May 19, 2007

Foot in Mouth of the day - Diplomatic Licence Edition

Our winner today: Mr. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh.

Mr. Chakravarty, being diplomatically immune to information, suggests to his hosts that Bangladesh should become more secular, abolish all forms of inequalities between religious groups and, perhaps, get rid of the Ministry for Religious Affairs. Which is fine by and of itself, especially the goal of decreasing inequality. He also asserts that India has apparently succeeded in doing all this. Dhaka Shohor blog tends to disagree and thus awards him with:

Foot in Mouth!


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or the DS link isn't working!

And foot In the mouth indeed... lol

aka anonymous coward

Asif said...

Baangal, thanks for the heads-up. Link's been fixed, so read away! Apologies once again for the harsh words back then:). Hope you're still enjoying the blog.

J @ Shadakalo said...

I am offended by this idiot for two reasons.
I've been an atheist since class 7, and I would love nothing more than a truly secular Bangladesh.

But I believe this moron's comments set that goal back by a huge amount--every single ignorant mullah now has his dander up. I will go even further, and predict that his statements will be used in recruitment posters by JMB and the like.

Secondly, India, the pinnacle of racial and religious harmony? Who is he kidding? Gujrat's chief minister lost his US visa because he incited religious riots. Just yesterday I was listening to a BBC radio program about harijons/untouchables. When people in the same religion discriminate against people of a (so-called) lower caste, who needs strife between different religions?


Fugstar said...

^^ very melodramatic. I think religious leaders have better things to worry about. You read like a right wing fascist newspaper in the west!

Upon independance the religious institutional infrastructure in bangladesh was not too developed.

The Muslims of India, have a hard lot (have a look at the Sachar Commission report) but they have historical educational institutions (Nadhwa, Osmania, Jamiat millat, alighar, deoband) from which their cultures of scholarship can spring from.

In Bangladesh we benefit from the imam training programmes run by the state's Islamic Foundation. Bangladeshi would do well to learn how its soemthing they can be proud of, instead of insultingor (worse) ignoring in an infantile manner.

I think there are a lot of athiests out there who use secularism as a trojan horse of some kind to lead the people out of faith and social meaning. Its unfortunate.

We need to discover the buddhist layer of our identity, that would be a wise step, we'd understand Brahminicism (and secular brahminicism) better. Leave playing politics with the 'S' word to the creatively less endowed!

asif said...

Well, since J isn't taking the bait, I will.

Fugstar, J certainly does not read like a fascist newspaper in the West. Neither are "religious leaders" as nobly occupied as you seem to think. If you think Hindu/India- bashing does not go on in mosques frequently, then you haven't been back home regularly enough at all. Unfortunately, a LOT of religious "leaders" bank on this sort of ridiculous statements instead of offering concrete solutions.

"We need to discover the buddhist layer of our identity, that would be a wise step, we'd understand Brahminicism (and secular brahminicism) better. Leave playing politics with the 'S' word to the creatively less endowed" - say that in an average mosque outside of the Gulshan bubble, and you'll see whether J and I are right about "mullahs" or not.

Lastly, if you've read my "secularism" post, you'll see that I'm no fan of the hodge-podge set of beliefs that passes for "secularism" in Bangladesh, nor the tactics of those pushing for secularism. Give me the American/Canadian model any day, albeit with more tolerance and a more indigenous vocabulary and understanding. However, this does not make me a hiding-in-a-Trojan-Horse-hiding, "scheming" atheist.

As Muslims, I think we should have enough generosity of spirit to tolerate other people's views on religion: even militant atheism, which J certainly did not spout. The day the above sentiment becomes popular is the day we'll see tolerance in BD.

Fugstar said...

Cf Trojan horsing
I was refering the J dude, not you!

If I were to tell you the number of and the geographical spread and the diversity of religious institutions I have visited and am visiting I dont think you'd beleive me.

One problem of the fanaticism discourse is the people writing it. I really feel that journalists could do better I hope they do, because every day they dont, or their editors or their own blindspots prevent them from looking deeply the more uncertainty there will be and the more excuse there will be for assaults on the religion.

The 'liberal' elite in bangladesh and pakistan do bear the hallmarks of right wing nasties in the west. Let me elaborate. Not only in tone and patronising distaste of religious learning and people, but in their alliances and the platforms which they share, the poor presentation of concrete evidence and the demonology.

I think the Gulshan mosques are doing a good job by the way! Gulshan is a messed up place with very little linking the people as communities. Its only redeeming featues are its mosques, words and pages, the shisha places and the idea that if these people didnt live in gulshan they might be living nearer to me :-P

asif said...

I know who you were referring to. My point was that you're making unnecessary assumptions about J's motivations behind advocating secularism.

Part of the problem is essentially one of perceptions like this. Suddenly J becomes part of a secluded "liberal elite" based on one comment. Did it ever occur to you that what he said was actually SPOT-ON, instead of being based on wrong assumptions?

I'll deal with your Sudan comments tomorrow. I try my best not to assume a combative stance about anything, especially talking to my readers :).

Anthony said...

Asif: Give me the American/Canadian model any day, albeit with more tolerance and a more indigenous vocabulary and understanding.

Let's see how this might work in Bangladesh. I don't know about Canada, but government functions in America frequently invokes god - 'so help me god' at the end of every affirmation, or 'in god we trust' in the notes and coins.

Now if we were to do this in Bangladesh, what would we say? What is the dhormoniropekkho Bangla word for god? Ishwar, Khoda and Allah probably won't do. Some tried srishtikorta. But why doesn't that fly?

Srishtikorta doesn't fly because it sounded artificial. People say 'hai Allah/Khoda/Ishwar aloor eto dam' - when did you ever hear anyone say 'hai srishtikorta'? For most people in Bangladesh, Allah/Khoda comes naturally. This is why in the 7th March speech Sheikh Mujib said 'Edesher manushke mukto kore charbo inshallah'. Simiarly, 'Allah'r upor purno bishwash' doesn't sound all that dissimilar to 'in god we trust'.

So the American model indeginsed and adopted to Bangledesh doesn't look that dissimilar to what the non-Islamist mainstream signs up to in Bangladesh anyway.

asif said...

Amazing how the secularism debate is being had here instead of in my other post:). Talk about unforeseen circumstances. Well, if that is what the Srishtikorta wills....

Anthony, spot on! As I've said before, secularism should be a secondary goal, tolerance should be a priority!

Btw, Islamist parties in Egypt have a similar argument: whether Egypt must be made into an Islamic state through non-cooperation, if not violence, against the current regime. Or whether Egypt is already an Islamic state and they can function within the rules set by the current regime.

Sort of mimics our own here. But first time I've heard someone say what you said up there!

Fugstar said...

About the different Allah vocab. I think some are making unnecessary fuss over the Bangla authenticity of stuff here. In the uk there is no problem with the use of the word God, the spatio temporality of the language is understood and the longievity of religion comprehended by the establishment anyway.

People here just want to create obstacles in the the mind and play with petty things.

Was this even an issue in our grandfathers time? or is it just another fetishised fruit of the language movement, creating hassle several years past its sell by date?

Allah/khoda has a non muslim use also.. which bend my mind..

There was a powerful UK MP quoted a few months ago using inshallah, he/she had internalied it a little to refer to their own political survival.

I was interviewing in the north and for some reason the caliphs came up, and the Hindu college student i was interviewing started using Allah and Khoda.