Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gandhi Opposed Creation of Israel

With the growing admiration of Israel in India and the rapid growth of US-Israel-India axis, it is important to remember that India's founding fathers, Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, were opposed to the creation of the state of Israel in the 1930s and 1940s. In fact, India voted against the admission of Israel into the United Nation in May 1949. The developments over the last two decades speak volumes about the rise of Gandhi-Nehru-hating radical right-wing Hindu groups in India, and their power to manipulate the Indian national agenda. The US "war on terror" has provided a convenient cover for the Hindu bigots in India to pursue their dream of cleansing India of "aliens" and "invaders".

Here is a letter Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1938, when Hitler was ruling Germany, and the clouds of Word War II were gathering over Europe. Gandhi's letter shows his great sense of right and wrong:

Several letters have been received by me asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.

But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?

Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.

The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.

But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which many inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province.

But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means?

Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism. It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness.

Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Musalmans or the Hindus, though, as a matter of fact in essence, He is common to all the one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment . And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.

It is hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the Czechs to follow my prescription. And they have in the Indian satyagraha campaign in South Africa an exact parallel. There the Indians occupied precisely the same place that the Jews occupy in Germany. The persecution had also a religious tinge. President Kruger used to say that the white Christians were the chosen of God and Indians were inferior beings created to serve the whites. A fundamental clause in the Transvaal constitution was that there should be no equality between the whites and colored races including Asia tics. There too the Indians were consigned to ghettos described as locations. The other disabilities were almost of the same type as those of the Jews in Germany. The Indians, a mere handful, resorted to satyagraha without any backing from the world outside or the Indian Government. Indeed the British officials tried to dissuade the satyagrahis (soldiers of non-violence) from their contemplated step. World opinion and the Indian Government came to their aid after eight years of fighting. And that too was by way of diplomatic pressure not of a threat of war.

But the Jews of Germany can offer satyagraha under infinitely better auspices than Indians of South Africa. The Jews are a compact, homogeneous community in Germany. they are far more gifted than the Indians of South Africa. And they have organized world opinion behind them. I am convinced that if someone with courage and vision can arise among them to lead them in nonviolent action, the winter of their despair can in the twinkling of an eye be turned into the summer of hope. And what has today become a degrading man-hunt can be turned in to a calm and determined stand offered by unarmed men and women possessing the strength of suffering given to them by Jehovah. It will be then a truly religious resistance offered against the godless fury of dehumanized man. The German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German gentiles in the sense that they will have converted that latter to an appreciation of human dignity. They will have rendered service to fellow-Germans and proved their title to be the real Germans as against those who are today dragging, however unknowingly, the German name into the mire.

And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart, who rules the Jewish heart. They can offer satyagraha in front of the Arabs and offer themselves to be shot or thrown in to the Dead Sea without raising a little finger against them. They will find the world opinion in the their favor in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them.

I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home including Palestine, not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the word's Literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jews can refuse to be treated as the outcast of the West, to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention and respect of the world by being man, the chosen creation of God, instead of being man who is fast sinking to the brute and forsaken by God. They can add to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.


Jeffrey Levine said...

Israel has as nuch right to exist as Pakistan.

Both countries were created at about the same time.

Over 8 million Hindus were killed by the Muslims once Pakistan was created.

There aren't even 8 million Palestinoans on the face of this earth.

Who cares what Gahdhi thought. He was wrong!!

Riaz Haq said...


What differentiates Pakistan from Israel is that Pakistanis were all citizens of India until 1947, not brought in from foreign lands and forced upon the local population.

And where did you pull this figure of 8m Hindu deaths? What is your source? The fact is that both Muslims and Hindus died in large numbers as they attempted to move across the newly created borders. I would venture to guess that many more Muslims crossed into Pakistan than Hindus in India, and therefore Muslims bore the brunt of it. I know it because my own family members suffered during and after the partition.

Since partition, there have multiple pogroms of Muslims in India, the most recent being the one in Gujarat where at least two thousand Muslims were killed in state-sponsored violence.

