Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Homage to a Sufi Saint-Baba Farid

The outreach of Islam was greatly enhanced by the Sufis aka mystics, hence Islamic History is incomplete without taking into account their works in reconstructing the religious thought. This synthesis was brought about by the Sufis and the epitome of this syncretism is Baba Farid. He belonged to one of the most influential Sufi orders in South Asia I.e. Chishtia silsala, which is equally revered across the globe. Baba Farid’s was a disciple of Qutub u din Bakhtiar Kaki. His mentor considering the unorthodox way of meditation of his prodigious student advised him to travel to Ajodhan I.e modern day Pakpattan located in Punjab Pakistan. Sources of the time note that Baba Farid used to hang himself upside down in a well for forty days and pray. People congregated around the well to witness him. At that time he lived in the cosmopolitan city of Delhi. Hence, following his mentor’s command he moved to the afore mentioned area, but even there he wasn’t left alone and people across South Asia tracked him down and some settled permanently where he lived, one such person was Nizam ud din Aulia, who ultimately was awarded the baton to carry on his message. Without This patron saint of Indian capital, Delhi might not have existed in its present form. As one of the kings of Tughlaq dynasty disowned Delhi and commanded the denizens of Delhi to move to the new city that he developed. The only incandescent lamp that was lit in all of Delhi was at Nizam ud din aulia’s shrine and his disciple who lit that at his shrine gained the pseudonym of ‘Chiragh Delhi’ the one who brightened Delhi. Anyhow, Baba Farid is one the only arch Sufis whose influence surpasses religious differences. Therefore his Kalam is also a part of the divine book of Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib. We live in a time when religion has become the most potent tool to divide and manipulate the masses. It’s time that we look at our past and try to comprehend how much this wedge between religions has increased, which seems beyond repair. The panacea to that is provided by the life and universality of teachings this great mystic. Therefore paying homage to this great Sufi wasn’t only cathartic but also gave hope that there are precedents which need to be highlighted and followed today more than ever.

Submitted by B.H.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-The devotion of Suspect X (2017-Hong Kong)

A detective tries to solve a crime but is hindered by his former classmate who is protecting the guilty. Entertaining movie. Recommended  

On the lighter side-Movies-The Belko Experiment (2016)

Eighty Americans are locked up in a building in Colombia and voice from outside tells them to kill each other or be killed. Actually a surprisingly bloody and good movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Fate of the Furious (2017)-Dwayne Johnson

The team is back in this eighth installment where they try to race against a woman bent on destroying the world. The usual car chase and action. Recommended

