Thursday, May 16, 2013

World Values Survey Finds Indians Most Racist

43.5% of Indians, the highest percentage in the world, say they do not want to have a neighbor of a different race, according to a Washington Post report based on World's Values Survey.

About Pakistan, the report says that  "although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch".

Housing Discrimination: 

It appears that there is a small but militant minority in Pakistan that is highly intolerant, but the vast majority of people are tolerant. My own experience as a  former Karachi-ite  is that there is little or no race or religion based housing segregation, the kind that is rampant in India where Muslims are not welcome in most Hindu-dominated neighborhoods. There have been many reports of top Muslim Bollywood stars having difficulty finding housing in Mumbai's upscale neighborhoods. A common excuse used to exclude them is the ostensible requirement to be vegetarian to live there.

Source: World Values Survey and Washington Post

Hate Against Indian Muslims:

The idea of racial purity is central to Hindu nationalists in India who have a long history of admiration for Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, including his "Final Solution".

In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. 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."

Caste-based Apartheid:

While Golwalar's principal target in the above paragraph were Indian Muslims, the treatment of lower caste Hindus in India also falls in the category of racism. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) now includes discrimination based on caste. Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. Despite this, and despite the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights reiterating that discrimination based on work and descent is a form of racial discrimination, the Indian government's stand on this issue has remained the same: caste is not race.

Over 250 million people are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

Gandhi's Disdain for Black Africans:

It's not just the Hindu Nationalists who are racists. Even Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mahatma or the Great Soul, was not immune to Indians' racist tendencies. In 1908, recording his first experience in a South African prison, Gandhi referred to black South Africans as "kaffirs". According Joseph Lelyveld, the author of "Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India", Gandhi wrote: "We were then marched off to prison intended for kaffirs. ..we could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed with the Natives seemed too much to put up with. It is indubitably right that Indians should have separate cells."


The findings of World's Values Survey on India are well-supported by other evidence such as the Hindutva ideology as spelled out by RSS leader Golwalkar, the existence of widespread caste-based discrimination classified as racism by the United Nations and lots of other anecdotal evidence. Just this month, Indian racism was on full display at a lavish Indian wedding in South Africa where guests flown in from India refused to be served by black waiters and drivers.

Let me conclude this post with a video interview of Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani who attended Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and studied archaeology, and said that he was ostracized and treated as a pariah by Hindu students and faculty at BHU. He was not allowed to sit and eat with his fellow students, he was asked to keep his plates and dishes separate in his room, and required to stand outside the dining hall to be served his meal and then wash the dishes himself. Later, when he graduated at the top of the archaeology class, he was offered a faculty position, but the University head and former president of India Radhakrishnan told him that he would be paid a salary but he would not be allowed to teach. Here is a video clip of late Prof Dani talking about it:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indians Admire Israel and Hitler

Caste Apartheid in India

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Who Killed Karkare?

Procrastinating on Hindutva Terror

India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs

Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

Growing US-India Military Ties Worry Pakistan

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India


Mike Z. said...

This is actually true.
It is only when we come to the United States of America, is when we cling to our own clan.
How cute!!

Mayraj said...

No not highest! Bangladesh and Jordan had higher percentage and Hong Kong . How come Bangladesh has such a high percentage and Jordan?
Given institutional racism in US (UK may be a few other western countries(, I think it is too low and what critics have said about studies flaw is right.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "No not highest! Bangladesh and Jordan had higher percentage and Hong Kong">

Look at the underlying final data on World Values Survey and carefully read the color coded map. Both show India as the most racist.

Here's the excerpt in Washington Post report that refers to it:

Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC story on harassment of Africans in India:

Africans staying in and around India's commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), complain of indiscriminate racism and constant police harassment, reports the BBC's Zubair Ahmed.

Nigerian Sambo Davis is married to an Indian woman and lives in Mumbai.

All his documents are valid, but he was arrested by the police recently on suspicion of being a drug dealer.

He and 30 other black Africans were detained for hours before they were let off with an apology.

But the following day, Mr Davis said that he was shocked to read in local newspapers that they were "arrested for drug peddling".

"The police treat us Africans like dogs," he says.

Mr Davis claims he often faces discrimination when he goes to restaurants or when he tries to rent an apartment in gated middle-class communities.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

If Africans don't have papers, then deport them, don't put them in jail”

Ikeorah Junior
Nigerian cafe owner in Mumbai
But he is nevertheless one of the lucky ones. He found a decent flat to rent, thanks to his Indian wife.

But his fellow countrymen, he says, still face discrimination: "When they go to rent flats in a normal building they are told - 'you are a black man, you are Nigerian, and you are not wanted'. This is racism."

'Hide and seek'
There is no official data on how many Africans live in Mumbai, but since India's economic progress gathered momentum in recent years, many have come to work in and around the city. Unofficial estimates put their numbers at more than 5,000.

Most of them are engaged in exporting garments to Nigeria and other African countries....
Against such a backdrop of pronounced prejudice, Sheeba Rani married Sambo Davis four years ago and the couple have two children.

Mrs Davis says her parents are enlightened Christians and they blessed them because they thought the marriage was God's wish.

But, she says, she has been ostracised by many friends, relatives and society since her marriage.

Mrs Davis is "embarrassed and ashamed" by the behaviour of the Indian people towards black Africans.
"When I used to go to a mall or if I walked with him, I always wanted him to hold my hand. But when people saw me with him, they thought I was from a bad family or even a prostitute."

Earlier, she did not understand why black people were being looked down upon, but now she says she does.

"Because our society is obsessed with white skin. If I had married a white man, I would have gained more friends and society's approval too."

Mr Davis believes that the discrimination is solely "because I am a black man".

"It's because I am from Africa, I am a Nigerian. I think Indians see us as inferior."

Yet despite the discrimination they face, nearly all Africans the BBC interviewed said they had a soft spot for their adopted country.

They say the relations between India and Africa are "rock solid". Many argued that Indians and Africans are brothers.

"We look after Indians in our countries. They have become rich there. All we want here is for Indians to understand we are not drug dealers. We are not violent. We are just like them."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's TOI report on UK's decision to recognize caste-ism as racism:

British parliament's decision to recognize the existence of caste alongside race as a form of discrimination could hurt India's long-held argument that the two sources of bias could not be equated.

Worse, it may give a strong push to portray caste as a global phenomenon like race, undercutting India's claim that caste prejudice was indigenous to Indian society and it could not be a subject of policy at international fora like the United Nations.

As the law in the UK became a reality earlier this week, experts said it would trigger lobbying for similar legal protection in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia - countries that are more sensitive to human rights issues and have a strong presence of Indian diaspora, but have little awareness of caste.

The presence of Hindu/Indian diaspora and a good chunk of dalits is the pre-requisite for such laws to come into effect. Officials and the civil society said a reluctant House of Commons could be persuaded because of the presence of around four lakh SCs in the UK.

While the development has led to glee among civil rights groups, the government is worried. Senior government sources said the UK law would pile pressure on India aided by noises from international bodies and greater scrutiny.

A laxity by Indian states in dealing with caste issues, as are routinely reported, could find mention in reports of Western countries and institutions. In the long-term, it could render India vulnerable as child labour and gender bias did earlier.

India has till now rebuffed pressure by arguing that caste was an Indian problem that stood proscribed by law with legal mechanisms to address it, including the affirmative action to help dalits. The official Indian stance on caste was unveiled at the 2000 Durban conference on racism.

Vivek Kumar, a sociologist with the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said, "The studies on diaspora will have to acknowledge that caste exists outside India. The new law in the UK has strengthened claims of academics that caste is not a local problem, but is part of diaspora."

According to Anand Kumar Bolimera, country director of Christian Aid, "India should take the leadership position to deal with caste globally. India need not be defensive about it. Indian constitution barred caste discrimination half a century ago and it has the best laws to deal with the issue."

Globalization has been sending Indians across the world, but in future, experts say, their movement would be seen as not just of biological entities but also of a cultural baggage that includes decadent practices.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story on religious discrimination in India:

For India, international recognition of its free and pluralistic society has always been hard to come by and while things are changing, they are clearly changing slowly. A study carried out by Washington-based Pew Research Centre, the highly respected US thinktank, said India is next only to Iraq when it comes to social hostility and religious discrimination perpetrated by individuals and groups.

The study titled `Global Restrictions on Religion' took into account the situation in as many as 198 countries, North Korea being the only notable exception, to derive the conclusion. India was just below Iraq and well above countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan when it came to social hostility in the country. Pakistan is at the third place right below India.

