Sunday, July 31, 2005
"You Can't Fight Terrorism With Racism"
Perhaps the most effective argument against racial profiling in the name of fighting terrorism that has been published this year. Because of the powerful arguments presented, we are reprinting the entire text of the article, written by the Washington Post's Colbert King, here:
During my day job I work under the title of deputy editorial page editor. That entails paying more than passing attention to articles that appear on the op-ed page. Opinion writers, in my view, should have a wide range in which to roam, especially when it comes to edgy, thought-provoking pieces. Still, I wasn't quite ready for what appeared on the op-ed pages of Thursday's New York Times or Friday's Post.
A New York Times op-ed piece by Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow ["It's the Age of Terror: What Would You Do?"], and a Post column by Charles Krauthammer ["Give Grandma a Pass; Politically Correct Screening Won't Catch Jihadists"] endorsed the practice of using ethnicity, national origin and religion as primary factors in deciding whom police should regard as possible terrorists -- in other words, racial profiling. A second Times column, on Thursday, by Haim Watzman ["When You Have to Shoot First"] argued that the London police officer who chased down and put seven bullets into the head of a Brazilian electrician without asking him any questions or giving him any warning "did the right thing."
The three articles blessed behavior that makes a mockery of the rights to which people in this country are entitled.
Krauthammer blasted the random-bag-checks program adopted in the New York subway in response to the London bombings, calling it absurd and a waste of effort and resources. His answer: Security officials should concentrate on "young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin." Krauthammer doesn't say how authorities should go about identifying "Muslim men" or how to distinguish non-Muslim men from Muslim men entering a subway station. Probably just a small detail easily overlooked.
All you need to know is that the culprit who is going to blow you to bits, Krauthammer wrote, "traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia." For the geographically challenged, Krauthammer's birthplace of the suicide bomber starts with countries in black Africa and stops somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. By his reckoning, the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all should be limited to a select group. Krauthammer argued that authorities should work backward and "eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects." In the category of the innocent, Krauthammer would place children younger than 13, people older than 60 and "whole ethnic populations" starting with "Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians . . . and women," except "perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young women."
Of course, by eliminating Scandinavians from his list of obvious terror suspects, Krauthammer would have authorities give a pass to all white people, since subway cops don't check passengers' passports for country of origin. As for sweaty, fidgety, knapsack-bearing, overcoat-wearing young women who happen to be black, brown or yellow? Tough nuggies, in Krauthammer's book. The age-60 cutoff is meaningless, too, since subway cops aren't especially noted for accuracy in pinning down stages of life. In Krauthammer's worldview, it's all quite simple: Ignore him and his son; suspect me and mine.
Sperry also has his own proxy for suspicious characters. He warned security and subway commuters to be on the lookout for "young men praying to Allah and smelling of flower water." Keep your eyes open, he said, for "a shaved head or short haircut" or a recently shaved beard or moustache. Men who look like that, in his book, are "the most suspicious train passengers."
It appears to matter not to Sperry that his description also includes huge numbers of men of color, including my younger son, a brown-skinned occasional New York subway rider who shaves his head and moustache. He also happens to be a former federal prosecutor and until a few years ago was a homeland security official in Washington. Sperry's profile also ensnares my older brown-skinned son, who wears a very short haircut, may wear cologne at times, and has the complexion of many men I have seen in Africa and the Middle East. He happens to be a television executive. But what the hell, according to Sperry, "young Muslim men of Arab or South Asian origin" fit the terrorist profile. How, just by looking, can security personnel identify a Muslim male of Arab or South Asian origin goes unexplained.
Reportedly, after Sept. 11, 2001, some good citizens of California took out after members of the Sikh community, mistaking them for Arabs. Oh, well, what's a little political incorrectness in the name of national security. Bang, bang -- oops, he was Brazilian. Two young black guys were London bombers: one Jamaican, the other Somalian. Muslim, too. Ergo: Watch your back when around black men -- they could be, ta-dum, Muslims.
So while advocates of racial profiling would have authorities subject men and women of black and brown hues to close scrutiny for criminal suspicion, they would look right past:
· White male Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people, including 19 children, and damaged 220 buildings.
· White male Eric Rudolph, whose remote-controlled bomb killed a woman and an off-duty police officer at a clinic, whose Olympic Park pipe bomb killed a woman and injured more than 100, and whose bombs hit a gay club and woman's clinic.
· White male Dennis Rader, the "bind, torture, kill" (BTK) serial killer who terrorized Wichita for 31 years.
· D.C.-born and Silver Spring-raised white male John Walker Lindh, who converted to Islam and was captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban.
· The IRA bombers who killed and wounded hundreds; the neo-fascist bombers who killed 80 people and injured nearly 300 in Bologna, Italy; and the truck bombings in Colombia by Pedro Escobar's gang.
But let's get really current. What about those non-Arab, non-South Asians without black or brown skins who are bombing apartment buildings, train stations and theaters in Russia. They've taken down passenger jets, hijacked schools and used female suicide bombers to a fare-thee-well, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. They are Muslims from Chechnya, and would pass the Krauthammer/Sperry eyeball test for terrorists with ease. After all, these folks hail from the Caucasus; you can't get any more Caucasian than that.
What the racial profilers are proposing is insulting, offensive and -- by thought, word and deed, whether intentional or not -- racist. You want estrangement? Start down that road of using ethnicity, national origin and religion as a basis for police action and there's going to be a push-back unlike any seen in this country in many years.
Vandalism at California Mosque a Hate Crime?
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that "Members of a Pomona religious center believe vandalism discovered this week was a hate crime. But police say they have no proof yet."
