Posts Tagged ‘india’

The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials prevented the distribution of the latest edition because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir.

Customs officers ordered that 28,000 copies of the news weekly should have stickers manually placed over a diagram showing how control of Kashmir is split between India, Pakistan and China.

Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of the tiny Himalayan region and have gone to war twice over its control since 1947.

New Delhi imposes tight restrictions on all printed maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India.

“India is meant to be a democracy that approves of freedom of speech,” John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, told AFP. “But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China.”

He added: “This is an act of censorship, and many wise and sensible voices in India see it has no point.”

The map is used as an illustration for the front-page story of the latest edition of the magazine on “The world’s most dangerous border” between India and Pakistan.

The Economist still hoped to distribute the edition once the stickers had been added. The map is available on The Economist’s website.

Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours along a de facto border known as the Line of Control. It closely matches the frontline of fighting at the end of the first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir in 1947.

“We are just told ‘it is the law of India’,” Micklethwait said. “The map is impartial, accurate and fair. We show everyone’s claims, and it is also realistic as it shows where the unofficial border actually falls.”

The magazine has clashed in the past with Indian authorities.

In December an entire issue of The Economist was pulped on the censors’ orders over a map of the region, and its publishers predicted the May 21 edition was likely to hit trouble.

Offending maps in The Economist and other foreign publications are routinely targeted by the censors’ office, which stamps each page stating that the borders as shown do not reflect India’s claims.

“As a point of principle we are against changing our articles,” said Micklethwait, speaking by telephone from London on Monday. “So we mentioned the problem in a piece pointing out how touchy India is on this.”

The magazine also printed a warning saying the map was likely to be censored. “Unlike their government, we think our Indian readers can face political reality,” it said.

Sham Lal, a senior official in India’s ministry of information and broadcasting, declined to comment on Micklethwait’s remarks. “We have no knowledge and no comments to make on this matter,” he told AFP.

Wilson John, a Pakistan expert at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, said that the map was seen as a national security issue by the Indian government.

“This is about sovereignty,” he said. “I’m not surprised as this behaviour is an accepted norm in India.

“Mapping in this region has been an issue for many decades and, because the territorial dispute is far from resolved, maps will remain a problem.”

He added India was generally proud of having a free press but that Kashmir “always creates sensitivities that have to be kept in mind”.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been a flashpoint since it became part of Hindu-majority India at partition in 1947 when British colonial rule of the subcontinent ended.

India and Pakistan nearly went to war over the region again as recently as 2002.

Relations between the countries have improved since then, but were hit by the Mumbai attacks in 2008 when Pakistan-based militants killed 166 people.

Micklethwait said India was now an increasingly modern economic powerhouse with a growing number of Economist readers.

“Other publications have had the same problems, but perhaps we have been more in their face,” he said.

“China will not distribute whole issues for other reasons, but there is no country I know in the world that takes the extreme attitude that India does.”

(Source: AFP)


Posted: January 2, 2009 in politics
Tags: , , ,

IN RETROSPECT: A Fairytale Gone Wrong

Dec.21, 2008 Dawn
By Mazhar M. Chinoy

She requested a close friend in one of her last letters – “Go and see Jinnah and tell me how he is, he has a habit of overworking himself and now that I am not there to tease and bother him, he will be worse than ever.”

They would’ve been married for 90 years last April 19, the staid, steadfast man and the au courant, beautiful woman; he nearly a quarter of a century senior in age, and she smitten by his charm. It was an unlikely love story, and one that in all of its contrasts, was likely to fail.

Ruttie Jinnah died a heart-broken young woman nearly 80 years ago, and for many Pakistanis, a visit to her graveside still remains elusive primarily because very few know where she is, and that she is buried in an old cemetery in Mumbai. Even fewer have actually visited her final resting place to pay respects to one of the only two women ever publicly associated with the Father of the Nation.

I have visited Bombay many times but had always missed out on paying respects at her graveside. But on my last trip early this year, with little time at hand to brave the Bombay traffic and catch the plane back home, I nonetheless gambled on visiting the Shia Isna Ashari Cemetery located at Mazgaon, central Mumbai where she is eternally reposed.

I arrived at the serene graveyard and asked for the attendant who patiently led me to Ruttie’s grave through a labyrinth of tombstones and sepulchers, some of them truly ancient. An imposing structure made of aging marble that rose nearly four feet from the ground, but did not appear very well maintained testified to neglect of many years.

“Do very many people visit her grave?” I asked the attendant. “Not too many”, he answered, “Only people visiting from Pakistan or an occasional curious local.” As it transpired, apparently no relative, near or distant, visits Ruttie. Many of these are the present scions of the wealthy Wadia family, the notable Parsi industrialists. Ruttie and Jinnah’s only child Dina married into the Wadia family, and Ness, famously friends these days with the pretty Priety Zinta is none other than her great grandson.

None of that glamour was evident at Ruttie’s graveside. The marble grave, carved out in floral motifs and small ionic columns must have presented a riveting sight when it was built, and even now appeared somewhat majestic, if only because of the other old, dilapidated graves that surrounded Ruttie’s.

The inscription on the tombstone pronounced her as “Ratanbai Mahomed Ali-Jinnah. Born 20th February, 1900. Died 20th February, 1929”, which suggests that she died the same day she was born. A bit of a misnomer when most historians believe she actually passed away five days shy of her 30th birthday on February 15, 1929. This discrepancy has seemingly been a bit of a dogged debate with many believing that this was an inadvertent error while many others suggesting that this was done as an intriguing honorific suitable for a tragic, fallen angel which many believe she was. While she was buried in a Muslim graveyard, this was still as ‘Ruttie’ and not with her adopted name Mariam.

Very little is known of Rattanbai Dinshaw Petit, except that she was a beautiful and intelligent Parsi woman who married a brilliant lawyer, changed her religion for him and suffered as he went about his political business with apparently little time for her child-like adventurism and romantic interludes. With her family ostracised and Jinnah unable to provide attention, she withdrew into the surreal world of the supernatural and the metaphysical. She began to participate in seances, looking to contact the spirits of people long dead, perhaps hoping to gain some consolation in the hope of a better after-life.

Within 10 years of her marriage, she was virtually separated from Jinnah, and in 1927, moved into the fabled – and lately in news – Taj Mahal Hotel overlooking the India Gate in Bombay with little more than her personal attendant and beloved cats to keep her company. Here, she was to spend the last two years of her life. Her love for Jinnah was no less different than on the first day they met. She requested a close friend in one of her last letters – “go and see Jinnah and tell me how he is, he has a habit of overworking himself and now that I am not there to tease and bother him he will be worse than ever.”

When Ruttie finally passed away, Jinnah was there at the funeral. He was morose but not inclined to display his feelings publicly. Ruttie was buried according to Muslim rituals and the moment the body was interred provided for the first cracks in Jinnah’s armour. He broke down and wept openly – the only time Jinnah was ever seen weeping in public. The cold, unemotional politician credited with the creation of the largest Muslim state, of single-handedly withstanding the combined political might of the British and Congress was an emotive human being after all. And one that fell in love in a fairy tale affair that became a tragedy.