Last Edited: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 01:40 PM +0100Last Updated: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 01:41 PM +0100

Alain Lamballe

Asghar Ali Engineer

Born in 1940, Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer took a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering. His interest in religion and its philosophy motivated him to do an in-depth study of Islam and other religions. Combining the knowledge of Islamic sources with an insight into the contemporary changes taking place in the world, he has written 48 books and numerous articles on issues relating to Islam, Indian Muslim, communal riots, communalization of Indian society, and human rights violations. He has argued for appreciation of illustrious Indian scholars of Islam such as, Muhammad Iqbal and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, passionately advocating a progressive understanding of Islam that strives to creatively respond to change. He has been advocating to Muslims to follow, in spirit, the Quranic teaching of adl, ahsan, rahmah and hikmah i.e. justice, benevolence, compassion and wisdom to make this world a better place to live for everyone. In his writings, he has also been arguing for the need to study the Islamic sources in the modern context. Taaqqul (reasoning), Tadabbur (contemplation), Tafakkur (Thinking) and Hikmah (Wisdom) have been emphasized by him as important tools to face the challenge of modernity. Dr. Aghar Ali Engineer has written extensively on the growing menace of communalization of Indian society and has documented most of the communal disturbances in different parts of India. He has also written a book on Gujarat pogrom of 2002, which was a watershed in the history of communal violence in India. His book Rethinking Issues in Islam was a path breaker as it provided a framework for the need to revisit some of the important issues confronting Muslims in India and elsewhere. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer has also made extensive use of cyberspace to reach out to millions of young men and women. Online edition of Indian Journal of Secularism edited by him has taken his writings to a vast number of people in different corners of the world. Winner of the "RightLivelihood Award 2004", which is considered an alternative Nobel Prize, Dr. Engineer has been a source of inspiration to a large number of Indians committed to the cause of security, equity, secularism, and progress for all sections of Indian society. Jamia Hamdard University conferred upon him the degree of the Doctor of Literature (D.Litt), Honoris Causa, on January 14, 2005. [Adapted from their citation]

Quite apart from the valid question of just how 'balanced' was Roy's perception of the historical role of Islam, I've included the above article here for it demonstrates how much a certain 'revolutionary' reading of Islam could appeallike Marxismto the 'universalistic' streak already inherent in the brahmanical psyche. - Sunthar

Bhadrakumar, M. K.

Dania Rari Pratiwi

Dileep Karanth

Dmitry V. Shlapentokh

Farish Ahmad-Noor

Dr Farish Ahmad-Noor is a Malaysian political scientist and human rights activist. He is currently academic researcher at the Zentrum fur Moderner Orient in Berlin, and is the author of New Voices of Islam (ISIM, 2002) and Islam Embedded: The Historical Development of PAS 1951-2003 (MSRI, 2004). The Other Malaysia is aimed at highlighting the marginalized elements of Malaysian history that have been sidelined by the official historical narrative of the Malaysian state.

Gautam Sen

Iqbal Surani

Of Ismaili cultural background, Iqbal was born in Madagascar. A graduate of the INALCO in Urdu and Arabic, he is a specialist of the Khoja Ismaili literature of the Indian subcontinent. He is currently pursuing his researches in Paris on the Khoja mode of knowledge transmission.

Explanation of the virtues of Knowledge in the Kalm-i Maul is the example par excellence of traditional Ismaili pedagogy. This bilingual study, presented for the first time in French, should attract the attention of those who want to deepen their knowledge of Ismaili culture, as much as believers and spiritual-seekers. You can order Iqbal's French opuscule, published in 2003, from: Librairie d'Amrique et d; Orient, Jean Maisonneuve Successeur; 11rue Saint Sulpice, Paris (6e); 3 bis Place de la Sorbonne, Paris (5e).