The study, which claims to cover 99.5% of the world population, deals with restrictions imposed on religion not just by social groups and individuals but also by the government. Even in the case of government induced restrictions, India fares badly with its position in the top 40 countries out of the 198 mentioned.

Even though the report says that "the highest overall levels of restrictions are found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices'' India is ranked well above them in the social hostility index.

While India has fared badly on both, China has done remarkably well when it comes to social hostility even though it has done badly in the government imposed restrictions section. "Vietnam and China, for instance, have high government restrictions on religion but are in the moderate or low range when it comes to social hostilities. Nigeria and Bangladesh follow the opposite pattern: high in social hostilities but moderate in terms of government actions,'' it says.

The report clubs India with Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Bangladesh as countries where large segments of the population want to protect the special place of one particular religion. This is how it explains the high social hostility index for these countries. "Many of the restrictions imposed in these countries are driven by groups pressing for the enshrinement of their interpretation of the majority faith, including through Shariah law in Muslim societies and Hindutva movement in India which seeks to define India as a Hindu nation,'' says the report....

Raman said...

I am not sure why you pull up old data to present your points or even paint a worse picture about India compared to Pakistan. Even in US, western countries, etc there were racial discrimination in the past. Communities fight and come out of it. I am 100% sure that India has moved on from past and it may not be 0% discrimination now, but still better than past.

Pakistan's tolerance for other religions is known fact. Please pull the data of Hindu, Christian vs whole population from 1947 in Pakistan and India. It will clear up things for you.

Please discuss some things that could be used to improve condition instead of showcasing just bad things.

It is a pity that with your education, living in most modern community and still want to showcase another neighboring country as worse. Either you do justice by bringing peace/improvement or stop doing things to make the relationship more volatile. With your age/experience/visibility, you should be able to do more good things than you believe.

Rashid M. said...

Story about Dr. Dani

I remember staying at his house in Peshawar when I was about 10 or 11.
He was a Prof at Univ of Peshawar.
Somehow he was a family friend - perhaps a Nagpur connection.
My family lived in Pindi and were going to Landi Kotal for a shopping trip.
We stayed overnight at his house. It was in a compound for the teaching staff. It was close to the air force base.
This air base was connected to the Gary Powers incident. A US plane - the U-2 took off from Peshawar.
Was shot down over USSR and Gary Powers, the pilot, was captured. Egg on the face for Pakistan.

The Prof had already visited Machu Pichu somewhere in South America. He liked the name.
My memory fails me at the wrong moment now - but he named either his pet dogs or his two daughters Machu and Pichu.

Riaz Haq said...

Rashid: "Story about Dr. Dani"

Fahim Dani, a nephew of Prof Dani, is a good friend of mine here in California. Danis are originally Kashmiris but many of them settled in Karachi after partition. Fahim attended Dawood Engg College in Karachi.

Roland said...

i don't understand why the indians hate persons of other religions on racial grounds as the vast majority of persons of other religions are originally hindus (some possibly of lower castes).

for instance, my forbears in goa were hindus until around 500 years ago when they were converted to christianity (generally by intimidation and economic pressure) by the portuguese, who believed that it was their duty to convert the 'heathen'. i believe the situation is similar with most other residents of the indian subcontinent. that is why the hindu 'caste' system' is so deeply ingrained in all of us, even though islam and christianity hold that alll men are equal!

all of us from this subcontinent have three 'layers' of religion:
- hinduism is the most embedded and most basic layer (over thousands of years)
- other religions to whcih we have been converted form a thin over-layer (over the past few hundreds of years)
- the most important, amazing and dominating religion of all: money (escalating over the past few decades)

high levels of animosity seem to exist between groups of the same original/previous religion, where one group has been converted over the last millenium: india, balkans, etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Roland: "i don't understand why the indians hate persons of other religions on racial grounds as the vast majority of persons of other religions are originally hindus (some possibly of lower castes)."

This survey I shared with you is called World Values Survey.

When people convert from one set of beliefs to another, they embrace a new value system at least partially if not entirely.

Christians and Muslims who converted from Hinduism have some some baggage but not all of the baggage of caste-ism and racism that are at the core of daily Hindu life in India. And the revival of Hindutva
has only reinforced some of these old Hindu "values" of hierarchy based on the accident of birth. Even in California, there was an organized effort by Hindutva groups to change history textbooks and distort and whitewash Indian history to suit their false narrative which denies foreign origins of Aryans and evils of the caste system and misogyny that still characterize life in India.

Let me share with you a video interview of Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani who attended Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and studied archaeology, and said that he was ostracized and treated as a pariah by Hindu students and faculty at BHU. He was not allowed to sit and eat with his fellow students, he was asked to keep his plates and dishes separate in his room, and required to stand outside the dining hall to be served his meal and then wash the dishes himself. Later, when he graduated at the top of the archaeology class, he was offered a faculty position, but the University head and former president of India Radhakrishnan told him that he would be paid a salary but he would not be allowed to teach. Here is a video clip of late Prof Dani talking about it:

Roland said...

do you know that waht happened to ahmed hussain dani happens to many people in the islamic republic of pakistan everyday?

Riaz Haq said...

Roland: "do you know that waht happened to ahmed hussain dani happens to many people in the islamic republic of pakistan everyday?"

I know there is discrimination in Pakistan but I have never seen people of the same socioeconomic status, regardless of religion or ethnicity, going to the same college or university treating each other as Ahmad Hasan Dani was treated at BHU.

I have never heard of a Hindu or a Christian at a college or university being forced to eat alone in his or her dorm room in separate dishes which he or she must wash and keep within their own room.

I have never seen a Hindu or Christian teacher hired and paid but denied the opportunity to teach.

Please enlighten me if you can.

Anonymous said...

i agree. Pakistanis will love the neighbors much more than Indians, as long as they belong to the race of Hindus, Ahmedias and SHias. I don't say this, but the most respected Pakistani says it

vishesh said...

Haha, A muslim accusing Indians of not being tolerant! What a joke!!

Let us count the number of incidents in the muslim world where temples have been destroyed, the bamiyan statue burnt, the muslim invaders who converted and killed your ancestors and Hindus who have for generations taken the nonsense of you minoritites to the extent of giving you a part of our land!

Some stupid survey based on 500 doesnt tell you about a whole country of 1.2 billion and we do not even know which community they interviewed, for all you know it might even be the muslims since they're anyways intolerant by nature. The clashes and burning of christian colonies, the forced conversions of Hindus are not done by a small set of people it is the general society.

As they say action speak louder than words, We know what pakis do, no matter how much you want to water it down, the fact of the matter is shias are targetted, your bloody constitution says only a muslim can be a prime minister, Ahmedis can only vote for non muslims and you are talking about intolerance amongst hindus, which has had christian, muslim, sikh minister of top level ministries.

What you show is a thorough sign of inferiority in your blogs.

As for your claim that Hindus did not accomodate muslims, it is not only hindus but the whole world finds muslims a pain, be it the jews or europeans!

You are very lucky that tolerant hindus gave you a piece of land otherwise had hindus been like muslims, forget giving you a piece of land, there wouldnt have been a single muslim in the Indian subcontinent mush like Hindu population has steadily declined in pak whereas muslim population has steadily increased in India. We have cases of Hindus fleeing pak and coming to India not muslims fleeing India and going to pak due to racism! SHEESH! you have got to be the dumbest person on this planet and along with that you harbor like most pakis a massive inferiority complex which i kind of understand because you are inferior to Indians.

Live in your delusional world mr haq! India is a much more tolerant society than most societies and is much much more diverse country than any other country! On top of tha, we have managed to live in harmony!

By showing one video of some guy who probably hasn't lived in India for 40 years doesnt change anything! he would have been ostracized because he didnt try and mix with anyone as is taught to him by his faith to be intolerant and not because of Hindus making fun of him as is the case with minorities in pak!

I study in a unversity in India and have muslim friends themselves who called pakistan a failed state and a pest to the world!

Riaz Haq said...

Vishesh: "Haha, A muslim accusing Indians of not being tolerant! What a joke!!"

I know it's hard for you to understand it, given Indians' low scores on basic comprehension tests as reported by TIMSS and PISA. But still, let me try and help you comprehend what this post is about.

It's not about a "muslim accusing Indians of not being tolerant!"

It's in fact the result of a survey done by Swedish researchers who are not Muslim.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Sb,
The results from Pakistan are not surprising (neither are the ones from our eastern neighbor) anyone with an IQ in three digits and little bit knowledge can see that. What is surprising is Bangladesh, just wondering if this racism existed fifty years ago too and if it was manipulated for the events of 1971.


vishesh said...

Oh here is another survey!


This should be the topic of your next blog!

