Thursday, December 14, 2017

Engineer Saleem Pirzada Passed Away - 2

Personally I was in a state of hiatus with him. My attitude has been to understand the causes behind the present state of Muslims in India while he was a man of action who was fast running out of time.

I used to sit in the party office for long hours and there used to be a series of visitors with a broad band of age spectrum. Young university boys saw a mentor in him while senior people saw in him an old comrade of those glorious gone by years when they were out there to change the history or recreate it.

To remain close to the unpleasant reality let us record that the youth was not crowding around him and the old company even in its prime did not perform mind bending fete. Saleem Pirzada will go into the footnote of history unsung for destiny decided that he will be the brick that disappears into the foundation of an edifice that gathers only lack of acknowledgement and no share in the grandeur. He is like the supplication that is so delicate that the angels hide it most carefully in their wings so as to protect it from all worldly fame, fortune and glory.

Indeed he would not get credit even to the level that came to the stalwarts of Babri Masjid protection movement - another lost cause from recent Muslim history in India. When I was exploring the life and events of Dr Zakir Hussain a senior friend remarked that it was not substantial. There lies the tragedy of significant Muslim figures of independent India. Saleem Pirzada is destined to get less share in achievements.

This brings us to the question then - what makes some of us so sentimental and emotional about him. He was not a family man - marriage he sacrificed for the sake of his mission. He certainly was a man of friends but this aspect never overwhelmed his vision or made any significant encroachment on his ideals. Mentor he was but only to those who came along and the fact remains that very few did so. Busy he kept himself throughout his life but every single possible outcome that could go into making a glorious bio-data went into the black hole called Muslim Politics of Independent India.

He was a Pathan of Khanqah, Muslim Monastery, lineage but the family has not visible inclination to that angle. Having lost his father at the tender age of six he was brought up by his mother and strangely had a father figure attitude towards so many of his juniors. He was very proud of several martyrs for freedom from his locality.

Arriving in Aligarh he soon got the hand of students politics that is what became the high point of his life and career. The story picks up in late sixties and through seventies of twentieth century. This was global high of students movements in the world. Even in the US they have not understood the phenomenon till today. Main cause might be the Marxist influence and global ideological awakening but ideologically he was placed against it - his ideology was Sir Syed, from beginning till end.

Just like their socialist, communist, Marxist counter parts Lovey and company too honed their political analysis on the road side tea stalls around the AMU campus. In independent India the academic political discourse has been usurped by the leftist intelligentsia rather completely but looking at the documentary evidence in terms of books and recorded speeches and published articles one comes to unmistakable conclusion that these people not only had a Muslim narrative but their oratorical prowess was even better and far superior to that of the left and indeed the demagoguery of AB Vajpayee. Javed Habib, Lovey Pirzada, Ali Amir, Ariful Islam and many more could be counted in this genre.

As mentioned above this spark of intellectual revival of Islam or political underpinnings of Muslims has not reached yet its maturity. The main subterfuge happened due to partition. Sir Syed and his close friends were worried about the fate of Muslims in independent India. The question that exercised the minds of these old men was whether Muslims will end up being like second class citizen and subjugated minority. They worked to obviate such an eventuality.

Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were of the opinion that the majority community in her magnanimity would take good care of the interests of all the minorities including the Muslims.

Muslim leaders like Maulana Azad and the Muslims belonging to Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind (Muslim Religious Scholars Assembly) bought this theory and assurance. This view came to be known as the one nation theory.

The other point of view was the so called two nation theory and it was pursued by the Muslim League in pre-independence India. They pursued the course where they wanted constitutional guarantee that minorities, Muslims in particular, will not end up in a position of subjugation. Just before independence such a mechanism was indeed worked out by the British - the people who were still in charge of the situation.

This cabinet Mission Plan was the one that was inexplicably torpedoed by Pandit Nehru. The immediate consequence was that the leader of Muslim league MA Jinnah flew off the handle and abandoned the path of reconciliation with Congress. They also abandoned Dr Muhammed Iqbal's idea of autonomous administration of Muslim majority areas in North-East part of India. In the 1940  Lahore session of Muslim League a one paragraph proposal for Pakistan was moved in and passed. Seven years later India was partitioned and the bill of partition came to the Muslims of India.

British in their hurry to leave India failed in a department that was supposed to be their strongest forte - administration. Lord Mountbatten, the then Viceroy, forgot to post even a policeman on the now India-Pakistan border during the population transfer. Muslim-Sikh riots ensued and countless innocent lives perished.

The League was a very strong force amongst Muslims but by no means the only voice. People like Maulana Azad and Hussain Ahmed Madani and a long list of many others were very much pro-India and against the partition but even in secular sections shadow of partition has clouded the sky for Muslims. Organizations like RSS always held the view that once Pakistan came into existence what are Muslims doing in India but today the circle of people possessing such views has become much wider.

This is the legacy with which people like Lovey Pirzada had to operate. Democracy has this inherent instability that it might turn into majoritarianism and that is what has happened in India today. Saleem Pirzada was amongst those brave souls who who chose to work in opposition to this tide knowing fully well that this was an uphill task to say the least. Even naive political opinion holders consider it silly to take the stand that Lovey took.

He took the side of truth and justice in a situation where it was not only politically unwise but plain dangerous as the events of last three years have made amply clear. On December 10, 2017 he posted a status on Facebook where it starkly says that the count of Muslim skilled in last three and half years has been already 39 and be prepared to keep counting. This was perhaps minutes before his massive cardiac attack and hours before his demise.

When you work against such monumental odds the the fair deal would be that your small achievements should be counted as big. What were these achievements? Let us get to these in the next part.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Engineer Saleem Pirzada Passed Away

Lovey Bhai, engineer Saleem Pirzada, National President of Parcham Party of India expired in the night between December 12 and 13, 2017 in Apollo Hospital, Delhi. He was referred to that place from our own Hospital of the JN Medical College at AMU via Sir Ganga Ram Hospital following a massive heart attack that left him in a state of paralysis.

But these are dry and mundane details about the sad demise of a political personality of the level of a statesman. Urdu speakers use very expressive words and couplets for departed people and since not all of the departed souls deserve such high assessment these words are mostly lost in their worth. This time all of the seemed so appropriate.

In this view due leverage should be given to the fact that I felt so impressed by his genuineness that objectivity might slip out of my words but I assure all that I am striving not to allow that.

So here we list some of the Urdu expressions first that have been just used for late engineer Saleem Pirzada.

Hazaron saal nargis apni be noori pe roti hai,
Bari mushkil se hota hai chaman main deedawar paida..

Nargis (flower) cries for a millennium at her lack luster life
After mighty hurdles a connoisseur of beauty is born in garden

Muslim community the world over is easily one and half a billion strong. Yet they are in a state of shambles in the world today. I would count him amongst those rare souls who worked selflessly for whole life with every possible sacrifice barring life. the fete is all the more awesome owing to the fact that success could never have come in his lifetime. It need monumental courage and fortitude, patience and utter and complete lack of selfish motives to make that kind of commitment.

Above Urdu couplet is by Dr Sir Muhammed Iqbal, himself an epitome of the same ideals. This couplet is mostly lost on those for whom it is so often applied. Not in case of Allama Iqbal and not in case of Saleem alias Lovey Pirzada.

Nazar Abbas wrote :

Bade ghaur se sun raha tha zamana
Humein so gaye dastan kehte kehte

The world was listening rather attentively
It was me who slept while narrating the tale

Indeed he was telling a tale that was worth listening. Islam is the tale of real purpose of life as ordained by God. Muslim community is the flag bearer of that mission. This is the faith of Muslims. But Lovey did not pursue that angle. His mission was mission of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. It is also called Aligarh Movement. in a nut-shell it can be summarized as follows : To empower Muslims of modern education so that they can take their rightful place in the scheme of things Indian.

This is the tale that was left incomplete by his departure from amongst us. The moment you utter the word Muslim you are very likely to be termed communal in a partisan sense in our country today. That this is not the case was the onerous task he had assigned himself, the task of the proportions of cleaning the fables Augean Stables.

