The Indian Express | 2 months ago | 28-03-2023 | 11:45 am
For many Muslims breaking fast in mosques around the world this Ramadan, something will be missing: plastics.The communal experience of iftars – the after-sunset meal that brings people of the faith together during the holy month starting on March 22, 2023 – often necessitates the use of utensils designed for mass events, such as plastic knives and forks, along with bottles of water.But to encourage Muslims to be more mindful of the impact of Ramadan on the environment, mosques are increasingly dispensing of single-use items, with some banning the use of plastics altogether.As a historian of Islam, I see this “greening” of Ramadan as entirely in keeping with the traditions of the faith, and in particular the observance of Ramadan.The month – during which observant Muslims must abstain from even a sip of water or food from sun up to sun down – is a time for members of the faith to focus on purifying themselves as individuals against excess and materialism.But in recent years, Muslim communities around the world have used the period to rally around themes of social awareness. And this includes understanding the perils of wastefulness and embracing the link between Ramadan and environmental consciousness.The ban on plastics – a move encouraged by the Muslim Council of Britain as a way for Muslims “to be mindful of [God’s] creation and care for the environment” – is just one example.Many other mosques and centers are discouraging large or extravagant evening meals altogether. The fear is such communal events generate food waste and overconsumption and often rely on nonbiodegradable materials for cutlery, plates and serving platters.While the move toward environmental consciousness has gained traction in Muslim communities in recent years, the links between Islam and sustainability can be found in the faith’s foundational texts.Scholars have long emphasised principles outlined in the Quran that highlight conservation, reverence for living creatures and the diversity of living things as a reminder of God’s creation.The Quran repeatedly emphasises the idea of “mizan,” a kind of cosmic and natural balance, and the role of humans as stewards and khalifa, or “viceregents,” on Earth – terms that also carry an environmental interpretation.Recently, Islamic environmental activists have highlighted the numerous hadith – sayings of the Prophet Muhammad that provide guidance to followers of the faith – that emphasise that Muslims should avoid excess, respect resources and living things, and consume in moderation.Although present from the outset of the faith, Islam’s ties to environmentalism received major visibility with the works of Iranian philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and a series of lectures he delivered at the University of Chicago in 1966. The lectures and a subsequent book, “Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis in Modern Man,” warned that humans had broken their relationship with nature and thus placed themselves in grave ecological danger.Nasr blamed modern and Western science for being materialistic, utilitarian and inhuman, claiming it had destroyed traditional views of nature. Nasr argued that Islamic philosophy, metaphysics, scientific tradition, arts and literature emphasize the spiritual significance of nature.But he noted that numerous contemporary factors, such as mass rural-to-urban migration and poor and autocratic leadership, had prevented the Muslim world from realising and implementing the Islamic view of the natural environment.Scholars and activists expanded on Nasr’s work through the 1980s and 1990s, among them Fazlun Khalid, one of the world’s leading voices on Islam and environmentalism. In 1994, Khalid founded the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, an organisation dedicated to the maintenance of the planet as a healthy habitat for all living beings.Khalid and other Muslim environmentalists suggest that Islam’s nearly 2 billion adherents can participate in the tasks of environmental sustainability and equity not through Western models and ideologies but from within their own traditions.Partnering with the United Nations Environment Program, Khalid and other leading scholars crafted Al-Mizan, a worldwide project for Muslim leaders interested in Muslims’ religious commitments to nature.“The ethos of Islam is that it integrates belief with a code of conduct which pays heed to the essence of the natural world,” Khalid wrote in “Signs on the Earth: Islam, Modernity, and the Climate Crisis.” Going beyond an eco-Ramadan Environmental crises disproportionately affect the world’s poorest populations, and academics have highlighted the particular vulnerabilities of Muslim communities around the world, such as the victims of devastating floods in Pakistan in 2022.By highlighting Islamic principles, policies and community approaches, academics have shown how Islam can represent a model for environmental stewardship.This push for environmental consciousness extends beyond Ramadan. In recent years, Muslims have tried to introduce green practices into the shrine cities in Iraq during pilgrimage seasons in Ashura and Arbaeen.This has included awareness campaigns encouraging the 20 million pilgrims who visit Arbaeen annually to reduce the tons of trash they leave every year that clog up Iraq’s waterways.Quoting from Shiite scholarship and drawing on testimonials from community leaders, the Green Pilgrim movement suggests carrying cloth bags and reusable water bottles, turning down plastic cutlery, and hosting eco-friendly stalls along the walk.Muslim-owned businesses and nonprofits are joining these wider efforts. Melanie Elturk, the founder of the successful hijab brand Haute Hijab, regularly ties together faith, fashion, commerce and environmentalism by highlighting the brand’s focus on sustainability and environmental impact. The Washington, D.C., nonprofit Green Muslims pioneered the first “leftar” – a play on the word “iftar” – using leftovers and reusable containers.These efforts are but a few of the diverse ways that Muslim communities are addressing environmental impact. The greening of Ramadan fits into a broader conversation about how often communities can tackle climate change within their own frameworks.But Islamic environmentalism is more than just the dispensing of plastic forks and water bottles – it taps into a worldview ingrained in the faith from the outset, and can continue to guide adherents as they navigate environmentalism, a space where they may otherwise be marginalized.📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!