Jean-Marc de Grave

I got to know Jean-Marc through our interaction after his talk on 2nd Dec 2002 on "Islam and Javanism in Indonesia: the example of ritual initiation in the martial practices" within the framework of Marc Gaborieau's seminar on "Islam in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent." It seemed clear to me from some of the textual extracts and other terminology used that the tradition was a Kaula tantric one that had been reworked into an Islamic context. Particularly striking was the elaboration of the Sanskritic rasa-theory from the otherwise restricted realm of aesthetics into an existential mode of being for the Indonesian Muslim initiate, and the role of eros (shrngra) and the worship of Bhairava for, among other goals, mastery over the body while undergoing the discipline of the martial arts.  Jean-Marc and I subsequently met a couple of times over lunch to discuss the larger background of his researches and his personal involvement in the South-East Asian martial arts tradition. Along with his Japanese companion, Etsuko, who is an artist, he also joined Charles Mopsik, Jacques Vigne, Christian Bouchet and others at our place in Jan 2003 for the marathon discussion of 'lucid dreaming' (as in the Indian tantric traditions, dreams, and their interpretation, also play an important role in initiation into the Javanese martial arts). On 29th May 2003, we also had the pleasure of visiting with Jean-March and Etsuko the Monet Museum at Giverny, just outside Vernon where they live, before spending a most agreeable afternoon discussing French anthropology, etc., with several of Jean-Marc's colleagues working on China and Indonesia and belonging to the same research group, under the direction of Jean-Claude Galey (who was very close to Louis Dumont)Jean-Marc spent all of June 2003 in Malaysia to study Pancak Silat (another martial arts tradition) and is now in Java pursuing further research. While in Kuala Lumpur, he spent much time with my childhood friends and family.

The forms of Sri Canda Birawa (Bhairava), Sri Smaragama, amorous unions and social implication, relation to the marriage of Sri - nuptial rites / Canda Birawa - Smaragama'

Arjunawiwaha (Arjuna's marriage), Dewa Ruci, the relation to knowledge, yoga and meditation, around the "experienced" : practices and transmission, combat et love; teacher/pupil relation;  fidelity, authority, peace, combat, heroism, illusion : how the dominant ideas-values take shape; creation myth of the Javanese alphabet : the carakan and the two relational poles, alternating and synchronic value of the two poles.

Joaqun Albaicn (IRWA profile)

Mukur Khisha and I met Joaquin for the first time in Madrid on 22 July 2001 around late lunch at the Illraz's. He is a "writer, sniper and chronicler of artistic life," who lives in Spain. He has written extensively on his Rom heritage that he sees as deeply rooted in Indian tradition. By an interesting "coincidence" I witnessed my first bullfight at the Plaza de Toro the same evening immediately after taking leave of Joaqun. I was introduced to Joaqun, who has lived several months in Benares, by Oscar Pujol. You can read more about him and his various cultural activities at the Indo-Roma home page that he maintains at svAbhinava Friends.

This article was originally written for the Spanish Muslim paper Amanecer ('Dawn'), which refused to publish it, thus ending their collaboration (they had previously published 3 articles by him). Joaqun argues that Pakistan is a nation without a political purpose that therefore needs the hobby-horse of Kashmir to justify its existence. As an agent of destabilization and a check on the expansion of Indian influence, it has well served the geopolitical purposes of (earlier the British and now) the United States (and till now...China). On the brink of disintegration, Joaqun foresees a future where the Pakistani populace might well end up demanding reintegration into a "Hindu" India where Muslims enjoy full and equitable rights of citizenship. For more on Pakistan's identity crisis, see Bruno Philip, "Pakistan or the impossible democracy" (Le Monde, 13 Oct 01); for American discovery of the double game vis--vis the Taliban, see Jacques Isnard, "The ISI: the patron of the Taliban" (Le Monde, 13 Oct 01); for a critique of current US policy towards Pakistan, see also Christophe Jaffrelot, specialist of "Hindu" political parties, "Can Pakistan be controlled?" (Le Monde, 18 Oct 01); for Ahmed Rashid's denunciation of Pakistan's suicidal involvement in Afghanistan, see his acceptance speech of the Nisar Osmani award for Courage in Journalism. The contradictions (bordering on duplicity...) of the U.S. 'war on terrorism' is aptly illustrated by the recent exercise in 'rescuing the enemy' (viz. Pakistani military brass) from besieged Afghan city of Kunduz.

Maria Ali-Adib

Maria Ali-Adib, a Syrian currently residing in London, grew up moving between the UK and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Living within the Arab worker-immigrant community then prevalent in the UAE, she learned to distinguish between the sense of identity rooted in first-generation UAE immigrants and the relative cultural fluidity that came to define their children. This initiated her deep interest in the adaptability of young people. After graduating with a BA in Economics from the University of London, she co-founded an organization based in the UAE aimed at student-centered educational reform, with a particular focus on the educational needs of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. She then returned to the UK to develop this research in a Masters degree program in Development Projects at the University of Manchester, where her graduate research was endorsed by the Centre for British Research in the Levant. In this program she also examined the educational opportunities available to Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon. Her work in Palestinian camps reinforced her interest in Israeli-Palestinian relations, leading her to liaise with Jewish community groups to promote better understanding of the conflict and a search for common ground. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Windows for Peace, a Tel Aviv-based organization that engages Palestinian and Israeli children in joint projects. She is also the Co-directorwith Ari Alexanderof Children of Abraham, an interfaith project that works with young Muslims and Jews from around the world through photography and dialogue.