Importance of Nehru's sabotage of the Cabinet Mission Plan, a dry bit from the history of the freedom movement of India, became significant to my mind only after those excruciatingly long discussions that I had with him for years. If a person like me takes that much of time then communicating the same to the country as a whole is task that is next to impossible and that brings the tragedy of being Lovey Pirzada into perspective.

If I allow his life to be cast as a tragedy. My intentions are absolutely otherwise. It is exceedingly difficult to adjust with the most inconvenient reality that he took upon himself a problem that could not have been solved in a single life time. So many people will think of it as a foolish choice. Not me. It was a tough, gutsy and extremely courageous choice. I salute the man.

He was not a flawless man. Who amongst us is? I am not the one to indulge in fault finding in a departed soul. let alone a friend and well wisher like Lovey. Indeed I might add that anyone trying to indulge in this activity will not get much benefit but indeed will be depriving himself of enormous felicity. That was the level of his purity of intentions. In Islamic languages we have word for that Ikhlas.

And that is why the pain of his departure is so excessive. that is why it was so difficult to console two students today in his burial - both of these are absolutely firebrand and feisty activists.

Personally I have no aptitude for students politics. I never had in my student days and nor I am satisfied at the present political exercise in students community. This inevitably brings me in a state of considerable difference of opinion with the departed leader but I am not going to allow that to come in my way while making my observations about him.

Fervour of any political inclination has a fire in it. The heat of this fire varies in degrees. The temperature in case of Lovey was extraordinarily high.

That worldly success could not have come his way and that it did not come his way I have already alluded to. I have also told what makes him monumentally important - his taking up the impossible task in the face of almost certain lack of possible success.

This lack of visible success certainly had its due toll on his health and I am sure he was aware of it - a sacrifice is a sacrifice only when you know the upcoming loss. Ultimately it took his life. This should not be interpreted in any morbid sense - in Islam it is glorious and glorious it was. he never couched his sentiments in religious, Islamic, language. His disposition was not at all communal. This is a fact that will need enormous amount of work to delineate for he used the terminology of political interests of Muslims.

He certainly had regrets for Muslims of India not listening to him and not taking up his call. But then why do I say that the world was listening attentively?

Answer to this question is same as to the question regarding  whether Muslims are aware of their miserable lot in present India. They are of course aware and completely so.

My personal view is that the lacuna in Lovey Pirzada's plan was not his lack of personal commitment on his part but lack of ideological clarification on part of academia - Muslim or secular.

The ideologues who supplied him ideology did little better than telling him - improve the political lot of Muslims of India. that simply does not help. The proposal has to be viable. No academician supplied him that.

In a milieu where talk of the secular interests of Muslims of India ended up in the partition of the country refinement of the same issue for the Muslims who consciously opted to remain in India at the time of the partition was very tricky issue and it remains so till now. problem did not reside in Lovey Pirzada's efforts but in the tools handed over to him by the academia.

I persistently assured him of the rightness of his mission and choice and tried my level best to convince about my point of view but my consolations did not bring any solace to him. This again should not be taken in any negative sense. He was a committed man and he left this world in that state.

Let us not forget that Javed Habib, another product of AMU Students Union, too left this world with the gigantic burden of destruction of Babri Masjid on his conscience.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On Witten Index

This is in the context of the Riemann-Roch Theorem.We begin with its connection with Physics for the theorem will be most clear to Physics oriented people in this context only. The connection is in the context of a concept in theoretical Particle Physics. This is the concept of supersymmetry.

This story begins in the paper

E. Witten, Constraints on Supersymmetry Breaking, Nucl. Phys. B202 (1982) 253.

As per the INSPIRE HEP database this article has been cited by 1539 papers. This means, among other things, that one can not track anymore the diverse ideas that have used this paper.  This papers is about non-perturbative constraints on supersymmetry breaking.

In this paper, by a monumental survey of known supersymmetry models, Edward Witten came to conclusion that dynamical supersymmetry breaking does occur in anyone of these models. This survey is impressive both by techniques employed and the length, breadth and comprehensiveness of the models surveyed. because of this the negative result is rather discouraging.

In summary it means that once you have supersymmetry then you can not break it. This is a disaster when it comes to applications of the beautiful concept of supersymmetry to real Physics. Supersymmetry is the symmetry between fermions and bosons.

Our best theory of Particle Physics is the Standard Model. It has both fermions and bosons. But it has no supersymmetry. Clearly at the practical level, empirical level, in real life, at the experimental level supersymmetry is broken.

In fact the latest searches for supersymmetry at the Large Hadron Collider of CERN in Geneva very extensive experimental survey has yielded so far absolutely no evidence for supersymmetry.

Anyway even if supersymmetry is found the fact will remain that at energies that are available up till now there the world of Particle Physics is not supersymmetric and that means it, supersymmetry, is broken.

This should give us a perspective on the puzzle that we face today about supersymmetry. Experimentally supersymmetry is not found and hence it must be broken while theoretically we do not know even a single model where it is dynamically broken.

One may inquire here in what way dynamical breaking is different from just breaking. The hint in this subtlety of expression is the following. Explicit breaking of supersymmetry means that we begin with such a Lagrangian for Physics that has terms that break supersymmetry. These terms, be definition, do not possess supersymmetry. They are not invariant under supersymmetry transformations. In this case we are starting with a theory that simply does not possess supersymmetry. This is the case of explicit supersymmetry breaking.

Dynamical supersymmetry breaking is more interesting. Here we begin with a Lagrangian, hence a theory, that has supersymmetry to begin with. Then after dynamical effects set in, when dynamics shows its effects, then we end up in a theory that breaks supersymmetry. This process of supersymmetry breaking is more elegant and physically more attractive and acceptable.

Finally we must also explain the meaning of word perturbative. This is a technical term from quantum mechanics and is applicable to every application that uses quantum mechanics. Exactly solvable problems in quantum mechanics are very few. Free particle, particle in a box, particle hitting a potential barrier, particle facing a potential step or a finite potential well, particle in an infinite vertical potential well, particle in harmonic oscillator potential and hydrogen atom problem are practically the exhaustive set of exactly solvable problems.

For every other problem of Physics that uses quantum mechanics we must use some approximation method to get the useful and practical information. Amongst these approximation methods perturbation theory is the most effective and useful technique. This method gives a series expansion for physical quantities like energy.

This series is mostly infinite and this method can not always be applied. It is only applicable when the given problem is close to some exactly solvable problem. By Closeness we mean that the Hamiltonian or the Lagrangian of the theory differs by a term, which we call the perturbation, that is small in some sense. This sense of smallness is not difficult to understand. For example in case of energies the corrections engendered by the new term, the perturbation, should be small as compared to the energy in case of exactly solvable problem.

This much is very well known to every one who has learned basics of quantum mechanics. The perturbation Hamiltonian or Lagrangian in most cases is the interaction term and contains a constant that gives the strength of the interaction and it is called the coupling constant. When the coupling constant is small then the perturbation theory is useful because perturbation series is convergent and hence useful. This is called the perturbative regime or the weak coupling regime or the weak coupling limit.

The other case is of strong coupling and hence of large interaction and in this case perturbation theory is not useful because perturbation series is not convergent. In this case perturbation theory has failed and we can not use it. In such cases we must use other methods to get useful information about the physical system. The unimaginative collective name for such methods is non-perturbative methods.

Apart from this distinction of weak and strong couplings and corresponding respective perturbative and non-perturbative regimes there is another distinct division of physical regimes of quantum field theories. These are the regimes of low and high energies.

These two classifications get entangled with each other because of the following considerations. In quantum field theories, theories that we use to describe Particle Physics, couplings change with changing energies. This means that the perturbation term in the Lagrangian or the Hamiltonian changes with changing energy. In other words the coupling constants are not constants but become the parameters that change (with energy).

This is the case of running coupling constants. A constant is not supposed to change but in case of field theory that is what is an inevitable conclusion. This oxymoron expression, this contradiction in terms, is a very profound and fundamental one. This observation bears the same depth of insight as the first time realization of wave particle duality or uncertainty relations. Unfortunately the wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle are common knowledge but running of coupling constant is not. The reason is not difficult to understand. quantum field theory is removed from our experience in quantum mechanics by one further level along the same line where quantum mechanics is removed from our classical experience.

Now let is once again summarize what we have discussed above. We would like to talk about the Riemann-Roch Theorem and we have began with its connection with Physics and this connection is through Witten Index that was defined in above cited paper.

