Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rise of Sangh Parivar: Modi Accelerating Total Hinduization of India?

There have been serious questions raised about India's secularism since its independence in 1947. Such questions have gained new urgency with the rapid rise of Hindu Nationalists and the election of BJP leader Narendra Modi in 2014.

Serious doubts about India's claim of secularism were articulated well by Indian journalist Kapil Komireddy in an Op Ed piece he wrote for the UK's Guardian newspaper a few years ago. Here's an excerpt of it:

"Indian Muslims in particular have rarely known a life uninterrupted by communal conflict or unimpaired by poverty and prejudice. Their grievances are legion, and the list of atrocities committed against them by the Indian state is long. In 2002 at least 1,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs in the western state of Gujarat in what was the second state-sponsored pogrom in India (Sikhs were the object of the first, in 1984). Gujarat's chief minister, Narendra Modi, explained away the riots by quoting Newton's third law. "Every action," he said on television, "has an equal opposite reaction." The "action" that invited the reaction of the mobs was the torching of a Gujarat-bound train in which 59 Hindus pilgrims, most of them saffron-clad bigots who were returning home from a trip to the site of the Babri Mosque that they had helped demolish a decade earlier, perished. The "equal and opposite reaction" was the slaughter of 1,000 innocent Muslims for the alleged crime of their coreligionists."

Komireddy goes on to describe how India's "liberal" elite rationalize sectarianism in "secular" India:

"The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus."

The Sangh Parivar's project to Hinduize India has accelerated with the landslide victory of BJP leader Narendra Modi and his inauguration as Prime Minister of India in 2014. Some of the manifestations of this phenomenon as reported by the Washington Post are as as follows:

1.The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (or the World Hindu Council) launched a program called “Gharwapsi” (or Homecoming) to urge India’s Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism, which they said was the religion of their ancestors. It has resulted in many reported instances of forced mass conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

2.  Beef sales have been banned in several Indian states. The most egregious of such laws is the Maharashtra state law that criminalizes possession or consumption of beef.

3. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said the Hindu scripture Bhagwad Gita must be declared a “national scripture.” Another BJP politician, Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister of the northern Haryana state has said Bhagwad Gita is considered more important than India’s secular Constitution.

4. Poor school children are being denied eggs, a cheap protein needed by growing youngsters, in their school lunches by India's vegetarian Hindu elite, according an NPR report.

The above changes are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of Hindu transformation of India with major appointments of Hindu ideologues by ruling party to key positions in education and media posts at the center and the provinces.

It's not just in India that the Hindu Nationalists are gaining strength. Their programs receive significant funding and support from non-resident Indians (NRIs). A report entitled "Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Non-Profit Groups" makes the following assertions regarding the strength and nature of the Hindu nationalist movement in the United States:

 a. Over the last three decades, a movement toward Hinduizing India--advancing the status of Hindus toward political and social primacy in India-- has continued to gain ground in South Asia and diasporic communities. The Sangh Parivar (the Sangh "family"), the network of groups at the forefront of this Hindu nationalist movement, has an estimated membership numbering in the millions, making the Sangh one of the largest voluntary associations in India. The major organizations in the Sangh include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

b. Hindu nationalism has intensified and multiplied forms of discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights organizations, and U.S. governmental bodies.

c. India-based Sangh affiliates receive social and financial support from its U.S.-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA. The Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party - USA (OFBJP) is active as well, though it is not a tax-exempt group.

Acceleration of "secular" India's total Hindu-ization under Prime Minister Modi represents a sea change for South Asia region and the world. It could prove to be very destabilizing for India, a much larger and far more diverse country than its neighboring Islamic Pakistan. Such instability could derail India's economic rise unless its forced Hindu-ization is checked by the country's leadership with external pressure from India's friends. And its effects will be strongly felt far outside the borders of India. It is already causing serious issues between India and Pakistan that could lead a devastating war in South Asia with severe consequences for the entire world.

Here's Indian writer Arundhati Roy explaining who Narendra Modi is:

Arundhati Roy in Chicago on Modi & Hindu Fascists by zoimsihi784

Related Links:


Srini said...

Any religious scripture which teaches tolerance, unity, contains progressive ideas, wisdom and appeals well to todays world context and gives good message to people should be given importance.
Nothing wrong with that.

Most of the Hindu scriptures are universal and consider humanity as one. So the arguments against Gita are not valid.

Riaz Haq said...

Srini: "Most of the Hindu scriptures are universal and consider humanity as one. So the arguments against Gita are not valid."

Listen to Sujit Saraf of Silicon Valley's Naatak Theater Company talk about it on KQED Radio

Anonymous said...

The article is really amusing and one does not need to labor much to know why. If I go by the Guardians report, the first slaughter of minorities by the majority Hindus happened almost 40 years after Hindus officially became majority in an independent nation, the next one happened after another long 16 years. Acknowledging the fact that both of these incidents are the darkest phase of Indian secular and democratic history, isn't it a miracle that the people by and large have so far been able to leave in considerable peace and harmony for seventy odd years?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " If I go by the Guardians report, the first slaughter of minorities by the majority Hindus happened almost 40 years after Hindus officially became majority in an independent nation, the next one happened after another long 16 years."

The first recorded anti-Muslim riot in India occurred in 1854 in Godhra, Gujrat. It's been constant feature since independence. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims continue to languish in camps.

Raju said...

Thanks for getting such enlightened post. Sir, can you tell me how many priest (I am not asking for civilian because i know their massacre can hide in the name of war) was killed by Muslim invader before 1854. You can start with Somanath Mandir or Pandharpur Temple or Temples at Multan ...... etc etc (list is too long, but I hope you as a person with a such high caliber can complete list very easily).
Thanks in advance.

Riaz Haq said...

Raju: "Thanks for getting such enlightened post. Sir, can you tell me how many priest (I am not asking for civilian because i know their massacre can hide in the name of war) was killed by Muslim invader before 1854. You can start with Somanath Mandir or Pandharpur Temple or Temples at Multan ...... etc etc (list is too long, but I hope you as a person with a such high caliber can complete list very easily)."

You are offering Sangh Parivar's fake history that has been debunked by many enlightened Indian Hindus themselves.

Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Sunday attributed simmering Hindu-Muslim tensions to a deliberate rewriting of history to project Muslim rulers as intolerant and bigoted, whereas ample evidence existed to show the reverse was true.

The judge also said that Indians were held together by a common Sanskrit-Urdu culture which guaranteed that India would always remain secular.

Justice Katju said the myth-making against Muslim rulers, which was a post-1857 British project, had been internalised in India over the years. Thus, Mahmud Ghazni's destruction of the Somnath temple was known but not the fact that Tipu Sultan gave an annual grant to 156 Hindu temples. The judge, who delivered the valedictory address at a conference held to mark the silver jubilee of the Institute of Objective Studies, buttressed his arguments with examples quoted from D.N. Pande's History in the Service of Imperialism.

Dr. Pande, who summarised his conclusions in a lecture to members of the Rajya Sabha in 1977, had said: “Thus under a definite policy the Indian history textbooks were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule.”

Oostur said...

Dear Riaz,
Good article. The fact is Modi began his ugly work as chief minister of Gujarat if not before. He and his party, in collaboration with right wing Hindu extremist, has supported and practiced balanced population program.
The Gujarat riots were based on countering higher Muslim birth rates.
There are several initiatives by Hindu extremist which Modi and his party either support or do not object to. These are:
(1) Reconverting back to Hinduism those converted to other religions by colonial powers. The efforts are focused on converting Christians in the south and Muslims in the Assam and south.
(2) Effective birth rate programs to maintain population mix. This is primary directed at Muslims and calls for maintaining 1947 population mix. That would mean eliminating up to 30 million Muslims over next decade and forcing Muslims to max of two children going forward.
(3) Defense against terrorism. This program calls for reducing Muslim and Sikh proportion in defense forces and Indian government.