Riaz Haq said...

vishesh: "PAKIS the 2nd MOST HATED COUNTRY in the WORLD"

It is just a coincidence that the two nations least liked in the BBC survey are both Islamic Republics? The only two Islamic Republics in the world? Is it not Islamophobia?

It's the haters, not the hated, who are either racists or the unwitting victims of the unrelenting propaganda of the powerful US media and entertainment industry which has long kept a running list of "bad guys".

The current list includes Iran, Pakistan and North Korea at the top of the villains list....and it's easy to see why.

What is surprising is that 15% of the respondents still rate Pakistan's contribution as positive in the BBC poll in spite of the extremely negative western media portrayal of Pakistan in both the news coverage and movies. And India is just 4 places ahead of Pakistan with 34% rating its contribution as positive.

This changing list of "bad guys" in the past has included Japan, Germany (now most liked in the BBC survey), Russia, Iraq, Vietnam, China, etc. etc. who dared to cross Uncle Sam.

Their image improved as the US made peace with them and the US media and entertainment bosses took its cue from the American establishment and replaced these names with others chosen by US policymakers.

vishesh said...

"It is just a coincidence that the two nations least liked in the BBC survey are both Islamic Republics? The only two Islamic Republics in the world? Is it not Islamophobia?"

Wah re wah! Excuses and more excuses!
North korea comes third. Is that a muslim country?
Anyways, it isn't coincidence, it is the truth of how people around the world feel about the failure ie pak.

The weirdest thing is for the value survey, you take it at face value and spew lies with your low IQ'd logical explanations and not go into any details and examples of how minorities are being attacked in pak by your intolerant society vis a vis India where people live in much greater peace having a much more diverse nation, but for this survey you have you whacked theory ,like your whacked articles, of islamophobia.

"What is surprising is that 15% of the respondents still rate Pakistan's contribution as positive in the BBC poll in spite of the extremely negative western media portrayal of Pakistan in both the news coverage and movies. And India is just 4 places ahead of Pakistan with 34% rating its contribution as positive."

Look at the number of negative views to (55%)! or did you conveniently leave that. India is at number 12 in the list while pak is 2nd from behind FYI. Well if movies potray the truth about pak, why is it such a wrong thing to do, after all, pak is a terrorist nation.The sad part is that moviemakers know more about the truth of pak than deluded pakis!

By the way,How did uncle sam come into the picture, BBC is British Broadcasting Corporation! and then you talk of India and its people's ability to comprehend!

Live in your world of lies haq, it hasn't helped you change any perception about pak or its inferior citizens, rather, it has just solidified the base for people to realise just how stupid pakis are.

Riaz Haq said...

vishesh: "The weirdest thing is for the value survey, you take it at face value and spew lies.."

The values survey is based on Indians's own responses, not on how others view Indians. This BBC survey is based on others' views.

vishes: "By the way,How did uncle sam come into the picture, BBC is British Broadcasting Corporation! and then you talk of India and its people's ability to comprehend!"

If you believe that the Brits, the Aussies and the Canadians and the rest of their cousins whose ancestors originated from the British Isles differ from Uncle Sam's basic world view, then you must also believe in Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an African-American student's sharing his experience of racism in India:

In spite of friendship and love in private spaces, the Delhi public literally stops and stares. It is harrowing to constantly have children and adults tease, taunt, pick, poke and peer at you from the corner of their eyes, denying their own humanity as well as mine. Their aggressive, crude curiosity threatens to dominate unless disarmed by kindness, or met with equal aggression.
Once I stood gazing at the giraffes at the Lucknow Zoo only to turn and see 50-odd families gawking at me rather than the exhibit. Parents abruptly withdrew infants that inquisitively wandered towards me. I felt like an exotic African creature-cum-spectacle, stirring fear and awe. Even my attempts to beguile the public through simple greetings or smiles are often not reciprocated. Instead, the look of wonder swells as if this were all part of the act and we were all playing our parts.

Racism is never a personal experience. Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes this lawlessness and disdain for dark skin. Most Indian pop icons have light-damn-near-white skin. Several stars even promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s popularity and career success. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, v. fair and v. very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees. Moreover, each time I visit one of Delhi’s clubhouses, I notice that I am the darkest person not wearing a work uniform. It’s unfair and ugly.

Discrimination in Delhi surpasses the denial of courtesy. I have been denied visas, apartments, entrance to discos, attentiveness, kindness and the benefit of doubt. Further, the lack of neighbourliness exceeds what locals describe as normal for a capital already known for its coldness.

My partner is white and I am black, facts of which the Indian public reminds us daily. Bank associates have denied me chai, while falling over to please my white friend. Mall shop attendants have denied me attentiveness, while mobbing my partner. Who knows what else is more quietly denied?

"An African has come," a guard announced over the intercom as I showed up. Whites are afforded the luxury of their own names, but this careful attention to my presence was not new. ATM guards stand and salute my white friend, while one guard actually asked me why I had come to the bank machine as if I might have said that I was taking over his shift.

It is shocking that people wear liberalism as a sign of modernity, yet revert to ultraconservatism when actually faced with difference. Cyberbullies have threatened my life on my YouTube videos that capture local gawking and eve-teasing. I was even fired from an international school for talking about homosociality in Africa on YouTube, and addressing a class about homophobia against kids after a student called me a ‘fag’.

Outside of specific anchors of discourse such as Reservations, there is no consensus that discrimination is a redeemable social ill. This is the real issue with discrimination in India: her own citizens suffer and we are only encouraged to ignore situations that make us all feel powerless. Be it the mute-witnesses seeing racial difference for the first time, kids learning racism from their folks, or the blacks and northeasterners who feel victimised by the public, few operate from a position that believes in change.

Living in India was a childhood dream that deepened with my growing understanding of India and America’s unique, shared history of non-violent revolution. Yet, in most nations, the path of ending gender, race and class discrimination is unpaved. In India, this path is still rural and rocky as if this nation has not decided the road even worthy. It is a footpath that we are left to tread individually.

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell, what Indians are saying (many openly and some with chagrin) is that Davuluri is too dark, too dusky, for the conventional standards of Indian beauty. In India a light skin—“fair” is the word most Indians deploy in the vocabulary of beauty—is prized in women, and lightness of skin is elevated above all other facial features as a signifier of beauty. It matters not one whit that Davuluri’s physiognomy is immensely pleasing to the eye, that her smile could light up a small cricket stadium, that her lustrous hair is a thing to marvel at, because her epidermis is far too many shades removed from “fairness” for her to be considered beautiful. This matter is, in the Indian dialectic of beauty, nonnegotiable. In matters of pigment, Indians can be as dogmatic as party chieftains once were in Stalin’s Moscow.

Riaz Haq said...

That gorgeous chocolate (skin tone of Ms USA Nina Davuluri) may play as exotic in the West, but in India, we prefer our beauty queens strictly vanilla — preferably accessorised with blue contact lenses....God forbid, we compromise our cultural biases just to win an international beauty contest.

Riaz Haq said...

Is "Waar" anti-India? How about #Pakistan-bashing in #Bollywood films "Border", "Gadar", "Maa Tujhe Salaam", etc

Here's NY Times piece on how #India's #Bollywood negatively stereotypes #Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Indian Express report on racism against North Eastern people living in Delhi:

Various groups representing the people from the Northeast protested the death of 19-year-old Nido Taniam who was beaten to death allegedly by shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar.
Members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, held protests outside the Lajpat Nagar police station, demanding arrest of the accused persons who allegedly beat the student and made comments about his appearance.
ABVP spokesperson Saket Bahuguna said, “We stopped the DCP’s car outside the Lajpat Nagar police station. We demand the immediate arrest of the accused persons.”
Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, Takam Sanjoy, also demanded the immediate arrest and trial of the accused persons.
Calling for strong action against the perpetrators, the Northeast Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) in their official release said, “Such incidents reflect a dangerous trend of racism and also growing vigilantism in the city that targets vulnerable minority groups.”
The death evoked strong reactions from other groups in his home state as well as across the Northeastern region.
“It is yet another proof of how people from some other regions of the country look at those from the Northeastern region. Our people are looked down upon, given second-class treatment and discriminated against, especially in North India,” Pritam Sonam, advisor of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) from Itanagar, alleged.
In Guwahati, advisor to North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), Samujjal Bhattacharyya, blamed the Centre as well as the Delhi administration for the murder of the student.
“Not a single accused has been booked even after days of the attack on Nido Taniam. We demand a speedy investigation and fast-track trial of the crime leading to the death of a student in the national capital,” he said.
Bhattacharyya also recalled that the Prime Minister had given a written assurance to NESO regarding protection of students who came to the capital from the Northeast.
“This incident has happened despite a personal and written commitment made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh two years ago to NESO that steps would be taken to ensure protection of students and youth of the Northeast. We have not seen any proactive measure taken by the government despite the Prime Minister’s commitment,” Bhattacharyya said.