Who cares what Gandhi thought? Many South Asians care because of the shift in Indian attitudes toward Israel in recent years. The desire by radical Hindus to emulate Israeli Jews is as great or greater threat to South Asian peace and stability as the radical Muslim groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Jadev,India said...

The desire by radical Hindus to emulate Israeli Jews is as great or greater threat to South Asian peace and stability as the radical Muslim groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Ha Ha.There is no basis for that statement.We don't have any problem with Americans or Jews or Europeans or Arabs.We Hindu radicals only have a problem with jehadis(in india) pakis,chinis and "some" christian missionaries operating in India.Besides, who cares what that bald guy thought or didn't think..All this guy did was to get millions of susceptible Indians to get beaten up or shot dead by British Indian police. India gained independence because of mutiny in ranks of British Indian army not becoz of this 'takalu'. Our idol is unanimously APJ Abdul Kalam not this takalu Gandhi. Ask any Indian child in school.
...and of course we want to emulate Israel..they are the best

Anonymous said...

Jadev - go for it rock..Phew!!! Those teaching Palestinians to practice Gandhi's non-violance are denouncing moron jokers...I pray that you be forgiven and that you be blessed with the mercy and guidance.

Jaffrey - are you really such a hopeless phenomena...go read Torah tonight... said...

I guess the Hindu militancy that is on the rise is due the the "close and stragic" toes between India and Israel. This is a country that eats its friends roots at the back of a smiling face.

If India really wants to be shining India then she must understand her real friends and foes.

Other wise the end is visible, militancy has not destroyed Pakistan but it will surly destroy India.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Riaz-it matters yes- as if Israelis are harmed-there is no way India will keep quiet.Muslims have come from outside just like israelis have come from outside.If israelis leave Middle east then Muslims will leave subcontinent not just India!!!Israel should be allowed to stay in Middle east or there will be ashes left in Saudi Arabia and its neighbours.

Ray Lightning said...

Gandhi opposed the creation of Pakistan as well.


He has undertook hunger fasts in the blind hope that it will prevent the split of the country. When the unpreventable has finally happened, he undertook a fast unto death so that Pakistan be paid Rs.55 crores and not be denied that by the Indian government. The Indian government was finally left with no option but make the payment to Pakistan.

Lest anybody forgets, Mahatma Gandhi gave up his life for the sake of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Peaceful Indian said...

First thing - whoever thinks that some 'Hindu militants' will destroy India, they are in their wildest dreams. India will continue to prosper till the end of the world -thats a fact, not a biased Indian vote.
Now - about Israel. Gandhi & Nehru opposed Israel simply because its creation did not fit in their criteria of non-violence. Jews did need a home & they needed it badly. Even with violence. Those who are crying foul against Israel, are denying Jews their very right to live. Israel's policies no doubt are debatable, but one should keep in mind that they do need their own country.
About India-US-Israel axis, yes it is a fact that such an axis is emerging. Iran, once a friend of India, has gone furious with it. When Indian foreign minister recnetly visited Iran, both parties agreed that there is a recent change in relationship. India also arranged a tour of Kashmir for army chiefs of US & Israel. That gave a clear sense of where the relations are heading. So right now, with Obama on the driver's seat, we can see two clear axis. US-India-Europe-Israel-Russia & China-Muslim countries. I have included Russia with US, as there are confirmed reports that Russia wants to end its cold war with US, seeking a better relationship. Sounds interesting, we are heading towards prophecy of Nostradamus over World War 3. These are the two axis that he thought would fight the world war 3. God forbid, may there be no such world war!!

Riaz Haq said...


I have a lot of respect for Mahatma Gandhi. He was indeed a great soul.

If the rest of the Hindu leadership in India behaved in a way that was even remotely similar to the way Gandhi did, I think there would ne no demand or need for Muslims and Jinnah to split away from India.

Just read the comments of Jadev and anonymous that precede your comments. And you will know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Peace that nobody wants....

U.S. Removes Kashmir From Envoy's Mandate; India Exults

Ray Lightning said...