I have been supporting efforts to prosecute BJP criminals who massacred thousands of Muslims in Godhra, Baroda and several other cities.
To date, we have been unable to file individual murder charges in Gujarat. A violation of Indian and international norm.
Modi protected Hindu extremist, police, and blocked legal efforts in Gujarat courts.
Even the Indian Supreme Court has stalled on the issue since Modi came to power.
BJP actions should convince those who doubted the wisdom of dividing British India.

Ramesh said...

Oostur, Congress (sworn enemy of Modi) had ten years (2004-14) to nail Modi for the 2002 riots. They couldn't. Some believe Modi erased all evidence, some believe because there wasn't any in the first place.

"BJP actions should convince those who doubted the wisdom of dividing British India."

It took this long for you ???? We RSS thugs knew it in 1971 itself.

Riaz Haq said...

Talking about Modi’s Silicon Valley, over 100 top academics have written an open letter to high tech CEOS warning them against doing business with Modi.
The threat to academic freedom that this “Digital India” project might present is what led Sheila Jasanoff of the Harvard Kennedy School to sign, despite the fact that she says she’s usually not the type to do so:
“.. Because the Indian diaspora has produced such strong ties between Silicon Valley and India, I felt it was important to show that thoughtful academics, with no axes to grind, were concerned by the absence of adequate democratic oversight over a project like “Digital India.” I was also in India in August and had a chance to see how the apparent retreat from core values of secularism and free speech make these developments in the digital realm all the more threatening”
Stanford’s Blom Hansen also explained their concerns about possible repercussions, including a curtailment of academic freedom:
“As scholars were approached for support there were some worries that the Government of India might deny research visas or in other ways block the future work of people on the list. This is a legitimate worry considering the record of vindictive actions taken by the Modi government especially against those critical of Modi’s record in the state of Gujarat… For those of us who have researched and published on Hindu nationalism for many years, the violent reactions, and the thinly veiled threats are not surprising… The slightly surprising element in the responses is the vehement branding of those of the signatories of Indian background as “traitors” and “saboteurs” of India’s development and well-being. This has come with suggestions of stripping these individuals of the citizenship and of course vague threats of other forms of retribution to be exacted by the vast majority who supports Modi. The actual fact is that his parliamentary majority rest on the slimmest proportion of the popular vote ever in the history of independent India (31 percent)”

Riaz Haq said...

Ramesh: "Oostur, Congress (sworn enemy of Modi) had ten years (2004-14) to nail Modi for the 2002 riots. They couldn't. Some believe Modi erased all evidence, some believe because there wasn't any in the first place."

Criminals in politics do not investigate or prosecute each others; they use such incidents to play politics.

Read the following facebook post of Justice Markandey Katju on the popular support of criminal political parties of India:

Criminal Organizations
I regard the Congress and the BJP as criminal organizations.
In 1984 that criminal gangster Indira Gandhi, who imposed a fake ' Emergency' in 1975 in India in order to hold on to power after she had been declared guilty of corrupt election practices by the Allahabad High Court, an ' Emergency' in which even the right to life was suspended, and lacs of Indians were falsely imprisoned, was assassinated.
As a reaction,the Congress Party led by Rajiv Gandhi organized a slaughter of thousands of innocent Sikhs, many of whom were burnt alive by pouring petrol or kerosene on them and setting them on fire. When there were protests against this horrendous crime, Rajiv Gandhi said ' jab bada ped girta hai, dharti hil jaati hai' ( when a big tree falls, the earth shakes ). It is believed that he gave oral instructions to the police not to interfere with the massacres for 3 days ( see my blog ' The Sikh riots of 1984 ' on )..
Soon after these horrible massacres, elections to the Lok Sabha was declared, and Congress swept the polls on this emotional wave winning a record 404seats in the 532 seat Lok Sabha, while BJP won only 2 seats.
In 2002 the massacre of Muslims was organized in Gujarat by BJP led by our friend ( see my blog ' All the Perfumes of Arabia ), and the result was that BJP has been regularly winning the Gujarat elections ever since, and has even won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
So the message which has been sent is loud and clear : organize massacre of some minority in India, and you will sweep the polls. Never mind how much misery you cause to many people.
Are not the Congress and BJP, and even many smaller political parties, which are responsible for horrible deeds and for systematically looting the country of a huge amount of money for decades, and for causing such terrible sufferings and misery to the people, criminal organizations, most of whose members deserve the gallows ?

Majumdar said...

"India-based Sangh affiliates receive social and financial support from its U.S.-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA."
This is quite scary, Prof. Why is the US giving tax free status to such fascist organisations? Is there some truth about there being a Hindu-Zionist Axis?

Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar sahib: “This is quite scary, Prof. Why is the US giving tax free status to such fascist organisations?”
The report I cited recommends that the US investigate this. Here are some excepts:
1. Legal culpability of U.S.-based Sangh
groups and members in Sangh-led violent
acts in South Asia. Independent and
transparent investigations are necessary to
confirm or refute the U.S.-Sangh’s
responsibility in any crimes committed
overseas. Relevant U.S. laws may include the
Alien Tort Claims Act (28 U.S. Code 1350)
and Conspiracy to Kill, Kidnap, Maim, or
Injure Persons or Damage Property in a
Foreign Country (18 U.S. Code 956). Further
research is needed into the exact nature of the
decision-making and forms of collaboration
between U.S. and India-based Sangh groups.
If further investigations find any of the above
groups to be legally responsible for violence
in South Asia, those culpable must be held
accountable and answer to those that have
been brutalized.
2. Possible violations of 501(c)(3)
regulations and restrictions. As noted in theabove section on the Ekal Vidyalaya
educational project, newspaper and
testimonies from community activists indicate
the possibility that the one-teacher schools
function to recruit tribal youths into the
Sangh’s anti-conversion and anti-minority
activities through this literacy campaign.
Independent verification of U.S. Sangh’s
compliance with 501(c)(3) regulations is
important, in order to a) end non-compliant
activities connected to discrimination and
violence; b) support transparency in charitable
funding; c) document the exact flows and uses
of resources and monies and their effects in
the U.S. and South Asia; and d) enhance
public understanding of where and how the
U.S. Sangh operates. Should non-compliance
with 501(c)(3) regulations be found,
authorities will be notified for further
verification and action as appropriate.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,
Talking about Modi’s Silicon Valley, over 100 top academics have written an open letter to high tech CEOS warning them against doing business with Modi.
How have these CEOs taken the letter? Are they shunning ModiGee? Or are they holding their noses and turning up? I ask this of you ‘cos you are an SV insider.

Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: “Or are they holding their noses and turning up?”

Business come first for most of them. “Do no evil” is just a slogan.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

I guess if you cant beat him, you can join him. Why dont you organise a trip of MNS to the Valley. Maybe he cud pick up some business deals for Pakistan.


Seeme said...

There are issue on which BJP won the election but now they are still pending and issue that are of no concern are being raised just to take away public attention from the main points ( the good days). The most surprising thing is either the educated are avoiding it cause no one wants to standup raise their voices as they are somewhat scared of the authorities and those who can are largely misguided like Rahul Gandhi . Two third favourable view cause all are hindus and think muslims will be met with the same fate as u knw and its shocking how much hatred is there in the people heart we work live and friends with and thats the card being played....

Javed said...

BBC: Narendra Modi 'allowed' Gujarat 2002 anti-Muslim riots

A senior police officer's sworn statement to India's Supreme Court alleges that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence in 2002.
Sanjiv Bhatt says he attended a meeting at which Mr Modi is alleged to have said that the Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger.
Mr Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.
'Vent their anger'
The riots began after 60 Hindu pilgrims died when a train carrying them was set on fire.
Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau during the 2002 riots.
In a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, he said that his position allowed him to come across large amounts of information and intelligence both before and during the violence, including the actions of senior administrative officials.
He also alleges that, in a meeting in the night before the riots, Mr Modi told officials that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson following an attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.
The Gujarat government has responded to the allegations by saying they have already testified before a special panel investigating the riots and will wait for the court's verdict.