Riaz Haq said...

Gandhi forced his great-grand daughter and the wife of his great-grand son to sleep with him naked. If alive today, Gandhi would most likely be considered guilty of child molestation and misogyny...very serious charges indeed...

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.

Shaafi S. said...

Agreed. Born and raised in India. I was the only Muslin student in the class. First day of under grad school and rest of the class refused to eat lunch along with me, just because I'm Muslim

Riaz Haq said...

In his Presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha in Karnavati (Ahmedabad) in 1937, Savarkar said, .India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.. What did he exactly mean by this statement?

Misunderstanding was created after Savarkar made the above utterances. Hence, Savarkar clarified his statement to journalists on 15 August 1943 in the office of the Marathi weekly Aadesh published from Nagpur. He also clarified his position in an interview given in Mumbai on 23 August 1943. The interview was published in the Aadesh dated 28 August 1943. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar.s clarification as published in the Marathi weekly Aadesh dated 23 August 1943. The clarification includes questions asked by the journalist:
.I have denied that I stated that there are two nations in Hindusthan. I said that journalists conveniently published a brief and out-of-context report; this they did so as per their convenience. But I had to issue a clarification in an interview to newspaper correspondents at the Aadesh office on 15 August 1943 so that my opinion does not create misunderstanding..
Mahasabha President Veer Savarkar gave the above clarification when asked about the statement issued by some journalists in Nagpur.
.You always say that in Hindusthan, Hindus are a nation and that the Mussalmans and others are communities. How does one reconcile this statement and the statement that there are two nations in Hindusthan?. When asked this question, Veer Savarkar replied, .I had clarified this in my Nagpur interview. But instead of reporting this, journalists simply reported that I accept the two-nation theory. This has resulted in the whole misunderstanding. I am surprised that a storm has been raised now on this issue. Because I have always been referring to the two-nation theory right from my Ahmedabad speech.
It is a historic truth that the Mussulmans are a .nation.. I had clarified the historical and racial background of this theory in Nagpur. Islam is a theocratic nation based on the Koran right from its inception. This nation never had geographical boundaries. Wherever the Mussulmans went, they went as a nation. They also came to Hindusthan as a .nation.. Wherever they go, Mussulmans shall either remain foreigners or rulers. As per the Koran, those who are not Mussulmans are kafirs, enemies of Islam. Even today, after praying in the mosque, Mussulmans ask for atonement for committing the sin of living in a kafir-ruled state. As per the principle of Mussulmans, the earth is divided into two nations . Dar-ul Islam (land of Islam) and Dar-ul Harb where Islam does not rule (enemy land). As per their religious command, their campaign on Hindusthan was as a separate nation. They conquered the Hindu Nation as a enemy nation, not as One Nation. The Hindu Nation arose again and having defeated the Mussulmans at various places, saved the whole of Hindusthan to establish Hindu Padpadshahi also as a separate Hindu Nation opposed to the Muslim nations. This history certainly cannot be denied. In

Riaz Haq said...

Are most terrorists in India Muslims? I have to chance to look at this following yet another avoidable incident this week.

Nigeria's ambassador to India has responded to a comment made by a Union minister.
The comment was made Giriraj Singh, who said: "If Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian lady and not a white-skinned woman, would the Congress have accepted her leadership?" The remark revealed the casual racism that is so commonplace in India. Nigeria's ambassador OB Okongor was upset enough to say "I believe the prime ninister will do right thing on this. I am not going to lodge protest." The prime minister ignored it, once again as those who have observed his conduct on such things will have noticed, though the media was naturally outraged.

The website ran a commentary headlined '5 reasons why Giriraj Singh should shut up.' It included this statement of his from last year: "Isn't it true that all people caught in terrorist activities belong to one community? I am not trying to blame any one particular community. Why are all so-called secular parties silent on this?"

Presumably he means Muslims. He is of course not right in assuming that all people caught for terrorism are Muslims, but are Muslims responsible for most of the terrorism in India? Let's look at the data. The South Asian Terrorism Portal lists fatalities and incidents across India. Quite helpfully, it also does lists them by conflict theatre.

In 2014, there were 976 deaths from terrorism (or extremism, whatever name one wants to use for it) in India. Of these, the most (465) came in the North East. The second most (314) came from Left wing extremism, by a group of people called Maoists. Deaths in Jammu & Kashmir, assuming we want to attribute the whole lot to terrorism, stood at 193. Outside of these conflict theatres, Islamist extremism claimed four lives.

In 2013, the figure was most for Maoists (421), the second most for the North East (252) and the Kashmir plus Islamist violence outside the state again third (206). In 2012, we had a similar situation: Maoists (367), followed by the North East (326), followed by Kashmir (117). The total number of victims to Islamist terrorism outside these three areas, across India, was 1.

In 2011, Maoist violence claimed 602, the North East 246 and Kashmir plus Islamist violence outside the state stood at 225. This year, again the sequence is the same, though violence levels across India have dropped, as they have been doing for the past decade.As is obvious, most terrorists in India are Hindus, the ones whom we have conveniently labelled 'Maoist' instead of 'Hindu'. The second largest group of terrorists are the tribals, animists and perhaps some Christians, of the Northeast. Muslims are third. If one looks outside the separatism of Kashmir, their violence and terrorism levels are among the lowest in the world and they appear to be lest susceptible to terrorism not just by the standards of the world's Muslims but also India's Hindus.


The reason is that 'terrorism' is today accepted only that which is Islamist. And the reason for this is the narrative in the media, which has neatly conflated terrorism with Islam and Pakistan. News channels like Times Now run many more programmes firing middle class and Anglicised Indians up against 'terrorism' (ie Islamist/Pakistan) than they run shows on the North East and on Maoism, which claim a far greater number of lives as the figures show.

It is of course unfortunate that this should be the case, but we can explain away the common man using such arguments. For a Union minister to hold them as Gospel is frightening and shows how wrong headed the members of this government are....

Riaz Haq said...

Thenmozhi Soundararajan: fighting the #Dalit women's fight with, activism #dalitwomenfight #India #racism #caste With fists in the air and placards in hand, women who have been raped, burned, stripped naked and set on fire have gathered around India to demand that their government acknowledge the crimes committed against them and work to stop other women from facing the same fate.

They are also fighting for their ancestors, who were deemed untouchable before the government abolished the use of the term in 1949.

Many of these Dalit women lack the resources for efficient telecommunication, so they gather in districts near the statue of BR Ambedkar, a legendary Indian politician and former Dalit leader. Police are often nearby, including officers who the women believe are ignoring their rape accusations and sometimes abetting them.

With these women – taking their photo, supporting their stories and spreading their message to the rest of the world – is Dalit-American artist Thenmozhi Soundararajan. She is a transmedia artist, which means she creates and translates stories across platforms. It also means that for her, everything about the #Dalitwomenfight movement – from social media posts to professional photography to security training for its participants – is an art form. .........................

Soundararajan believes the sexual violence inflicted on Dalit women underlies a systemic issue with how women in the country are treated. “If you have 80 million to 100 million women whose bodies are porous to this violence, then what is going to be expected to the rest of the status of women in the nation?” she said.

India’s reluctance to address its issues with sexual violence was made clear to an international audience in recent weeks when the country banned the documentary India’s Daughter – which examines the gang rape of an Indian national in Delhi . Soundararajan’s work is meant to extend the conversation beyond the rare case that attracts international attention and show how caste-based rape impacts the entire country’s attitude towards sexual violence.

“There is this aimless conversation about rape in India and somehow Indian men are just more sexist and patriarchal, and it’s not about individual cases and individual localities and perpetrators that are out of control,” she said. “What we’re looking at actually is a system where the rule of law is not being implemented for all.”

Riaz Haq said...

This letter is an excerpt from a collection of Gandhi’s letters which have been compiled into a book titled “Mahatma Gandhi’s Letters on Brahmacharya, Sexuality and Love” by Girja Kumar (Vitasta Publishing, 2011). More detailed citations and references on the chapter on Gandhi in Rita Banerji’s book “Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies,” [pages 265-281, Penguin Books, 2009].What do you think?

It is a fact. Gandhi had young women in his ashram, some of them still teenagers, one of them his own grand-niece [Manu Gandhi], sleep naked with him in his bed at night. This was an aspect of Gandhi that I had not read about before, and it surprised me at first. I was researching for my book ‘Sex and Power’ which looks at the history of sex and sexuality in India, and it was important for me to investigate this further.