Martin Riesebrodt

Martin Riesebrodt's academic interests are in social theory, the historical and comparative sociology of religion, and the relationship between religion, politics, and secular culture. Central areas of teaching and research focus on theories of religion and on the role religion plays in processes of formation of social groups and their identities, especially with reference to class, gender, and generation. His most recent book, Die Rckkehr der Religionen. Fundamentalismus und der 'Kampf der Kulturen,' explores the unexpected renewal of religion in the modern world. Based on a revised theory of religion, it argues that secularization and the resurgence of religion are not mutually exclusive but rather related to each other. Continuing arguments made in his earlier Pious Passion: The Emergence of Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran, the book also analyzes the relationship between fundamentalism, class, and gender, and offers a critique of Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations." Professor Riesebrodt has also published on classical social theory, in particular the work of Max Weber. He has co-edited a volume on key theoretical concepts in Max Weber's sociology of religion, Max Webers Religionssystematik. He is presently working on a sociological theory of religion which understands religion and its practices as a cultural resource for the management of uncertainty and prevention of crises. Examples of lay-oriented practices, virtuosi practices, and religious propaganda taken from Abrahamic as well as East Asian traditions will illustrate and test basic assumptions of the theory. Moreover, the book will offer a sociological justification of the concept of religion.

Mary Searle-Chatterjee

Mary and I got to know each other in early 70s, shortly after my taking up residence at the International House of the Banaras Hindu University, through our collaboration in organizing lectures on religious culture, particularly Hinduism, sponsored by the Maharajah at his Chet Singh Palace on the banks of the Ganga. I was then President of the International Students Union, Mary would soon be teaching at the Sociology Dept. She has focused on the Muslim community of Banaras, particularly the weavers (Ansari), who constitute a quarter of the population of the Hindu sacred city. Mary subsequently returned to the U.K., where she is now teaching sociology at the University of Manchester and at the Metropolitan University. Her research has provided source materials for our monograph Between Mecca and Benares, and we also facilitated the publishing of her essay on Ghz Miy in Living Benares (SUNY). We renewed our friendship and intellectual exchanges over my few days with her (and her colleagues) in August 2001 in the world's first industrial and working class city. Our discussions on (the Puritan element in) 'English' national character, stimulated by my visit to the monument paying tribute to (Manchester's support for) Abraham Lincoln's war-effort (to the detriment of England's own textile industry!), and my subsequent discovery of Irish nationalism in Dublin, helped prepare me mentally for the thesis that the American War of Independence was, in many respects, a continuation of the English Civil War, and has provided me valuable insights into the increasing polarization of political debate in greater Anglo-America with respect to civil liberties and (the impact of) 'globalization' (on developing countries). Most recently, Mary visited France for the first time to stay with us in Paris from 8-14 Jan 2003, during which time she got to know Vinay Bahl, and also met friends like the Franois Chenet.

Mukur K. Khisha

Before his retirement from the Indian Foreign Service in December 1993, Mukur had served as India's Ambassador to Congo, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Argentina. I got to know him as a friend the Ilarraz' in Madrid in July 2001, His views on India's malaise are particularly interesting because he is a practicing Buddhist of tribal background. Moreover, as a spiritual orphan of the Partition, his arguments reflect a lifelong attempt to come to terms with a trauma that many other Hindu nationalists may have not lived through except in their imagination.

Though Hinduism has been able to assimilate--or at least accommodate--all previous religions domiciled in the Indian subcontinent, Islam has proved to be the intransigent exception, resulting in the creation of Pakistan. "What emerges in all clarity is the opposition between two worldviews with differing understandings of community, history and the sacred city. Permanent reconciliation between Hinduism and Islam will be achieved only when by reducing the inner distance between Mecca and Banaras the questions posed by (the mutilated stump of) the world-pillar which still straddles the boundary between the two religions are finally resolved" (concluding lines of Visuvalingam, "Hindu-Muslim Relations in Colonial Banaras"). [my comments to be added...]