Internal Stability in Nuclear Armed States of South Asia

Many factors determine whether a nation state is internally stable or not. However, the presence or absence of nuclear weapons has no bearing on a country’s internal stability. An example in case is Pakistan, which acquired nuclear weapons capability in the 1980’s, but is faced today with violent insurgencies and is ripe with ethnic conflict. Nuclear weapons are at best a deterrent against external aggression and the powerful and destructive nature of the devices mean that they cannot be used in an internal conflict, which can better be resolved by police or paramilitary forces. The primary problem in Pakistan concerns regime type, which presents a daunting obstacle for a nuclear free South Asia. Pakistan has been classified as a hybrid regime by scholars like Larry Diamond and Lipset, a regime which is neither fully democratic nor authoritarian. This places Pakistan in a unique category, comparable more to Venezuela than to its supposed arch-nemesis, India. Since, the country represents a hybrid regime, the powerful military establishment functions as a state within a state and is not perceived to be answerable to the civilian elected leadership. Indeed, some scholars have gone even further than Lipset and Diamond by labeling the country as a post-colonial garrison state, as Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed has argued in his famous work. Democracies, and even more so, liberal democracies, don’t go to war with another. History testifies the fact that although Communist countries like the Soviet Union and China fought a bloody skirmish on the border in 1969, two democracies are yet to go to war with one another. Similarly, Communist China went to war with Communist Vietnam, whereas the latter fought over with Cambodia in the 1970’s. So, what is so characteristic about democracies which itself acts a deterrent against war? The answer is surprisingly simple. Democratic governments are answerable and accountable to the people and war being a costly affair, both in terms of its monetary and more importantly, human cost is rarely used as a rallying cry by democracies that fear that a war would vote them out in the next elections. The second problem, concerns the issue of equity. Pakistan seeks equity with Hindu India in all spheres. Since India has managed to successfully convince a large part of the international community that Pakistan exports terrorism, the Pakistani establishment has also embarked on a similar endeavor. This logic can also be applied to the nuclear weapons issue. India started the nuclear arms race in the South Asian region by detonating a device code-named Smiling Buddha in 1974, that led to Pakistan starting its own nuclear program. It is therefore highly unlikely that Pakistan would have developed nuclear weapons of its own had India not decided to do the same before them. Likewise, the issue of the NPT presents almost identical picture, as Pakistan refuses to sign the NPT as long as India doesn’t. The net result is a classical case of stalemate in the region with no side able to achieve a decisive victory in the event of a war, but still unwilling to back down from their present nuclear postures. The Pakistani Army in particular fears a dilemma similar to what the Egyptian Army faced after the Camp David Accords were signed in 1978. The Camp David Accords led to permanent peace between Egypt and Israel as the latter agreed to return the occupied Sinai desert to Egypt in exchange for official recognition. The breakthrough deal deprived the Egyptian Army of an external enemy and led to a shady role by the Egyptian establishment in propping up Islamist groups within their own country to justify their hegemonic role in countering them. On the contrary, the situation in India is a lot better as the country is far more stable than Pakistan. Although the Indian state faces countless insurgencies, none of these insurgencies, with the exception of Kashmir, have the capacity to damage the Indian federation. Furthermore, India has been able to maintain civilian rule since partition and the subordinate role of the Indian Army to the civilian leadership is firmly entrenched in their political system. There are many reasons as to why it was possible in India but not in Pakistan; but most of it has got to do with party organization. The Indian National Congress was a mass based, bottoms up, highly organized political party that maintained itself as an electoral force after partition, whereas the Pakistan Muslim League was mainly a marriage of convenience that established a temporary alliance between the peasants of Bengal and the powerful landlords of Punjab. The alliance broke right after partition was achieved and the military stepped in to fill the gap. India maintains that it views China as a far bigger threat to itself than Pakistan. The defeat suffered by the Indian Army in 1962 against Chinese forces remains India’s biggest military disaster and the nuclear weapons capability developed by India was more to counter the superiority of Chinese conventional forces. However, Pakistan objects to this logic and points out that the bulk of the Indian Army is still deployed on its borders and the majority of its air force bases are within striking distance of Pakistani heartland. China’s presence on the Indian border and its close relationship with Pakistan complicates the nuclear dynamics of South Asia as India would refuse to give up its nuclear arsenal as long as China maintains its aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean.
Today, Pakistan is believed to be in possession of the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. Nuclear weapons are both expensive to build and secure, and the United States has repeatedly expressed doubts that radical elements present in Pakistan might be able to capture nuclear weapons and ignite a nuclear war in the region. The loose control exercised by the civilian leadership in Pakistan’s democratic polity keeps defense budget obscure and off limits for any discussion. This allocation of budget could be used for the socio-economic development which the country direly needs at this juncture. The response in a war is always proportional to the aggression by the enemy, so exercising the nuclear option would always be retaliatory and the exchange, bilateral. In world war 2, the U.S.A bombarded Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear missiles and since then, they haven’t been able to vindicate themselves from this uncalled for aggression. This episode has left a permanent blot on the U.S.A. Using nuclear weapon is unethical even in a war situation, despite this, the investment in Nuclear weapon development continues to grow. Secondly, as established earlier the nuclear weapon acts as a deterrent against war. But the next question is whether its deterrence averts only a nuclear war or also the conventional war. History of this region suggests otherwise, although no nuclear war has taken place between India and Pakistan thus far, but both countries continue to spar on their borders by cross border firing and mortars. The Kargil war also testifies that the deterrence capability of a nuclear weapon is only limited to the aversion of a nuclear war but not the conventional war.
Meanwhile, the countries that forsake the nuclear weapons in the past are doing a lot better than both Pakistan and India in terms of their Human capital development. For instance the literacy rate in Kazakhstan is 99.7% as opposed to 55% in Pakistan and 74% in India. These two countries haven’t lived up to their potential because by and large they have remained focus upon building their regular and nuclear arsenals. The need of the hour is to divest from nuclear weapon development. Both countries should seek to sort issues diplomatically and try to put their own house in order. If Pakistan manages to become a liberal democracy in letter and spirit then the historical facts suggest that the tensions between India and Pakistan would cease to exist.
Submitted by B.H.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-Birth of the Dragon (2017)