My initial tendency was to regard this as “gossip,” but then some of the biographies confirmed it as fact, but also hurriedly dismissed it as something that we all apparently should accept as the eccentricities of “great” men! That’s not a logical argument for me and so I began to dig into archives for more information till a complete picture emerged. And that picture upset me. I saw Gandhi as a classic example of a sexual predator — a man who uses his position of power to manipulate and sexually exploit the people he directly controls.What do you think?

Most angering for me was reading about the psychological and emotional trauma of the girls and women who he used for his “experiments,” which is what he called these incidents. The word ‘psychotic’ repeatedly came up in various documents with regards to these women’s mental state. The women, most of who were in their late teens or early twenties [not surprisingly, given he could have ‘experimented’ with the older women or even his own wife!] were repeatedly described as depressed and weeping, and seemed to be completely in his control. Besides this, some of the archival references lead me to believe that Gandhi may well have been practicing the traditional, historic form of Indian celibacy which hinges on one thing only — and that is control of ejaculation. Everything else is permitted.What do you think?

What I could not understand is why school texts and biographies have selectively edited out this information because it was a big and explosive aspect of the inner dynamics of the Gandhi ashram and its inmates for the last 10 years of Gandhi’s life. It eventually led to the partial break-up of his inner-core circle.8

But Gandhi is long dead. So why should the naked girls in Gandhi’s bed matter today?What do you think?

Well, because the issue goes way beyond Gandhi. What really matters now, and it matters deeply, is how we respond to what Gandhi did!3

Today we like to believe that we are far more progressive in terms of recognizing and condemning the abuse of power by men for sexual exploitation and abuse. And yet, I repeatedly find every time I bring this up [for eg. in this article Gandhi to Asharam: Who Empowers the Sex-Crimes of Gurus?] most people’s responses are defensive and regressive!What do you think?

But this is what surprised me most! Compared to our reactions and responses today, the people in Gandhi’s time seemed to be far more progressive! They not only recognized that he was abusing his position and power in a way that was unethical and depraved, but they outright condemned it, confronted it, and eventually forced him to stop!1

Riaz Haq said...

1 January, 1947
SrirampurWhat do you think?

Revered Bapu,What do you think?

I write these lines in sorrow and pain…You know how shy and unforward I have been these two years. You must imagine to what depths I must have been agitated then to overcome my shyness and become bold and that too with a man who is considered by many to be the greatest man living…What do you think?

You must also ponder over the fact as to what it is that has made me bold and say things so boldly. It is because I feel I am so clearly in the right and you so clearly in the wrong. It is the cause that gives me the courage.2

It is not that I did not know these before. I knew and kept quiet. I thought “Why should I bring these to him?” There are men like Kanu [Gandhi], Kishorilal-bhai [Mashruwala], etc., experienced men and men knowing you fully. And then I had not the courage. I have come over my shyness with you…What do you think?

When first I came to the ashram I came with high respect for the ashram and its inmates and its way of life. All that was knocked off in 24 hours…After coming here I must confess to having lost a portion of the respect I had for you….You are the Father of our Nation…You have taken us so far along the path of freedom and independence…You must see the hand of God…in the fact that I have overcome my shyness.What do you think?

I object to your sleeping in the same bed with members of the opposite sex. In February 1945 or so I was given the draft of a statement to type. I was shocked by the contents…I must tell you that even before I know of this. One day Amin-bhai came and told me that he was shocked to see Manu [Manu Gandhi — Gandhi’s own grand niece] getting into your bed.What do you think?

In those days I was more shy than I am now. My only friend in the ashram was Amin. Even then I came to know of the discussions about this affair because the ashram people are so careless and can’t keep their mouth shut. Everybody objected to your doing this…What do you think?

Apart from the question of any affect on you what about the effect on girls?What do you think?

There is something of other wrong with them [the women who sleep naked with Gandhi]. [The] Punjabi girl who lived opposite my room in Matunga…She used to weep unrestrainedly and that not caring whether others saw her or not. She laughed also unrestrainedly…And then here is Dr. Sushila-behn [The 24-year-old in-house physician at the ashram who Gandhi also used for his ‘experiments’]. How many are the days when she has not wept? She is a doctor and yet she is always a patient, always is ill. Who has heard of a doctor who cries out at night?2

Riaz Haq said...

This troubling (caste) divide has its roots both in the development of the modern Indian state and in the nature of Hinduism and Hindu society. Before political independence and self-determination were on anyone’s agenda, Indian thinkers and public figures were already considering what social democratization would look like in a nation so fundamentally shaped by social hierarchy. And the 19th and 20th centuries saw numerous attempts to bring Indian tradition, especially Hinduism, in line with a vision of a modern liberal—and sometimes explicitly egalitarian—society.

Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian constitution and the nation’s first law minister, anticipated the problems that inequality would pose to the development of independent India as a modern democratic state.

Ambedkar’s experience as a Dalit, or “untouchable,” as well as his remarkably rigorous and international education, led him to advocate for social reform, broader access to education and the abolition of the caste system. And when much of that activism proved unsuccessful, he rejected Hinduism altogether.

For those who dreamed of social democratization, the Hindu tradition, so deeply hierarchical, seemed ill suited to modern egalitarian and democratic society. Could Hindu social practices be adapted to a modern democratic world? Or, as Ambedkar finally concluded, was that an impossible task?

The caste system denounced

Like earlier movements that sought to break with orthodox Hinduism (most notably Buddhism and Jainism), reform efforts in the 19th century emphasized direct, unmediated interaction between individuals and the gods—undermining the power of the Brahmins (the highest, priestly caste).

Two major reform movements, the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj, went further, offering critiques of religious, caste and gender hierarchy and promoting a vision of a more egalitarian and communal faith.

The Brahmo Samaj, founded in 1828, embraced a version of Millian liberalism while seeking to reform Hinduism for modern times. It established a canon of Hindu scripture and denounced many Hindu practices, including the caste system.

The Arya Samaj was heavily influenced by the work of the Brahmo Samaj; in 1875, it translated the Vedas, Hinduism’s ancient Sanskrit holy texts, into vernacular languages and pushed for literacy as a way of building an inclusive religious community. The Arya Samaj favored merit-based castes and social welfare as the vehicles of its egalitarian, pluralistic vision and emphasized the importance of individual religious morality and an attendant social mobility.

The Brahmo and Arya Samaj laid a foundation later built upon by Hindu leaders Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.

Vivekananda, a much-beloved nineteenth-century Hindu monk and philosopher, saw the potential for divinity in every individual and preached the importance of mass education and material improvement to the development of a vibrant, modern Hindu society. Gandhi sought to shift the focus of Hinduism away from the ideal of spiritual renunciation towards a practical commitment to improving society.

Ultimately, the prominence of upper-caste leaders in social reform efforts tempered the movements’ critiques of Hinduism. The more radical movements were led by lower-caste leaders. Most notable among these was the “non-Brahmin” movement in western India during the 1870s and 1880s.

Jotirao Govindrao Phule and his Satyashodhak Samaj (“truth-seeking society”) were the most radical incarnation of this movement, with an emphasis on the lower castes as a moral and historical community that transcended conventional religion. Phule’s rejection of the upper castes and their traditionalist Hinduism placed him in opposition to the Brahmin-led Indian National Congress, which was founded in 1885 as a pro-independence political organization and later came to dominate the political scene.

Riaz Haq said...

BENGALURU: A young Tanzanian woman was beaten up and stripped on a road in Bengaluru, prompting the Tanzanian embassy to ask the government to take action against her attackers.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj described the attack as "shameful" and said four men have been arrested.

Police Commissioner NS Megharikh, however, told NDTV that no arrest has been made yet. Some people are being detained and questioned."

The 21-year-old victim is a college student. On Sunday night, the Wagon-R she was traveling in was stopped by a mob of at least 200 people. Half an hour earlier, another car had run over a woman walking on the road. The seething crowd then turned its anger on the newly-arrived Wagon-R.

The student was dragged out of the Wagon-R and then allegedly paraded naked. When she tried to board a bus to escape, the passengers pushed her out, said the All African Students Union in Bengaluru.

Riaz Haq said...

Try renting an apartment using a #Muslim name (In #India ), Shashi Tharoor to Anupam Kher. #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia …

Indian Congress leader Shashi Tharoor while defending his Twitter argument with veteran actor Anupam Kher, said if the actor is scared to openly call himself Hindu in India, he should try renting an apartment with a Muslim name.