"According to police, vandals broke into several classrooms and stole a 40-inch flat-screen television and a donation box and pay phone change box with unknown amounts of money.... In addition to damaging doors and stealing items, the intruders posted pornographic pictures on the mihrab, a prayer niche in the sanctuary that indicates the direction worshipers are to face...." Moreover, there was some damage to the mosque: "The frames of two classroom doors on the second floor were splintered and the door to a storage room on the first floor had a hole the size of a large watermelon. The door to a maintenance closet had been torn off its hinges, and a heating duct inside dislodged."
The problem, of course, is determining whether this incident was involved simple acts of robbery and vandalism, or whether this was indeed a hate crime. The police, as noted above, state there is as yet no proof of a hate crime. The imam admitted that he was "not sure about their motivations," referring to the perpetrators. Other members of the mosque, however, are not so skeptical: according to the article, some believe that with the recent events in London and feelings remaining from 9/11, this climate itself creates a presumption in favor of a finding that this was a hate crime. The imam questioned, if this was simple robbery or vandalism, then why the destruction itself - in other words, there was more to the incident than an interest in goods.
This situation highlights the difficulty with incidents involving members of certain communities, that is the sincerely held belief that there was racism undergirding the illegal acts, where there is currently an absence of direct evidence indicating that the acts were motivated by hate or bias.
We will follow the investigation as it unfolds in the press.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Into the Whirlwind: an Introduction to Valarie Kaur's Blog
For those of you who don't know, the co-founder and co-director of the Discrimination & National Security Initiative (DNSI) is Valarie Kaur [pictured]. Soon after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Valarie traveled across the country, interviewing victims of hate crimes, discrimination, and other forms of mistreatment.
Valarie thus collected first-hand accounts of these difficulties and interviewed members of victims' families as well, including the family of Balbir Singh Sodhi, the Sikh from Mesa, Arizona who was murdered just days after 9/11. Valarie's findings were used for her honor's thesis at Stanford University and have now been developed into a very powerful book.
Currently, Valarie is retracing her steps, interviewing victims of hate crimes after 9/11 and Japanese-Americans who were subject to the evacuation and relocation during World War II. She is keeping a regular journal of her experiences while she moves from city to city, person to person, story to story.
Her journal, entitled "Into the Whirlwind." Valarie's description of this blog is: "I am traveling across America, making a film about religion, fear, and violence since 9/11. I am a third-generation Sikh American. I study religion and ethics at Harvard. I wish to face the violence and fight it. I don't want to fight alone. And so I write. These are my notes."
"Into the Whirlwind" parallels the very essence of DNSI: respectfully considering the experiences of discrimination during times of military action or national crisis, educating the public on members of these targeted minority communities, and doing so in an academic fashion. In this respect, Valarie reflects on her meetings with individuals and her blog also includes very informative material, such as a helpful introduction to the Sikh religion.
I strongly urge everyone to bookmark and regularly read her blog.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
"Muslim inmate wins fight over meals, prayer cap"
In a 43-page ruling, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that "A Muslim prisoner doesn't have to register as Jewish to eat kosher meals that meet Muslim dietary restrictions" and "ordered state prison officials Monday to stop violating the inmate's right to cover his head in accordance with his faith."
The case involves Muslim inmate Ronald Anthony Vashone-Caruso, who "sued the state prison system because he wanted to eat meals that complied with Muslim dietary laws; wear his kufi, or prayer cap, outside his cell; and participate in religious study groups."
The prision officials have not decided if they will appeal the decision.
"Two-thirds of Muslims consider leaving UK"
A Guardian/ICM poll released Tuesday found the following:
- Tens of thousands of Muslims have suffered from increased Islamophobia, with one in five saying they or a family member have faced abuse or hostility since the attacks.
- Nearly two-thirds of Muslims told pollsters that they had thought about their future in Britain after the attacks, with 63% saying they had considered whether they wanted to remain in the UK.
- Three in 10 are pessimistic about their children's future in Britain, while 56% said they were optimistic
- One in five polled said Muslim communities had integrated with society too much already, while 40% said more was needed and a third said the level was about right.
- Half of Muslims thought that they needed to do more to prevent extremists infiltrating their community.
Methodology: "ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,005 adults aged 18+ by telephone on July 15-17 2005. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules."
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Arabs and Muslims in the United States vs. those in Europe
James J. Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, has written a very interesting op-ed in which he discusses the differences between the Arab and Muslim communities in the United States and those in Europe.
This question has become extremely important to members of these communities and realistically to everyone in the United States [see previous post] after the 7/7 attacks in Britain, which was the product of "homegrown" terrorists. Ostensibly, similarities of the American and European experiences would tend to support the view that America may also fall victim to "homegrown" terrorism, while significant differences may calm American fears to some extent.
Zogby argues at the outset that, "There are important differences between the Arab and broader Muslim immigrant experience in Europe and that of the Arab American and American Muslim communities in the United States."
He reasons in part that Arabs and Muslims in the United States inevitably go through the process of "Becoming American," which according to Zogby, "in the end, means more than obtaining a passport and a set of legal rights. It also means adopting a new identity and absorbing a shared sense of history." (The concept of what it means to be "American" is therefore in constant flux because more and more immigrants become assimilated and integrated into American society.)
In addition to the process that the immigrants go through, American society "is more prepared to accept [immigrants] and see them as enriching the already complex American mosaic." In other words, the immigrants themselves change and they are entering an environment that knows and largely accepts "new communities."
Zogby also adds that the socio-economic condition in the United States allows for recent immigrants -- who come over as waiters or who endure other thankless jobs -- have the opportunity to rapidly advance economically.
Finally, Zogby states that if there is extremist elements in the United States, they are on the margins, and that Arab and Muslim communities are even more willing to condemn such radical components of their groups after the attacks of 9.11.