Pakistan would have happened irrespective of what anybody has done. There were very strong separatist feelings in western Punjab, supported by powerful land owners. If Pakistan didn't happen in 1947, it would have happened in 1957, after a much more bitter civil war. It was very good that Jinnah left the Indian National Congress for the Pakistani movement, because at the least, the Pakistani movement got a wise person to steer it forward. But unfortunately, Jinnah passed away at the very infancy of the Pakistani nation.

Gandhi was not a Hindu leader, by no means. He believed in only one religion, and that is humanity.

In fact, there was one leader from Pakistan who stands as tall as Gandhi. And Pakistan was lucky enough that he was alive till very recently. But Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was imprisoned for 30 years for all sort of wrong reasons. His non-violent followers, the Khudai khidmatgars were brutally suppressed, in massacres that put Jalianwalah Bagh to shame.

Pakistani soil can indeed produce leaders worth the salt of the earth, if only they are not suppressed by the military.

Riaz Haq said...

I think Ghaffar Khan was a sincere leader. He followed his beliefs and conscience.

However, he suffered on two counts:

1. He opposed partition and he lost to Muslim League in the elections on this question. He lost a lot of credibility with the people of NWFP.

2. Unlike Jinnah, he and his son could not extend their appeal beyond their ethnic group in Pakistan. They ended up being a Puktoon leaders rather than national leaders in Pakistan.

Peshawar said...

100% agree that "The desire by radical Hindus to emulate Israeli Jews is as great or greater threat to South Asian peace and stability"

i think it is greater threat then alqaeda also.

indians should remember wat ghandi said. and should now go further with israel because they are the biggest terrorist of the world.

Riaz Haq said...

It is strange to see the growing admiration of Israel among the Hindu right-wing, in sharp contrast to RSS founder Madhav Golwalkar's support for Hitler and his genocide of Jews. This is how British Historian William Dalrypmle describes it:

Golwalkar looked for inspiration to the Nazi thinkers of 1930’s Germany. He believed an independent India should emulate Hitler's treatment of religious minorities, which he thoroughly approved of: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging of its Semitic Race, the Jews," he wrote admiringly in We soon after Kristallnacht. "Race pride at its highest has been manifested there. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures having differences going to the root to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by... The foreign races in Hindusthan [ie the Muslims] must adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture[… and] may [only] stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing -- not even citizen’s rights."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting revelations about Gandhi's attitude toward women, as published in the Guardian newspaper:

During Gandhi's time as a dissident in South Africa, he discovered a male youth had been harassing two of his female followers. Gandhi responded by personally cutting the girls' hair off, to ensure the "sinner's eye" was "sterilised". Gandhi boasted of the incident in his writings, pushing the message to all Indians that women should carry responsibility for sexual attacks upon them. Such a legacy still lingers. In the summer of 2009, colleges in north India reacted to a spate of sexual harassment cases by banning women from wearing jeans, as western-style dress was too "provocative" for the males on campus.

Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour. He moderated his views towards the end of his life. But the damage was done, and the legacy lingers in every present-day Indian press report of a rape victim who commits suicide out of "shame". Gandhi also waged a war against contraceptives, labelling Indian women who used them as whores.

Like all men who wage a doomed war with their own sexual desires, Gandhi's behaviour around females would eventually become very, very odd. He took to sleeping with naked young women, including his own great-niece, in order to "test" his commitment to celibacy. The habit caused shock and outrage among his supporters. God knows how his wife felt.

Gandhi cemented, for another generation, the attitude that women were simply creatures that could bring either pride or shame to the men who owned them. Again, the legacy lingers. India today, according to the World Economic Forum, finds itself towards the very bottom of the gender equality index. Indian social campaigners battle heroically against such patriarchy. They battle dowry deaths. They battle the honour killings of teenage lovers. They battle Aids. They battle female foeticide and the abandonment of new-born girls.

Riaz Haq said...