With just the clothes on their backs, M Joy Singh and his family of five fled their home in the hill district of Kangpokpi and arrived at a relief camp in Imphal West’s Lamboi Khongnakhong on May 7. They have been there ever since and see little hope of returning anytime soon, even as the violence that started on May 3 continues across the state.They are among the thousands of families currently in relief camps across the state, many of whom have been living as refugees within their own state for close to a month now.As of June 2, there were 37,450 people living in relief camps across 13 districts. And with the continuing incidents of shooting and arson, particularly in the areas at the border of valley and hill districts, this number is rising by the day.The relief camp in which M Joy Singh and his family are being housed is located in a government school. Set up by local residents from a group called Indigenous Development Mission, it is much smaller than many other camps — housing 67 people from 22 families, most from Kangpokpi district and a few from Churachandpur district. Because the school campus is small, organisers say they are already running over capacity and have not taken in any new people since May 24.“The provisions for the camp are mostly being donated by different NGOs and clubs. They have been asking us about our needs and contributing. We have also been receiving some basic provisions from the government’s side,” said S Milan Singh, one of the organisers. Since May 12, they have received 18 bags of rice, three bags of dal, a few bags of salt, potatoes and onions, three tins of cooking oil and 22,000 litres of water from the district administration.In Churachandpur, Kennedy, part of the Kuki Khanglai Lompi group which runs 50 relief camps in the district, said meeting basic needs is a daily challenge amid the swelling numbers and soaring heat. On Saturday evening itself, more than 100 people arrived at the camps from Moljol village. Currently, he said, there are more than 6,500 people living in these camps, set up in schools, churches and community halls. Another 2,000 people are living in relatives’ homes but depend upon the group for food rations.“Different stakeholders are providing us with supplies. There are other civil society organisations, the church, private organizations, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the district administration… Right now, providing medicines to the people is a big challenge for us, especially since a lot of people are getting sick because of the heat,” he said. More than anything, however, it is the future that worries him.“We can’t just keep feeding them every day. Ultimately, people will need their own livelihood again,” he said.Back in Imphal, M Joy Singh — who was a teacher in a private school — said that for him, rehabilitation would ideally mean returning to Kangpokpi with protection so that he can restart his life there. “I have lived all my life there. My parents and grandparents have been cremated there. I don’t want to lose the place where I was brought up, but I fear it may take more than one or two years to return,” he said.At another relief camp in Imphal, M Baby, whose home was in Churachandpur town and who has been in the camp since May 10, said that her family would prefer a fresh start in the valley.“We came with nothing but our clothes. But there is nothing to go back to, everything is destroyed,” she said.According to the Deputy Collector of one of the districts concerned, there are primarily two sets of people in relief camps with differing long-term needs. People who have moved to the relief camps from border areas of the same districts, and those who have come from other districts dominated by people from another community.“Those from fringe villages will probably eventually go back. It is more challenging for the other displaced group. Until the question of where they will be resettlement is tackled, we want to at least find a better place for them to live where they can have some privacy and live as family units instead of all together, which is something we are working towards,” said the official.Among the inmates of the Lamboi relief camp are 14 children. While schools across the state have been shut since the start of the violence and will continue to remain closed till at least June 15, a small respite for the children is that some volunteer teachers have been visiting the camp for the past two weeks to conduct some informal classes for a few hours for them.