"U.S. Government Defending Rights of Muslims, Arab-Americans"
Timothy Keefer, of the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, stated in a conference this month that building bridges between the government and the Muslim- and Arab-American communities is integral to the nation's security strategy. In particular, he said:
"We believe that people should be viewed as individuals, based on the content of their character, on what they do, not on their race or ethnicity or religious beliefs.... We are convinced that we cannot do an effective job in homeland security without actively, fully connecting with the Muslim-American and Arab-American communities here in our country."
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
"Ricky Martin seeks end to Arab stereotypes"
Yes, you read the headline correctly: Latin singer Ricky Martin [pictured] "declared he will try to change negative perceptions of Arab youth in the West."
Speaking in Jordan, Martin noted, "I promise I will become a spokesperson, if you allow me to, a spokesperson on your behalf. I will defend you and try to get rid of any stereotypes."
Martin added that he could relate to Arab children who felt as though they were being categorically labeled as terrorists: "I have been a victim of stereotypes. I come from Latin America and to some countries, we are considered `losers,' drug traffickers, and that is not fair because that is generalizing."
In terms of strategy, Martin offered the following: "Those comments are made out of ignorance and we have to sometimes ignore the ignorant, but we also have to educate the ignorant."
To be sure, Martin is a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and runs a foundation that addresses various social ills, including child pornography and prostitution.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
Op-ed: "Muslim moderates must speak up"
A local newspaper in Connecticut has published this interesting essay on the ways in which terrorism caused by Islamic fundamentalists can be effectively stopped. The author writes, principally, that:
It falls onto [the] shoulders [of moderate Muslims] to identify those in their midst who tacitly sympathize with the jihadis and persuade or force them to stop supporting terrorism and to cooperate with authorities in stopping the terrorists, living alongside them.
For moderate Muslims to say "not in our name" (as many did after the London attacks) is crucial -- but far from enough. Leaders of Western countries must communicate this message unequivocally to Muslim political, community and religious leaders around the world.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Excerpts from Manmohan Singh's Speech at the National Press Club, Wednesday, July 20, 2005
“I am delighted to join you this afternoon. I thank you for this invitation to share my thoughts on India's hopes, aspirations, and the challenges we face. I would also like to share with you my perceptions of a very significant visit to the United States. My discussions with President Bush, his senior colleagues and with members of the US Congress, have convinced me that on the journey we have embarked upon towards a future of hope for our people, America would be both a friend and a partner.
India is today poised for a leap into a brave new world. A sustained growth rate of over 6% for the last 15 years - now reaching 7-8% - is fundamentally transforming our society. Its social consequences are visible in rising income levels, growing expectations and in rising demand for quality products and services. This transformation has unleashed a powerful surge of entrepreneurship, creativity and a desire for excellence. Our growing involvement with the global economy and society, expanding foreign trade, reputation for services and activities of our world-class firms are one facet of this change.
We strive to address the needs of every citizen, ensuring their education and well being, and giving them a decent livelihood. On every score, their demands rise as each year's achievements become the benchmark for the next.
Basic needs of all have to be met even as more ambitious hopes of the aspiring are realised. Sustaining growth impulses has to be accompanied by policies aimed at ensuring that change is inclusive and benefits of development are available to all.
In the past, our ties with the United States have benefited India greatly.We seek now to build on that tradition while forging a new partnership. This new partnership is focused on greater business to business interaction, cooperation in energy, in agricultural research and agri-business, in new technologies, in educational networking, and in building frontier science capabilities. Much of my discussion with President Bush was devoted to what the India-US relationship had to offer in the fields of infrastructure and energy.
I believe that American interests are well served by a stronger and more modern Indian economy. Many of the initiatives that we announced – on agricultural research, on nano-science or on innovative technologies – reflect this belief. I am convinced that steps that we have taken will lead to a long-term partnership between India and the US.
Access to energy resources is an issue of particular importance to our relationship and our newly constituted Energy Dialogue is focused on it.Our current dependence on hydrocarbons will have to be diversified in favour of a broader energy mix. I discussed with the President prospects for the resumption of our cooperation on civilian nuclear energy. The United States, I believe, is not only cognisant of our energy requirements but appreciative of the role that India can also play in strengthening global non-proliferation efforts.
The uniqueness of Indian growth is that it takes place entirely within a democratic framework. This has demonstrative implications. The success of India will be proof that growth need not come at the cost of human freedoms. At the same time, its intrinsic stability and consensual basis will make themselves fully felt in long-term partnerships.
Our track record on cooperation, even within the last year, clearly conveys a determination to raise its quality and scope. We have completed the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, established Energy and Economic Dialogues, put in place an IPR regime and investment policies that encourage business, addressed the Dabhol problem, concluded an Open Skies Agreement with the USA, expanded our defence cooperation with a new framework, and worked closely on tsunami relief. These achievements give us the confidence to now tackle the more ambitious agenda that we have before us.
India has consistently sought to ensure that global institutions and agreements are perceived to be fair and equitable. At a time when global challenges like terrorism, WMD proliferation, environment or health, have become more complex, it is vital that global mechanisms have the necessary capability and credibility to respond. The United Nations is at the centre of such efforts and its reform is currently being debated. By any criteria, India has a strong case to become a permanent member of the Security Council. I hope that my visit can contribute to a better appreciation in the United States of the benefits of including a democratic India in global decision-making.
Terrorism poses a complex threat to open societies and pluralist democracies. For we doubly challenge it, with our freedoms and our tolerance of diversity . India is one of the oldest victims of modern terrorism. Experience that we would have rather not had, has taught us valuable lessons. A key conclusion is that there can be no compromise with those who resort to terrorism. Terrorism anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. We see the United States as an important partner in combating global terrorism.
India-US relations are based today on shared values and shared interests. We have a broad-based and ambitious agenda that we seek to realise. It is one based on a vision of the world, in which our societies work together to advance freedoms, creativity, prosperity and security. Mechanisms to accomplish these objectives include a range of initiatives and dialogues, some bilateral, others involving the global community. Our goal is to make India-US ties one of the principal relationships of the world.