Riaz Haq said...

Even the Communists Party of India is taking a right turn; using images of Krishna in rallies:

There is no getting away from the nationalist fervour of the day even for the CPI(M), which is known for not having nationalist sentiments. After burning its fingers by celebrating Janmashtami recently, the party that is struggling to retain its ideological existence is turning nationalistic.

The party has directed its district units to observe all national days — including National Science Day, National Environment day, National Youth Day, National Migrants Day, National Martyrs Day, National Reading Day and the likes — with great fervour. The celebrations will start with Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 .

“It is important to celebrate national events. There is a risk of them being hijacked by fundamentalist fascist forces,’’ said a senior CPI(M) leader. When asked about the late decision on the importance of national days, he said the CPI(M) had never been “anti-national”. “We may never have worn our nationalism on our sleeves. The anti-Left propagandist made use of this opportunity to paint the CPI(M) as anti-national,” he said. Though the directive has been given to all state units, the most expressive manifestation of these “national celebrations” is expected to be seen in Kerala, where the party had recently burnt its hands trying to marry Karl and Krishna on the birthday of Lord Krishna.

CPI(M) had organised a march of “little Krishnas” with portraits of Karl Marx, which boomeranged. It made the CPI(M) realise that its attempts to stop BJP from winning over its Hindu cadre through such gestural politics was a blunder.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Yasser Latif Hamdani on Tufail Ahmed:

Tufail Ahmad, the Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC, has recently gone on a rampage against Raza Rumi calling him a “fake liberal” and an “ISI” agent. Raza has advised against this response but I am writing this in the exercise of my freedom of speech. Tufail Ahmad is saying the aforesaid about a person who has always spoken out for the rights of minorities, women and marginalized communities in Pakistan and who almost lost his life for speaking out unwaveringly for the principle. Have some shame at long last. The nerve of this BJP stooge, this shameless uncle Tom, this apologist of Modi’s fascist world view to turn around and attack a person like Raza Rumi and to accuse him of working for the ISI.

What passes for a liberal in extreme Indian right wing eyes is if you basically bow down and kiss Indian arse and not under any circumstances criticize Indians or Indian policy where you feel it is wrong. In this world view everything about Pakistan is wrong and everything about India is right. And if you dare disagree with the Indian right wing paradigm you are likely to be hounded by shrill accusations that you work for ISI. This is McCarthyism 2.0. This is the Tufail Ahmad doctrine of dealing with Pakistanis – by setting the narrative in a way that is perpetually skewed against Pakistan and Pakistanis. If you are a self respecting Pakistani or have an opinion even slightly critical of India, you are precluded from being a liberal or at least a real one at any rate.

Or perhaps the real reason why Tufail Ahmad is on Raza Rumi’s case is because last year I exposed his pedaling of lies by AQ Khan and Shorish Kashmiri. This useless specimen of humanity began insulting me and attacking Raza. To date however, he has not produced the original copy of Chattan weekly which Kashmiri referred to in his book and which was the basis of the dispute.

Whatever the case Tufail Ahmad is the product of a diseased mentality which is the product an increasingly shrinking space for Muslims in Indian political thought. It is a depressing thought but the fact is that Muslims today are caught between Darul-Uloom Deoband which has kept them backwards and then you have self hating types whose idea of patriotism is akin to fellatio to right wing Hindu bigots. Sample the arrogance of this low life:

There is no civil society in Pakistan, only a handful of progressive writers, especially women; if there is one civil society in Pakistan, it is controlled by religious groups and shepherded by the army.

Pakistani civil society does not exist according to this jerk. Pakistani civil society which has faced down violence, military rule and the Mullahs does not exist, because Tufail Ahmad says so. Forget Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani, Habib Jalib and other countless heroes in Pakistan are only a “handful of progressive writers”. Come to think of it I cannot even count a handful of progressive writers in India.

He then says that in order to qualify as a true liberal you have to support the Baloch separatists (as distinguished from those Baloch human rights activists who actually are working for the human rights of Baloch people). He writes:

Riaz Haq said...

Saffronization,Hinduization Or Brahminization? By Dr. K. Jamanadas

These days everybody talks of "Hindutva", they say Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. What are these concepts? What is the difference? Why this difference? These are questions the Bahujans, SC/ST and religious minorities should ponder over. All these acrobatics in phraseology, are they not just to maintain supremacy of Brahmins? Ranjit Pardeshi has discussed all such issues.

Instead of Hinduization, the other word some times used is 'saffronization''. May be due to RSS flag being of saffron color, this word came in vogue to suggest the effect of Sangh. But even this word conceals the concept of the Sangh. After all, saffron is the color of many other flags not necessarily of RSS ideology. Even the color of robes of Buddhist monks could be saffron. Therefore, neither Safronization nor Hinduization denotes the true concepts the R.S.S. The proper word must be Brahminization.

RSS attempts to reverse the ideology of Phule Ambedkar

Inequality in Hinduism is well known, we do not need to refer to 'shastras' to learn about that. All of the suffering masses know it. To combat this inequality, Mahatma Phule suggested 'satya dharma' and Ambedkar accepted Buddhism as the alternative. Phule and Ambedkar's alternative to Hinduism was based on anti-women-slavery, analysis of Brahmin religion, equality for all, anti caste, anti-brahmin shastras and ignoring idea of god.

The RSS activists equate the Phule Ambedkar's ideas with the Renaissance in Hindu religion,which they claim was brought about by people like Swami Vivekananda and Arbindo etc. During early years of his struggle against Hinduism, Ambedkar DID say that Hindu religion needs reforms. On the basis of that RSS now claims that Ambedkar was also a 'Reformer of Hindu religion'. As a matter of fact, Ramesh Patrange, in his 'Dr. Hedgewar aani Dr. Ambedkar' gives an editorial in 'Bahishkrut Bharat' dated 21st December, 1928 as a whole appendix. In that editorial Dr. Ambedkar had narrated the ill effects of caste system and observed that if you have to avoid the destruction of Hindu religion, you must get rid of Caste System. This perhaps in the eyes of RSS is 'Reformer of Hindu religion' and doing same work as Dr. Hedgewar. Thousand and one times Dr. Ambedkar had said that we - the Dalits - are not interested in reforming Hinduism, but the RSS has got selective amnesia about Ambedkar's teachings and they never project such quotes of Ambedkar. This is one aspect of Hinduization. It is note worthy that RSS never refers to Ambedkar's criticism on Brahminism. They always call it reform of 'Hindu' religion and not Brahmin religion.

The other aspect of Hinduization is whatever Ambedkar said about Islam to show the differences from Brahminism is construed to wrongly project Ambedkar as having anti-Islamic convictions.

It must be remembered in both these examples it is the preservation of vested interest of higher castes that is involved. But it is projected as interests of whole 'Hindu' religion and 'Hindu' people. What Samarasata Manch is doing is the glorification of 'Hindu' identity and propagation of hate of 'Muslim' identity, and their real interest is welfare of higher castes. This internal aspect of Samarasata is always concealed. What they show is just an external aspect like religion, religious symbols, mandir masjid etc.

Riaz Haq said...

New email leaks show #India PM #Modi, #BJP Pres involved in #Gujarat riots:Prashant Bhushan … via @@jantakareporter

Renowned Supreme Court lawyer and former AAP leader, Prashant Bhushan, on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP President, Amit Shah, of being involved in infamous Gujarat massacre and ‘fake encounters.’

Bhushan took to twitter to cite the Gujarat’s Additional Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta’s mail to say there was indeed ‘smoking gun’ of the involvement of these two leaders of India’s ruling party in Gujarat riots.

In August 2011, the IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt too had told the Supreme Court that the Gujarat government, which was meant to prosecute those accused of the communal riots of 2002, had actually been leaking information for use in their defence.

