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Geopolitics

The Last Cafe In Pakistan: Moderates Voice Quiet Resistance In The Face Of Islamist Assassinations

Following the assassination of two political leaders campaigning to change Pakistan’s Islamic blasphemy law, those who dream of a more open society and an enlightened Islam are trying to fight back.

Evening in Karachi
Evening in Karachi
Frédéric Bobin

KARACHI - Situated smack in the heart of this huge port city, the Second Floor Café (T2F) is a haven for the enlightened thinkers, a refuge against Karachi's urban sprawl and simmering tensions. Tucked away in a building on a back street, T2F is unique. Posters of John Lennon and Pablo Picasso hang on the wall, folk or blues music plays in the background, and on any given night Urdu poetry recitals or debates on Charles Darwin might take place. An oasis of resistance, it is where free thinkers can take a stand against the dark cloud of Islamic intolerance now looming on Pakistan's horizon.

Are these free thinkers a tiny minority, on the margins and out of sight? The answer is probably yes, something the owner of the establishment, Zaheer Kidvai is ready to admit. "We are a very small community here," he says. "We do what we can to react against the current climate of fear, although I do wonder whether it will change anything."

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Society

Taking A Position: A Call To Regulate Yoga In India

Trained practitioners warn that unregulated yoga can be detrimental to people's health. The government in India, where the ancient practice was invented, knows this very well — yet continues to postpone regulation.

Prime Minister Modi at a mass yoga demonstration in Lucknow, India

Banjot Kaur

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the observance of the eighth International Yoga Day from Mysuru, in southwestern India, early on the morning of June 21. Together with his colleagues from the Bharatiya Janata Party, he set out to mark the occasion in various parts of the country — reviving an annual ritual that had to take a break for the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yoga is one of the five kinds of alternative Indian medicine listed under India’s AYUSH efforts — standing for "Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and naturopathy, and Homeopathy." Among them, only yoga is yet to be regulated under any Act of Parliament: All other practices are governed by the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM), Act 2020.

Yoga and naturopathy are taught at the undergraduate level in 70 medical colleges across 14 Indian states. The Mangalore University in Karnataka first launched this course in 1989; today, these subjects are also taught at the postgraduate level.

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