In conclusion, I must convey my sincere appreciation of President Bush, of the US Administration, the US Congress and the people of this great country, for the warmth of your hospitality. President Bush's deep understanding of our hopes and aspirations and of our contribution to global peace, security and development encourages me to think that we can today work more closely together.
I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share these thoughts with you. I would be glad to take questions.”
Text of Manmohan Singh's Speech at a Reception, Tuesday Evening
The following is the text of an address by Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, to over 1,500 Indian-Americans at a reception hosted by the Indian Ambassador:
“I am very pleased to be with all of you this evening and appreciate your warm welcome. I am here in Washington on a visit at the invitation of President Bush. It is our shared hope that the discussions that we had yesterday would mark a transformation of ties between our two great democracies. I take the opportunity today to share with you my thoughts regarding the vision of our partnership and what you, as Indians resident in the United States, could contribute to these goals.
In 1949, Panditji came here on what he himself described as a ‘voyage of discovery’. I am here on a mission to give U.S. leaders an overview of the dramatic changes now taking place in India in our quest for social and economic transformation. India now happens to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Indian economy has now acquired the capacity to grow annually at the rate of 7-8 per cent. It is an endeavour to communicate to the opinion makers the ferment and energy that characterize Indian society. It is to convey that there is a new India in the making: one of world class firms, of a dynamic services sector, of young entrepreneurs and risk takers, of confident professionals and of rising urban and rural income levels.
My purpose in coming to the United States were three. First, to enhance an appreciation of these very changes which have given us the capability to better partner the United States. Second, to emphasise that the United States can contribute to these processes, accelerate growth rates in India by its policies and that it is in US strategic interest that the Indian economy expands rapidly. And third, that the educational empowerment of a demographically young India provides the basis for a long-term partnership between two key knowledge powers. My message is that India is an open economy as well as an open society, one capable and confident of closely engaging the world.
I believe that these last two days, the groundwork has been laid for a new relationship. I saw a different level of interest in India on the part of the President himself, key members of the Administration and among members of the US Congress, to whom I had the honour of delivering an address this morning. I saw as well that the corporate sector in the United States is looking at India very much more positively. This is reflected in the enthusiasm of the CEOs who have joined the bilateral forum that the President and I inaugurated yesterday. Initiatives and understandings that emerge from this visit should contribute to the long-term strength and competitiveness of India. For me, this visit represents an important step in our journey towards reform and modernization that began in 1991.
Our challenge in India is to meet the rising aspirations of the upwardly mobile while simultaneously addressing the basic needs of those who are still vulnerable. We are committed to take determined measures to get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict large section of our population. These are not choices, but two faces of the challenge of taking India forward. In the past, our ties with the United States have benefited India greatly. We seek now to build on that tradition while forging a new partnership. Obviously, with the passage of time, the terms of agreement are bound to change. Renewed cooperation in agricultural research, a focus on promoting agri-business, supporting innovative technologies, expanding educational networking, and building frontier science capabilities are all steps designed at giving our ties a contemporary relevance. Our two countries can cooperate to use the advances in modern science and technology to accelerate the pace of social and economic development. Our capability to partner the US on addressing global challenges has also increased and strengthening democratic capacities, addressing the HIV/AIDS challenge and responding to natural disasters are among our shared goals.
Our track record, even within the last year, clearly conveys a determination to raise the quality and scope of our cooperation. We have completed the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, established Energy and Economic Dialogues, put in place an IPR regime and investment policies that encourage business, addressed the Dabhol problem, concluded an Open Skies Agreement with the USA, expanded our defence cooperation with a new framework, and worked closely on tsunami relief. These achievements give us the confidence to now tackle the more ambitious agenda that we have before us.
The role of the Indian community and Indian-Americans in this transformation process is vital. It is your creativity, knowledge, entrepreneurship and work ethic that has helped to greatly transform the image of India in American minds. No community in American history has achieved as much success in as short a time span as Indian-Americans. From a bridge between our two societies, you could become a veritable highway for the flow of ideas, technology and capital. You embody the knowledge partnership between us, whose broadening will surely make Indo-US ties one of the principal relationships of the world.
I thank you for all that you have done, individually and together, for India. Your support and your talents are necessary for our continued progress. I believe that the 21st century will be a global one, belonging to global citizens. It will a century of freedom, of democracy, of multi-culturalism and of knowledge. These are the very values you represent, values that we admire. Through your commitment and efforts, India and the Indo-US partnership will grow together.”
Early Analysis of the Bush-Singh Meetings
According to the Economist, "Indian officials are hailing a breakthrough in relations with America following a meeting in Washington, DC between India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and George Bush. America has come close to accepting India, which has not signed international non-proliferation treaties, as a full nuclear power." This, the articles says, is important for India for strategic, economic, and symbolic reasons.
The Christian Science Monitor explains that "The crux of this announcement is what it tells us about the US grand strategy, and that behind whatever else is going on here the US is preparing for a grand conflict with China and constructing an anti-China coalition.... In that scenario, India is even more valuable as a nuclear power, rather than as a nonnuclear country."
While the Economist says America has agreed to affirmatively help India win nuclear support from Congress and the international community, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is not pleased with the Indo-US joint statement. He is of the opinion that the US has essentially agreed to do nothing, while India has made specific promises that are not in the nation's best interests.
More to come....
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Text of Dr Manmohan Singh's Address to the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished members of the US Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen,I deem it a privilege to be invited to address this Joint Session of the US Congress. I thank you for the invitation. I bring you the greetings and good wishes of the people of India.