To investigate theoretical models that begin with supersymmetry but ultimately break it Witten needed tools to analyze the models of supersymmetry available. In Section 2 of above cited paper he defined the now famous Witten Index. Symbolically he defined it as the operator in which the number minus one is raised to the power F. This is a notation for $\exp(2i\pi J_z)$. This later operator gives plus one eigenvalue for a bosonic state and minus one for a fermionic state.

This might look terribly abstract, obtuse and opaque - just to begin with. Luckily Witten is at his pedagogical best in this Section, as well as the whole paper itself. In this Section he has also exhibits his hallmark simplicity of the genius in statements like - "Supersymmetry breaking just means that the ground-state energy is positive".

By a very simple argument we can show that states with non-zero energy are paired by the action of the supersymmetry generator Q. One implication of this is that at the level of excited states we shall never have supersymmetry breaking - fermionic and bosonic states are paired.

In case of zero energy states this pairing is absent. Thus at zero energy there can be an arbitrary number of bosonic states and another arbitrary number of fermionic states.

As the parameters of the theory, masses and couplings, are varied fermionic and bosonic states might jump up from the zero energy to non-zero or vice-a-versa. In this process the difference between the number of bosonic and fermionic states at the zero energy will remain constant because the states jump up or down in pairs to maintain pairing at non-zero energies.

Clearly the difference of bosonic and fermionic states of zero energy is parameter independent and hence it can be calculated in most convenient limit for us to do calculations.

If this difference is non-zero then there is at least one bosonic or fermionic zero energy state. In this case supersymmetry is unbroken.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Physics and Philosophy

From Atlantic

A Fight for the Soul of Science

String theory, the multiverse and other ideas of modern physics are potentially untestable. At a historic meeting in Munich, scientists and philosophers asked: should we trust them anyway?
Physicists George Ellis (center) and Joe Silk (right) at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich on Dec. 7.
Physicists George Ellis (center) and Joe Silk (right) at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich on Dec. 7.
Laetitia Vancon for Quanta Magazine
Physicists typically think they “need philosophers and historians of science like birds need ornithologists,” the Nobel laureate David Gross told a roomful of philosophers, historians and physicists last week in Munich, Germany, paraphrasing Richard Feynman.
But desperate times call for desperate measures.
Fundamental physics faces a problem, Gross explained — one dire enough to call for outsiders’ perspectives. “I’m not sure that we don’t need each other at this point in time,” he said.

The crisis, as Ellis and Silk tell it, is the wildly speculative nature of modern physics theories, which they say reflects a dangerous departure from the scientific method. Many of today’s theorists — chief among them the proponents of string theory and the multiverse hypothesis — appear convinced of their ideas on the grounds that they are beautiful or logically compelling, despite the impossibility of testing them. Ellis and Silk accused these theorists of “moving the goalposts” of science and blurring the line between physics and pseudoscience. “The imprimatur of science should be awarded only to a theory that is testable,” Ellis and Silk wrote, thereby disqualifying most of the leading theories of the past 40 years. “Only then can we defend science from attack.”
They were reacting, in part, to the controversial ideas of Richard Dawid, an Austrian philosopher whose 2013 book String Theory and the Scientific Method identified three kinds of “non-empirical” evidence that Dawid says can help build trust in scientific theories absent empirical data. Dawid, a researcher at LMU Munich, answered Ellis and Silk’s battle cry and assembled far-flung scholars anchoring all sides of the argument for the high-profile event last week.
Gross, a supporter of string theory who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the force that glues atoms together, kicked off the workshop by asserting that the problem lies not with physicists but with a “fact of nature” — one that we have been approaching inevitably for four centuries.
The dogged pursuit of a fundamental theory governing all forces of nature requires physicists to inspect the universe more and more closely — to examine, for instance, the atoms within matter, the protons and neutrons within those atoms, and the quarks within those protons and neutrons. But this zooming in demands evermore energy, and the difficulty and cost of building new machines increases exponentially relative to the energy requirement, Gross said. “It hasn’t been a problem so much for the last 400 years, where we’ve gone from centimeters to millionths of a millionth of a millionth of a centimeter” — the current resolving power of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, he said. “We’ve gone very far, but this energy-squared is killing us.”
As we approach the practical limits of our ability to probe nature’s underlying principles, the minds of theorists have wandered far beyond the tiniest observable distances and highest possible energies. Strong clues indicate that the truly fundamental constituents of the universe lie at a distance scale 10 million billion times smaller than the resolving power of the LHC. This is the domain of nature that string theory, a candidate “theory of everything,” attempts to describe. But it’s a domain that no one has the faintest idea how to access.
The problem also hampers physicists’ quest to understand the universe on a cosmic scale: No telescope will ever manage to peer past our universe’s cosmic horizon and glimpse the other universes posited by the multiverse hypothesis. Yet modern theories of cosmology lead logically to the possibility that our universe is just one of many.

Tynan DeBold for Quanta Magazine; Icons via Freepik
Whether the fault lies with theorists for getting carried away, or with nature, for burying its best secrets, the conclusion is the same: Theory has detached itself from experiment. The objects of theoretical speculation are now too far away, too small, too energetic or too far in the past to reach or rule out with our earthly instruments. So, what is to be done? As Ellis and Silk wrote, “Physicists, philosophers and other scientists should hammer out a new narrative for the scientific method that can deal with the scope of modern physics.”
“The issue in confronting the next step,” said Gross, “is not one of ideology but strategy: What is the most useful way of doing science?”
Over three mild winter days, scholars grappled with the meaning of theory, confirmation and truth; how science works; and whether, in this day and age, philosophy should guide research in physics or the other way around. Over the course of these pressing yet timeless discussions, a degree of consensus took shape.

Rules of the Game

Throughout history, the rules of science have been written on the fly, only to be revised to fit evolving circumstances. The ancients believed they could reason their way toward scientific truth. Then, in the 17th century, Isaac Newton ignited modern science by breaking with this “rationalist” philosophy, adopting instead the “empiricist” view that scientific knowledge derives only from empirical observation. In other words, a theory must be proved experimentally to enter the book of knowledge.
But what requirements must an untested theory meet to be considered scientific? Theorists guide the scientific enterprise by dreaming up the ideas to be put to the test and then interpreting the experimental results; what keeps theorists within the bounds of science?
Today, most physicists judge the soundness of a theory by using the Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper’s rule of thumb. In the 1930s, Popper drew a line between science and nonscience in comparing the work of Albert Einstein with that of Sigmund Freud. Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which cast the force of gravity as curves in space and time, made risky predictions — ones that, if they hadn’t succeeded so brilliantly, would have failed miserably, falsifying the theory. But Freudian psychoanalysis was slippery: Any fault of your mother’s could be worked into your diagnosis. The theory wasn’t falsifiable, and so, Popper decided, it wasn’t science.
Critics accuse string theory and the multiverse hypothesis, as well as cosmic inflation — the leading theory of how the universe began — of falling on the wrong side of Popper’s line of demarcation. To borrow the title of the Columbia University physicist Peter Woit’s 2006 book on string theory, these ideas are “not even wrong,” say critics. In their editorial, Ellis and Silk invoked the spirit of Popper: “A theory must be falsifiable to be scientific.”
But, as many in Munich were surprised to learn, falsificationism is no longer the reigning philosophy of science. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, pointed out that falsifiability is woefully inadequate as a separator of science and nonscience, as Popper himself recognized. Astrology, for instance, is falsifiable — indeed, it has been falsified ad nauseam — and yet it isn’t science. Physicists’ preoccupation with Popper “is really something that needs to stop,” Pigliucci said. “We need to talk about current philosophy of science. We don’t talk about something that was current 50 years ago.”
Nowadays, as several philosophers at the workshop said, Popperian falsificationism has been supplanted by Bayesian confirmation theory, or Bayesianism, a modern framework based on the 18th-century probability theory of the English statistician and minister Thomas Bayes. Bayesianism allows for the fact that modern scientific theories typically make claims far beyond what can be directly observed — no one has ever seen an atom — and so today’s theories often resist a falsified-unfalsified dichotomy. Instead, trust in a theory often falls somewhere along a continuum, sliding up or down between 0 and 100 percent as new information becomes available. “The Bayesian framework is much more flexible” than Popper’s theory, said Stephan Hartmann, a Bayesian philosopher at LMU. “It also connects nicely to the psychology of reasoning.”
Gross concurred, saying that, upon learning about Bayesian confirmation theory from Dawid’s book, he felt “somewhat like the Molière character who said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been talking prose all my life!’”
Another advantage of Bayesianism, Hartmann said, is that it is enabling philosophers like Dawid to figure out “how this non-empirical evidence fits in, or can be fit in.”

