“I’ve been wronged”, says the man who could have stopped the Godhra carnage

FOR somebody beginning his political career in 1997 and in a space of 15 years changed four parties, (joining one twice, before being expelled again earlier this month) is surely a seasoned politician. To top it all Shahid Siddiqui is also the chief editor of an Urdu weekly. A potent combination indeed!

So Siddiqui’s sudden journalistic urge to hear Narendra Modi’s point of view (a decade after the Gujarat riots) should not come as a surprise. He dedicated full six pages to the man who more than welcomed the interview. Inspite of this Siddiqui claimed that Modi didn’t answer many questions. The interview looked more like a story to halt the plunging fortunes of Siddiqui, and for Modi another opportunity to project himself as the right man for the top job of the country. Continue reading ““I’ve been wronged”, says the man who could have stopped the Godhra carnage”

Haj subsidy continues despite Muslim opposition

THE Union Cabinet has gone ahead with the Haj subsidy for 2012. It has approved the following-

(i) 125,000 haj pilgrims would be covered by the Haj subsidy scheme.

(ii) Apart from statutory taxes like PSF, UDF,  ADF and Saudi airport fees, each pilgrims would pay Rs. 20,000 as air fare. The balance cost of air travel arrangements would be borne by the government.

(iii) The pilgrims would depart from 21 embarkation points in India. Gaya as an embarkation point has been introduced in place of Patna due to technical difficulties presently in operating direct flights from Patna.

This year the Haj flights would start on 17.9.2012.

The element of cost of air travel arrangements in excess of the fare paid by the pilgrims is the Haj subsidy borne by the Government, which is called Haj subsidy. Untill 2009, the pilgrims were carried by Saudi Arabian Airlines on negotiated fares and by Air India on cost basis. From 2010, the government decided to select the airlines through a tendering process. Sealed bids are invited from all eligible airlines and the airline offering the lowest fare from an embarkation point is engaged to carry the haj pilgrims.

It’s noteworthy that the practice has received considerable criticism in the past from Muslim leaders, both on grounds of inflated air fares and being un-Islamic.

Aligarh movement to be revived

A MEETING was organised by Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Maharashtra (AMUAAM) on July 15, 2012, in Mumbai, to discuss the revival of ‘Aligarh Movement’, State’s lukewarm response to AMU Campus in Aurangabad, building of ‘Syed House’ in Mumbai and other pertinent issues.

The former Vice Chancellor, P.K. Abdul Aziz, with a direction from central government had decided to open five campuses of AMU in different parts of India, and Maharashtra was one of them. The site had been finalised by the university officials a long time back and the indication of the same had been forwarded to the state government to allot the site to University. The state government has so far shown no interest in expediting the process because of which campus construction has yet to start. AMUAAM  has decided to put this issue on its lists of priority and to take it up with the state government. A committee has been formed to address the same. Continue reading “Aligarh movement to be revived”

More than 30,000 scholorships awarded to Muslims

THE Ministry of Minority Affairs has awarded 42,476 Merit-cum-means Scholarships during 2011-12. Of these 32,723 scholarships went to students belonging to the Muslim community. For this the Ministry sanctioned Rs. 1.16 billion during 2011-12. For 2012-13 the budgetary provision for this scheme has been increased to Rs. 2.2 billion and the physical target has also been increased to 80,000 scholarships.

Merit-cum-means scholarship scheme of the Ministry of Minority Affairs is meant for the students belonging to the Minority communities studying in technical and professional courses.

Brig. Mohammed Usman remembered

INDIAN Army organised a function today to celebrate the birth centenary of Late Brigadier Mohammed Usman. A war hero, Brig. Usman was the senior most Indian officer killed during the Jammu & Kashmir operations of 1947-48. He was 36 when he sacrificed his life for his country on July 3, 1948. Brig. Usman was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously.

Invited as a special guest on the occasion, the Vice President of India Mr Hamid Ansari said that Brig. Usman, the hero of the Battle of Naushera is one of the most inspiring military leaders of Independent India, who demonstrated exceptional courage, devotion to duty and and love for the motherland in the finest traditions of our Army. Continue reading “Brig. Mohammed Usman remembered”

“Government has forgotten the communal violence bill”

DR ASGHAR Ali Engineer is a reformist-writer and activist. He is known for his work on liberation theology in Islam. He is also a leading voice against communalism in India and South Asia. In an exclusive interview with Ali Hasan, Dr Engineer speaks at length about the issues affecting Indian Muslims.

MT: How do you see the progress of Indian Muslims during the last 20 years?

AA: Though there is some progress in last 20 years but it is far from satisfactory. Muslims are 15 per cent of India’s population and yet nothing more than a mass of ignorant and illiterate people. They are bringing in more money from the Gulf countries than the Christians do from western countries. Whereas Christians are successfully running and controlling educational institutions, Muslims have not improved their literacy by even one percent.

Our leaders, too, hardly do anything to address these problems. Continue reading ““Government has forgotten the communal violence bill””