India and the United States have much in common that is very important to both countries. You are the world's oldest democracy, we are its largest. Our shared commitment to democratic values and processes has been a bond that has helped us transcend differences. We admire the creativity and enterprise of the American people, the excellence of your institutions of learning, the openness of the economy, and your ready embrace of diversity. These have attracted the brightest young minds from India, creating a bridge of understanding that transcends both distance and difference between us.In addition to the values we share as democracies, there is also a convergence in our perceptions of a rapidly transforming global environment, bringing us much closer together than at any time in the past.
Globalisation has made the world so inter-dependent that none of us can ignore what happens elsewhere. Peace and prosperity are more indivisible than ever before in human history. As democracies, we must work together to create a world in which democracies can flourish.
This is particularly important because we are today faced with new threats such as terrorism, to which democracies are particularly vulnerable.
Indian democracy has been fashioned around India's civilisational ethos which celebrates diversity. Our society today is the culmination of centuries of assimilation of diverse peoples and ethnic groups. All the major religions of the world are represented in India.
We have a tremendous diversity of languages, customs and traditions. The Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi called for universal adult franchise as early as 1931, long before India became independent. Our political leadership remained true to this commitment and the Constitution we adopted after Independence enshrined democracy based on free elections and the associated principles of tolerance of dissent, freedom for political activity, protection of human rights and the Rule of Law.
Our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, addressing this very forum in 1949, acknowledged our debt to America on this score. He said that you could hear in our Constitution the echo of the great voices of the Founding Fathers of your Republic.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the real test of a democracy is not in what is said in the Constitution, but in how it functions on the ground. All Indians can be proud of what we have achieved in this area and our experience is also relevant beyond our boundaries. Free and fair elections are the foundation of a democracy. Over the past six decades, governments in India, at both the national and State level, have regularly sought the mandate of the people through elections.
Our elections are conducted under the supervision of a statutory independent Election Commission, which has earned respect for its fairness and transparency, both at home and abroad. The independent judiciary has been a zealous defender of our Constitution and a credible guarantor of the Rule of Law. The Press is a key institution in any democracy and our media has a well-earned reputation for being free and fearless. Our minorities, and we have many, participate actively in all walks of national life - political, commercial and cultural.
Civil society organisations are thriving and are vigilant in protecting human rights. They are also watchful of threats to the environment. Our Army has remained a professional force, subject throughout to civilian control.
Recently, the Constitution was amended to ensure constitutionally mandated elections to village and municipal councils. This process has produced no less than three million elected representatives in the country, with one million positions reserved for women.
This has brought democracy closer to the people and also empowered women and promoted gender balance.
Our commitment to democratic values and practices means there are many concerns and perceptions that we share with the United States. The most important common concern is the threat of terrorism. Democracy can only thrive in open and free societies. But open societies like ours are today threatened more than ever before by the rise of terrorism.
The very openness of our societies makes us more vulnerable, and yet we must deal effectively with the threat without losing the openness we so value and cherish. India and the United States have both suffered grievously from terrorism and we must make common cause against it. We know that those who resort to terror often clothe it in the garb of real or imaginary grievances. We must categorically affirm that no grievance can justify resort to terror.
Democracies provide legitimate means for expressing dissent. They provide the right to engage in political activity, and must continue to do so. However, for this very reason, they cannot afford to be soft on terror. Terrorism exploits the freedom our open societies provide to destroy our freedoms. The United States and India must work together in all possible forums to counter all forms of terrorism. We cannot be selective in this area.
We must fight terrorism wherever it exists, because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere.
We know from experience that democratic societies which guarantee individual freedom and tolerance of dissent provide an environment most conducive to creative endeavour, and the establishment of socially just societies. We therefore have an obligation to help other countries that aspire for the fruits of democracy. Just as developed industrial countries assist those that are less developed to accelerate development, democratic societies with established institutions must help those that want to strengthen democratic values and institutions.
In this spirit, President Bush and I agreed yesterday on a global initiative to help build democratic capacities in all societies that seek such assistance.
The capacities we have in mind are those related to the electoral, parliamentary, judicial and human rights processes of emerging democracies. Respect for cultural diversity, minority rights and gender equality is an important goal of this initiative.
Democracy is one part of our national endeavour. Development is the other. Openness will not gain popular support if an open society is not a prosperous society. This is especially so in developing countries, where a large number of people have legitimate material expectations which must be met. That is why we must transform India's economy, to raise the standard of living of all our people and in the process eliminate poverty.
India's aspirations in the respect are not different from those of other developing countries. But we are unique in one respect. There is no other country of a billion people, with our tremendous cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, that has tried to modernise its society and transform its economy within the framework of a functioning democracy. To attempt this at our modest levels of per capita income is a major challenge. We are determined to succeed in this effort.
To achieve our developmental goals, our policies and strategies must be in step with changed circumstances and especially the opportunities now available in the global economy. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, standing at this very podium two decades ago, spoke of the challenge of building anew on old foundations. He started a process of reorienting India's economic policies, which has been continued by successive governments.
The economic policy changes that have been made in India have far-reaching implications. They have liberated Indian enterprise from government control and made the economy much more open to global flows of trade, capital and technology. Our entrepreneurial talent has been unleashed, and is encouraged to compete with the best. We will continue this process so that Indian talent and enterprise can realize its full potential, enabling India to participate in the global economy as an equal partner.
We are often criticised for being too slow in making changes in policy, but democracy means having to build a consensus in favour of change. As elected representatives, you are all familiar with this problem. We have to assuage the doubts and calm the fears that often arise when people face the impact of change. Many of the fears we have to address are exaggerated, but they must be addressed. This is necessary to ensure sustainability. India's economic reforms must be seen in this light: they may appear slow, but I assure you they are durable and irreversible.