Bhatt was recently sacked from his job after the union home ministry led by Rajnath Singh approved his dismissal. Bhatt has always maintained that he had to pay the price because he decided to take on the Modi government in Gujarat over its alleged involvement in riots.
Bhatt has also accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of asking policemen to ignore calls for help during the riots, which killed 1200 people.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Bhatt included emails that allegedly show how the state government was sharing information with the lawyers of some of those accused in the riots.

Gujarat riots in 2002 had killed more than 1200 people mostly Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

"We will cut off tongues of writers for insulting #Hindu gods": Sri Rama Sene. #India #Modi #BJP … via @indiatoday

Siddalinga Swami told reporters in Kalburgi in north Karnataka that Hindus were hurt by the comments of the litterateurs like Professor KS Bhagwan and Chandrashekhar Patil, who allegedly spoke ill of Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

"The epics are followed by millions of Hindus as sacred texts. People will not tolerate the belittling of Ramayana characters, who are worshipped. They will cut off the tongues of writers if they do not stop insulting Hindu gods," he said.

Recently, in an interview to a Kannada TV channel, Professor Bhagwan had said that Rama and Krishna should not be worshipped because they did not uphold human values. His statements had led to a furore.

Swami's threats are likely to land the Sri Rama Sene in trouble again even as Muthalik is trying to maintain a low profile by controlling his activists. On Sunday, the police had arrested a Sri Rama Sene leader for threatening writers with dire consequences. Muthalik had disowned the leader and apologized to the writers. However, he had also sought an apology from the writers for allegedly defaming his organization.

It is to be seen now if Muthalik will disown Siddalinga Swami for his comments on the writers. The police said they are keeping an eye on Sri Rama Sene leaders for their inflammatory public speeches.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Modi to face ‘horrifying’ billboards in #SiliconValley …

San Jose, California, 22 Sep 2015 : PM Modi is all set to face criticising billboards when he will visit Silicon Valley on Sep 27.
Few billboards targeting him over human rights issues have already appeared on highways in Bay Area of California to welcome him they way he will never like .
As part of the #ModiFail campaign, the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) is using billboards to raise public awareness about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration’s attacks on personal freedoms and human rights in India. AJA hopes this series of billboards in the Bay Area, will inform the American people that Modi’s upcoming Silicon Valley PR tour is being used as an excuse to whitewash his dismal record as Prime Minister, and before that, Chief Minister of Gujarat.
The billboards are visible from I-580 in Oakland, I-280 in Daly City, Highway 92 in Hayward, Highway 84 in Newark, I-880 in Newark, I-880 in Milpitas, and Highway 101 in Santa Clara.The billboards highlight, the AJA’s online report card calling attention to the facts behind some of Narendra Modi’s most egregious failures during his 16 months in office as Prime Minister.India’s celebrated values of pluralism and tolerance are under severe attack since Mr. Modi assumed office as Prime Minister. According to the Modi government’s sources, attacks against religious minorities are up 25% since last year. His own ministers are engaged in a malicious hate campaign against Christians and Muslims.
Narendra Modi speaks eloquently of Digital India, but individuals posting comments against Modi or his peers on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and other social media sites have repeatedly faced arrests; when the Indian Supreme Court struck down the hated “Facebook arrest” law, the Modi government expressed interest in passing replacement censorship legislation to skirt the ban.
The Modi government has been particularly vicious in its attacks on free speech, as it increasingly equates dissent, even in the form of social media posts, with sedition and “waging war against the state.”
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) is a diverse coalition led by progressive Indian American communities. AJA members work for pluralism, civil rights, religious freedom, women’s rights, LGBTQ equality, and environmental justice in India and beyond.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Modi eyes #SiliconValley on U.S. trip as euphoria fades. Reputation hurt by reform setbacks via @Reuters

Western businesses and diplomats in Delhi privately say Modi's reputation as a man of action has been hurt by setbacks on economic reform. Some carp that he is better at speeches and launching projects than seeing them through.

The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Q3 Asian Business Sentiment Survey found on Wednesday that optimism among Indian companies, while still high, had been dented by the slow pace of reform.

U.S. lawmakers wrote to the Obama administration on Monday complaining about barriers to trade they said had got worse under Modi, as well as disputes over copyrights and patents.

"The sheen is off, certainly. He is no longer the new kid on the block," said Neelam Deo, a former Indian diplomat in Washington now at Gateway House, a think-tank.

"The first trip was euphoric, this one is much more a consolidation phase of the relationship."

Riaz Haq said...

Is the Honeymoon Over for #NarendraModi? #India #BJP …

Modi’s trip to the United States marks the 29th foreign trip he has made during his 16 months as prime minister. After attracting criticism for appearing nervous in a speech he delivered in Brazil early in his term, he has seemingly done nothing but dazzle abroad. He has inked big deals—from a uranium deal with Australia to a mammoth $75 billion infrastructure investment accord with the United Arab Emirates. He has hobnobbed with celebrities, rubbed shoulders with top executives, and regaled adoring members of the Indian diaspora from New York to Sydney and Toronto to Berlin.

If only things were going so well back home.

In recent weeks, Modi has suffered blow after blow to his domestic policy agenda—and particularly to his economic reform plan, which millions of Indian voters gave him a large mandate to craft and implement.

On September 9, the government decided to abandon, for now, its quest to institute a uniform goods and services tax, a single nationwide duty that would replace the various taxes levied by India’s states and bring some much-needed order to India’s tax system. A GST, according to economists, could increase GDP by 2 percent. The government shelved the plan when it concluded that it wouldn’t be approved in Parliament.

This was a particularly bitter defeat for New Delhi, given that it had already abandoned another big-bang tax reform attempt earlier this year: the phase-out of retrospective taxation. Such a move would have been “too much, too soon,” according to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Modi has also suffered setbacks on proposed land and labor reforms. This summer, his government suspended efforts to get legislation passed that would facilitate the acquisition of farmland for industrial and infrastructure purposes. Additionally, New Delhi’s plans to pass new labor laws that give employers more flexibility to hire and fire workers have been vociferously opposed by major unions and millions of low-wage workers. They staged a nationwide strike in early September.

This isn’t to say that Modi’s reform efforts have been a total failure. He has kickstarted several dozen stalled projects to boost infrastructure—one of India’s most glaring needs. He has also removed controls on diesel costs, a small step toward easing the government’s heavy regulation of the energy sector, which generates inefficiencies and discourages foreign investors. Furthermore, several Indian state governments have in fact implemented some of the reform projects proposed by Modi.

Still, these encouraging signs for New Delhi have not assuaged the concerns of many Indian and foreign investors, who admit they are getting restless after hearing many promises but seeing few results. Earlier this month, prominent commodities trader Jim Rogers announced that he had sold off all his Indian shares and was moving into different markets.

There are various reasons for Modi’s struggles at home. His reform plan is meant to replicate what he did in Gujarat, where he was chief minister for 12 years, yet Gujarat boasts an entrepreneurial and market-friendly environment that is sorely lacking in many of India’s other states (the India Entrepreneurship Report 2014, released earlier this year by Amway India, ranks Gujarat as India’s top state on indices such as infrastructure support, entrepreneurial confidence, and growth-oriented economy). Additionally, India’s upper house of Parliament and several major states are not controlled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Not surprisingly, most of the Indian states that have not implemented reforms urged by Modi are run by the opposition Congress party—including Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Uttarakhand.

Gourish said...

How about the latest pew survey...surely you must have read it...your selective portrayal of articles at play again?

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Eid Mubarak to you and to everyone else here.

India has beaten Pakiland in Global Broadband Report which came out on Sep 21. 15.3% of India’s households have Internet access compared to 13.2% in Pakiland. Mobile broadband subscription stood at 5.5 per 100 in India (Rank #155) v/s only 5.1 per 100 in Pakiland (Rank #156). Wonder what you make of this, sir?


Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Indian analyst Krishna Kant explains how India's Hindu Nationalist BJP party has unwittingly helped Pakistan by going nuclear:

1. India’s hands and feet are, however, tied behind its back, thanks to nuclear tests by the previous NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The blasts burnished the macho image of the Bharatiya Janta Party but also allowed Pakistan to go nuclear, forever limiting India’s geostrategic options in the region.