Israeli foreign minister is dragging events in India and Pakistan in a desperate bid to defend Israel's bloody assault on Gaza flotilla, according to a report in Times of India:

JERUSALEM: In an unusual step, Israel, which is facing global criticism for attacking an aid flotilla, has said violent incidents in countries like India and Pakistan in the past one month which claimed 500 lives have been "ignored" while it is being condemned for its "unmistakably defensive actions".

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman "reminded" the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that in the past month alone 500 people were killed in various incidents in Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and India, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"While the international community remained silent and passive, and generally ignored the occurences, Israel is being condemned for unmistakably defensive actions," a Foreign Ministry statement quoted Lieberman as saying.

This is the first time that Israel has dragged India into a controversy. New Delhi has already condemned the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip saying there was no justification for indiscriminate use of force.

He is understood to have told Ban that the incident related to Gaza aid flotilla was about the "basic right of Israeli soldiers to defend themselves against an attack by a gang of thugs and terror supporters who had prepared clubs, metal crowbars and knives in advance of confrontation."

Lieberman expressed "regret" at the behaviour of the international community.

"All of Israel's proposals to the Turkish government to transfer the humanitarian aid in an orderly manner were rejected by flottila's organisers," Lieberman was quoted as saying.

He also accused activists participating in the mission of intentionally trying to breach Israel's sovereignty and creating "provocation that would cause bloodshed".

In an emergency session yesterday, the UN Security Council called for an investigation into Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday, condemning the act that resulted in the loss of at least nine lives.

"... the Security Council resolution is unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East," Lieberman said.

Riaz Haq said...

The film Gandhi was essentially a "paid political advertisement by the government of India", says commentator Richard Grenier in a piece titled "The Gandhi Nobody Knows". Here is an excerpt from it:

AS IT happens, the government of India openly admits to having provided
one-third of the financing of 'Gandhi' out of state funds, straight out of the
national treasury--and after close study of the finished product I would not be
a bit surprised to hear that it was 100 percent. If Pandit Nehru is portrayed
flatteringly in the film, one must remember that Nehru himself took part in the
initial story conferences (he originally wanted Gandhi to be played by Alec
Guinness) and that his daughter Indira Gandhi is, after all, Prime Minister of
India (though no relation to Mohandas Gandhi). The screenplay was checked and
rechecked by Indian officials at every stage, often by the Prime Minister
herself, with close consultations on plot and even casting. If the movie
contains a particularly poisonous portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder
of Pakistan, the Indian reply, I suppose, would be that if the Pakistanis want
an attractive portrayal of Jinnah let them pay for their own movie. A friend of
mine, highly sophisticated in political matters but innocent about film-making,
declared that 'Gandhi' should be preceded by the legend: *The following film is
a paid political advertisement by the government of India.*

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece "Soldiers Tripping on Shanti" by UC Davis professor Sunaina Maira:

We left Israel to visit India after the wedding, and what did we see? Many things that were hopeful, including street protests against corruption and for women's education, and also some things that gave us pause—such as Israeli tourists in search of "shanti." Beginning about ten years ago, there has been a flood of young Israelis visiting India, usually after they finish their reserve duty in the Israeli military, flocking to Goa to do drugs or to Rajasthan to see the Pushkar fair. Some are in search of an Orientalized mystical culture and peaceful way of life that is labeled "shanti" culture in Israel—as if trekking in the Himalayas could absolve former soldiers from shooting children in Gaza or demolishing homes in the West Bank and Lebanon.

The sight of former Israeli soldiers flocking to India is strange for someone who grew up during the time when India did not have official relations with Israel, like other nations who supported the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. India's solidarity with the Palestinian movement began even before 1948, for Indian leaders opposed the 1917 Balfour Declaration to establish a Jewish state on Palestinian land. In fact, in 1946, Gandhi wrote that Jewish settlers "have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism ... Why should they resort to terrorism to make good their forcible landing in Palestine?" Gandhi was referring to Zionist terrorist organizations, such as the Irgun and Stern gangs. It is ironic that today, a romanticized notion of Gandhian non-violent resistance is used as a weapon to condemn Palestinian resistance.

