January 2003




JANUARY  2003 Contents


 Peace in South Asia
 - Is it attainable?
 Read what they have 
 to say:


 Swami Agnivesh &
 Rev Valson Thampu

 Ardeshir Cowasjee

 Lt. Gen Arjun Ray 

 Raju Narisetti

 Waheguru Pal Singh 



 Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
 - 50 years of sarod


 Secular symbols of
 Sri Lanka

 2002 Round-up

 Books 2002

 Sports 2002


 Raju Nasiretti

 Mahreen Khan

Real Issues

 Corruption vs. NGOs


 Letter from Pakistan


 'India in Slow Motion'
 - by Mark Tully

 Serialisation of  'Knock at every alien 
 door' - Joseph Harris



 South Asian Events in
 London &  Washington DC

 Editor's Note

 the craft shop

 Lehngas - a limited collection

 the print gallery


 Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in










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Peace in South Asia - is it attainable?

the-south-asian asks 'Junoon'


Salman Ahmed has  written to the Indian and Pakistani governments, requesting permission for a Peace Concert at the LoC (Line of Control)!

(Write to us supporting Salman in this very worthy request)

junoon-faces.gif (34720 bytes)
"Fanaticism in any form, whether religious or otherwise, is nothing but evil and is possibly the worst social disease in our midst."

A Brief Introduction

Karachi based (Pakistan) ‘Junoon’ (translated ‘Frenzied Passion’) is not about a rock group – it is about sanity, it is about harmony, it is about tolerance – and more importantly it is about truth. Their agenda is peace, love and brotherhood among mankind. Few rock groups or bands are about all this and more. Salman Ahmed, Brian O’Connell, and Ali Azmat are the trio protesting against the establishment through their music, and at the same time singing of universal love and celebration of life. Their lyrics are inspired by the great Sufi saints, Rumi and Bulleh Shah; and their music by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, Santana, U2, Beatles, and Queen!. Their music transcends religious and political boundaries – it comes, truly, from the soul touching the hearts and souls of those who have hearts and souls within them. In 2001 Ahmad was named the UN goodwill ambassador on HIV/AIDS for Pakistan.

While India and Pakistan were flexing their nuclear muscle-power, ‘Junoon’ were touring India to packed concerts – some of their most loyal fans are from India – and they, in turn, profess a great love for the country. While on the tour, they spoke of peace, brotherhood and unity, and the fans in turn demanded " cultural fusion, not nuclear fusion". For this very profound message, Junoon were banned from performing in Pakistan for a while.

Junoon have performed the world over. Their last performance in India was in aid of the Earthquake victims of Gujarat, where they shared the stage with other south Asian groups, including Silk Route, and Euphoria. Commenting on Indo-Pak relations Salman says, "This is like building a wall between people. The lesser people see the other side, the greater is the fear that sets in. We need to dispel these fears.’’ Salman has in fact written to the Indian and Pakistani governments, requesting permission for a Peace Concert at the LoC (Line of Control).

Junoon performed at the Daniel Pearl Music Day on Oct 10, 2002 and have recently released a new song, their first in English, called ‘No More’. It is a tribute to what the humanity lost on 9/11. New York musician, lyricist and journalist, Polar Levine, wrote the song. Following the 9/11 attacks, Junoon, together with the Indian band, Euphoria, performed at the UN General Assembly Hall.

The Indian band Silk Route and Junoon are working towards ‘Peace Quest’ - a UN approved project. ‘Peace Quest’ will, through concerts and lectures, address the students on the need for peace in the sub-continent
As Ahmed, very rightly, says ‘‘It is the young who hold hope for the two nations and we wish to work with them to propagate peace."

What, in your view, should be a step towards peace in south Asia?

The Governments of the countries in the region must talk to each other, and there should be more interaction between the peoples of South Asia.

Can music or other arts perform a more positive role towards peace in south Asia?

We think that music and all Art has the power to heal and touch the deepest emotions of people. The fact that the average Pakistani loves Shahrukh Khan & Amitabh Bachchan and that people across India have loved Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Junoon's music proves that Music & other arts can act as a Force of love & fraternity.

Which of the two is a stronger force - secularism or fundamentalism?

We feel that all people are one regardless of caste, creed, colour or language. People must respect each other as at the end of the day we have the same emotions & the same inspirations as anybody else on earth. Surely there are differences between people, but it is time now for people to accentuate the commonality of our humanity and learn to respect each other.

Can the secular traditions of south Asia be saved?

We feel that through education the people of South Asia can learn to appreciate one another's differences & respect each other's point of views, as is the case with the European Union. With the global media now so pervasive throughout the region, opportunities exist to enlighten one another and thereby further increase regional co-operation.

Can fundamentalism really threaten the survival of multi-ethnic societies of south Asia?

Fanaticism in any form whether religious or otherwise is nothing but evil and is possibly the worst social disease in our midst.

Your comments on leadership (or the absence of it) in south Asian countries

Clearly in the past 55 years since Independence, better leaders would have been able to lead South Asia to a better, more prosperous state than we see today. However we are optimistic that in today's youth there exist the seeds of great leaders and the relatively more open environment that they are growing up in bodes well for the future of the region.

Should religion be confined to an individual's home and not be taken outside its confines?

The people of South Asia depend on their religion for their daily guidance and truly use it as their way of Life. We in South Asia however through education and the eradication of ignorance of each others' religions can gain respect for each other. Junoon can be seen as a microcosm of this with persons of several different faiths existing in our band and organization. We are open about each other's religion and discuss and share our spirituality with each other without fear of hatred or prejudice. For example, the teachings of Jesus Christ,  the Upanishads, and the Sufi Islamic beliefs are one and the same and all religions share the same Source, so how can we disrespect each other's religions? That would be the same as disrespecting our very own religion!

Is there room, in this day and age, for faith-based institutions and faith-based political parties in our societies?

Faith is a good thing as long as it is not used to undermine the rights of people who do not share the same beliefs. If faith is used as a vehicle to increase one's power ,which in essence corrupts and distorts the teachings of the faith, or to incite hatred towards people of other faiths and to inculcate a feeling of superiority among members of a particular creed,   then - no to faith based institutions or faith based political parties.




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