2. History suggests that the threat of a nuclear attack is enough to deter powers from entering into a direct conflict with aggressors. This explains why United States is trying to contain North Korea rather than confront it for it cannot afford a nuclear missile attack on South Korea, Japan or worse on its own Western seaboard.

3. We face a similar situation on our western borders. The threat of a nuclear attack has forced us to raise our tolerance level towards Pakistan military transgressions, both on the border and inside the country. Just count the number and severity of cross-border terrorist attack that India has suffered since the 1999 nuclear tests.

4. After going nuclear, Pakistan’s defence spending decelerated and its share in GDP is expected to be decline to around 2.5% in the current fiscal year, slightly ahead of India’s 2%. This is releasing resources for Pakistan to invest in productive sectors such as infrastructure and social services, something they couldn’t do when they were competing with India to maintain parity in conventional weapons.

5. In this environment, a hard talk by (India's NSA) Mr (Ajit) Doval (India should stop punching “below its weight” and “punch proportionately” instead) followed by a high-decibel drama by the government on the National Security Advisor’s talk between the two countries seems nothing more than a show for the gallery. The audience may be applauding right now, but claps may turn to boos as the public realises the inconsistencies in the script and the pain it inflicts on the hero.

Aniket said...

There is an assumption in Pakistan that it is a rival to India of some sorts.

Needless to say, India doesn't look at it that way.

Pakistan is wasting it's time and destroying itself in a useless pursuit. Just focus on competing with it's hero Afghanistan. India doesn't give a damn. At best Pakistan is a nuisance, increasingly smaller nuisance.

It is more of an issue for Pakistanis themselves who are paying the price for the mugalatas of their clueless elite that has no option other than keeping the pretense.

Syed Qasim Abbas said...

need to stop waisting time about India and what's wrong with it .....our house is not in order need to fix that the end we have to compete with ourselves and our incompetence and I still have no hate

Riaz Haq said...

Human Rights Advocacy Groups Oppose #India's #modiinsiliconvalley | NBC Bay Area. #BJP #ModiInUSA … via @nbcbayarea

News that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to hobnob with the Bay Area’s leading tech executives has sparked outrage among human rights advocacy groups.
National advocacy group Sikhs For Justice plans to protest Modi’s visit at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters on Sunday morning and, later in the day, outside the SAP Center.

The group argues that Modi’s tenure as Indian's leaader has resulted in deteriorating religious freedom for its citizens. They allege that he is aggressively trying to turn the world’s largest democracy into a Hindu nation through forced conversion of Muslims and Christians.
Sikhs For Justice has also offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who poses specific questions to Zuckerberg and Modi regarding the latter’s treatment of Sikhs.

"We urge everyone to remind [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg that hosting a known human rights violator runs counter to the core American value of upholding religious freedom,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an attorney and legal advisor for Sikhs For Justice.
Modi, who was in the United States last September, is slated to visit Tesla and Google and meet with Indian-American startup founders. He believes that the technological innovation that these companies are known for can help to raise the standard of living in India.

The SAP center is expected to be at full capacity for Sunday evening's event. More than 45,000 people requested tickets to hear Modi speak, but the arena can only hold 18,000. Video screens will be set up outside to accommodate those who were unable to secure a spot inside.`

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Independent intellectuals attacked by Sangh Parivar assassins in #India as #Hindu fundamentalism grows under #Modi

Kalburgi, who vocally opposed the Hindu practice of idol worship, is the latest secular thinker to be assassinated in South Asia. His slaying late last month raises questions about freedom of expression and highlights the growing might of religious fundamentalists across the region.

Hours after Kalburgi was killed, Bhuvith Shetty, a member of the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal, tweeted in celebration: "Mock Hinduism and die a dog's death. And dear K.S. Bhagwan you are next."

Karnataka boasts one of India's highest literacy rates and includes the technology hub of Bangalore, but it is also home to deeply conservative Hindu groups. Last month in the coastal city of Mangalore, a group of Hindu men spotted a Muslim man speaking with a Hindu woman. They tied him to a pole, stripped him and beat him for nearly an hour, according to police.

Two other high-profile rationalists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, were shot point-blank 18 months apart in the western state of Maharashtra.

Dabholkar, a 68-year-old activist who worked on behalf of villagers exploited by local gurus and so-called godmen, campaigned for the state government to pass an anti-superstition bill. It's been two years since he was killed in the city of Pune, and no one has been charged.

"Fundamentalism in India is growing by the day across religions," Nayak said. "They feel they can scare us into submission but are completely mistaken. The anti-superstition movement in Maharashtra grew stronger after Dabholkar's assassination.

"As far as I am concerned, I would rather die speaking my mind instead of letting disgraceful things unfold in front of my eyes."

Anonymous said...

I feel extremely sad that Modi charisma has worked again in US. Whether this will translate into dollars is to be seen in the coming year or 2.
I thought at least this time the tech world will stand for human rights but instead they have stood for wealth creation and power.
I think PM Nawaz should also try to do a Modi and get the technology companies to open offices in Pakistan.

Chet said...

Oh yes the ratio of people for and against this change quite proves this. Yes media attention seeking janta always try to catch the glare of cameras and yes succeed too.

Riaz Haq said...

Chet: "Oh yes the ratio of people for and against this change quite proves this. Yes media attention seeking janta always try to catch the glare of cameras and yes succeed too."

Majority does not equal morality. Hitler too had a lot of support for his Nazi agenda as did Mussolini for his Fascism

r_sundar said...

There is no leader in the history of the world who will be able to appease 100% of the population in the past, present and in the future.

Riaz Haq said...

"21st Century Belongs to #India" says #Modi at SAP Center #SiliconValley #ModiInSiliconValley …

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Indian community at the SAP Center in Silicon Valley.

As it happened:

9.00 a.m.: Here are the top 10 quotes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech today at the SAP Center.

8.50 a.m.: PM Modi exits the venue, greeting the audience as he leaves.

8.47 a.m.: From December 2 onward, Air India's direct flight from Delhi to San Fransico will fly three times a week, announces PM Modi.

8.45 a.m.: PM Modi comes back on stage. "I have forgotten to mention a piece of good news."

8.43 a.m.: PM Modi winds up his speech with chants of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Jai Baghat Singh".

8.40 a.m.: We are harbingers of peace. We come from the land of Gandhi and Buddha, says PM Modi.

8.37 a.m.: We cannot safeguard mankind from either 'good terrorism' or 'bad terrorism'. Terrorism is terrorism: PM Modi

8.35 a.m.: The UN still hasn't been able to define terrorism. If it has taken the UN 15 years to define terrorism, how long will it take to fight terrorism: PM Modi

8.33 a.m.: Two main challenges facing the world right now are terrorism and global warming, says PM Modi. We need to get tackle these two menaces.

8:32 am: BRICS has become a force to reckon with due to India's participation: Modi

8.30 a.m.: I requested the people of the nation to give up their LPG subsidy for the poor. I feel proud to say that 30 lakh people have surrendered their subsidy so far: PM

8.27 a.m.: "Rs.25,000 crore has been deposited Jan Dhan Yojana."

8.24 a.m.: Technology has given a new strength and direction to entire world. Acknowledging that, we have initiated 'Digital India':PM Modi.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Why dont you organise a visit of MNS or Gen Raheel to the West Coast. Pakiland too has a large potential for IT (consumption as well as export), IT enabled services and clean energy. However, the negative and obstructive nature of Paki media is a serious barrier.


Riaz Haq said...