Nasrin Qader

Assistant professor of French. Ph.D University of Wisconsin Department of African Languages and Literatures. Specialist of African literature in French and Arabic. She is the author of "Art and the Crisis of Representation in Mohammad Barradah's Al-Daw' Al Harib," Journal of Arabic Literature, Vol. XXXI, 3 (2000); "Fictional Testimonies or testimonial fictions on Moussa Ouled Ebnou's Barzakh," Research in African Literature, Vol. XXXIII, 3 (2002); and "From Poetry to Writing: Abdelkebir Khatibi's Le Livre du sang," in Présence Africain 167/168 (2004) as well as a contributor to the Encyclopedia of African Literature. She has just published her book entitled Narratives of Catastrophe: Khatibi, Boris Diop, ben Jelloun which explores the question of temporality and storytelling as they relate to catastrophic events. Nasrin Qader is also part of the core faculty of the Program in Comparative Literary Studies and the Program of African Studies. Her interest primarily lies in various modes of interaction between philosophy and literature, including Islamic thought. She has presented her work in conferences around the world and has given lectures at such venues as the University of Chicago and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris where she was a visiting scholar.

Narratives of Catastrophe tells the story of the relationship between catastrophe, in the senses of "down turn" and "break," and narration as "recounting" in the senses suggested by the French term récit in selected texts by three leading writers from Africa. Qader's book begins by exploring the political implications of narrating catastrophic historical events. Through careful readings of singular literary texts on the genocide in Rwanda and on Tazmamart, a secret prison in Morocco under the reign of Hassan II, Qader shows how historical catastrophes enter language and how this language is marked by the catastrophe it recounts. Not satisfied with the extra-literary characterizations of catastrophe in terms of numbers, laws, and naming, she investigates the catastrophic in catastrophe, arguing that catastrophe is always an effect of language and thought,. The récit becomes a privileged site because the difficulties of thinking and speaking about catastrophe unfold through the very movements of storytelling.This book intervenes in important ways in the current scholarship in the field of African literatures. It shows the contributions of African literatures in elucidating theoretical problems for literary studies in general, such as storytelling's relationship to temporality, subjectivity, and thought. Moreover, it addresses the issue of storytelling, which is of central concern in the context of African literatures but still remains limited mostly to the distinction between the oral and the written. The notion of reçit breaks with this duality by foregrounding the inaugural temporality of telling and of writing as repetition. The final chapters examine catastrophic turns within the philosophical traditions of the West and in Islamic thought, highlighting their interconnections and differences.

Pathmarajah Nagalingam

Paul Fenton

Scriptural exegesis in Kabbala and Sufism (in French, 26  Feb 2009)  

Paul Fenton aborde ici les quatre modes d'exégèse scripturaire chez Alâ ad-Dawla al-Simnânî (1261-1336), qui établit sa propre herméneutique ou interprétation des textes en rapport avec la mystique expérimentale de la lumière. Admettant que le sens exotérique est inséparable du sens ésotérique, il sonde les différents niveaux de l'être en correspondance avec les différents niveaux exégètiques, à travers les phénomènes visionnaires, les "photismes" colorés - comme indices de l'avancement spirituel de l'itinérant sur le chemin -, et les diverses manifestations du "Moi" supérieur. Il établit ainsi une connexion entre l'herméneutique et l'anthropologie mystique qui implique que le sens caché progresse en même temps que la croissance de "l'organisme subtil" caché dans l'être humain. Conférence filmée lors de la 4ème journée Henry Corbin, organisée par l'Association des Amis de Henry et Stella Corbin.

The Treatise of the Pool: Al-Mawala Al Hawdiyya (Obadyah Maimonides) - June 1981

Hardcover: 146 pages Publisher: Octagon Press, Limited; 1st edition (June 1981) Language: English ISBN-10: 0900860871 ISBN-13: 978-0900860874

 Lesser and greater Jihad in Sufism and Judaism (YouTube, Lapis Magazine 2007) - note [external] presents Paul Fenton speaking about the lesser and greater jihad, and telling stories of Sufi and Jewish similarities in language and history. The presentation is from lapismagazine's 2007 Esoteric Quest for The Golden Age of Andalusia: Sufis, Kabbalists and Christian Philosophers in Medieval Spain.


Rajinder Singh Mago

Rajinder Singh Mago is a member and Community Outreach Coordinator of the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine Illinois. He also is a co-founder and serves on the Board of Governors for the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago; is an active member and past co-chair of the Asian American Coalition of Chicago; and serves on the Community Advisory Council for Chicago Public Radio. Mr. Singh Mago is a mechanical engineer working in engine exhaust emissions control.