I am happy to say that our efforts at transforming India into an economy more integrated with the world have borne fruit. Our rate of growth of GDP has increased steadily, and has averaged around 6.0 per cent per year over the past two decades. Poverty has declined although more slowly than we would like. We are determined to improve on this performance. We hope to raise our growth rate to 8 per cent or so over the next two years, and we will ensure that this growth is "inclusive" so that its benefits are widely spread.
For this we must act on several fronts. We must do much more in health and education, which are crucial for human development. We must continue to open up our economy. We must impart a new impetus to agricultural development. We must expand investment in economic infrastructure which is a critical constraint on our growth prospects.
India's growth and prosperity is in American interest. American investments in India, especially in new technology areas, will help American companies to reduce costs and become more competitive globally. Equally, India's earnings from these investments will lead to increased purchases from the United States. The information technology revolution in India is built primarily on US computer related technology and hardware. There are many other examples of such two-way benefits, with both sides gaining from the process.
US firms are already leading the foreign investment drive in India. I believe 400 of the Fortune 500 are already in India. They produce for the Indian market and will hopefully also source supplies from India for their global supply chains. We welcome this involvement and look forward to further expansion in the years ahead. India needs massive foreign direct investment, especially in infrastructure. I hope American companies will participate in the opportunities we are creating.
The 21st Century will be driven by knowledge-based production and India is well placed in this area. We have a large and relatively young population with a social tradition that values higher education.
Our educated young people are also English speaking. This makes us potentially an attractive location for production of high-end services whether in software, engineering design or research in pharmaceutical and other areas. Our laws on intellectual property rights have been recently amended to comply fully with our international obligations under the WTO. We look forward to attracting business in these areas from the United States.
The presence of a large number of Indian Americans in high technology industries here makes the US and India natural partners. It gives you confidence about India's human resource capability. It also gives you an edge over your competitors in the ease with which you can operate in India. We are proud of what the Indian American community have done in this country. I was touched, as were many of my countrymen, by the news that a Resolution of this House celebrated the contribution of Indian Americans to research, innovation, and promotion of trade and international cooperation between India and the US.
Ladies and Gentlemen, to fully exploit potential areas for cooperation between our two countries, we need to make special efforts to bring our private sectors closer together. To this end, President Bush and I have constituted an India-US forum of chief executive officers. I hope this forum will promote greater understanding of each other's perspectives and also a better assessment of prospects for future cooperation. The two governments will draw on their experience and advice on how to realise the full potential of our relationship.
The bulk of our population still depends upon agriculture for a living. The United States was an early partner in this area, helping to establish agricultural universities and research institutions in India in the 1960s. It was an American, Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, who developed high yielding varieties of wheat in Mexico which were then adapted to Indian conditions in the Agricultural Universities you helped establish.
This was the start of the Green Revolution in India that lifted countless millions above poverty. I am very happy to say that President Bush and I have decided to launch a second generation of India-US collaboration in Agriculture. The new initiative will focus on basic and strategic research for sustainable development of agriculture to meet the challenge of raising productivity in conditions of water stress. It seeks to take information and know-how directly to the farming community and promote technologies that minimise post harvest wastage and improve food storage. It will also help Indian farmers to meet phytosanitary conditions and enable them to participate more fully in global agricultural trade.
Energy security is another area where our two countries have strong common interests. The world's reserves of hydrocarbons are finite and we must tap new energy sources. India's reliance on coal and hydro-power will increase. We have to invest in new oil and gas exploration and in enhanced recovery of oil and gas from available fields. We must also tap the full potential of nuclear energy. The US can help in all these areas. I am happy to say that we have initiated an Energy Dialogue with the US to explore the scope for cooperation in each of these areas in the years ahead.
The field of civil nuclear energy is a vital area for cooperation between our two countries. As a consequence of our collective efforts, our relationship in this sector is being transformed.
President Bush and I arrived at an understanding in finding ways and means to enable such cooperation.
In this context, I would also like to reiterate that India's track record in nuclear non-proliferation is impeccable. We have adhered scrupulously to every rule and canon in this area. We have done so even though we have witnessed unchecked nuclear proliferation in our own neighbourhood which has directly affected our security interests.
This is because India, as a responsible nuclear power, is fully conscious of the immense responsibilities that come with the possession of advanced technologies, both civilian and strategic. We have never been, and will never be, a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies.
We are conscious that plans to meet our energy requirements will have implications for the environment. This is especially so since any energy scenario for India will involve heavy dependence on coal. Clean coal technologies that can make an impact need to be developed and should be affordable for poorer countries. We need to find ways whereby sufficient resources can be devoted to ensure the development of these technologies. We must also find ways of allowing greater access for developing countries to these technologies including ways of undertaking cooperative research.
We stand ready to explore new partnerships in this area with you, which will help enable a more efficient use of our hydrocarbon resources.
There are other areas too where we can collaborate. Our combined effort in providing relief and succour to the millions affected by last December's tsunami is an example of what partnership can achieve.
Building on this experience, President Bush and I have launched a joint initiative to ensure that our capabilities will be readily on call for those in need in similar situations in future. The global challenge of HIV/AIDS is another area for India-US cooperation. President Bush and I have agreed on the need to provide increased international access to safe and effective anti-retroviral drugs.
Ladies and Gentlemen, globalisation has woven a web of inter-connections across the world. This makes it all the more necessary that we evolve a system of global governance that carries credibility and commands legitimacy. Such a system must be sufficiently participative to be able to generate a global consensus. It must also reflect contemporary reality. The Doha round of world trade negotiations and the reform of the United Nations are two major processes in the international arena where we need to work together to strengthen the system of global governance.
India is committed to strengthening the multilateral trading system and we will work with the US and other partners for a successful outcome of the Doha Round. I am sure that we can find a reasonable and balanced outcome that is mutually beneficial. We will make every effort to do so.
On the reform of the United Nations, we believe that it is time to recognise the enormous changes that have occurred since the present structure was established. There must be comprehensive reform of the United Nations to make it more effective and also more representative.