Another Kind of Evidence

Dawid, who is 49, mild-mannered and smiley with floppy brown hair, started his career as a theoretical physicist. In the late 1990s, during a stint at the University of California, Berkeley, a hub of string-theory research, Dawid became fascinated by how confident many string theorists seemed to be that they were on the right track, despite string theory’s complete lack of empirical support. “Why do they trust the theory?” he recalls wondering. “Do they have different ways of thinking about it than the canonical understanding?”
String theory says that elementary particles have dimensionality when viewed close-up, appearing as wiggling loops (or “strings”) and membranes at nature’s highest zoom level. According to the theory, extra dimensions also materialize in the fabric of space itself. The different vibrational modes of the strings in this higher-dimensional space give rise to the spectrum of particles that make up the observable world. In particular, one of the vibrational modes fits the profile of the “graviton” — the hypothetical particle associated with the force of gravity. Thus, string theory unifies gravity, now described by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, with the rest of particle physics.
Laetitia Vancon for Quanta Magazine
Video: Richard Dawid, a physicist-turned-philosopher at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
However string theory, which has its roots in ideas developed in the late 1960s, has made no testable predictions about the observable universe. To understand why so many researchers trust it anyway, Dawid signed up for some classes in philosophy of science, and upon discovering how little study had been devoted to the phenomenon, he switched fields.
In the early 2000s, he identified three non-empirical arguments that generate trust in string theory among its proponents. First, there appears to be only one version of string theory capable of achieving unification in a consistent way (though it has many different mathematical representations); furthermore, no other “theory of everything” capable of unifying all the fundamental forces has been found, despite immense effort. (A rival approach called loop quantum gravity describes gravity at the quantum scale, but makes no attempt to unify it with the other forces.) This “no-alternatives” argument, colloquially known as “string theory is the only game in town,” boosts theorists’ confidence that few or no other possible unifications of the four fundamental forces exist, making it more likely that string theory is the right approach.
Second, string theory grew out of the Standard Model — the accepted, empirically validated theory incorporating all known fundamental particles and forces (apart from gravity) in a single mathematical structure — and the Standard Model also had no alternatives during its formative years. This “meta-inductive” argument, as Dawid calls it, buttresses the no-alternatives argument by showing that it has worked before in similar contexts, countering the possibility that physicists simply aren’t clever enough to find the alternatives that exist.
Emily Fuhrman for Quanta Magazine, with text by Natalie Wolchover and art direction by Olena Shmahalo.
The third non-empirical argument is that string theory has unexpectedly delivered explanations for several other theoretical problems aside from the unification problem it was intended to address. The staunch string theorist Joe Polchinski of the University of California, Santa Barbara, presented several examples of these “unexpected explanatory interconnections,” as Dawid has termed them, in a paper read in Munich in his absence. String theory explains the entropy of black holes, for example, and, in a surprising discovery that has caused a surge of research in the past 15 years, is mathematically translatable into a theory of particles, such as the theory describing the nuclei of atoms.
Polchinski concludes that, considering how far away we are from the exceptionally fine grain of nature’s fundamental distance scale, we should count ourselves lucky: “String theory exists, and we have found it.” (Polchinski also used Dawid’s non-empirical arguments to calculate the Bayesian odds that the multiverse exists as 94 percent — a value that has been ridiculed by the Internet’s vocal multiverse critics.)
One concern with including non-empirical arguments in Bayesian confirmation theory, Dawid acknowledged in his talk, is “that it opens the floodgates to abandoning all scientific principles.” One can come up with all kinds of non-empirical virtues when arguing in favor of a pet idea. “Clearly the risk is there, and clearly one has to be careful about this kind of reasoning,” Dawid said. “But acknowledging that non-empirical confirmation is part of science, and has been part of science for quite some time, provides a better basis for having that discussion than pretending that it wasn’t there, and only implicitly using it, and then saying I haven’t done it. Once it’s out in the open, one can discuss the pros and cons of those arguments within a specific context.”

The Munich Debate

The trash heap of history is littered with beautiful theories. The Danish historian of cosmology Helge Kragh, who detailed a number of these failures in his 2011 book, Higher Speculations, spoke in Munich about the 19th-century vortex theory of atoms. This “Victorian theory of everything,” developed by the Scots Peter Tait and Lord Kelvin, postulated that atoms are microscopic vortexes in the ether, the fluid medium that was believed at the time to fill space. Hydrogen, oxygen and all other atoms were, deep down, just different types of vortical knots. At first, the theory “seemed to be highly promising,” Kragh said. “People were fascinated by the richness of the mathematics, which could keep mathematicians busy for centuries, as was said at the time.” Alas, atoms are not vortexes, the ether does not exist, and theoretical beauty is not always truth. Except sometimes it is. Rationalism guided Einstein toward his theory of relativity, which he believed in wholeheartedly on rational grounds before it was ever tested. “I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed,” Einstein said in 1933, years after his theory had been confirmed by observations of starlight bending around the sun.
The question for the philosophers is: Without experiments, is there any way to distinguish between the non-empirical virtues of vortex theory and those of Einstein’s theory? Can we ever really trust a theory on non-empirical grounds?
In discussions on the third afternoon of the workshop, the LMU philosopher Radin Dardashti asserted that Dawid’s philosophy specifically aims to pinpoint which non-empirical arguments should carry weight, allowing scientists to “make an assessment that is not based on simplicity, which is not based on beauty.” Dawidian assessment is meant to be more objective than these measures, Dardashti explained — and more revealing of a theory’s true promise.
Gross said Dawid has “described beautifully” the strategies physicists use “to gain confidence in a speculation, a new idea, a new theory.”
“You mean confidence that it’s true?” asked Peter Achinstein, an 80-year-old philosopher and historian of science at Johns Hopkins University. “Confidence that it’s useful? confidence that …”
“Let’s give an operational definition of confidence: I will continue to work on it,” Gross said.
“That’s pretty low,” Achinstein said.
“Not for science,” Gross said. “That’s the question that matters.”
Kragh pointed out that even Popper saw value in the kind of thinking that motivates string theorists today. Popper called speculation that did not yield testable predictions “metaphysics,” but he considered such activity worthwhile, since it might become testable in the future. This was true of atomic theory, which many 19th-century physicists feared would never be empirically confirmed. “Popper was not a naive Popperian,” Kragh said. “If a theory is not falsifiable,” Kragh said, channeling Popper, “it should not be given up. We have to wait.”
But several workshop participants raised qualms about Bayesian confirmation theory, and about Dawid’s non-empirical arguments in particular.
Carlo Rovelli, a proponent of loop quantum gravity (string theory’s rival) who is based at Aix-Marseille University in France, objected that Bayesian confirmation theory does not allow for an important distinction that exists in science between theories that scientists are certain about and those that are still being tested. The Bayesian “confirmation” that atoms exist is essentially 100 percent, as a result of countless experiments. But Rovelli says that the degree of confirmation of atomic theory shouldn’t even be measured in the same units as that of string theory. String theory is not, say, 10 percent as confirmed as atomic theory; the two have different statuses entirely. “The problem with Dawid’s ‘non-empirical confirmation’ is that it muddles the point,” Rovelli said. “And of course some string theorists are happy of muddling it this way, because they can then say that string theory is ‘confirmed,’ equivocating.”
The German physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, in her talk, argued that progress in fundamental physics very often comes from abandoning cherished prejudices (such as, perhaps, the assumption that the forces of nature must be unified). Echoing this point, Rovelli said “Dawid’s idea of non-empirical confirmation [forms] an obstacle to this possibility of progress, because it bases our credence on our own previous credences.” It “takes away one of the tools — maybe the soul itself — of scientific thinking,” he continued, “which is ‘do not trust your own thinking.’”
The Munich proceedings will be compiled and published, probably as a book, in 2017. As for what was accomplished, one important outcome, according to Ellis, was an acknowledgment by participating string theorists that the theory is not “confirmed” in the sense of being verified. “David Gross made his position clear: Dawid’s criteria are good for justifying working on the theory, not for saying the theory is validated in a non-empirical way,” Ellis wrote in an email. “That seems to me a good position — and explicitly stating that is progress.”
In considering how theorists should proceed, many attendees expressed the view that work on string theory and other as-yet-untestable ideas should continue. “Keep speculating,” Achinstein wrote in an email after the workshop, but “give your motivation for speculating, give your explanations, but admit that they are only possible explanations.”
“Maybe someday things will change,” Achinstein added, “and the speculations will become testable; and maybe not, maybe never.” We may never know for sure the way the universe works at all distances and all times, “but perhaps you can narrow the live possibilities to just a few,” he said. “I think that would be some progress.”
This article was reprinted on