Rajiv Malhotra

After studying in Delhi's St. Columba's High School and then St. Stephen's College, Rajiv arrived in the US in 1971 to study Physics and Computer Science. His corporate careers and business entrepreneurship included the computer, software and telecom industries. He now spends full time with The Infinity Foundation, a non-profit organization in Princeton, New Jersey. Its main interests include fostering harmony among the diverse cultures of the world. Many of its projects strive to upgrade the portrayal of India's civilization in the American education system and media. This involves both challenging the negative stereotypes and also establishing the many positive contributions from India's civilization.

The common theme underlying most of these articles and columns are the representations of India, Hinduism in particular, in the United States (and by extension in the West), as reflected in and determining academic discourse, mass education, media stereotypes, foreign policy, etc. In the process, several of them also focus (at least in part) on the (often maligned) religious values enshrined in Indian traditions and the socio-political 'unconscious' of American 'multiculturalism'. In addition to the numerous un-moderated comments from Sulekha readers, several of these essays have been discussed on the Abhinava forum, either simultaneously (Ganesha, psychoanalysis, critique of history orientated religions, etc.) or subsequently (caste and racism).

Problematizing God's Interventions in History (Mar 19, 2003) column

The Root of India-Pakistan Conflicts (Feb 11, 2002) column

CNN's Pakistan Bias (Jan 11, 2002) column

How 'Gandhara' became 'Kandahar' (Dec 17, 2001) column

Gita on Fighting Terrorism (Nov 5, 2001) column

The American Guilt Syndrome (Oct 8, 2001) column

Sadia Shepard

In the 1930’s, filmmaker Sadia Shepard’s Indian Jewish grandmother eloped with her Muslim grandfather and migrated from India to Pakistan and later, to the United States. Seventy-five years later, Shepard embarked on a journey to research and reconnect with the tiny community her grandmother left behind. In her acclaimed memoir The Girl from Foreign (Penguin 2008) Shepard tells the story of her journey to India to research and reconnect with the Bene Israel of western India. In Search of the Bene Israel is a documentary film in which she seeks to understand her grandmother’s history and the future of this 5000 person group, which believes that it was shipwrecked in India 2000 years ago. In this moving film, we meet members of the community struggling with the difficult decision of whether to stay in India or join the world’s Jews in Israel. Interweaving impressionistic 16mm and Super 8mm footage with intimate video interviews and observational material, we come to know a family who takes care of a rural synagogue, a Jewish Indian filmmaker working in Bollywood, and a young couple on the eve of their marriage and departure for Israel. Sadia Shepard is a writer and documentary filmmaker (In Search of the Bene Israel, 2008; State Title, 2004; Eminent Domain, 2000; and Reinvention, 1999) and is based in New York City. She recently produced The September Issue, a documentary portrait about the making of Vogue magazine, which won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. She teaches non-fiction writing at Columbia University and lectures widely about growing up in a home with three religions and the history of the Bene Israel. More information about her work, as well as photographs of the Bene Israel, are available at:

Umair Ahmed Muhajir

Umair Ahmed Muhajir, aged 27, was born and raised in Dubai and is now a U.S. citizen. He has resided for the last 10 years in New York, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University and law degree from Columbia University. He has been working as a lawyer since 2002. Though previously a citizen of Pakistan, Umair had been reflexively hostile and critical of the two-nation theory since his childhood.  The result is that he sees himself as Indian and identifies himself at every level more with India, for example, by backing its cricket team, reading its newspapers, following its elections more closely than those held in Pakistan, as well as taking its philosophical heritage and ethos very seriously.  The result would be ironic, were it not so fitting given the tangled web of Indian culture, modern ideologies of the nation-state, and the realities of globalization.

The long review of Govind Nihalani's recent film Dev was e-published in July 2004 at  the Outlook India website. The review of the Hindi movie Shabdstarring Sunil Dutt and Aishvarya Raiwas posted here on 4th March 2005.