Airbus is closing towards a potentially record deal to sell 500 narrow-body A320-family jets to India’s largest carrier IndiGo, industry sources said on Sunday.The European planemaker has emerged as front-runner for an order eclipsing Air India’s historic provisional purchase of 470 jets in February, the sources said on the sidelines of an airline industry meeting in Istanbul.Such a deal would be worth some $50 billion at the most recently published Airbus list prices, but would typically be worth less than half this after widespread airline industry discounts for bulk deals, according to aircraft analysts.Airbus and Boeing are also still competing in separate talks to sell 25 A330neo or Boeing 787 wide-body jets to the same airline, the industry sources said.IndiGo Chief Executive Pieter Elbers, attending the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Istanbul, declined to comment on commercial matters.Airbus and Boeing also declined to comment.Reuters first reported in March that IndiGo, which has a 56% share of the domestic Indian market, was in talks with both Airbus and Boeing for the order, which if confirmed would be the largest by a single airline ranked by the number of units.IndiGo is already one of Airbus’s largest customers and has so far ordered a total of 830 Airbus A320-family jets of which nearly 500 are still to be delivered.Airbus and Boeing have been racking up billions of dollars of new orders stretching beyond 2030 as airlines lock in supplies ahead of looming shortages.Turkish Airlines had taken the spotlight before the IATA meeting with a surprise announcement that it could order 600 jets, but delegates said there were few signs of an immediate deal.TRAVEL REBOUNDIndian carriers now have the second-largest order book, with over 6% share of the industry backlog, behind only the United States, according to a June 1 report by Barclays.But some analysts have expressed concern that airlines could be over-ordering jets in pursuit of the same passengers.Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr told reporters on Sunday there was globally more supply than demand, however.The drive by IndiGo comes as the world’s third-largest aviation market is seeing a strong rebound in travel post-COVID, with passenger numbers surging despite high fares.IndiGo aims to double its capacity by the end of the decade and expand its network, especially in international markets.The airline has a codeshare partnership with seven carriers including Turkish Airlines, American Airlines and KLM.The alliance with Turkish Airlines has seen IndiGo make a major push into Europe, a favourite holiday destination among Indians, with the budget carrier now offering flights to 33 European airports.In a departure from its single-aisle strategy, IndiGo earlier this year began international operations to Istanbul with a Boeing 777, its first wide-body aircraft, taken from codeshare partner Turkish Airlines, which provides the pilots.Taking on the two widebodies is a stop-gap arrangement for IndiGo which needs the capacity until it takes delivery of the longer-range Airbus A321XLR planes in 2025-ish timeframe, Elbers told Reuters in an interview in March.