During an interview Kher confessed that he fears “saying I’m a Hindu”. “In this country, I’m scared to say that if I wear a tilak (mark worn by a Hindu on the forehead to indicate caste, sect) and a gerua (saffron colored clothes), then I will be branded as an RSS (right-wing party) guy or a BJP fanatic,” said Kher.

Today, I’m scared to say I’m Hindu: Anupam Kher

A spat broke out as Tharoor tweeted against Kher’s comment, stating that though India has people from various religions, the country is recognised by Hindus at large. Kher in reply to the comment called Tharoor a ‘Congi Chamcha’.

Stating that minorities in India are the ones who have to struggle much harder than Hindus to be accepted by society, Tharoor in a column on NDTV said, “Try renting an apartment, for instance, while using a Muslim name: there are many parts of many towns where you will be turned away with one specious excuse or another. And yet Muslims are expected to grin and bear it, and move on. ”

Blind Muslim teacher barred from renting flat in India

“So when I said, truthfully, that I openly, and without self-consciousness, say I am Hindu, I am acknowledging that it’s far easier for me to do so than it is for an Indian Muslim or Christian to wear his faith on his sleeve without being typecast for doing so. And when I added that I am not the Sangh’s kind of Hindu, I meant that I am not belligerent about my Hinduism,” he wrote.

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-Muslim housing discrimination Apartment Rental Ad in #Mumbai, #India: "All communities allowed EXCEPT #Muslims"

Such intolerance exists at all price points. In a TV interview, Shabana Azmi, one of India’s most celebrated actresses and a former member of Parliament, described how she and her equally famous screenwriter husband couldn’t buy the flat they wanted because they were Muslim.

More alarming to me, though, is how the inter-communal mix of my formative years has been lost. As the writer Naresh Fernandes describes in his book, “City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay,” some suburban areas are acquiring the feel of religious ghettos. Mumbra, one of the largest, is over 90 percent Muslim. It suffers daily power failures much worse than those in neighboring Hindu localities. To the west, the clearly demarcated Muslim parts of Jogeshwari are snidely called “mini Pakistan” by Hindus across the “border.”

It is not difficult to find Internet listings specifying whether a property lies in the Hindu or Muslim area of an outer suburb, or even, in the case of a half-million dollar flat in the closer-in suburb Andheri, saying explicitly, “All communities allowed EXCEPT Muslims.”

Riaz Haq said...

#African-American Business Traveler's View: #India ranks way up there among the most ‘#racist’ … via @bodahub

In 2013, the Washington Post released a map based on a study by two Swedish economists that colour coded the map of the earth based on racist attitudes.

The study was simple: they asked people whether they would have a problem with a neighbour of another race. Only two nations – India at 43.5% and Jordan at 51.4% – scored over 40% in racial intolerance.

The question has since become increasingly relevant. As we have written about earlier, Bollywood actors have launched movements that aimed at extolling the beauty of dark skin, politicians have repeatedly made the point. There have been horrific race-motivated attacks on Africans just within the last year even!

Recently, the question was posed on Quora as to which was the most racist country in the world, and Dave Adali, an American, had a poignant and saddening answer to it.

“I am an African-American in the IT field and I have thus far had the good fortune to live and travel extensively throughout Western and parts of Eastern Europe and many countries in Asia. I have lived or traveled in the UK and most of the EU countries as well as Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and several other Asian countries including India.

Of all the countries I have been to, India ranks way up there among the most ‘racist’, IMHO. Indians aren’t so much ‘racist’ as they are intolerant. Indians discriminate against fellow citizens to a degree that I have NEVER encountered in ANY other country. Without a doubt, Indians are the the most color obsessed people I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. No doubt because of all that saturation advertisements for ‘Fair and Lovely’, ‘Fair and Handsome’ and all manners of skin-whitening creams, lotions, soaps etc. Even if you are 100% Indian, your fellow Indians might still discriminate against you on the basis of the color of your skin, which region of India you come from, what language you speak, your religion, your caste etc, etc.

If you are of obvious African ancestry, including African-American, you can find life really, really tough in India if you are going to be in India for a while. Indians can be such unabashed, in your face racists. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that oftentimes, lighter-skinned Indians despise darker-skinned Indians every bit as much as much as they despise us people of African ancestry. Apart from that, there is also considerable antipathy between North Indians and South Indians

Indians outside of India endlessly complain about the intolerance and racism they have to put up with in places like Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and even Africa. These very same Indians conveniently choose to ignore the fact that Indians themselves can be such pathological bigots against their fellow Indians, other Asians and especially people of African ancestry. `. In Amritsar, one of my best friends was Gyan, a Nepali whom I initially mistook for a Chinese. Indians disdainfully call him “Chinki” or “Bahadur”, which Gyan hated. As a matter of fact, Indian citizens from India’s North-Eastern states, who often have Chinese facial features are routinely referred to, usually disparagingly as ‘Chinkis’.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - BBC Pop Up: Blacks in #India face racism and #bigotry everywhere in #Indian society. #BJP #Modi

What is it like being black in India?
That's what BBC Pop Up wanted to find out after Benjamin Pratt, a student from Sierra Leone now living in India, told us that many African immigrants are victims of racism and prejudice.
BBC journalists Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey joined Benjamin on the streets of Delhi to find out more but ended up in a small village in the western state of Gujarat.
There they discovered a surprising and little-known culture alive and well.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani Observes from #India Side of #Wagah Border Amid #Indians' Bigoted Screams “Attack!” “rape their sisters!”

“I was not allowed to sit in the foreigner’s section, given that I didn’t look foreign, and I didn’t want to tell them that I was,” Saim Saeed writes in The New York Times. “This was ironic, given that — as a Pakistani sitting on the Indian side of the border — they would consider me to be even more foreign than most foreigners.”

“The spectacle that my friends and I had come to see was the border ceremony at Wagah that takes place between Pakistan and India every day at sundown,” Mr. Saeed writes. “The ceremony is as colorful, loud and grotesque an exhibition of nationalism that you will ever see.”

The soldiers — massive, seven-foot men brought in to out-measure their counterparts in a region where the average male height is 5 feet, 5 inches — shout, stomp and strut before a frenzied crowd as they lower the flags and shut the gate. The crowds do their part as massive speakers blare jingoistic anthems meant to drown out the noise from the other side. People dance, sing, flex their muscles and deride the soldiers across the border.

The Pakistani side has a novel spectacle — an old man wearing green robes runs from behind a pillar, stands right in front of the gate and waves a massive flag. The jeering crowd around me was shouting, “Attack!” and “Let’s rape their sisters!”

Completely by accident, I happened to be wearing a green shirt (the color of Pakistan and Islam), and I feared I would be found out. I ended up crying at the hatred shown by the people under the veneer of celebration.


The ceremony that I was now witnessing is more indicative of the similarities between Indians and Pakistanis than their differences. The people that were chanting “Pakistan Zindabad! Hindustan murdabad!” (Long live Pakistan! Death to India!) shared the same physical characteristics, language and clothing as the ones hurling their own imprecations on the other side of the line. They even insulted each other’s mothers and sisters using the same expletives. It seemed like they were shouting in a mirror.

So what is it that divides us so? Why do we hate each other so much that we’ve fought three declared wars, a fourth that was undeclared, and might even fight another?

The easy and perhaps most convenient answer is religion, but that is wrong. Pakistanis believe that being Muslim sets them apart from India, and so we create an identity for India, too; they are non-Muslim, or more specifically, Hindu. India is not, and has never been a completely Hindu country. The fact is that we don’t have any distinguishing characteristic on which to hang separate national identities. There is nothing to distinguish us from one another, save our passports, and those were given to us.

Each evening, at the end of the flag-lowering ceremony, the crowds of Indians and Pakistanis go back to the same homes, eat the same loaves of naan and sleep on the same charpoys. In the morning they drink the same yoghurt drink called lassi.

My friends and I are not any different.

Riaz Haq said...