The UN Security Council must be restructured as part of the reform process. In this context, you would agree that the voice of the world's largest democracy surely cannot be left unheard on the Security Council when the United Nations is being restructured.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to conclude by saying that the Indian people look forward to a bright future, full of confidence, based on a growing recognition of our economic capabilities and the readiness of our society to meet the challenges before us. We have had some success in improving the quality of life of our own people and we will redouble our efforts to this end. We will also work towards securing a world order in which democracy can flourish, and in which developing nations can strive for greater prosperity.
As two democracies, we are natural partners in many respects. Partnerships can be of two kinds. There are partnerships based on principle and there are partnerships based on pragmatism.
I believe we are at a juncture where we can embark on a partnership that can draw both on principle as well as pragmatism. We must build on this opportunity.
My objective on this visit was to lay the basis for transformed ties between our two great countries. I believe that we have made a very good beginning. With the support and understanding of the Congress, the full benefits of our partnership will be realised in the months and years to come. India is today embarked on a journey inspired by many dreams. We welcome having America by our side. There is much we can accomplish together.
Text of India-US joint statement
Following is the text of the joint statement issued following talks on Monday between US President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Source
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush declare their resolve to transform the relationship between their countries and establish a global partnership. As leaders of nations committed to the values of human freedom, democracy and rule of law, the new relationship between India and the United States will promote stability, democracy, prosperity and peace throughout the world. It will enhance our ability to work together to provide global leadership in areas of mutual concern and interest.
Building on their common values and interests, the two leaders resolve:
* To create an international environment conducive to promotion of democratic values, and to strengthen democratic practices in societies, which wish to become more open and pluralistic.
* To combat terrorism relentlessly. They applaud the active and vigorous counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries and support more international efforts in this direction.
Terrorism is a global scourge and the one we will fight everywhere. The two leaders strongly affirm their commitment to the conclusion by September of a UN comprehensive convention against international terrorism.
The Prime Minister's visit coincides with the completion of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) initiative, launched in January 2004. The two leaders agree that this provides the basis for expanding bilateral activities and commerce in space, civil nuclear energy and dual-use technology.
Drawing on their mutual vision for the US-India relationship, and our joint objectives as strong long-standing democracies, the two leaders agree on the following:
For the Economy
* Revitalise the US-India Economic Dialogue and launch a CEO Forum to harness private sector energy and ideas to deepen the bilateral economic relationship.
* Support and accelerate economic growth in both countries through greater trade, investment, and technology collaboration.
* Promote modernisation of India's infrastructure as a prerequisite for the continued growth of the Indian economy. As India enhances its investment climate, opportunities for investment will increase.
* Launch a US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture focused on promoting teaching, research, service and commercial linkages.
For energy and the environment
* Strengthen energy security and promote the development of stable and efficient energy markets in India with a view to ensuring adequate, affordable energy supplies and conscious of the need for sustainable development. These issues will be addressed through the US-India Energy Dialogue.
* Agree on the need to promote the imperatives of development and safeguarding the environment, commit to developing and deploying cleaner, more efficient, affordable, and diversified energy technologies.
For democracy and development
* Develop and support, through the new US-India Global Democracy Initiative in countries that seek such assistance, institutions and resources that strengthen the foundations that make democracies credible and effective. India and the US will work together to strengthen democratic practices and capacities and contribute to the new UN Democracy Fund.
* Commit to strengthen cooperation and combat HIV/AIDS at a global level through an initiative that mobilises private sector and government resources, knowledge, and expertise.
For non-proliferation and security
* Express satisfaction at the New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship as a basis for future cooperation, including in the field of defence technology.
* Commit to play a leading role in international efforts to prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The US welcomed the adoption by India of legislation on WMD (Prevention of Unlawful Activities Bill).
* Launch a new US-India Disaster Relief Initiative that builds on the experience of the Tsunami Core Group, to strengthen cooperation to prepare for and conduct disaster relief operations.
For high-technology and space
* Sign a Science and Technology Framework Agreement, building on the US-India High-Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG), to provide for joint research and training, and the establishment of public-private partnerships.
* Build closer ties in space exploration, satellite navigation and launch, and in the commercial space arena through mechanisms such as the US-India Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation.
* Building on the strengthened non-proliferation commitments undertaken in the NSSP, to remove certain Indian organisations from the Department of Commerce's Entity List.
Recognising the significance of civilian nuclear energy for meeting growing global energy demands in a cleaner and more efficient manner, the two leaders discussed India's plans to develop its civilian nuclear energy program.
President Bush conveyed his appreciation to the Prime Minister over India's strong commitment to preventing WMD proliferation and stated that as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states. The President told the Prime Minister that he will work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realizes its goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security. The President would also seek agreement from Congress to adjust US laws and policies, and the United States will work with friends and allies to adjust international regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India, including but not limited to expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for safeguarded nuclear reactors at Tarapur. In the meantime, the United States will encourage its partners to also consider this request expeditiously. India has expressed its interest in ITER and a willingness to contribute. The United States will consult with its partners considering India's participation. The United States will consult with the other participants in the Generation IV International Forum with a view toward India's inclusion.
The Prime Minister conveyed that for his part, India would reciprocally agree that it would be ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the United States. These responsibilities and practices consist of identifying and separating civilian and military nuclear facilities and programs in a phased manner and filing a declaration regarding its civilians facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); taking a decision to place voluntarily its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards; signing and adhering to an Additional Protocol with respect to civilian nuclear facilities; continuing India's unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing; working with the United States for the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty; refraining from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread; and ensuring that the necessary steps have been taken to secure nuclear materials and technology through comprehensive export control legislation and through harmonization and adherence to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines.