Visuvalingam, Sunthar & Elizabeth

Yoginder Sikand

Yoginder Singh Sikand is an Indian (permanently based in Bangalore) at the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World at Leiden (The Netherlands), where he is currently pursuing post-doctoral work on a project on Islamic Perspectives on Inter-Faith Relations in Contemporary India. After his B.A.(Hons.) in Economics at St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, he did his M.A. and M. Phil. (Sociology) o"Charisma and  Religious Revivalism: The Case of the Tablighi Jama'at among the Muslim Meos of Mewat)" at Jawaharlal Nehru University (1992-94). He completed his Ph.D. (History) at the University of London (1998) on "The Origins and Development of the Tablighi Jama'at: A Cross-Country Comparative Study." He has worked with voluntary agencies in the field of education in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar (1988-90), has taught Islamic History (Hyderabad), and worked on a research-cum-action project on religious traditions and communal harmony in India for Oxfam (1999-2000). Yoginder currently edits a web-magazine, Qalandar, devoted to a discussion of issues related to Islam and Inter-Faith Relations in South Asia.

Qalandar is an online newletter devoted to Islam and Interfaith Relations in South Asia.

Yoginder has published 4 books, more than 35 articles in various journals, 5 contributions to collected volumes, as well as more than 250 other articles on various topics, including Muslim, Dalit and women's issues, religion, politics and culture in numerous South Asian periodicals and newspapers such as the Deccan Herald, The Pioneer, Himal, The Observer of Business and Politics, Sunday Observer, Milli Gazette, Mainstream, Manushi, Nation and the World, Islamic Voice, The Sunday Observer, The Voice of People Awakening, Frontier, The Tribune, Dalit Voice, Communalism Combat, the Daily Times, Jang, South Asia, etc.. Also, several book reviews, and 10 booklets on his own.

This two-part article provides biographical sketches of all the luminaries of the Kashmiri Rishis, the only Sufi movement indigenous to South Asia. As it has perpetuated, at the popular level, the classical Sanskritic syntheses of Indian spiritual traditions achieved just before the Islamic period by the Shaiva absolutist mystics, we have included it within Abhinavagupta and the Synthesis of Indian Religion.

I had posted this article to the Abhinava forum on 2nd March 2004 with the following remarks addressed to Yoginder: "It is vital that Indians as a whole recover and systematically compile these rapidly disappearing vestiges of such syncretic (including Hindu-Buddhist) traditions (in Nepal), so as to reflect on their significance and relevance for the future. Otherwise, we shall always remain at the mercy of the highly divisive or trivializing representations of the past imposed upon us by the Orientalists (including their homebred Indian offspring...), who focus on only the incompatibilities between Hindu and Muslim or try to conjure away such phenomena as implying that religious values were irrelevant to such communities that wore a 'hybrid' identity."

I had posted this article to the Mecca-Benares forum on 3rd June 2004 with the following remark: "How different is this now explicitly self-conscious American foreign policy of 'reshaping' the Muslim world in its own (narcissistic?) image from the till now tacit, even largely unconscious, proselytizing agenda animating and structuring the 'ivory-tower' of Indological studies?"

I had forwarded Yogi's review to our Mecca-Benares list on 7th April 2004 with the following comments: "Taking a historical perspective on the problems of Kashmiri identity necessarily involves not only refocusing on pre-colonial Hindu-Muslim syncretism (as exemplified by the Rishi cult till the 15th century) but also going beyond into the pre-12th C. Buddhist-Brahmanical culture: 1) How could one deconstruct Indian and Pakistani national narratives and agendas in relation to Kashmir without proceeding further to take apart the latter's once fluid regional identity, one that had ancient and enduring cultural links to the Indian heartland, Tibet and Central Asia? Such a logic is likely to result in further 'balkanization' with the breakup of Kashmir, at the very minimum, into Ladakh, Jammu and the Srinagar Valley. 2) Though the Kashmiri case is aggravated by Islamic militancy and the neighborhood of Pakistan, the problem of competing identities is not just a religious one and is endemic in various permutations to the whole subcontinent. If Kashmir splinters into unviable mini-states, this may unleash and legitimize a chain-reaction (considering what is happening everywhere else...) that might eventually swallow up both India and Pakistan. 3) Whatever its own shortcomings, the nation-state (whether India or Pakistan), despite internal imbalances and hegemonies, is at least able to offer a level of protection to local interests/values and indigenous cultural identities. Its weakening, at this critical juncture of economic globalization, might end up exposing Kashmiris as a whole to forces over which they have absolutely no control (cf. US grip on Pakistan & Iraq). // I fear there will be no solution to this (nor the Israelo-Palestinian...) problem until both Muslim and Hindu identities are not just deconstructed but reconstructed afresh. Who is better equipped (with some education...) to address this life-and-death issue than the Kashmiris themselves? [P.S. I guess the question is whether Kashmiris want to do their lobbying in Delhi/Islamabad or in the Washington beltway (like Ahmed Chalabi?)...]"