2.3 million Indians, including hundreds with PhDs, applied for the 368 jobs with the government of Uttar Pradesh. Hundreds of candidates with doctorates and other advanced degrees applied for the jobs that pay about 16,000 rupees ($240) a month and require a fifth-grade education.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Muslim man beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef in #Modi's #India | via @Telegraph #BeefBan …

Mohammad Akhlaq was attacked by around 100 people and despite being taken to hospital, police said "his life could not be saved"

A 50-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef, a taboo in India, a Hindu-majority nation.
Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged from his house on the outskirts of the capital and attacked by around 100 people on Monday night, a police officer told AFP.
"When our team reached the spot a crowd was there outside his house. They (police) managed to rescue him and take him to the hospital, but his life could not be saved," said senior police superintendent Kiran S.
Indian police said on Wednesday they had arrested six people and "deployed additional personnel to contain any further repercussions".
Mr Akhlaq's 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the attack and was in intensive care at a nearby hospital.
Killing cows is banned in many states of India, a majority-Hindu country that also has sizeable Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities.
In March, the state of Maharashtra toughened its ban to make even possessing beef illegal, a move seen by religious minorities as a sign of the growing power of hardline Hindus since nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi came to power.
The rumours that the family had eaten beef began when a calf was reported missing in Dadri village, 22 miles from New Delhi.
"An announcement about the family consuming beef was made at a temple, after which the mob descended on the man's house," said Kiran.
The Indian Express quoted Mr Akhlaq's daughter Sajida as saying the family had mutton in the fridge and not beef.
"They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother. My father was dragged outside and beaten with bricks," she told the daily.

Riaz Haq said...

Welcome To #Modi's #India: Where Cows Matter More Than Humans (But There Is Wifi In Railway Stations) #BeefBan

NEW DELHI: The shocking incident of a fifty year old man being savagely beaten to death by a mob for allegedly eating beef in UP’s Dadri has once again turned the spotlight to ‘progressive’, ‘shining’, ‘digital’ India.

Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son severely injured on Monday as residents of Balsara village surrounded their home and accused them of eating cow meat. They then dragged the two men out of the house and beat them with bricks. The senior Akhlaq succumbed to his injuries soon after, and his son remains in a critical condition.

To add insult to grievous injury, the investigation seems to be revolving around determining whether the family did or did not eat beef. The daughter who witnessed the incident insists the meat was mutton -- but why does that even matter? Whether the family was or was not consuming beef is immaterial, but somehow, that seems to have figured into the investigation as the meat in question is on its way to a lab for testing.

The fact that this incident took place as our Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived back in India having completed his famed US tour (where he shook hands with Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrated a move toward “Digital India”) -- raises uncomfortable questions about our priorities as a nation.

We are so quick to celebrate superficial victories that we are forgetting the real challenges this country faces. Challenges such as the mindset and culture that caused the death of Mohammad Akhlaq. Challenges relating to education, income inequality, religious extremism, gender violence, abysmal health care, and so on.

We were so busy celebrating PM Modi’s announcement of direct flights from India to San Francisco, that the news that an American tourist was gangraped just a week earlier in Dharamsala ceases to matter. FYI, violence against women is on the rise in India: statistics show that an average of 92 women are raped EVERY DAY in this country, and that’s just the reported incidents.

We were so busy changing our profiles on Facebook to support #DigitalIndia, that we forgot that just earlier this month, a seven year old boy and a nine year old girl succumbed to dengue fever because hospitals refused to admit them.

We were so busy with the excitement of Google’s announcement of wifi in 400 Indian railway stations that we forgot that just ten days ago, a Khap Panchayat in Haryana ordered five shoe slaps to a 23-year-old man as PUNISHMENT for raping a seven year old girl. Lesson learnt?

We were so busy agreeing with Rupert Murdoch's assertion that PM Modi is India’s greatest leader that we didn’t care about communal riots in Ranchi, the fact that a three year old toddler was shot dead in Kashmir -- the latest in a string of mysterious killings that many blame India’s armed forces for, or the death threats issued by right wing groups to Marathi journalist Nikhil Wagle.

We were so busy retweeting a photo of PM Modi shaking hands with Mark Zuckerberg that we forgot that real India is (tragically) an India where a man can be beaten to death for eating (or not eating) a particular type of meat.

So is this our message to the world? I see it loud and clear. “Welcome to India, where cows matter more than human beings, but fret not, we have free Wifi at railway stations (whether it works or not is immaterial.)”

Sanjay said...

You have raised some very important points. These problems are very much real. I wish more power to liberal and secular forces fighting Hindutva bigots in India. But Mr. Haq, you should also write an article about secularism in Pakistan and in other South Asian countries. Your silence on such issues in Pakistan raise doubt about your motives and credibility. I hope you will allow this post to appear on your blog unlike my previous posts.

Riaz Haq said...

Sanjay: "But Mr. Haq, you should also write an article about secularism in Pakistan and in other South Asian countries. Your silence on such issues in Pakistan raise doubt about your motives and credibility."

I have written frequent posts on the subject of intolerance and religious bigotry in Pakistan.
Here are a few examples:

Riaz Haq said...


Now even the pretence of remorse is not there. BJP leaders from Western Uttar Pradesh have supported the brutal murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, “when we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. This was not a communal riot. The Hindu community worships cows. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter.”

This belligerence, demonstrated by no less than the vice president of BJP’s west UP unit Shrichand Sharma has deepened tensions in Dadri district where both communities had lived in relative peace over the years. Terror-struck Muslim families are all preparing to leave the area, some have left, others are packing their bags to go. Where? They don’t know but fear for their lives is making them leave the homes where they lived for decades to face a future that is bleak, to say the least.

A former legislator from Dadri Nawab Singh Nagar spoke in the same aggressive vein maintaining that the family was at fault. He too, has been quoted in media reports stating, “it is obvious that such an incident will lead to anger among people and there will be communal tension. If this was the case, the family is in the wrong. If they have consumed beef, they are also responsible. This is a village of Thakurs and they express their sentiments in a very strong way. If they have done this, they should have kept in mind what the reaction would be.”

In short: if you eat beef you deserve to die. And you will be killed.

There has not been a word on this from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP president Amit Shah. Not a restraining word, that feeds into the perception that the violence and the murder, clearly supported (if not instigated) by the BJP and its affiliates. Instead the local BJP unit has demanded the release of the six persons arrested from a mob of over 100 persons, threatening to hold a mahapanchayat to release the killers, and instead take action against the victims for “cow slaughter.” Another local BJP leader Vichitra Tomar has been quoted in the Indian Express that is the only mainstream newspaper to have covered the ghastly crime in some detail, demanding, “the release of all the people who have been arrested in connection with the Bisada incident, who are all innocent. We also demand legal action against those who are engaged in cow slaughter, as it is meant to incite sentiments of Hindus.” This mahapanchayat, clearly projected as a threat to break law and order by the BJP, is scheduled for October 11 with the party already campaigning aggressively in the area for a large attendance.

Fear has gripped the area, with all residents reminded now of similar mahapanchayats that led to brutal attack on the Muslims in Muzaffarnagar last year during the Lok Sabha campaign.

Riaz Haq said...

Shekhar Gupta: Mainstreaming the Lynch-Fringe #india | Business Standard Column. #BeefMurder #BJP #Modi …

Even after taking a close look at rise of the BJP as our pre-eminent national party, I can't say for sure when, and how, the term “fringe elements” emerged. Probably, it did in the run-up to the Ayodhya demolition in the winter of 1992. What we can say for sure is, if the moderate leadership does not challenge the fringe, it continues to morph, expand, and subsume the mainstream. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal were once fringe; today they are “sister” organisations. Sanatan Sanstha, Samadhan Sena and Abhinav Bharat are fringe today.

The Dadri incident is a chilling turning point in our politics. It marks the rise of Hindu supremacist mob militancy that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won’t unequivocally condemn or disown. It will criticise the killing, but qualify it in a half-dozen ways. You want to see how, refer to my friend, BJP MP and RSS intellectual Tarun Vijay’s article in Friday’s Indian Express. He says the lynching was abhorrent to the spirit of Hinduism and India as Mohammad Akhlaq was killed “merely on suspicion”, and that his daughter was so right in asking, what if it were proven that her father had not eaten beef, would someone bring him back?