India was host to many PLO members and Palestinian students in exile who came to study in colleges all over India. India was in fact the first non-Arab nation to recognize the PLO in the United Nations, expressing solidarity with other anti-colonialist struggles during the Non-Aligned Movement era, as documented by Vijay Prashad in Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism Under U.S. Hegemony. Even though India unofficially recognized Israel in this period by allowing an Israeli consulate in Bombay, Nehru's closeness to Arab nationalist leader Abdul Gamel Nasser led the Congress to distance itself from Israel. In fact, India voted to censure Zionism as Racism in the UN in 1975.

The landscape has changed since the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in India in 1988 and established official relationships between India and Israel, deepening the military and economic ties that were already in place. India now buys half of its arms from Israel, making it Israel's biggest customer. It is thus funding the Israeli occupation, because the Israeli economy rests on its defense industry, its main export, as well as the inflow of US tax dollars. The military agreements, collaboration on nuclear and missile defense, and sharing of intelligence has continued even with the new United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. India and Israel have found a shared enemy to target in their respective "anti-terrorism" operations, conflating Kashmir and Pakistan with Palestine, and also common agreement on a framework that has gained global currency with Bush's "war on terrorism," resulting in the new "India-Israel-US axis."

Riaz Haq said...

India's Congress leader Digvijay Singh has compared Hindutva extrenists' hatred of Musims with that of Nazi's against jews. Here's a Times of India report:

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh launched a sharp attack on the RSS and the BJP, likening their "hatred" towards Muslims to that of the Nazis towards the Jews and claiming that the "roots of terrorism" in India lie in BJP leader L K Advani's 1990 'rath yatra'.

He also sought to take the battle over the 2G spectrum allocation issue into the opposition camp by alleging that the radiowaves scam originated under the NDA rule when late Pramod Mahajan was the telecom minister.

Singh said it was under Mahajan's tenure that allocation of spectrum was made on the first-come-first-serve basis as against the prevailing auction of circles.

In a hard-hitting speech, he also demanded fast-tracking of probe against two chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh who allegedly own assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. Singh, the AICC general secretary incharge of party affairs in UP, did not take any names.

There are disproportionate assets cases against chief minister Mayawati of BSP and former chief minister and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Hitting out at the RSS, Singh said "in the 1930s Hitler's Nazi party attacked the Jews... similarly the RSS ideology wants to capture power by targeting Muslims under the garb of furthering nationalism."

Singh, who was seconding the political resolution moved by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee at the 83rd Congress plenary here, singled out senior BJP leader L K Advani for "sowing the seeds of division" among the Hindus and Muslims by undertaking the controversial 'rath yatra' in 1990.

He said the "demolition of the Babri the darkest patch in the history of India. The roots of terrorism in India lie in BJP leader L K Advani's rath yatra".

Accusing the BJP of maintaining that all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims, Singh said, "can we apply the same logic and say that all Hindus are not terrorists but all Hindu terrorists arrested in various blast cases are RSS activists."

The RSS has been "sowing the seeds of Muslim hatred" in the minds of the new generation through 'Shishu Mandir' schools and "this is the biggest danger for us", he claimed.

He claimed the RSS had made its activists enter the bureaucracy, police and even the army.

Singh said the rise of RSS-BJP "ideology of violence and hatred" posed the "biggest challenge" before the nation. The other big challenges were the Communists and regional political parties, he said.

He said the Congress needs to take steps to convert into trust the mistrust in the minds "of our Muslim brothers".

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Wall Street Journal review of a recent book "Great Soul" on Mohandas Gandhi's life by Joseph Lelyveld:

Joseph Lelyveld has written a generally admiring book about Mohandas Gandhi, the man credited with leading India to independence from Britain in 1947. Yet "Great Soul" also obligingly gives readers more than enough information to discern that he was a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist—one who was often downright cruel to those around him. Gandhi was therefore the archetypal 20th-century progressive intellectual, professing his love for mankind as a concept while actually despising people as individuals.