Biopic of the early days of Martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Okay watch. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies- Valerian and the city of a thousand planets (2017)

An elite force tries to protect a planet from evil forces. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017)-Animated

A squirrel tries to save his home from a cruel mayor. Recommended

The Hawaii missile scare

I have visited Hawaii three times up till now. The first time it was a short one day visit with my parents, the second time, I went with my family to Honolulu and the third time to Maui and the big Island. Although I don’t know how to swim (I know how to drown though) it is a beautiful place to visit and if it were up to me I would retire there too. It is expensive as everybody knows that but it is so tranquil and so diverse in nature that you can live there forever. So it was really distressing that an employee (who has now been reportedly reassigned) send out an incoming ballistic missile alert by mistake and got corrected reportedly 38 minutes later sending panic residents and tourists to seek shelter and started saying goodbyes to their loved ones. I don’t know how it would feel if you find out that your life will be finished in 38 minutes but it is scary as hell to find out like this unprepared.
The main point is why nobody in the State government bothered to check if the alert was correct or not. I believe it is gross negligence and a complete review should done to ascertain the weakness of the system and to make sure it does not happen, which they have already promised. Although I will sure vacation it there as it is still a beautiful and magical place to visit but now in addition to enjoying the vacation and in light of the tension between North Korea and the United States and with North Korea threatening to attack the United States and having Hawaii only 4600 miles from North Korea, a ballistic missile will take 30 minutes or so to reach Hawaii GOD FORBID and in one sense it is good to have this false drill but people intending to vacation here will have to be prepared in case something like this happens. 
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The WalMart.com prices

When WalMart.com decided that they would start free shipping for items shipped above $35.00, I was excited that I don’t have to pay the prime membership for Amazon® and still get my item in two days time. For a while it worked fine and I had decided to continue with it but as the saying goes all good things must come to an end and in the case of Wal-Mart.com, I was very upset that they have decided to charge for items that are ordered online more than what they would charge for people coming into their store. I can understand that they want more people to come into their store as they have huge overhead costs to maintain their stores, but Wal-Mart either forgot to understand or choose to ignore the fact that there are two different sets of people shopping on Wal-Mart. One set is the one who goes to their store every week or does shopping only in their store and there are the ones who occasionally venture into their stores but they do it out of necessity and not out of habit.
Internet shopping is all about convenience and with free shipping, some people may do their shopping on the internet out of convenience and if it cheaper than the store and also for the free shipping that Wal-Mart was providing. They are still providing it but for people like me who do their shopping on the internet, some of the prices are clearly very high as compared to going to their store. For example, they are increased the price of their household products who buy on their website as compared to going to their store. One of the paper products that they are selling on the internet has a whopping more than four dollars difference from their store. So the label of saying free shipping disappears as they are actually incorporating the shipping charges into the higher prices on their website. Why should I go to their store, fight off crowds of people, wait in the checking line, look for parking and save some money which will not be saved due to I driving to their store, spending money on the gas and do the above. It does not make sense to me to do shopping on their website when the point was to save some money and enjoy free shipping. For shoppers like me, they have lost one customer, which they will not miss as they are closing more than five dozen Sam’s club and are ready to send out pink slips in their corporate headquarters according to news report. I am really pissed off and would not do shopping on their website as their website prices are almost near to their nearest rival Target®. 
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The remark that does not want to die down

Recently it was reported by the media that in terms of discussion on broad immigration reform and to shield illegal immigrants from deportation, the President reportedly out of frustration lashed out and said the word “shithole countries” in describing some countries from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador and inquiring why we should not allow more immigrants from countries like Norway. Now I was not there in the meeting with him and I am just reporting what is being said in the media which has been vehemently denied by the President. I will not get into this discussion about whether he said it or not since it cannot be verified by me. If he said it than to give him a benefit of doubt, it may be out frustration but as denied by him, he did not say it so I will leave it at that and we should move on to more important matters.
The other remark is also not verified about allowing people from Norway to come to the U.S. Here I will say is that with immigration in that country, there are people who are of Muslim origin and also from Africa and I don’t believe that the those people want to come to the United States (U.S.) where there is no Universal health care and the benefits for the citizens less generous than the U.S. People from rich countries would not want to move to the U.S. so the only choice the U.S. have is to welcome people from the so called undesirable (will not use the word as reported in the press) countries as those are the people who are willing to sacrifice everything to come to the U.S. and besides those are the people we also need as not everyone can be entrepreneur and everybody contribute to the U.S. in one way or the other even if it not visible immediately or ever.
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Monday, January 15, 2018