In #India, #Black #Africans feel hounded by prejudice. #racism via @timesofindia

f you are black , you are either a drug peddler or a prostitute. This is the reality that Africans live with in Delhi every day. A racist undertone in all interactions with people from Africa living and working in Delhi can often cloud perceptions about them. Aam Aadmi Party's Somnath Bharti was accused of racism last year after a midnight raid on an alleged drug and prostitution racket in Khirki village. Now, racism is one of the angles that the police are investigating in the killing of Oliver, a youth from Congo , in Vasant Kunj on Friday.
After last year's raid in Khirki, a large number of Africans relocated to other areas such as Sangam Vihar, Aya Nagar and Chhattarpur. Those left behind are confined to a few narrow alleys in Hauz Rani. Their businesses may be straddling a grey area, but the Africans continue to face discrimination due to the colour of their skin and the distorted presumptions about them.
Enjona from Nigeria runs a beauty salon called Marris Exotic Creations in Khirki. "Indians are racist," she says bluntly. "Someday we may face the same fate as the Congolese man. When I call home in Nigeria, I tell my family to treat Indians badly. They don't deserve to do business and live freely in Africa."
Antonia from Angola isn't quite so vehement and says she has some good Indian friends. But she still won't step out of the house after 9 pm "because men always think we are prostitutes".
Rohit Kochchar, who runs a grocery store near the salon, sums it for the locals: "We don't know what the African men do. Many probably deal in drugs. The women don't work either. Most of their visas have expired. They are still allowed to stay because they can pay higher rent."
The tension between the two sides is obvious. "The locals think Africans are evil because they are black," says Pooja Sood, director, Khoj International Artists Association, who adds that most Africans in the city are refugees. "The residents have strange ideas that Africans eat their own babies. It is a lack of education and I think it stems from a casteist approach to everything," explains Sood. "This is not to say that there are no bad people in their community. But that's there in every community. I think such discrimination only comes from the fear of the other." Several Somalian girls and boys work with Khoj, taking hip hop classes or taking up other projects, including an India-Africa project.

Riaz Haq said...

Protests by #African diplomats is another reminder of #India’s deep-seated #racism via @qzindia

African diplomats in India have had enough.
The heads of mission of 42 African countries have threatened to boycott Africa Day celebrations in New Delhi to protest against the ceaseless racist attacks on their citizens in India.
A week-long celebration was planned to showcase Africa and build on the newfound bonhomie following last October’s India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi. But African diplomats may not attend.
The immediate trigger was the death of 29-year-old Masonda Ketada Olivier, a Congolese national. A French language teacher in New Delhi, Oliver was allegedly killed by three drunk men following an argument over hiring an auto-rickshaw. The police have so far arrested two suspects, and are on the lookout for the third.

This isn’t the first time an African national has been attacked in India. In February, a 21-year-old Tanzanian woman was allegedly stripped and beaten up by a mob in Bengaluru after a Sudanese man ran over a local. A few months before that, three African men were beaten up by a mob in New Delhi after they objected to locals taking their pictures. In Jan. 2015, a minister of the Delhi government even raided a neighbourhood inhabited by African nationals, alleging that they were peddling drugs and ran a prostitution ring.
Olivier’s death, though, seems to have been the final straw. Eschewing diplomatic channels, the heads of African embassies in New Delhi have written a strongly-worded letter to the Indian government to take “concrete steps” to ensure the safety of Africans.
“Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi,” Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, ambassador of Eritrea and dean of the African Group Head of Mission, said, “the African heads of mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed.”
Image management

Shortly after the statements were made public, India’s ministry of external affairs, led by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, swung into damage control mode.


For Modi and the Indian government, the open rebuke by African nations couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The Indian prime minister is all set to travel to Africa in the next two months, as part of his plan to broaden engagements with the continent. While trade between India and African countries has risen in recent years, there’s much left to be done.
Last October, New Delhi announced a doubling of India’s assistance to African nations, with $10 billion in concessional loans over the next five years. India also offered $600 million in grant assistance to African countries for focused spending on key areas such as healthcare, education, and technology.
Although some of the big spending is with an eye on China’s growing influence in the region, the Modi government is also aware of the massive investment opportunities in the continent.

Riaz Haq said...

#Africans in #India face constant battles with #racism | Fox News |

The daily indignities Africans suffer usually go undocumented both by the police and local media.

That changed on May 20, when Congolese student Masunda Kitada Oliver was fatally attacked in a dispute over hiring an autorickshaw in New Delhi. Three men who insisted they had hired the vehicle beat him up and hit him on the head with a rock, killing him, according to police.

The death made the city's African students, diplomats and business owners rally together demanding quick justice. The African Heads of Mission in New Delhi issued a statement asking the government to address "racism and Afro-phobia" in the country.

"Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, the African Heads of Mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed," the statement said.

The killing and the outrage it sparked drew an unusually prompt reaction from local police and India's foreign ministry. Two men suspected in the attack were arrested within a day, while a third remains at large.

Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that her ministry asked for "stringent action against the culprits." But the ministry also said all criminal acts involving Africans should not be seen as racial in nature.

The bad press the country got as a result of the killing prompted India's glacial government machinery to move quickly to try to address the issue.

An India-Africa art exhibition was cobbled together at government expense and on short notice. A protest planned by African students in the Indian capital was put off after government officials reached out to African student groups.

The police and government began holding workshops in neighborhoods across the city to try to sensitize local residents about their African neighbors.

There were other well publicized examples of anti-African prejudice in India before Oliver's death.

In February, a Tanzanian woman was beaten and stripped naked by a mob in the southern city of Bangalore after a Sudanese student's car hit an Indian woman. In September 2014, a video of three African men being beaten inside a security booth at a New Delhi Metro station went viral. For several minutes a large mob beat the men with bare hands and sticks and shoes as they climbed up the walls of the glass booth in terror. The police were absent.

These incidents made it to the local newspapers. Hundreds more do not.

Prejudice is open in India. The matrimonial columns of the newspaper are strictly segregated along caste lines. Landlords in cities like Delhi and Mumbai deny homes to people based on race and religion.

Indians from northeastern India, who look different because of their Asian features, are routinely harassed and have to endure being called names on the streets.

But the worst kind of discrimination is reserved for the Africans. In a country obsessed with fair skin and skin lightening beauty treatments, their dark skin draws a mixture of fear and ridicule.

Landlords shun Africans in all but the poorest neighborhoods, and in those they are charged unusually high rent. African students in the New Delhi neighborhood of Chhatarapur reported paying 15,000 rupees ($225) a month for a single room and bathroom that would normally rent for 6,000 to 7,000 rupees.

Strangers point at them and laugh — or gang up and assault them.

Riaz Haq said...

From #Modi's Guru Golwalkar to #GOP's #Trump: #India's #Hindu Nationalists Cheer & Pray for #Trump. #Islamophobia

INDIA’S Hindu right is desperately seeking a role in the American elections even if it’s a walk-on appearance in a crowd scene. It asks if its right-wing friends from Israel can tip the balance in a keen American contest, why can’t the Hindu right be at least a cheerleader. After being rapped on the knuckles by Barack Obama a few times — following the cordial talks with Prime Minister Modi in Delhi, for example — the Hindu right wants a less censorious incumbent in the White House. Public prayers and weird voodoo rituals have been invoked to boost the chances of Donald Trump.

The two have much in common. Mr Trump claims to speak for core American values, passing off contrived fear for nationalist fervour. In India, the Hindu right has laid claim to defining — rather, it has been allowed by a somnolent opposition to prescribe — what is nationalist and what isn’t. Someone’s stand on the Kashmiri uprising is the signal for praise or rebuke. They both hate Muslims. And, as Mr Trump’s aversion of Latinos expands his arena of nurtured prejudices the Hindu right targets the tribal communities of the northeast.

Hindtuva goons, raised on political patronage, periodically bludgeon Manipuri and other people from the northeast in Delhi and elsewhere. Mr Trump’s veiled fear of African Americans mutates in India into physical assaults on students and visitors of dark complexion. As with Muslims and Dalits, African residents find it difficult to rent a house in Delhi.

Mr Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor too: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases. About Muslims, Trump says: “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president. And if Obama has brought some to this country they are leaving, they’re going, they’re gone.”

Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases.
As his wife plagiarised from Michelle Obama’s speech, Trump borrowed without attribution from Guru Golwakar’s book We or Our Nationhood Defined. The early pioneer of the Hindu right wrote: “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture ... In a word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizens’ rights.”

There was a notable difference though. Golwalkar’s reference to non-Hindu people included Indian Christians. This should not deter any alliance of two utterly right-wing demagogues. After all, Golwakar’s praise of Germany’s treatment of Jews didn’t deter his followers from bonding with right-wing leaders in Israel.

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews,” Golwalkar wrote with approval. “Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. 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 Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

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!"

Riaz Haq said...

‘Respect Gandhi If You Will, Don’t Sentimentalise Him’The distinguished professor of history now trains his lens on modern Indian history, discussing his book at lengthPRAFUL BIDWAI INTERVIEWS PERRY ANDERSON

Gandhi was gripped by regressive personal phobias, had limited intellectual formation, was impervious to rational argument...