Monday, October 2, 2017

On Sir Syed House in Allahabad

Blog from across the nations.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sad Demise of Hamida Aapa

First time I saw late Professor Hamida Ahmed was in an Orientation Course of the Academic Staff College of AMU. Not only the Orientation Course but even the Subject Refresher Courses are amongst most boring punishments that are inflicted upon us academicians when we are in the most youthful stage. This particular Orientation Course was no exception. But even these dark patches of life have their bright spots. In this case, amongst few others, the bright spot was Hamida Aapa.

I remember very clearly a few things that she talked in her lecture. One was the Ivan Pavlov's experiment on his dog. Today a dog salivating at the sound of a bell is not such a novelty but in its time it was and she showed the requisite confidence that such a finding deserved. She was a natural academician.
During several visits to her office and a solo visit to her home she shared some of her life experiences and her professional knowledge. Latter one becomes part of one's personality if you are an academician worth your salt. Hamida Aapa was.

She fondly talked about her father's upbringing of her, her initial education in Etawah and about her illness. And ill she was for nearly two decades. "After coming back from my therapy I was one day making Chapatis and when the Chapati puffed up the meaning and value of life just dawned on me", she said once. These must have been the experiences that gave her a very humane outlook towards people.

It was my teacher Professor Hashim Rizvi who showed utmost respect towards people like Hamida Aapa that gave me an idea about the value of not only good academicians but nice human beings. Hamida Aapa was one such person.
She was a content woman completely devoid of careerist and cut-throat tendencies so common in any university. Combined with her natural humanist and humanitarian disposition it made her a gem of a human being that she was. Amongst other things this meant that she did not covet administrative posts in the university. It also meant that so many of these posts naturally came her way and then she discharged her duties.

This was topped by the event when she became the acting Vice Chancellor of the university. One after another several professors came in the same capacity for there was no permanent VC and the university saw some machinations that were solely aimed at destabilizing the institution. At least two such acting VCs were threatened by sheer physical presence of though moderate numbers but ill-intent students. The male acting VC lost his nerve and it showed in his rapid but nervous walk. The news was captured by the vernacular press. Next acting VC was Hamida Aapa boys came physically close to her too for the express intention to make her nervous. She did not flinch at all. This too was captured by the vernacular press photograph.

Next episode I remember involving her is a small function in AMU Staff Club. AMU Teachers Association had called a meeting with Dr Syed Zafar Mehmood Sahab who had been in the Sachar Commission and commission had brought out its report. It was discussed in this meeting. The report had outlines the miserable social, economic and financial condition of Muslims in India. The information in the report was not a news to any one of us - we knew it for long from our daily experience. The only achievement of the commission from the Muslim point of view was that it was now official that Muslims of India have fallen into a condition that is worse than that of the Dalits. In the meeting none of the speakers could come out with any ideas about how to change the status quo. Yet I again remember clear words from Hamida Aapa at that moment too. "I am still optimistic", she said. Such people can only be the inspiration.
So today we say good buy to this understated hero and an excellent academician. May Allah SWT forgive her sins and grant her a high status in Jannah.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Confidence Again

1. Practice Good Posture

2. Pay Attention to Your Internal Dialogue

3. Put the Focus and Spotlight on Others or the Situation, not on You

4. Boost Someone Else's Self-esteem

5. Don't Dream, Be It!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ambedkar on Islam: The story that must not be told