New Year resolutions

I am done with New Year resolutions that people so religiously start to keep but then it goes downhill as days go by and one gets distracted by other pressing matters and you lose track of what your resolutions were and then it is forgotten or just limps around until it vanishes or pushed to the next year. I am sure there are many people who keep their resolutions and succeed in keeping up with them but there are equal numbers of people who lose sight of it or ignore it enough so that they don’t want to be reminded of it. I used to keep it but it could be counted on hand and it was not that complicated but then I realized that if you don’t know if you are going to be alive the next day, how you would be able to keep up with your resolutions, so I have decided not to keep them anymore.

If you feel like you have to accomplish something during the year, just do it and keep it to yourself, do not brag about it or keep on stressing about it that you have to do it within a year, if it happens, it happens and if not then discard or modify it so that what can be achievable is what should be done, no pressure and no race against time. I for one would not recommend keeping New Year resolutions and if you want to make something happen just do it and not stress about if it does not happen.

On the lighter side-Movies-Mayhem (2017)

A meek employee tries to convince his superiors to rescind his firing at a time when the whole office turns against each other violently due to some sort of virus. Chaotic and gory. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Acts of Vengeance (2017)-Antonio Banderas

A lawyer takes revenge on the person who killed his wife and daughter. Nothing special. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Beguiled (2017)-Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell

Remake of the same name about a wounded soldier during the American civil war that create tensions in all girls house. Moody and atmospheric but nothing special since it is already a remake. Recommended with caution (meaning I did not enjoy it but some will do)

On the lighter side-Movies- Spider-Man: Home Coming (2017)-Tom Holland, Michael Keaton

Spider man tries to balance his life between being normal and a super hero while trying to make the big Apple safe from criminals. Enjoyable. Recommended 

On the lighter side-Movies-Friends don’t let friends (2017)

A violent breakup ends up with a dead body. A group of friends help with the disposal of the body in the desert as friends turn on friends. Avoid it and ignore the ratings. Not Recommended 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-Cute Little Buggers (2017)-British

When hostile aliens kidnap British girls for their own ongoing experiment to expand their population, the British villagers band together to fight them. Weird and gory. Not Recommended 

On the lighter side-Movies-Sniper: Ultimate Kill (2017)

A Columbian drug cartel hires the services of a sniper who picks on anybody who tries to stop them prompting the U.S. government to send them their own team to kill the sniper. Only for action fans and only for those who want to see the next chapter in this ongoing series. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Wish Upon (2017)-Ryan Philippe

A box gives the owner the power to grant any wish with deadly results. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Killing Gunther (2017)-Arnold Schwarzenegger

A group of assassins try to kill the world’s greatest hitman who always seem to stay one step ahead of them. Weird and eccentric movie. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The worthy (2017-U.A.E)

A group of survivors tries to defend their turf from intruders who are after their precious resource of water in a world where vast supply of world’s water has been contaminated. A great effort by United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) in the thriller category, although the violence is hard core. Recommended

Saturday, January 6, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men tell no tales (2017)-Johnny Depp

Captain Jack Sparrow searches for a mysterious weapon which gives it possessor power over all the seas. Superb action and enjoyable entry to the franchise. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Despicable Me 3 (2017)-Animated

Gru meets his twin brother Dru and together they plan one last heist. Funny and enjoyable. Recommened

On the lighter side-Movies-The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)-Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson

A top bodyguard is hired to protect a hitman who is about to testify in a crime case. Funny and action packed movie. Recommended

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The 9th Anniversary of My Father’s Death

How time flies, it is now my father’s 9th death anniversary and it just seem was yesterday. You can only miss your parents once they are not with you; otherwise you always take for granted that they will be there. But time flies so fast that before you know it they are not there for your happy and sad occasions and if you are married not there for your kids and their activities. I miss my dad immensely and although the pain of him not with me has lessened somewhat but it never go away. There is this emptiness that you feel in your life when a loved one with whom your love is so intense is no longer with you, especially if they are your parents foremost. That emptiness is never filled up because you only got to have one set of parents. I still have held on to his clothes and other memorabilia and hopefully as long as I am alive I will keep on writing my annual tribute to my dad on this death anniversary. May GOD bless him and he is enjoying his peace and tranquility in heaven. I love you dad always.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Global gender discrimination