This implies that if he had indeed eaten beef, and if the mob had clear evidence, retribution would be fair. The point should have been, so what even if he had eaten beef? It isn’t illegal in Uttar Pradesh (cow slaughter is illegal), and where it is, there are stern laws to deal with offenders.

Let’s join the dots. A temple loudspeaker was used for the priest to allegedly rally the (Hindu) faithful to come out seeking retribution. The local MP and Central culture minister was as qualified in his condemnation as Tarun Vijay, as were other BJP leaders. There is a clear, well-thought-out response to such incidents, whether it is the thrashing of dating couples in Mangalore, assassination of rationalists in Maharashtra and Karnataka, or criminally provocative statements, ranging from “Ramzade vs Haramzade” to “in spite of being a Muslim” and “go to Pakistan”. Read this then also with the go-slow on the terror cases allegedly involving radical Hindus. If Abhinav Bharat was indeed a minor rogue fringe group, why is it being protected now as if it were a victim?

The reason I call Dadri a landmark turning point in our politics isn’t just because it was probably the first time since the Partition riots that a temple loudspeaker was used to rouse a mob, though this was significant in itself, as temples calling the faithful isn’t even a Hindu tradition. The more important factor is the relatively muted response of the self-styled secular forces. Top leaders of the Congress haven’t even taken a padyatra or fact-finding mission to the village, just a 40-minute drive from Delhi. Lalu, Nitish, Mamata, all claimants to the secular vote, are afraid of messing with an issue involving the cow. Holiness of the cow has now become as multi-partisan an issue as hostility to Pakistan. In March this year, the predominantly Hindu state of Haryana, with no history of cow slaughter and which already had a cow-protection law, passed a new, heavily worded Gauvansh Sanrakshan (cow protection) and Gausamvardhan (cow propagation) Act.

Riaz Haq said...

Godse's and #Modi's #India: Not My Idea of #India. #BeefMurder #BJP … via @ndtv

Last month, I was reading Nathuram Godse's statement to the court in his defence of murdering Mahatma Gandhi. The statement published in the form of a book titled 'Why I killed Gandhi' had me in a state of shock with Godse's justification of his intolerance. I was convinced that men like him were a minority, that Godse was a lunatic and the thought that killed Gandhi would not be tolerated by a civilized India.

In one of the paragraphs, Godse goes on to say, "I firmly believed that the teachings of absolute 'ahimsa' as advocated by Gandhiji would ultimately result in the emasculation of the Hindu community, and thus make the community incapable of resisting the aggression or inroads of other communities, especially the Muslims. To counteract this evil, I resolved to enter public life and form a group of persons who held similar views". This was the thought that killed Gandhi and deepened the roots of religious polarization and communalism in Indiasix decades ago.

On 28th September, the brutal murder of 50-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri, in Greater Noida, by a lynch mob of 200 people on the suspicion that he consumed beef has proved once again that the thought that killed Gandhi is gaining momentum.

Ikhlaq, who worked as a carpenter barely 50 kms from Delhi, lived with his ageing mother, wife, younger son and daughter. His elder son, Sartaj, an Indian Air Force personnel is posted in Chennai. The idea of India that Ikhlaq's son Sartaj was trying to protect as an engineer in the Air Force betrayed him and his family earlier this week.

By killing his father, and leaving his brother in a critical condition, Sartaj's nationalism was rewarded in the most ghastly, unthinkable manner. The modus operandi used in the murder was no different than those used by radicals in the past. An announcement was made on a loudspeaker that a cow had been slaughtered and its carcass had been found near a transformer. The rumor later spread in the village with WhatsApp and other messaging tools, something that reminds us of the method used by extremists and bigots triggering the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. Within minutes of the announcement, the mob had killed Ikhlaque and severely injured his family. As if this act was not savage enough, government officials sent the meat found in the house to ascertain whether it was indeed beef - the suggestion being that if it indeed was beef, then the murder of two sons of India was justified.

Yes, this is the new India we are referring to where we talk of a revolution in technology, where our Prime Minister visits the Facebook headquarters and we get encouraging photo-ops from Silicon Valley.

This is the new India where the Prime Minister a day after the murder congratulates his Minister for Culture, Dr Mahesh Sharma, on his birthday on Twitter, the same minister who just this month famously pledged to cleanse Indian culture of Western influence. While the PM has every right to congratulate his ministers on their birthdays (birthday celebrations being a Western concept according to the Sangh Parivar), it was shocking that he had no word of condolence for the family of Sartaj, a patriot serving the country. He had no word of condemnation for those savages and murderers who had brought cultural cleansing into action.


The kind of thought we would mock our neighbouring country for on most occasions. As I write this, I am nauseous, pained, ashamed of being a part of this alleged India growth story. This is not the idea I grew up with and the new idea of India has shaken me to the core today.

India, my country, my motherland, why am I unable to recognize you anymore?

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Hindu Fundamentalists.600 attacks on minorities (#Christians, #Muslims) since #Modi took office @AJEnglish

Since Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist and leader of the right-wing BJP party, became prime minister of India in May 2014, groups of radical Hindu nationalists have been terrorising religious minorities across the country.

According to a leading Christian rights group, at least 600 such attacks took place between Modi's election and August of this year. One hundred and forty-nine of these assaults were against Christians; the rest were targeted at the country's Muslim community.

The attacks, say critics, are being orchestrated by radical groups affiliated to Hindu nationalist and political pressure group: the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.

Prime Minister Modi is a lifelong member of the RSS and the backing of its members was crucial in helping his BJP party win the 2014 election. Since then, emboldened by the result, Modi’s most extreme nationalist supporters have routinely taken to the streets, using violence and intimidation to press their claim for a purely Hindu India.

Muslims have been forced to convert to Hinduism, homes burnt down and people even murdered for allegedly consuming beef; cows having special status in the Hindu faith.

Meanwhile, Hindu nationalists have been rewriting school textbooks in some states and holding training camps for teenage boys and girls in an apparent attempt to inculcate children into their cause.

We asked Indian filmmaker and journalist Mandakini Gahlot, herself a Hindu, to go in search of those who want a purely Hindu nation and find out what their resurgence means for the future of the world’s most populous secular democracy.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's (and his cabinet's) poor education, #India's great educational divide fueling anti-#Muslim bigotry, hate?

Aatish Taseer Op Ed in NY Times:

In India, the Congress Party was liberal, left-leaning and secular; but it was also the party of the colonized elite. That meant that practically everyone who was rich, and educated, and grew up speaking English, was also invariably a supporter of Congress.


The cabinet, save for the rare exception, is made up of too many crude, bigoted provincials, united far more by a lack of education than anything so grand as ideology. At the time of writing — and here the one will have to speak for the many — Mr. Modi’s minister of culture had just said of a former Muslim president: “Despite being a Muslim, he was a great nationalist and humanist.”

Some 10 days later, there was the hideous incident in which a Muslim man was lynched by a Hindu mob in a village outside Delhi, on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow and eating beef. It was a defining moment, the culmination of 16 months of cultural chauvinism and hysteria under Mr. Modi, the scarcely veiled target of which are India’s roughly 170 million Muslims. This ugliness is eclipsing Mr. Modi’s development agenda, and just this week, there was yet another incident in which a Kashmiri politician was attacked in Srinagar for hosting “a beef party.”

Poisonous as these attitudes are, they have much more to do with class than politics. They are so obviously part of the vulgarity that accompanies violent social change. If the great drama of our grandparents’ generation was independence, and our parents’ that post-colonial period, ours represents the twilight of the (admittedly flawed) English-speaking classes, and an unraveling of the social and moral order they held in place. A new country is seething with life, but not all vitality is pretty, and there now exists a glaring cultural and intellectual gap between India’s old, entrenched elite and the emerging electorate.

In other places, education would have helped close the gap; it would have helped the country make a whole of the social change it was witnessing. No society is so equitable that men as economically far apart as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — or as Ed Miliband and David Cameron, for that matter — would have attended the same schools. But, in England and America, there is Oxford and Yale to level the field, to give both men the means to speak to each other.