 Unlike those who appropriate him, the one thing Ambedkar was not, was an apologist.
From the Aryans to Aurangzeb, from St Xavier to Shivaji, our historians have chosen what to hide, what to invent, and what to disclose. The singular reason for this is the craving for patronage – of an ideology, a government, an ecosystem, or a clique. And once our historians are done with their contortions, we the readers sit back and enjoy the inevitable fallout – the outing of Hypocrisy.
The Left outs the hypocrisy of the Right and the Right outs the hypocrisy of the Left and great column-yards are churned out as a result of such skirmishes. But we forget – outing of hypocrisy is a virtue so long as it doesn’t turn one into a hypocrite. Well, it does; every single time. Villains are made into heroes and heroes into villains. We like it this way. Gandhi, Nehru, Savarkar, Patel – they are to be worshipped; they are to be made into Gods, into Atlases who carry the weight of our ideologies and our biases on the nape of their necks.
History as myth; myth as History. It conforms to what we really are – unsure of our present, fearful of our future. The Right wing doesn’t want to hear anything about Savarkar or Golwalkar that might put them in bad light; the Left-wing doesn’t want to hear anything about Nehru or Namboodiripad that might put them in bad light; and the Velcro Historians don’t want to write anything about anyone that might put them in solitary confinement, away from all light.
Fear and trembling, that is what this is, and the whole nation chugs along on this dead yet simmering coal. A journey to nowhere; slow, halting, tiring; until you realise what the grand plan always is – to appropriate. And of all the great men and women we have had the honour to call our own, no one has been more appropriated than Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.
Ambedkar. A hero for all, the Left and the Right – out of genuine admiration, out of genuine fear. This is to be expected, for here was a man like no other in modern world history, one who shone like a star with his intellect and understanding. The most un-Indian Indian. Wisdom so frightening and yet so rooted, that it appealed to all. Where he was allowed to, he never put a foot wrong. His writings have that rare quality of timelessness, and his quotes, if quoted anonymously, can be mistaken as comments on contemporary India. Ambedkar has aged well. In this, he stands alone, afar, above. But there is a side to Ambedkar that is not known, spoken, or written, out of fear by those who have appropriated him.
Ambedkar's criticism of Hinduism, as a religion, as a way of life – call it what you will, everyone is aware of. From his umpteen speeches and numerous scholarly works, we know Ambedkar as someone who fought and exposed the terrible ills of Hinduism, and we applaud him for it. That Ambedkar left Hinduism and converted to Buddhism is in itself a stinging appraisal of the former. Knowing him, nothing more needs to be said as a critique of Hinduism. Such is the trust one can put in the man.
What we don’t know, however, is what he thought of the other great religion of the world – Islam. Because this facet of Ambedkar has been hidden from our general discourse and textbooks, it may come as a surprise to most that Ambedkar thought frequently of Islam and spoke frequently on it. The cold and cruel India of the young Ambedkar, that shaped his views on Hinduism and Hindus – and of which this author has written previously – soon became the cold and cruel India of the old Ambedkar, allowing him, through a study of Islam and Muslims, to make sense of a nation hurtling towards a painful and bloody partition.
A distillate of Ambedkar's thoughts on Islam and Muslims can be found in Pakistan Or The Partition Of India, a collection of his writings and speeches, first published in 1940, with subsequent editions in 1945 and 1946. It is an astonishing book in its scope and acuity, and reading it one realises why no one talks of it, possessing as it does the potential to turn Ambedkar into an Islamophobic bigot for his worshippers on the Left.
Here, then, is Ambedkar on Islam:
"Hinduism is said to divide people and in contrast Islam is said to bind people together. This is only a half-truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity, but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity. The second defect of Islam is that it is a system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government, because the allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith to which he belongs. To the Muslim ibi bene ibi patria [Where it is well with me, there is my country] is unthinkable. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin."
This scathing indictment by Ambedkar of Islam never finds a mention in our history books. (Indeed, even in, a primary resource site for Ambedkar, the chapter that contains this explosive passage is hyperlinked and, unlike other preceding chapters, not easily visible as a continuation under the sub-heading Part IV. The idea is to skip it, not click it.
But then this is India – a Hero must not be perceived as a Villain even though the misperception is entirely of our making. Well, we know better; he didn’t mean to say those things about Islam; perhaps he was misguided; let us look at the context; damn, no, that's not of any help here; tell you what, let us gag him; for the greater good; for communal harmony; for the sake of IPC Section 295A and our peaceful future.
Selective reading of Ambedkar, by which it is meant reading only his damning (and entirely justified) criticism of Hinduism, has led to a prevalent view that only Hinduism is laden with cultural and religious ills. One can see this even today, when the Left and its ideologues point selectively to the social and religious evils pertaining to Hinduism. As a result, someone who isn’t well-versed with India may get the impression that it is only Hinduism and Hindus who are to blame for every ill and intolerance that plagues us. The reality, of course, is that social and religious intolerance runs in our veins, it always has and it always will, for none other than the holy scriptures of all religions have mainstreamed it. It is Ambedkar himself who, presciently and fiercely, points to this hypocrisy.
"The social evils which characterize the Hindu Society, have been well known. The publication of 'Mother India' by Miss Mayo gave these evils the widest publicity. But while 'Mother India' served the purpose of exposing the evils and calling their authors at the bar of the world to answer for their sins, it created the unfortunate impression throughout the world that while the Hindus were grovelling in the mud of these social evils and were conservative, the Muslims in India were free from them, and as compared to the Hindus, were a progressive people. That, such an impression should prevail, is surprising to those who know the Muslim Society in India at close quarters."
Ambedkar then proceeds to talk in scathing terms of child-marriage, intolerance, fanatical adherence to faith, the position of women, polygamy, and other such practices prevalent among believers of Islam. On the subject of caste, Ambedkar goes into great detail, and no punches are pulled.
"Take the caste system. Islam speaks of brotherhood. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries. But if slavery has gone, caste among Musalmans has remained. There can thus be no manner of doubt that the Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflict the Hindu Society. Indeed, the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women."
Those who rightly commend Ambedkar for leaving the fold of Hinduism, never ask why he converted to Buddhism and not Islam. It is because he viewed Islam as no better than Hinduism. And keeping the political and cultural aspects in mind, he had this to say:
"Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the Depressed Classes. If they go to Islam the number of Muslims will be doubled and the danger of Muslim domination also becomes real."
On Muslim politics, Ambedkar is caustic, even scornful.
"There is thus a stagnation not only in the social life but also in the political life of the Muslim community of India. The Muslims have no interest in politics as such. Their predominant interest is religion. This can be easily seen by the terms and conditions that a Muslim constituency makes for its support to a candidate fighting for a seat. The Muslim constituency does not care to examine the programme of the candidate. All that the constituency wants from the candidate is that he should agree to replace the old lamps of the masjid by supplying new ones at his cost, to provide a new carpet for the masjid because the old one is torn, or to repair the masjid because it has become dilapidated. In some places a Muslim constituency is quite satisfied if the candidate agrees to give a sumptuous feast and in other if he agrees to buy votes for so much a piece. With the Muslims, election is a mere matter of money and is very seldom a matter of social programme of general improvement. Muslim politics takes no note of purely secular categories of life, namely, the differences between rich and poor, capital and labour, landlord and tenant, priest and layman, reason and superstition. Muslim politics is essentially clerical and recognizes only one difference, namely, that existing between Hindus and Muslims. None of the secular categories of life have any place in the politics of the Muslim community and if they do find a place—and they must because they are irrepressible—they are subordinated to one and the only governing principle of the Muslim political universe, namely, religion."
The psychoanalysis of the Indian Muslim by Ambedkar is unquestionably deeply hurtful to those on the Left who have appropriated him. How they wish he had never written such things. They try their best to dismiss his writings on Islam and Muslims by taking refuge in the time-tested excuse of "context". That's right. Whenever text troubles you, rake up its context.
Except that in the case of Ambedkar, this excuse falls flat. Ambedkar's views on Islam – in a book with fourteen chapters that deal almost entirely with Muslims, the Muslim psyche, and the Muslim Condition – are stand-alone statements robustly supported with quotes and teachings of scholars, Muslim leaders, and academics. To him these are maxims. He isn’t writing fiction. The context is superfluous; in fact, it is non-existent. Read the following statements:
The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only.
There is a fraternity, but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity.
The second defect of Islam is that it is a system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government, because the allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith to which he belongs.
Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin.
If you are hunting for a context to the above statements, you have just outed yourself as a hopeless apologist. Well, you are not alone. Some of India’s most celebrated hagiographers, commentators, writers, and columnists, that include Ramachandra Guha and Arundhati Roy – both of whom have written copiously on Ambedkar, through stand-alone chapters or books (The Doctor and the Saint; India after Gandhi; Democrats and Dissenters; Makers of Modern India) – are conspicuously silent on Ambedkar’s views on Islam and the Muslim psyche. Clearly, this is a story the apologists do not want to tell.
The one thing Ambedkar was not, was an apologist. He spares no one, not even Mahatma Gandhi, who he blasts for giving into the selective bias, of the type one finds ubiquitous today.
"He [Gandhi] has never called the Muslims to account even when they have been guilty of gross crimes against Hindus."
Ambedkar then goes on to list a few Hindu leaders who were killed by Muslims, one among them being Rajpal, the publisher of Rangeela Rasool, the ‘Satanic Verses’ equivalent of pre-Independence India. We all know what happened to Rushdie. As for Rajpal, he met a fate worse than the celebrated Indian author. Rajpal was brutally stabbed in broad daylight. Again, not many know the assassination of Rajpal by Ilm-ud-din was celebrated by all prominent Muslims leaders of the day.
Ilm-ud-din was defended in the court by none other than Jinnah, and the man who rendered a eulogy at his funeral (that was attended by tens of thousands of mourners) was none other than the famous poet Allama Iqbal, who cried as the assassin's coffin was lowered: "We sat idle while this carpenter's son took the lead." Iqbal is revered in India; Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, recently conferred on him the title of Tarana-E-Hind. “Nation will never forget Iqbal,” she said.