For all his lifelong campaign for Swaraj ("self-rule"), India could have achieved it many years earlier if Gandhi had not continually abandoned his civil-disobedience campaigns just as they were beginning to be successful. With 300 million Indians ruled over by 0.1% of that number of Britons, the subcontinent could have ended the Raj with barely a shrug if it had been politically united. Yet Gandhi's uncanny ability to irritate and frustrate the leader of India's 90 million Muslims, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (whom he called "a maniac"), wrecked any hope of early independence. He equally alienated B.R. Ambedkar, who spoke for the country's 55 million Untouchables (the lowest caste of Hindus, whose very touch was thought to defile the four higher classes). Ambedkar pronounced Gandhi "devious and untrustworthy." Between 1900 and 1922, Gandhi suspended his efforts no fewer than three times, leaving in the lurch more than 15,000 supporters who had gone to jail for the cause.

A ceaseless self-promoter, Gandhi bought up the entire first edition of his first, hagiographical biography to send to people and ensure a reprint. Yet we cannot be certain that he really made all the pronouncements attributed to him, since, according to Mr. Lelyveld, Gandhi insisted that journalists file "not the words that had actually come from his mouth but a version he authorized after his sometimes heavy editing of the transcripts."

Although Gandhi's nonviolence made him an icon to the American civil-rights movement, Mr. Lelyveld shows how implacably racist he was toward the blacks of South Africa. "We were then marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs," Gandhi complained during one of his campaigns for the rights of Indians settled there. "We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a NY Times review of "GREAT SOUL: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India" by Joseph Lelyveld:

Some years ago, the British writer Patrick French visited the Sabarmati ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat, the site from which Mahatma Gandhi led his salt march to the sea in 1930. French was so appalled by the noisome state of the latrines that he asked the ashram secretary whose job it was to clean them.

A sweeper woman stopped by for an hour a day, the functionary explained, but afterward things inevitably became filthy again.

But wasn’t it a central tenet of the Mahatma’s teachings that his followers clean up after themselves?

“We all clean the toilets together, on Gandhiji’s birthday,” the secretary answered, “as a symbol to show that we understand his message.”

Gandhi had many messages, some ignored, some misunderstood, some as relevant today as when first enunciated. Most Americans — many middle-class Indians, for that matter — know what they know about the Mahatma from Ben Kingsley’s Academy Award-winning screen portrayal. His was a mesmerizing performance, but the script barely hinted at the bewildering complexity of the real man, who was at the same time an earnest pilgrim and a wily politician, an advocate of celibacy and the architect of satyagraha (truth force), a revivalist, a revolutionary and a social reformer.
As Lelyveld shows, the outcomes of Gandhi’s campaigns in South Africa were neither clear-cut nor long-lasting: after one, his own supporters beat him bloody because they thought he’d settled too quickly for a compromise with the government. But they taught him how to move the masses — not only middle-class Hindu and Muslim immigrants but the poorest of the poor as well. He had, as he himself said, found his “vocation in life.”

Soon after returning to India in 1915, Gandhi set forth what he called the “four pillars on which the structure of swaraj” — self-rule — “would ever rest”: an unshakable alliance between Hindus and Muslims; universal acceptance of the doctrine of nonviolence, as tenet, not tactic; the transformation of India’s approximately 650,000 villages by spinning and other self-sustaining handicrafts; and an end to the evil concept of untouchability. Lelyveld shrewdly examines Gandhi’s noble but doomed battles to achieve them all.

