of sentiments of the Telangana people”. Kodanda Ram alleged that some sections may try and foment trouble during the march. TJAC leaders have said that only way of putting off the march was that the Centre should make a positive move on the Telangana issue immediately. Telangana Movement Weakening? Political analysts, however, feel that Telangana sentiment has actually fizzled out and that the Telangana March on September 30 is a desperate bid to corner the ruling Congress on the eve of the international bio-diversity meet. They point to the bickering between TJAC and TRS, both keen to gain the upper hand. In the process, the Telangana movement has lost steam and direction. The TRS wants total control over the agitation while TJAC is chalking out its own course. TRS President K. Chandrasekhar Rao is apparently unhappy with the TJAC for cornering all the credit for leading the Telangana agitation last year. So when the TJAC announced that it would relaunch the agitation with the Telangana March, KCR reportedly tried to scuttle such plans by announcing in public that he had been assured by the Centre that a separate Telangana state would be declared “very soon”, and if that did not happen then there would be total anarchy in Telangana. The TJAC’s convenor, M. Kodandaram, a political science professor at Osmania University and a mentor for the thousands of Telangana students, and KCR do not see eye to eye anymore. The demise of Telangana ideologue K. Jayashankar last June and the decline of balladeer G. Vittal Rao, popularly known as Gaddar, as well as last year’s agitation “fatigue” have slowed down the movement. (With inputs from Sreenivas Janyala’s report “Telangana Reloaded” in The Indian Express).

Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Action

By A. Hameed Yousuf
The freedom of expression exercised in a mindless way by some individuals prompted some others to practice their freedom of action that resulted in the death of at least 14 people, including four American Embassy staffs, in Benghazi, Libya. This, however, is not the only damage done due to the insane action of the individuals of making a film mocking Islam and its prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Before September 11 incident of Libya, the protestors in Egypt had scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag and burned it. Later, people exercised their freedom of action throughout the world attacking American missions. Dozens of lives were lost and properties damaged. The world, while supporting the freedom of expression—blasphemous film— strongly condemned the freedom of action—demonstrations—and termed it an act of violence. If a person hurts someone physically he is duly condemned but the person who hurts others emotionally is surprisingly appreciated as he is deemed to be exercising his freedom of expression! Much has been talked about the reactionary protests and the men behind them but there are few who condemned the men behind the senseless provocative film. We have to better think about advocating for freedom of expression and creativity if it does not complete unless we ridicule any entity or religion. Freedom of expression should not be a free license to pass off abusive remarks about anyone you want. We do not tolerate if a passerby kicks us saying he enjoys freedom of action. Freedom, whatever, cannot be absolute. With everyone enjoying absolute freedom we cannot expect a responsible society. It is illogical to hope that someone holds on patience while others are hell bent on annoying him. If we think that provocation in the name of freedom of expression is not followed by reaction ours are senseless expectations. Nevertheless, in the case of provocative film, with the exception of unheard few the majority tends to support it. It is the men behind the film, though, who hold the responsibility for the violent reactions all over the world. They started the drama and now they have gone in hiding due to the perceived threat from individuals. Who produced the film titled “Innocence of Muslims” is still not confirmed, though. According to one account, some Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian immigrant from Egypt living in America, made this film. This account goes in contrast to the reports which say the producer is an Israeli-American real estate developer. The film shot in the US was shown at a small cinema in Hollywood at the end of June. Two trailers, originally in English, were released on YouTube way back in the first week of July, 2012. Then clips were dubbed in Arabic by Coptic Christian Morris Sadek—an Egyptian-American lawyer and a vocal opponent of Islam—to bring it to the attention of Arabic speaking Muslim world. Interestingly Sadek’s Egyptian citizenship had previously been revoked for promoting calls for an attack on Egypt. It is reported that on September 6, 2012, Sadek sent out mails to journalists containing the link to the 14-minute version of the film “Innocence of Muslims”. On September 8, 2012, a two-minute excerpt was shown on Al-Nas TV, an Egyptian Islamist television station. And on September 11 protests were held in Egypt against the film which soon spread to other nations. Reportedly Sadek was subjected to a shoeing attack by four Coptic women in Washington D.C., who shouted that "If anything happens to a Christian in Egypt, you'll be the reason". The Copts make up a sizeable Christian minority in Egypt. Sadek is the head of the anti-Islamic National American Coptic Assembly. Coptic Christian leaders in the Washington region and across the United States, however, denounced the video as highly offensive and inflammatory, and they expressed concerns that it could further inflame Muslim sentiment against Copts in Egypt. In a statement, the senior Coptic Orthodox bishop in Los Angeles said the church “strongly rejects dragging the respectable Copts of the diaspora” into the controversy over the film. “It is not the Christian way to respond to hatred with hate.” The film is a chain of activities carried out by those aiming at inciting religious sentiments of Muslims for various reasons. While Muslims refrain from saying bad words about any religion or the personalities related to it, anti-Islam elements off and on come up with what outrages Muslims. The Holy Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, his character and his mission is often targeted. The people who do this wrongly believe that by doing so they will downgrade the personality of Muhammad and keep people away from Islam. The film, among others, portrays Muhammad as fool, a philanderer, a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser. These baseless blames are meant only to irritate the Muslim community. Pastor Terry Jones, notoriously known for his mischief of burning Qur’an, has his share in promoting the film. While the President Barack Obama said that the United States rejects denigration of religious beliefs he made it clear that there is no justification for violence. In a statement after U.S. ambassador to Libya Christ Steven was killed along with three other Americans Mr. Obama said, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.” He, however, insisted that it would not threaten relations with Libya's new government. "... And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people,” said Obama. Prior to the attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo had also issued a statement denouncing the contents of the film. It had condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims”. However, Obama’s challenger in the presidential elections Republican Mitt Romney said the timing of the statement from the U.S. embassy made Obama look weak as protesters were attacking U.S. missions. Romney said it was "disgraceful" to be seen to be apologizing for American values of free speech. Here lies the real problem. If you encourage the mischief mongers in the guise of protecting freedom of expression you are more likely to encounter the elements exercising freedom of action. Reportedly, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, taking an unusual step telephoned the radical Florida Christian pastor, Terry Jones, and asked him to withdraw his support for the film. Jones in the past had caused violent reactions throughout the Muslim world through his burn Qur’an campaign. He is roaming freely. The United States is unable to control its citizens. A handful of individuals are defaming the whole of America and the American government is a helpless spectator.