Ambedkar writes: "Mr. Gandhi has been very punctilious in the matter of condemning any and every act of violence and has forced the Congress, much against its will to condemn it. But Mr Gandhi has never protested against such murders [of Hindus]. Not only have the Musalmans not condemned these outrages, but even Mr Gandhi has never called upon the leading Muslims to condemn them. He has kept silent over them. Such an attitude can be explained only on the ground that Mr Gandhi was anxious to preserve Hindu-Moslem unity and did not mind the murders of a few Hindus, if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives...This attitude to excuse the Muslims any wrong, lest it should injure the cause of unity, is well illustrated by what Mr Gandhi had to say in the matter of the Mopla riots. The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplas in Malabar against the Hindus were indescribable. All over Southern India, a wave of horrified feeling had spread among the Hindus of every shade of opinion, which was intensified when certain Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of "congratulations to the Moplas on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion". Any person could have said that this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Moslem unity. But Mr Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Moslem unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplas and the Khilafats who were congratulating them. He spoke of the Moplas as the "brave God-fearing Moplas who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious ".
As usual, Mr Gandhi failed to produce any satisfactory response to Ambedkar's serious charge. Mahatmas never do. The conduct of Gandhi during the Mopla riots, and his views on them once the carnage had subsided, remain a blot on the Mahatma. Again, they never form part of our history books.
On the allegiance of a Muslim to his motherland [India], Ambedkar writes:
"Among the tenets one that calls for notice is the tenet of Islam which says that in a country which is not under Muslim rule, wherever there is a conflict between Muslim law and the law of the land, the former must prevail over the latter, and a Muslim will be justified in obeying the Muslim law and defying the law of the land."
Quoting the following: "The only allegiance a Musalman, whether civilian or soldier, whether living under a Muslim or under a non-Muslim administration, is commanded by the Koran to acknowledge is his allegiance to God, to his Prophet and to those in authority from among the Musalmans…" Ambedkar adds: "This must make anyone wishing for a stable government very apprehensive. But this is nothing to the Muslim tenets which prescribe when a country is a motherland to the Muslim and when it is not…According to Muslim Canon Law the world is divided into two camps, Dar-ul-lslam (abode of Islam), and Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war). A country is Dar-ul-lslam when it is ruled by Muslims. A country is Dar-ul-Harb when Muslims only reside in it but are not rulers of it. That being the Canon Law of the Muslims, India cannot be the common motherland of the Hindus and the Musalmans. It can be the land of the Musalmans—but it cannot be the land of the 'Hindus and the Musalmans living as equals.' Further, it can be the land of the Musalmans only when it is governed by the Muslims. The moment the land becomes subject to the authority of a non-Muslim power, it ceases to be the land of the Muslims. Instead of being Dar-ul-lslam it becomes Dar-ul-Harb.
"It must not be supposed that this view is only of academic interest. For it is capable of becoming an active force capable of influencing the conduct of the Muslims…It might also be mentioned that Hijrat [emigration] is not the only way of escape to Muslims who find themselves in a Dar-ul-Harb. There is another injunction of Muslim Canon Law called Jihad (crusade) by which it becomes "incumbent on a Muslim ruler to extend the rule of Islam until the whole world shall have been brought under its sway. The world, being divided into two camps, Dar-ul-lslam (abode of Islam), Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war), all countries come under one category or the other. Technically, it is the duty of the Muslim ruler, who is capable of doing so, to transform Dar-ul-Harb into Dar-ul-lslam." And just as there are instances of the Muslims in India resorting to Hijrat, there are instances showing that they have not hesitated to proclaim Jihad.” 
On a Muslim respecting authority of an elected government, Ambedkar writes:
"Willingness to render obedience to the authority of the government is as essential for the stability of government as the unity of political parties on the fundamentals of the state. It is impossible for any sane person to question the importance of obedience in the maintenance of the state. To believe in civil disobedience is to believe in anarchy…How far will Muslims obey the authority of a government manned and controlled by the Hindus? The answer to this question need not call for much inquiry."
This view isn't much different from the views of Jinnah and the Muslim League. Indeed, in the then prevailing climate, engineered or otherwise, these views could be seen as legitimate from the point of view of an anxious minority. However, the reason that Ambedkar gives for this predilection is not at all political but, rather startlingly, religious. He writes:
"To the Muslims a Hindu is a Kaffir. A Kaffir is not worthy of respect. He is low-born and without status. That is why a country which is ruled by a Kaffir is Dar-ul-Harb to a Musalman. Given this, no further evidence seems to be necessary to prove that the Muslims will not obey a Hindu government. The basic feelings of deference and sympathy, which predispose persons to obey the authority of government, do not simply exist. But if proof is wanted, there is no dearth of it. It is so abundant that the problem is what to tender and what to omit…In the midst of the Khilafat agitation, when the Hindus were doing so much to help the Musalmans, the Muslims did not forget that as compared with them the Hindus were a low and an inferior race.” 
Ambedkar isn’t done yet. On the lack of reforms in the Muslim community, he writes:
"What can that special reason be? It seems to me that the reason for the absence of the spirit of change in the Indian Musalman is to be sought in the peculiar position he occupies in India. He is placed in a social environment which is predominantly Hindu. That Hindu environment is always silently but surely encroaching upon him. He feels that it is de-musalmanazing him. As a protection against this gradual weaning away he is led to insist on preserving everything that is Islamic without caring to examine whether it is helpful or harmful to his society. Secondly, the Muslims in India are placed in a political environment which is also predominantly Hindu. He feels that he will be suppressed and that political suppression will make the Muslims a depressed class. It is this consciousness that he has to save himself from being submerged by the Hindus socially and-politically, which to my mind is the primary cause why the Indian Muslims as compared with their fellows outside are backward in the matter of social reform.
"Their energies are directed to maintaining a constant struggle against the Hindus for seats and posts in which there is no time, no thought and no room for questions relating to social reform. And if there is any, it is all overweighed and suppressed by the desire, generated by pressure of communal tension, to close the ranks and offer a united front to the menace of the Hindus and Hinduism by maintaining their socio-religious unity at any cost. The same is the explanation of the political stagnation in the Muslim community of India.
"Muslim politicians do not recognize secular categories of life as the basis of their politics because to them it means the weakening of the community in its fight against the Hindus. The poor Muslims will not join the poor Hindus to get justice from the rich. Muslim tenants will not join Hindu tenants to prevent the tyranny of the landlord. Muslim labourers will not join Hindu labourers in the fight of labour against capital. Why? The answer is simple. The poor Muslim sees that if he joins in the fight of the poor against the rich, he may be fighting against a rich Muslim. The Muslim tenant feels that if he joins in the campaign against the landlord, he may have to fight against a Muslim landlord. A Muslim labourer feels that if he joins in the onslaught of labour against capital, he will be injuring a Muslim mill-owner. He is conscious that any injury to a rich Muslim, to a Muslim landlord or to a Muslim mill-owner, is a disservice to the Muslim community, for it is thereby weakened in its struggle against the Hindu community."
Then, Ambedkar writes something that would surely confirm him as a certified Islamophobe and a bigot in the jaundiced eyes of those who have appropriated him.
"How Muslim politics has become perverted is shown by the attitude of the Muslim leaders to the political reforms in the Indian States. The Muslims and their leaders carried on a great agitation for the introduction of representative government in the Hindu State of Kashmir. The same Muslims and their leaders are deadly opposed to the introduction of representative governments in other Muslim States. The reason for this strange attitude is quite simple. In all matters, the determining question with the Muslims is how it will affect the Muslims vis-a-vis the Hindus. If representative government can help the Muslims, they will demand it, and fight for it. In the State of Kashmir the ruler is a Hindu, but the majority of the subjects are Muslims. The Muslims fought for representative government in Kashmir, because representative government in Kashmir meant the transfer of power from a Hindu king to the Muslim masses. In other Muslim States, the ruler is a Muslim but the majority of his subjects are Hindus. In such States representative government means the transfer of power from a Muslim ruler to the Hindu masses, and that is why the Muslims support the introduction of representative government in one case and oppose it in the other. The dominating consideration with the Muslims is not democracy. The dominating consideration is how democracy with majority rule will affect the Muslims in their struggle against the Hindus. Will it strengthen them or will it weaken them? If democracy weakens them, they will not have democracy. They will prefer the rotten state to continue in the Muslim States rather than weaken the Muslim ruler in his hold upon his Hindu subjects. The political and social stagnation in the Muslim community can be explained by one and only one reason. The Muslims think that the Hindus and Muslims must perpetually struggle; the Hindus to establish their dominance over the Muslims and the Muslims to establish their historical position as the ruling community—that in this struggle the strong will win, and to ensure strength they must suppress or put in cold storage everything which causes dissension in their ranks. If the Muslims in other countries have undertaken the task of reforming their society and the Muslims of India have refused to do so, it is because the former are free from communal and political clashes with rival communities, while the latter are not."
History for us is either to be hidden or invented. We tell and retell what we like of it, and of what we don’t, we scrunch it up and slip it under the mattress, and then perch ourselves cross-legged over it to retell a little more. We are born storytellers. A lap and a head is all we need. As for truth? Well, it is not there; it vanished from view; and so it never happened.
But it did happen. Ambedkar did say these things on Islam and Indian Muslims. In doing so, he gave a choice to us, for he knew us only too well. We could either discuss his views on Islam openly like we do his views on Hinduism, or we could scrunch them up like a plastic bag and slip it under our mattress. He did not live long enough to witness the option that we chose but being the seer that he was he had an inkling. As a preface to his book, he wrote:
"I am not sorry for this reception given to my book. That it is disowned by the Hindus and unowned by the Muslims is to me the best evidence that it has the vices of neither, and that from the point of view of independence of thought and fearless presentation of facts the book is not a party production. Some people are sore because what I have said has hurt them. I have not, I confess, allowed myself to be influenced by fears of wounding either individuals or classes, or shocking opinions however respectable they may be. I have often felt regret in pursuing this course, but remorse never.
“It might be said that in tendering advice to both sides, I have used terms more passionate than they need have been. If I have done so it is because I felt that the manner of the physician who tries to surprise the vital principle in each paralyzed organ in order to goad it to action was best suited to stir up the average Indian who is complacent if not somnolent, who is unsuspecting if not ill-informed, to realize what is happening. I hope my effort will have the desired effect."
What words. What beautiful, forceful, tender words. Here was Ambedkar, trying to goad us as a physician would paralysed organs. But he misjudged us. We remain fearful, indifferent, paralysed.
Nations that fear their past fear their future, and fearful nations worship, never follow its great men and women. Ambedkar is no exception.

