FOSA Celebrates Eid and
By A.H. Cemendtaur
Above: Glimpses of the FOSA
Identity. What a funny concept!
Human beings coated with shades of persuasion. Gender, ethnicity,
faith, language, culture, values: except for the first two
all being adopted identities, if that...for in most cases
they are thrust upon people when they grow up in a certain
group. Take a child from one group, right after birth, to
a different community and the child would grow up to hold
dear a set of completely different identities. And then such
pride, vanity in those secondhand, borrowed ideas! Funny indeed!
Last century when the colonial masters decided to leave South
Asia, it was pretty much given that the days of kings and
despots were over and that the affairs of emerging South Asian
state(s) would be decided by the populace. Enter democracy,
the will of the people. And then came the mistrust. In voting
for a person what identity would people most relate to; would
it be simply a person’s ideals and track record, or
would it be the religious, linguistic, cultural, or regional
affiliation of that person. In contriving countries, South
Asia, like most places in the Old World, could be fractured
along a myriad of fault lines. Ultimately the pie was cut
along religious boundaries.
The region has never come out of that trauma. The legacy of
that religion-based identity recognition asserts itself in
the politics of South Asia every single day, and some days
more bloodily than others.
On November 11, Friends of South Asia (FOSA, www.friendsofsouthasia.org),
a group of Bay Area Indian and Pakistani activists, in their
annual tradition to make bridges between religious communities
held a joint celebration of Eid and Diwali.
FOSA invited individuals from other peace groups and like-minded
organizations. Over forty-five people attended the program
held at Union City Library Community Room. This correspondent
did not get to meet everyone but the organizers informed that
a number of Bay Are groups including AID, ASHA, Maitri, and
Bay Area Tamil Manram had their representatives in attendance.
Dinner was followed by a series of presentations. Ramkumar
Sridharan who was also the event manager emceed the program.
Navanee Sundaramoorthy from AID (Association for India’s
Development) talked about AID’s involvement in recent
earthquake relief efforts.
Saqib Mausoof who visited earthquake affected areas right
after the disaster in 2005 gave a presentation on relief efforts
in Pakistan. The third presentation was from Anu Mandavilli,
FOSA's president, who spoke on California textbook controversy.
Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) concluded the program informing the
audience about FOSA's history and its current programs.