Gender discrimination, sexism are the common names for this global issue and dilemma. So, what is sexism? It's defined as a prejudice based on a person's gender. As the word elicits it should have been applied to both men and women, but in current world it is applicable only to women/girls. It emphasizes on the idea and stereotypes such as that one gender is superior to the other one.
Paramount effects of sexism may foster and give birth to sexual harassment, physical, verbal, domestic abuse and much worse rape. In short, it can give shape to many ill forms of sexual violence
There is a vast list of countries with rampant discrimination against sex. To put it in other words, life was, is and has been difficult for one gender i.e. women or as they say, Being woman is expensive. From infanticide to honor killing, acid attacks to child marriages, corporal punishment to sexual assault, from "satti" to "wanni", women all over the world have to pay the toll of being female.
Sexism is everywhere in all the walks of life, from education to general work place. Okay, starting from the educational department, the number of girls to boys in schools is always unequal. The situation becomes even worse when we reach at the level of universities and colleges. let me share a statistical report of my country from 2015,it reflects that women have literacy %age of 48.5 compared to men who are 69,5% more literate. Despite all this discriminatory attitude of sate women are working hard and achieving high in life just to prove the world and clich├ęd words wrong!!
Long gone are the ancient Egyptian civilization days when women were dependent on the patriarch of the family. How did this frame of mind came forth?, it  was only due to the ideology of adapting to one's norms and cultures. Stop conditioning your mind to cultures and also stop letting people brain feed you about everything. I read a tweet about a month ago, and i quote,"16+years of education, sleepless nights, depriving myself of food, losing weight, acquiring dark circles, All this trouble for proving a son of another woman wrong”. So this should be the level of determination of a woman when it comes to fighting for your own rights!
I am not advocating the fact that woman should do something alienating or something out of this world. A great man once said, “it is the basic need of a developing nation to give it's women equal rights, so that, they can exalt their nations”, The same should be followed today, tomorrow and in the coming future. I long to see women in power like men, being independent as much as possible.
Anyhow, moving towards the work place discrimination, women again are down trodden when it comes to wages and working late at night. Wages must be increased so that single mothers can safely provide for their families. Have you ever reckoned why woman are given the untidy roles of prostitutes maybe it's because of this attitude of the world (no offense i have deep respect for such humans too).
In the end i would like to highlight that  strong women are the torch bearers of a strong future, hence we should raise our voices to maximum for the liberation of women rights. We need more of Ahed tehmimis,arfa karims,muneeba mazaris,benazir bhuttos,grace kellys,jacqueline Kennedys and many others. Finally, always remember “justice comes to those who have the force to louden their voices"
                                                     "SAY NO TO GENDER INEQUITY"
                                                                                                                              Submitted by M.S.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year-2018

I congratulate everybody for the New Year of 2018 as we finished yet another terrible year for millions of folks who for natural disasters. And I hope that his year is much better. I am planning to step up my blog writing and with your help increasing the blog posts to thousands of post each year. In this regard, I am encouraging everybody to send me your posts to infinipinions@gmail.com and I will upload it to my blog crediting you with only your initials or if you like anonymously. I know that in some parts of the world, my blog may be inaccessible or you are unable to post your opinions due to censorship, so this can be perfect opportunity to send me your post via email to the email as mentioned above and I will upload it.
If I have enough donations I may even plan to improve upon it but for now, if you are unable to send me your posts, you can send my blog link infinipinions.com to your friends and relatives so that they may be encouraged to write and send me their posts. I usually try to avoid obscene and politically motivated posts but it all depends upon how the post is written. I am a strong believer in freedom of speech and expression so any posts will be submitted without your name mentioned anywhere.

On the lighter side-Movies-Gifted (2017) - Chris Evans

A man raising his niece battles with this mother for the sole custody of her. Entertaining and engaging. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Buddies in India (2016-China)

A man accompanies the son of a CEO to India to recover his will. Action comedy blending the Chinese and Indian actors. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Kong: Skull Island (2017)-John Goodman

A group of people lands in an unchartered island inhabited by strange creatures. A good adventure movie. Recommended