Source : Laundry

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sean Cooper on Confidence

1. Compare themselves to others

2. Judge themselves

3. Dwell on the past

4. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for themselves

5. Passively Wait Life To Improve

6. Shy Away From Change

7. Avoid (Calculated) Risks

8. View Failure As The End Of The World

9. Live By Other People's Standards

10. Give Away Power

11. Try To Please Everyone

12. Avoid Rejection

13. Demand Perfection Of Themselves

Friday, March 3, 2017

Journey of Pain

Woh kaun tha jo mujhe gham shanas lagta tha?
Kahan se aaya tha woh? Sehra ki pyas lagta tha

Thaka thaka sa musafir tha gham ki rahon ka
Bahar mein bhi woh aksar udas lagta tha

Where did he come from? He was familiar with pain
Where did he come from? He looked thirty like desert

He was a worn out wayfarer of life full of pain
Even in spring we was mostly full of agony

I can clearly identify myself in these two couplets.

The pain is the pain that every Muslim should feel.
The real pain is the pain of ousting from Jannah.
Pain of Adam is the pain of believers. Muslims.

It might look like worldly pain but in reality it is spiritual pain only.
It looks like worldly pain because you are writhing in pain because of having lost your beautiful house - Jannah.
In reality it is spiritual pain because Jannah is behind the curtain and we believe in it because of our faith.

Sufis call it pain of Allah SWT. The pain of separation from Allah SWT.
This pain is necessary because otherwise we would not have known about, for example, Hazrat Ibrahim AS, Hazrat Musa AS and Rasoolallah SAW.

Rumi RA tells us about the same pain in

Bishnav az nay chun shikayat mikunad
v-az juda'iha hikayat mikunad

Listen to the flute, how she complains
She is explaining the reason of separation

The flute has a painful voice. Why? Because she is rending her heart out because of her separation from the reed.
That is the pain of separation. Maulana Rumi is using this pain as a metaphor for our separation from Allah SWT via our exit from Jannah.

There is another Hindi couplet (Doha) of similar import:

Patta toota ped se
Legayi pawan uday
Abke bichhde kab milein
Door pade hain jaay

The leaf broke away from the tree
The wind blew it away
When will we meet again?
There is vast separation now

This distance and break is simply heart breaking.

If we go to the first two couplets of this note then we realize the significance of the sentiments in them.
We are ina state of pain where we do not even know that we are in pain.
And if we know that we are in pain we do not know the source of this pain.
In such a situation it is such a consolation if we find a fellow traveller.
Who knows and feels the pain.
Who is worn out by the same pain.
You wonder who is he.
You wonder where he has come from.
You do not know him but he is more dear to you than your immediate people because he is familiar with your pain.
He feels the same pain.
The same pain has worn him out.
He is in agony even in spring.
He is suddenly so beloved to you.

And in such asituation if you have the following feeling also then the circle seems like completeing:

Hum aa gaye kahan par
Ye kis ka dayar hai
Pehlu se dil pukara
Ye hee koo-e-yaar hai

Where have we reached?
Whose house it is?
From the side heart assured
This is friend's home.

In this world Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem, the Straight Path, is the home of our friend.
We have to take care of ourselves, our family and the whole Ummah of Rasoolallah SAW.
If Rasoolallah SAW was not free from worldly worries then why should we seek freedom from responsibilities of similar kind?
That is my pain. That is my journey.
All my brothers and sisters are invited to be my fellow travellers.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

William Dalrymple on Bomb Blasts in Pakistan

Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world.
The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of Isis and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. Isis now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country.
The suicide bombing of the Sehwan shrine is an ominous development for the world, in a region that badly needs stability. It is an Islamic shrine where outsiders, religious minorities and women are all welcomed. Here, 70 years after partition and the violent expulsion of most of the Hindus of Pakistan into India (and vice versa with Muslims into Pakistan), one of the hereditary tomb guardians is still a Hindu, and it is he who performs the opening ritual at the annual festival. Hindu holy men, pilgrims and officials still tend the shrine.
But the wild and ecstatic night-long celebrations marking the Sufi saint’s anniversary were almost a compendium of everything Islamic puritans most disapprove of: loud Sufi music and love poetry sung in every courtyard; men dancing with women; hashish being smoked. Hindus and Christians were all welcome to join in the celebrations.
A radical anti-Sufi movement is growing throughout the Islamic world. Until the 20th century, ultra-orthodox strains of Islam tended to be regarded as heretical by most Muslims. But since the 1970s, Saudi oil wealth has been used to spread such intolerant beliefs across the globe. As a result, many contemporary Muslims have been taught a story of Islamic religious tradition from which the tolerance of Sufism is excluded.
What happens at the Sehwan Sharif shrine matters, as it is an indication as to which of the two ways global Islam will go. Can it continue to follow the path of moderate pluralistic Islam, or – under the pressure of Saudi funding – will it opt for the more puritanical, reformed Islam of the Wahhabis and Salafis, with their innate suspicion (or even overt hostility) towards Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism?
Islam in south Asia is changing. Like 16th-century Europe on the eve of the Reformation, reformers and puritans are on the rise, distrustful of music, images, festivals and the devotional superstitions of saints’ shrines. In Christian Europe, they looked to the text alone for authority, and recruited the bulk of their supporters from the newly literate urban middle class, who looked down on what they saw as the corrupt superstitions of the illiterate peasantry.
Hardline Wahhabi and Salafi fundamentalism has advanced so quickly in Pakistan partly because the Saudis have financed the building of so many madrasas that have filled the vacuum left by the collapse of state education.
Madrasa in Peshawar, Pakistan
‘The Saudis have financed the building of many madrasas that have filled the vacuum left by the collapse of state education.’ Photograph: Mohammad Sajjad/AP
On my last visit to Sehwan a few years ago, the largest madrasa there was located in an old haveli not far from the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander. Saleemullah, who ran the madrasa, was a well-educated young man, but there was no masking the puritanical severity of some of his views. For him, the theology of the dispute between the Sufis and the orthodox was quite simple: “We don’t like tomb worship,” he said. “The Qur’an is quite clear about this ... We must not pray to dead men and ask things from them, even the saints.”
He saw his role as bringing “the idol and grave-worshippers from kufr [infidelity] back to the true path of the sharia”. He said: “Mark my words, a more extreme form of the Taliban is coming to Pakistan.”
Saleemullah claimed most people wanted a return to the caliphate and said Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were on his side. And when the caliphate comes, he said: “It will be our duty to destroy all the mazars [mausoleums] and the dargahs [shrines] – starting with the one here in Sehwan.”
Saleemullah’s organisation alone ran 5,000 madrasas across Pakistan, and was opening a further 1,500 in Sindh. According to one recent study there are now 27 times as many madrasas in Pakistan as there were in 1947 – over 8,000 in total.
The religious tenor has been correspondingly radicalised: many Sufi sites and people have come under attack, including the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore in 2010 and the revered Sufi singer Amjad Sabri, who was assassinated last summer.
With its deep roots in south Asian soil, its gentle message and through the music that carries it, Sufism has become an antidote to Isis-style radicalism, and fundamentalisms of all sorts. One old fakir I talked to in the Sehwan shrine said of the Wahhabi mullahs: “Without love, they distort the true meaning of the teaching of the prophet.”
If only the Pakistani government could finance schools that taught respect for the country’s own indigenous and syncretic religious traditions, rather than buying fleets of American F-16 fighters and leaving education to the Saudis. Instead, Pakistan is increasingly coming to resemble a tragic clone of pre-9/11 Taliban Afghanistan – a place where violent radicals are welcomed with open arms, where groups like Isis are rapidly gaining influence, and where moderate Muslims and religious minorities are subject to persecution and murder.

Source : The Guardian