He made a host of enemies along the way — orthodox Hindus who believed him overly sympathetic to Muslims, Muslims who saw his calls for religious unity as part of a Hindu plot, Britons who thought him a charlatan, radical revolutionaries who believed him a reactionary. But no antagonist was more implacable than Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the brilliant, quick-tempered untouchable leader — still largely unknown in the West — who saw the Mahatma’s nonviolent efforts to eradicate untouchability as a sideshow at best. He even objected to the word ­Gandhi coined for his people — “Harijans” or “children of God” — as patronizing; he preferred “Dalits,” from the Sanskrit for “crushed,” “broken.”
Gandhi is still routinely called “the father of the nation” in India, but it is hard to see what remains of him beyond what Lelyveld calls his “nimbus.” His notions about sex and spinning and simple living have long since been abandoned. Hindu-Muslim tension still smolders just beneath the uneasy surface. Untouchability survives, too, and standard-issue polychrome statues of Ambedkar in red tie and double-breasted electric-blue suit now outnumber those of the sparsely clothed Mahatma wherever Dalits are still crowded together.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story of love for Hitler in India:

What’s wrong with naming your business after Adolf Hitler?

So asks Rajesh Shah, the co-owner of Hitler, a menswear store in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, which opened earlier this month.

Mr. Shah said in a telephone interview that his shop is named after his business partner’s grandfather, who was nicknamed Hitler after he acted the role in a college play. The name stuck, owing to the grandfather’s strict disposition.

Now the name adorns the banner of his grandson’s shop, complete with a tilted swastika sign. (An upright swastika is regularly used as a Hindu symbol, a practice that predates Nazi Germany by hundreds of years).

Members of Ahmedabad’s tiny Jewish community, who number less than five hundred, have approached the store about renaming it, calling the German leader a monster, Mr. Shah said. But so far Mr. Shah and his co-owner have resisted a change.

“None of the other people are complaining, only a few Jewish families. I have not hurt any sentiments of the majority Hindu community. If he did something in Germany, is that our concern?” Mr. Shah asked.

He said he thought Hitler was a “good, catchy” name for his shop. In fact, his business plan seems to include cashing in on the name to attract customers. “We have not written anything below the sign or on our cards to indicate what we sell to generate mystery,” he said. “The customers who come in tell me they came in seeing the name.”

So far, business is good, Mr. Shah said.

If the Jewish community really wants the name changed, they can pay for it, Mr. Shah said. “I have spent too much on branding for my shop,” he said.

The Ahmedabad store is one of a handful of Indian businesses named after the Nazi dictator. Owners seem to have picked the name more for shock value than an embrace of or admiration for Nazism.

Baljit Singh Osan, the owner of a pool parlor called Hitler’s Den in Nagpur, Maharashtra, said the name is what has made it famous all over town.

Mr. Osan, who opened the pool hall six years ago, said he settled on “Hitler’s Den” because he was looking for a unique name, something that had recall value. He said he did not sympathize with the German dictator or his beliefs, but still he refused to change the name when the Jewish community in Nagpur protested.

“If I name my son ‘Hitler’ and I wanted to start a business in his name, would they have a problem with that?” Mr. Osan said. “There are no laws like that in our country.”

In an e-mail interview with The Times of India last year, David Goldfarb, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, said of Mr. Osan’s business: “We can only assume that the owners of this new establishment are unaware of the horrendous meaning of the usage of Nazi themes and insignia for commercial gain.”

A television serial on Zee TV about a dictatorial woman, which began in 2011, also uses the name of the German leader in the title: “Hitler Didi,” or “Hitler Sister.” It was renamed “General Didi” in December 2011, after the Anti-Defamation League in New York protested the original title. The name change affects only its broadcasts in the United States, though. In India, it is still called “Hitler Didi.”

Riaz Haq said...

The film Gandhi was essentially a "paid political advertisement by the government of India", says commentator Richard Grenier in a piece titled "The Gandhi Nobody Knows". Here is an excerpt from it:

As it happens, the government of India openly admits to having provided one-third of the financing of Gandhi out of state funds, straight out of the national treasury—and after close study of the finished product I would not be a bit surprised to hear that it was 100 percent. If Pandit Nehru is portrayed flatteringly in the film, one must remember that Nehru himself took part in the initial story conferences (he originally wanted Gandhi to be played by Alec Guinness) and that his daughter Indira Gandhi is, after all, Prime Minister of India (though no relation to Mohandas Gandhi). The screenplay was checked and rechecked by Indian officials at every stage, often by the Prime Minister herself, with close consultations on plot and even casting. If the movie contains a particularly poisonous portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, the Indian reply, I suppose, would be that if the Pakistanis want an attractive portrayal of Jinnah let them pay for their own movie. A friend of mine, highly sophisticated in political matters but innocent about film-making, declared that Gandhi should be preceded by the legend: The following film is a paid political advertisement by the government of India.