Most Indians have a fondness for starting their day with a steaming cup of tea accompanied by a couple of biscuits. It has been ingrained in our minds from childhood that consuming tea on an empty stomach can lead to acidity, so it is essential to have a few biscuits with our tea. However, this habit doesn’t end there. Throughout the day, every time we sip on a cup of tea or coffee, biscuits are the go-to accompaniment that we rarely miss. Have you ever taken the time to calculate the number of biscuits you consume in a day? Moreover, have you ever looked into the ingredient list of these biscuits?Biscuits, unfortunately, can be quite calorie-heavy and are high in hydrogenated fats. On average, a plain Marie biscuit contains around 40 calories. However, cream-filled or freshly baked varieties can contain as much as 100 to 150 calories per biscuit. Additionally, it’s rare for anyone to stop at just one biscuit. Most biscuits are made with refined flour, commonly known as maida, which gets absorbed quickly by the body and can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain.Furthermore, biscuits are often loaded with chemicals such as emulsifiers, preservatives and colouring agents, which are added to increase their shelf life. Excessive amounts of salt and sugar are also commonly found in biscuits. High sodium consumption also ends in water retention resulting in bloating, puffiness and weight advantage. As a result, individuals who are hypertensive, diabetic, or overweight should avoid consuming biscuits. It is important to be cautious of sugar-free biscuits as well, as they often contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which can affect metabolism and disrupt the gut microbiome. In addition, dipping sweet biscuits in tea or coffee can increase blood sugar levels.Even when a biscuit packet claims to be whole-wheat, fibre-rich, or oatmeal-based, the proportion of these healthier ingredients is usually minimal, ranging from 5 to 10 per cent. The primary ingredient remains the unhealthy refined flour. This deceptive marketing can lead consumers to believe they are making a healthier choice when, in reality, they are not.Some estimates say that even taking four digestive biscuits is equal to nearly a bag of potato chips! That’s bothersome for the heart health of people with high blood pressure, who eat these biscuits mistaking them to be a healthier option.Next time you reach for a biscuit, it’s worth considering the potential consequences. There are better alternatives available, such as consuming nuts like almonds, makhana (fox nuts), or roasted bhuna chana (roasted gram). These options not only provide a delicious taste but also offer essential nutrition. Nuts are rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthier choice compared to biscuits.While the nostalgia and convenience of biscuits with tea are deeply rooted in Indian culture, it’s crucial to prioritise our health and make mindful choices. By replacing biscuits with healthier options like nuts, we can satisfy our taste buds while providing our bodies with the nutrition they need. So, the next time you’re tempted to reach for a biscuit, think twice and consider the alternatives that offer both taste and nourishment.As they cater to pleasure-seeking areas in the brain, consuming biscuits becomes an addiction much like cocaine and morphine. That’s the reason why you don’t stop at one.
The housing crisis is one of the most common problems plaguing countries across the increasingly urbanised world. New technologies like 3D printing are seen as a potential solution to provide affordable and secure housing.On Friday, business tycoon Anand Mahindra shared a video that showed the installation of a ‘foldable’ house made by Boxabl, an American housing construction company based in Las Vegas.Mahindra wrote, “I find these inventions fascinating. Yes, they’re usually cost-ineffective in India. But the need for speed in providing shelter (not just post natural disasters but also for accelerating economic growth) is so critical in a developing economy that we should explore how to ‘indianize’ these ideas & do them less expensively. Can @life_spaces look into this @amitsinha73?”.I find these inventions fascinating. Yes, they’re usually cost-ineffective in India. But the need for speed in providing shelter (not just post natural disasters but also for accelerating economic growth) is so critical in a developing economy that we should explore how to… https://t.co/kgNMW85gKa— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) June 2, 2023While many people agreed with Mahindra, others pointed out that the house shown in the video might not answer India’s housing crisis, especially in urban areas. Echoing this view, a Twitter user wrote, “Given India’s large population it need multistoried housing, space should be created artificially. India is an unique country with its population and needs a specific solution. Other countries model could not be copied”.Boxabl is known for its 400 square feet house which can be installed on any surface using connector plates within one day. The house can be shipped and hauled using an SUV or a pickup truck. Currently, this house is priced at $49,500 (approximately Rs 40,00,000).As per Boxabl’s website, these homes are resistant to bugs, mould, water, fire, and hurricane-level winds. The company got much attention in June 2021, after billionaire Elon Musk insinuated he lives in a Boxabl house when he tweeted that he lives in a “$50k house in Boca Chica”.