You could say that, very roughly, it advances five main arguments that run counter to conventional wisdom in India today. Firstly, that the idea of a subcontinental unity stretching back six thousand years is a myth. Secondly, that Gandhi’s injection of religion into the national movement was ultimately a disaster for it. Thirdly, that primary responsibility for Partition lay not with the Raj, but Congress. Fourthly, that Nehru’s legacy to Republic was far more ambiguous than his admirers will admit. Lastly, that Indian democracy is not contradicted by caste inequality, but rather enabled by it. This is a crude summary. Obviously, in each case, much more is said than this.

You’ve explained that one of the reasons why, instead of writing simply about contemporary India, you start by looking at the struggle for independence, was your shock at the reception of Kathryn Tidrick’s work on Gandhi, so thoroughly blanketed by silence that most Indians are unaware of its existence. Tidrick concentrates on the relationship between Gandhi’s self-perception as a world-saviour— his religious beliefs— and his politics. She doesn’t really explore his role as a mass leader and tactician of the independence struggle. How far is your own account of Gandhi, which many in India would regard as a savage criticism, based on hers?
Tidrick’s biography of Gandhi is an extraordinarily careful, calm and courageous work. Not just I, but any serious student of this historical figure, would have more to learn about his outlook from her work than from any other extant study of him —the vast majority of Gandhiana being, to one degree or another, hagiographic. The silence covering it in India is an intellectual scandal which reflects poorly on local opinion. The problem here is not, of course, confined to her work. More recently, the reception of Joseph Lelyveld’s much more superficial and not very political, but extremely respectful, book about Gandhi—it’s even entitled Great Soul—tells the same story. Because it dismantles some of the legends Gandhi propagated about his time in South Africa, we have his grandson complaining that it ‘belittles’ him. It’s only in this climate of deference that my treatment of Gandhi could be regarded as sacrilege. Actually, I single out not only his remarkable gifts as a leader, and his achievement in making Congress a mass party, but also his personal sincerity and selflessness—he did not want power for himself, as most politicians do. In his own way he was a great man.

The principal catastrophe of 1947 lay in the Congress folly of not realising that it was, in composition and outlook, a Hindu party.
But that does not exempt him from criticism. He was gripped by a set of regressive personal fixations and phobias, had a very limited intellectual formation, was impervious to rational argument, and entirely unaware of the damage he was doing to the national movement by suffusing it with Hindu pietism as he reconceived it. He is to be respected, with all his blindness. But there is no need to sentimentalize him. The complete latitude he gave himself to declare as truth whatever he happened to say at any time, and then change it from one day to the next, still as the word of God shining through him, set a disastrous example for his followers and admirers.

Riaz Haq said...

India’s Eternal Inequality
NY Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer

I was in Varanasi, India’s most sacred city, conducting research for a book about Brahmins, the priestly caste at the top of the Hindu hierarchy. I was speaking at length to a young student who, like his Brahmin ancestors, was steeped in the study of Sanskrit and the Veda. One day, we drove together to the village where he came from. Our driver on this five-hour journey was a voluble man from the neighboring state of Bihar. Along the way, the driver, the student and I chatted amicably, but as we neared the Brahmin village, our dynamics swiftly changed.

My father was Muslim, and since religion in India is patrilineal, my presence in the Brahmin household should have been an unspeakable defilement. But it wasn’t. I belong to India’s English-speaking upper class and, in the eyes of my host, I was exempt from the rules of caste. As we approached the village, he did make one small adjustment: He stopped calling me by my conspicuously Muslim name, and rechristened me Nitish, a Hindu name.

The visit was going well. But, as evening fell, and we finished dinner with my Brahmin host and his parents, a terrific tension came over the household. Unbeknown to me, the family had made an extraordinary exception: They had allowed the driver, who was of a peasant caste called Yadav, lower in the hierarchy, to eat with us, in their house, using their plates. But now there was something they absolutely could not do.


Caste is a religious notion of spiritual purity that defines one’s function on earth. It comes alongside strict restrictions on how a person can live and what a person can eat and whom they can marry. Caste, or jati, as it is known in Hindi, is a bio-spiritual identity, which has nothing to do with money or power, and offers no escape save for death or renunciation. As Octavio Paz, the Mexican writer and onetime ambassador to India, wrote caste is “the first and last reality.”

India’s last caste census was conducted in the early 1930s, when the country was still part of the British Empire. It found that while Brahmins constituted only some 6 percent of the population, the other lower castes, even without Dalits and the tribal people, who are not part of the caste system, came to as much as 40 percent.

In 2010, Vinod K. Jose, writing in The Caravan, conjectured that the shape of society was roughly the same, and “as a block, the Shudras and untouchables could reach 70 percent of the Indian population.” In 2011, the government conducted a “socio-economic census,” but its findings on caste were never released, in part because the issue is so explosive.

The modern Indian state has tried to correct the imbalances that caste creates. The Constitution bans discrimination based on caste, and the government has instituted quotas for low-caste people in government jobs and at universities. But the wound is so deep that even when this form of affirmative action throws up the odd success story, tragedy can quickly ensue.

The same week that my driver in Varanasi was forced to wash his own plate, the issue of caste roared back to the forefront of Indian political life.

Rohith Vemula, 26, was a Ph.D. student at the University of Hyderabad, in southern India.....


The contradiction presented by caste and nationalism was never clearer than in the searing images that emerged from Mr. Modi’s own home state, Gujarat, in July. They showed Dalit boys being stripped and beaten with iron rods. They were accused of killing a sacred Indian cow. But they claimed they were only skinning a cow that was already dead, work that is typically reserved for people of low caste. The irony could not have been more stark: It was caste on one hand that had forced this occupation upon them, and it was caste that was degrading them further.

Riaz Haq said...

The Gandhi Nobody Knows
I had the singular honor of attending an early private screening of Gandhi with an audience of invited guests from…



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.

Ahmed F. said...

Well, that film was largely based on the book, "Freedom at Midnight."

And it may well be that the Indian government paid for it.

The Pakistanis also produced a movie on Jinnah. It was a big flop.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "Well, that film was largely based on the book, "Freedom at Midnight." And it may well be that the Indian government paid for it.
The Pakistanis also produced a movie on Jinnah. It was a big flop."

The big difference between the films "Jinnah" and Gandhi" was the choice of the director.

Sir Richard Attenborough was an established name and a big draw; Jamil Dehalvi was an unknown.

The other difference: Nehru and Indira were personally involved in the making of Gandhi to make themselves good and put H=Jinnah in a very poor light.

Here's more from the Grenier review:

Gandhi, therefore, the film, this paid political advertisement for the government of India, is organized around three axes: (1) Anti-racism—all men are equal regardless of race, color, creed, etc.; (2) anti-colonialism, which in present terms translates as support for the Third World, including, most eminently, India; (3) nonviolence, presented as an absolutist pacifism. There are other, secondary precepts and subheadings. Gandhi is portrayed as the quintessence of tolerance (“I am a Hindu and a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew”), of basic friendliness to Britain (“The British have been with us for a long time and when they leave we want them to leave as friends”), of devotion to his wife and family. His vow of chastity is represented as something selfless and holy, rather like the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. But, above all, Gandhi’s life and teachings are presented as having great import for us today. We must learn from Gandhi.

I propose to demonstrate that the film grotesquely distorts both Gandhi’s life and character to the point that it is nothing more than a pious fraud, and a fraud of the most egregious kind. Hackneyed Indian falsehoods such as that “the British keep trying to break India up” (as if Britain didn’t give India a unity it had never enjoyed in history), or that the British created Indian poverty (a poverty which had not only existed since time immemorial but had been considered holy), almost pass unnoticed in the tide of adulation for our fictional saint. Gandhi, admittedly, being a devout Hindu, was far more self-contradictory than most public men. Sanskrit scholars tell me that flat self-contradiction is even considered an element of “Sanskrit rhetoric.” Perhaps it is thought to show profundity.


Gandhi rose early, usually at three-thirty, and before his first bowel movement (during which he received visitors, although possibly not Margaret Bourke-White) he spent two hours in meditation, listening to his “inner voice.” Now Gandhi was an extremely vocal individual, and in addition to spending an hour each day in vigorous walking, another hour spinning at his primitive spinning wheel, another hour at further prayers, another hour being massaged nude by teenage girls, and many hours deciding such things as affairs of state, he produced a quite unconscionable number of articles and speeches and wrote an average of sixty letters a day. All considered, it is not really surprising that his inner voice said different things to him at different times. Despising consistency and never checking his earlier statements, and yet inhumanly obstinate about his position at any given moment, Gandhi is thought by some Indians today (according to V.S. Naipaul) to have been so erratic and unpredictable that he may have delayed Indian independence for twenty-five years.