Gandhi, then, is a large, pious, historical morality tale centered on a saintly, sanitized Mahatma Gandhi cleansed of anything too embarrassingly Hindu (the word “caste” is not mentioned from one end of the film to the other) and, indeed, of most of the rest of Gandhi’s life, much of which would drastically diminish his saintliness in Western eyes. There is little to indicate that the India of today has followed Gandhi’s precepts in almost nothing. There is little, in fact, to indicate that India is even India. The spectator realizes the scene is the Indian subcontinent because there are thousands of extras dressed in dhotis and saris. The characters go about talking in these quaint Peter Sellers accents. We have occasional shots of India’s holy poverty, holy hovels, some landscapes, many of them photographed quite beautifully, for those who like travelogues. We have a character called Lord Mountbatten (India’s last Viceroy); a composite American journalist (assembled from Vincent Sheehan, William L. Shirer, Louis Fischer, and straight fiction); a character called simply “Viceroy” (presumably another composite); an assemblage of Gandhi’s Indian followers under the name of one of them (Patel); and of course Nehru.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Ghana's problem with 'racist' Gandhi. #racism

Nelson Mandela said that the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi had helped to topple apartheid in South Africa. Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, was also an admirer. "Mahatma Gandhi will always be remembered as long as free men and those who love freedom and justice live," he said. Yet not all African leaders are inspired by the man known as the "Father of India".
An online petition, which has been signed by more than 1,000 people, has been started by professors at the University of Ghana. They call for the removal of a statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from the campus grounds in Accra. The academics say that Gandhi, who has been praised by public figures for leading India's non-violent movement to freedom from British colonial rule during the mid 20th century, had a "racist identity".
The petition lists quotes from the writings of the Indian leader, in which he described Africans as "savages or the Natives of Africa" and "kaffirs" (an insulting racial slur for a black African).
One example comes from a letter written by Gandhi to the Natal parliament of South Africa in 1893, saying that a "general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are a little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa."

All quotations are from Gandhi Serve, an online resource that has collated the collected works of Mahatma Gandhi.
"How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the Black race and see that we're glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?" the petition goes on to say.
The statue is a gift to the Ghanaian government from the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, unveiled when he visited Accra in June.

It drew criticism almost immediately. Some Ghanaians used hashtags such as #GandhiMustComeDown to echo the sentiments expressed by the professors.
Daniel Osei Tuffuor, a former student of the University of Ghana, has signed the petition. He told BBC Trending that "Ghanaians should be confident in themselves and seek to project our own heroes and heroines. There is nothing peaceful about the activities of Gandhi. Anyone who claims to uphold peace and tranquillity but promotes racism is a hypocrite."
The issue of Gandhi's attitudes to black Africans is not a new topic.
His biographer and grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, said that his grandfather had first travelled to Africa at the age of 24 to practice law. He was undoubtedly "at times ignorant and prejudiced about South Africa's blacks," says Rajmohan Gandhi.
He adds that, while "Gandhi too was an imperfect human being... the imperfect Gandhi was more radical and progressive than most contemporary compatriots."

Dr Obadele Kambon, who is one of creators of the petition, agrees. He told BBC Trending that "ideally, in its place or elsewhere, statues of classical, traditional and modern African heroes could be erected to enhance levels of self-knowledge, self-respect and self-love.
"In the long term, however, we would like to be part of the global movement towards self-respect and pride that we see in the removal of the Rhodes statue in Umzantsi (South Africa), Colin Kaepernick's protest against the National Anthem in the US, and the Black Lives Matter protests.
"At the end of the day, we need images of ourselves for our own psychosocial well-being and not images of those who called us savages... May Gandhi fall that Africa may rise!"