THE HARYANA government is coming under increasing pressure to take a stand on the continuing protest by wrestlers, who belong to the state, demanding the arrest of BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment allegations.Barring a few BJP leaders, the Manohar Lal Khattar government has largely stuck to the stance that law will take its course, even as the Opposition and Haryana’s powerful khaps have flocked to the wrestlers’ side.Khattar earlier said he did not support wrestlers resorting to protests, adding: “The issue is not related to Haryana. It is related to players’ teams and the Union government. The Supreme Court has already ordered registration of FIRs.”With FIR details now indicating the level of harassment the wrestlers were allegedly subjected to, The Indian Express called up the entire Haryana Council of Ministers to get their response.Overall, the ministers stuck to the official line. A few said the wrestlers should wait for the police’s probe findings, others said the protests were engineered by the Opposition, while several refused to comment.Here is what they said:“The allegations are very serious in nature. From what I have gathered from media reports, the Delhi Police needs to speed up its investigation into the matter. Everything is on the Delhi Police as of now… For me to say who is innocent or guilty, it is not possible, because it has all come out in the public what the FIRs state. It is up to the Delhi Police to expedite their investigation into the FIRs. If the allegations are substantiated by the probe, the strictest possible action should be taken… Although it is not a state (Haryana) subject, everybody from the state is with these girls.”“They (the wrestlers) should come out of the clutches of Opposition leaders and not allow themselves to be sacrificed for political interests. Somewhere there is a mahapanchayat or somewhere a dharna… They have the right to take part in an agitation, but players should come out of the clutches of these Opposition people soon. The government is listening to the players. They demanded a committee, registration of FIRs, that has been done… These players are our national heroes but the matter has got a little spoiled because they have got caught in the clutches of Opposition leaders.”(Earlier Vij had offered to raise the wrestlers’ issues with the highest level in the government.)“Both sides are giving their versions. I saw on social media that the complainant whom they (the wrestlers) said is a minor has three birth certificates in her name… What would have happened if he (Brij Bhushan) had got imprisoned under the POCSO Act on the basis of this (one of the FIRs against him is under the Act to prevent sexual assault against minors)! That is why an inquiry is required. Any action against anybody should only be taken after a thorough inquiry. Once the inquiry is completed, whoever is found guilty should be punished. Would it be called justice if, only on the basis of allegations, somebody is thrown into jail without an inquiry? A proper investigation is required to unveil the truth. Once the truth comes out, whoever is found guilty should be punished accordingly… What is happening is that one side is firm on its accusations, while the other side is vehemently opposing them. So, how will there be justice? That is why everybody should wait for the outcome of the ongoing inquiry.”“Our daughters are our pride, they are our honour. But, nobody should politicise this issue. A player should be seen as a player, also a player should not play into the hands of politicians. Otherwise, their sanctity will diminish. Doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani hona chahiye (the truth should come out). An impartial probe should be conducted… Yes, the way the Delhi Police treated our daughters (as they marched to the new Parliament building) needs to be condemned and action should be taken against them… (But) Brij Bhushan is giving his side of the version and it is for the courts of law and police to find the truth. We are all making efforts to resolve this ongoing standoff. Justice shall surely be given to our daughters.”“I don’t want to say anything on this. I have said earlier what I had to say.”(Last month, Ranjit Singh, who was earlier in the INLD and is the son of its late supremo Devi Lal, had supported the protesting wrestlers and said, “These wrestlers have brought pride to the country at the international level… It is not fair if sportspersons have to sit on dharna for their rights.” He had also said that the allegations against Brij Bhushan should be investigated at the earliest, and he should resign on moral grounds.)Dhanak promised to talk, but did not call back. Later, he could not be reached.“These wrestlers have brought laurels to our country and we are proud of them… Nobody is trying to save Brij Bhushan. Rather, FIRs have already been registered and an investigation is on.”Dalal did not respond to repeated calls.(Earlier, he had said: “As per the law, anybody and everybody has the right to carry out a peaceful protest. All legitimate demands shall be fulfilled as per the law. Be it farmers or sportspersons, all their legitimate demands shall be fulfilled as there is a BJP government, whose primary objective is to serve the people of this nation.”)Banwari Lal did not respond to repeated calls.(Earlier, he had said: “The wrestlers’ protest is being carried out at the behest of Opposition parties… They keep getting such protests orchestrated.”)Singh promised to call back but was later unavailable.(Singh is himself facing an FIR over sexual harassment charges levelled by a woman coach. He was removed as Sports Minister after much delay by the Khattar government, but continues to hold his Printing and Stationery portfolio.)Yadav could not be reached despite repeated calls and messages.(Speaking earlier this week to a few mediapersons, Yadav had feigned ignorance, saying he did not have much information about the incident and said only the Union government could speak on the matter as it pertained to it. He had also called the protesting wrestlers “nation’s heroes”.)Gupta could not be reached despite repeated attempts.The only woman in the Khattar Ministry, Dhanda did not respond to queries.