The President welcomed the Prime Minister's assurance. The two leaders agreed to establish a working group to undertake on a phased basis in the months ahead the necessary actions mentioned above to fulfil these commitments. The President and Prime Minister also agreed that they would review this progress when the President visits India in 2006.
The two leaders also reiterated their commitment that their countries would play a leading role in international efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological weapons.
In light of this closer relationship, and the recognition of India's growing role in enhancing regional and global security, the Prime Minister and the President agree that international institutions must fully reflect changes in the global scenario that have taken place since 1945. The President reiterated his view that international institutions are going to have to adapt to reflect India's central and growing role. The two leaders state their expectations that India and the United States will strengthen their cooperation in global forums.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thanks President Bush for the warmth of his reception and the generosity of his hospitality. He extends an invitation to President Bush to visit India at his convenience and the President accepts that invitation.
Monday, July 18, 2005
"Police believe a gang of six racists vandalised a worshipper's car outside a Sikh temple in revenge for the London bombings. They threw a brick through the window of a car parked outside the Sar Gurdwara Temple, in Tithe Barn Road, Stafford, at about 1.15am on Saturday.
"Sergeant Paul Prenter, of Staffordshire Police, said: 'The temple is a Sikh temple and it is believed at this time the offenders thought the occupants were Muslims, following the recent attacks in London.'"
"Sikhs accuse NY transit system of discrimination"
According to Reuters, "Five Sikhs began a joint legal action against the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority on Friday for violating their religious rights by making them wear the MTA logo on their turbans while at work."
"'It would be like telling Christians to put an MTA logo on their cross. It is a religious article,' said Intergie Singh, a 12-year MTA veteran who was one of the men in the suit."
"The Sikh workers, all of whom had worked for the MTA for between 9 and 14 years, said the turbans had not been an issue before the Sept 11, 2001 attacks by Muslim extremists which destroyed the World Trade center in New York."
One of the men, Kevin Harrington, was apparently told that he had to place the logo on his turban, even though "another train conductor standing right next to him is wearing a yarmulke" was not. Another man, Brijinder Singh Gill was told by his supervisor, "Mr. Gill, if you can't affix the logo on your turban I will fix it on there for you," to which Gill said, "No."
Harrington has been "lauded for his heroism on Sept. 11, 2001.... Harrington put his No. 4 train in reverse, backed into the Wall Street station and ushered his passengers to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge after two hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center."
"The five men signed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission citing the MTA at a news conference while chanting a traditional Sikh greeting, 'God is true, God is eternal.'"
British Leaders Condemn Backlash II
Prime Minister Tony Blair remarked, "This is a small group of extremists - not one that can be ignored because of the danger that they pose. But neither should it define Muslims in Britain, who are overwhelmingly law-abiding, decent members of our society. We condemn any attacks against them unreservedly."
"Leicester MP Keith Vaz... expressed concern [to Prime Minister Blair] that the attacks could 'imperil the diverse and multicultural society that is Britain today and the envy of the world.'"
ACLU Argues for Deportee's Release
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition "on behalf of Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan, who was arrested on immigration charges in July 2004. His arrest came as federal authorities unsealed an indictment" which charged that Hamdan worked for a charity that provided millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The petition, however, states that "there is not one shred of evidence in support of the government's argument that Hamdan poses a danger to national security [and that the government] never even attempted to prove Hamdan raised funds with the intent to further terrorist activity."
Interestingly, "Hamdan's wife said she would accompany her husband if he was deported but would let her six U.S.-born children decide whether to go or stay. 'I am a foreigner, but these are American-born kids. They can hardly speak Arabic. How are they going to fit in an Arab country? We are an American family who happens to be Muslim.'"
Friday, July 15, 2005
Jonah Goldberg and the Washington Times on the Backlash
Jonah Goldberg, editor at large at the National Review Online, writes, "In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, The Independent ran a splashy frontpage story on the "backlash" against Muslims. Keep in mind that this was the worst assault on London since the Blitz and the "backlash" amounted to little more than a broken window and a man getting roughed up in a pub. One has to wonder how many more pub-beatings took place that same weekend because some idiot said something unkind about Manchester United."
Mr Goldberg is clearly incorrect both in his assessment of the extensiveness of the backlash and of the need for the popular press to report on the backlash. Indeed, the death of Kamal Raza Butt should easily refute his claim that the backlash is exaggerated or not worthy of public attention. And surely an assault carried out on the basis of someone's race or religion is more worthy of societal condemnation as opposed to violence commited because of a sports rivalry.
Mr Goldberg also asks why the outrage from the Muslim community isn't greater. In other words, "there's precious little evidence that the Muslim community is eager to turn on the enemy within with any admirable enthusiasm." (The op-ed is entitled "Where's the Muslim outrage?")
In fact, "Muslim communities in Britain have helped police with tips and information. British Muslim leaders said they were drafting a fatwa that would strip any bombers of the right to call themselves Muslims. 'Nothing in Islam can ever justify the evil actions of the bombers,' the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain said. 'We are determined to work to prevent such an atrocity ever happening again.'"
Also, perhaps Mr Goldberg would like to review these articles, which describe the Muslim community's outrage even in the United States:
The condemnation from the British Muslim community is also apparent, for example:
In today's edition of the Washington Times, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. writes, of the backlash: "so far [a backlash] has not [happened], save for a few broken windows at a mosque. That sort of thing is deplorable, but why was violence against Muslims among the first concerns of British elites? The answer is that local Muslims have orchestrated this concern."
First, again, there is more to the backlash than a few broken windows -- assaults, fires at mosques and gurdwaras, and even murder, for example. Second, it is highly unlikely to the point of absurdity that Muslims themselves would "orchestrate" the concern over hate crimes; the fear is not only undesirable, but warranted, given the numerous instances of racial and religious violence.