This is not true of India. In India, one class has had access to the best private schools and foreign universities, where all the instruction is in English; the other has had to make do with the state schools and universities Indian socialism bequeathed them. The two classes almost never meet; they don’t even speak the same language. It has left India divided between an isolated superelite (and if you’re an Indian reading this, you’re probably part of it!) and an emerging middle class that may well lack the intellectual tools needed to channel its vitality.


In another society, with the benefit of a real education, Mr. Modi might have been something more than he was. Then it would be possible to imagine a place with real political differences, and not one in which left and right were divided along the blade of a knife by differences in class, language and education. But just as that other society does not yet exist, neither does that other Modi. Indians will have to make do with the Modi they have; and, as things stand, perhaps the cynics are right: Perhaps this great hope of Indian democracy, with his limited reading and education, is not equal to the enormous task before him.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Top #BJP campaigner against #beef owns halal meat processing and beef export business Al-Dua. #BeefPolitics …

MLA Sangeet Singh Som admits he was director of Al-Dua, a company that processes halal meat

Sangeet Singh Som, the fiery BJP MLA at the forefront of the frenzied anti-beef protests and an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, founded one of India’s leading halal meat export companies, according to documents available with The Hindu.

The company, Al-Dua Food Processing Private Ltd, was founded by Mr. Som, along with Moinuddin Qureshi and a third partner, to deal in meat and meat products in 2005. According to Al-Dua’s website, the company is now a “leading producer and exporter of halal meat from India.”

Mr. Som’s role in promoting the company is at variance with the BJP’s campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who during the Lok Sabha polls, called the growing meat exports the “pink revolution.” Mr. Modi and others have said that the growing meat exports were a cover for slaughter of cows.

When The Hindu confronted Mr. Som with the evidence, he flatly denied having anything to do with meat business.

“There was nothing about meat. I am a pure Hindu and would do nothing to hurt Hindu sentiment. You would be surprised to know that despite being a Thakur I don’t eat even egg and start my day with a havan,” he said.

According to the Memorandum of Association of Al-Dua Food Processing, filed on December 19, 2005, the company, which exports halal meat to Arab countries, was started “to carry on the business of (sic) manufacturers, producers, processors, buyers, sellers of and dealers in meat, meat products…”

Unsecured loans

Official documents show that in 2005-06, all three promoters of Al-Dua, one of India’s leading halal meat exporting companies Mr. Som co-founded, also advanced unsecured loans to the company. Mr. Som gave Rs. 4 lakh, Moinuddin Qureshi Rs. 7.60 lakh and Yogesh Rawat Rs. 4 lakh. The company also received unsecured loans from two other companies totalling Rs. 10 lakh.

Official filings with the Registrar of Company Affairs show that the company purchased a piece of land for Rs. 30,78,000 in 2005-06.

On March 27, 2008, Mr. Som ceased to be a director in the company. He transferred his 20,000 shares in the company to Nasira Begum at Rs. 10 a share. There is no evidence of Mr. Som receiving back the unsecured loan he gave the company, or of him charging any premium for the shares in the company.

Al-Dua was not the only business dealing between Mr. Som and Mr. Qureshi, one of India’s leading meat exporters. Mr. Som has also been involved as an additional director in Al-Anam Agro Foods Pvt. Ltd. with Mr. Qureshi.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's #India saw religiously motivated killings, riots, forced conversion: US #ReligiousFreedom 2014 #beefmurder

India witnessed religiously motivated killings, arrests, riots and coerced religious conversions and the police in some cases failed to respond effectively to communal violence, according to the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom 2014.

In the India section of the Congressional mandated annual report released by Secretary of State John Kerry today, the State Department said that some government officials made discriminatory statements against religious minorities. "There were reports of religiously motivated killings, arrests, coerced religious conversions, religiously motivated riots and actions restricting the right of individuals to change religious beliefs," said the report.

It said that in some cases, local police failed to respond effectively to communal violence, including attacks against religious minorities, although local officials used broad authorities to deploy police and security forces to control outbreaks of religiously motivated violence. The local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Act Now for Harmony and Democracy reported more than 800 religiously- motivated attacks from May through the end of the year 2014.

Citing Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Niranjan Jyoti's remarks at an election rally in Delhi, it said government officials reportedly made discriminatory statements against members of religious minorities. "After her remarks stirred several days of heated national condemnation and disrupted proceedings of parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament that he 'strongly disapproved of the remarks' and 'we should avoid using such language'. Jyoti subsequently expressed regret for her remark," the report said. The State Department said there is restriction on free expression on basis of religion in India.

Authorities continued to enforce laws designed to protect "religious sentiments" which, according to observers, at times had the effect of limiting free expression related to religion, the report said. The State Department rued that hundreds of legal cases remained pending from violence during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Nanavati-Mehta Commission on the 2002 riots ultimately released its Final Report on November 18. Some NGOs called into question the impartiality of the findings. Court cases related to the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha continued, resulting in convictions for persons responsible for the public rape of a nun during the riots. Displaced Kashmiri Hindu Pandits continued to seek redress for crimes committed against them and their houses of worship by Kashmiri insurgents in the 1990s, it said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Mumbai Police thrashed two young #Muslims, asked them to go to #Pakistan, accuses victims' relatives. #India @dna
Residents of Mahim, two 19-year-olds Asif Shaikh and Danish Shaikh were allegedly detained and tortured by a few Bandra police officers on suspicion of being Pakistani terrorists or ISIS agents on Saturday, a leading daily reported.

Asif who works as a gym trainer was with Danish near Bandra Reclamation on the way back home from Bhabha Hospital, when they were allegedly picked up by the police.

Victims' relatives and neighbours allege that both Asif and Danish were detained and grilled for over three hours and were beaten badly. They were even asked to "leave India and go to Pakistan" by the police, they said.

Asif was hit with belts and batons and Danish slapped and punched, after which the police finally made a call to their parents to take them back.

It is not clear whether the detention of Asif and Danish was made an official entry in police records.

Asif's photo published in the news report shows the brutality he was treated with, but the police is yet to make comment on the incident.

Riaz Haq said...

Jewish Extremism in #Israel: #Israeli Foreign Minister in His Own Words. "Chop our opponents heads off with an axe" …

“[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.”
- Then-deputy minister of religious services and current deputy minister of defense, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, 2013.

“What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy?... They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
- Current minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked, quoting a former settler activist and speechwriter and advisor for Netanyahu, 2014.

“The Sudanese are a cancer in our body. We will do everything to send them back where they came from."
– Miri Regev, current minister of culture and sport, 2012.

“Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe,"
– Then-foreign minister and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, 2015.

"Our soldiers are the only innocents in Gaza. Under no circumstances should they be killed because of false morality that prefers to protect enemy civilians. One hair on the head of an Israeli soldier is more precious than the entire Gazan populace, which elected the Hamas and supports and encourages anyone who murders Israelis."
– Then-deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) from Netanyahu's Likud party, Moshe Feiglin, 2014.

“A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.”
– Then-deputy minister of religious services and current deputy minister of defense, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, 2013.

“I am happy to be a fascist!”
– Miri Regev, current minister of culture and sport, 2012.

“[There are] 92,000 families in Israel in which one of the partners is not Jewish - we have a real problem that we have to deal with."
– Tzipi Hotovely, current deputy foreign minister, 2011.

"The Palestinian threat harbors cancer-like attributes that have to be severed. There are all kinds of solutions to cancer. Some say it's necessary to amputate organs but at the moment I am applying chemotherapy."
- Then-general and current defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, 2002.

"[The way to deal with Palestinians is to] beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it's unbearable."
– Benjamin Netanyahu, current prime minister, while in the opposition following his first term as prime minister, caught on video speaking to Israeli settlers, 2001.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's strange preoccupation with #Pakistan. India needs to look within for homegrown extremism #Modi via @dwnews

In 2003, on a flight to Hong Kong, I had a Frenchman and an Indian sitting behind me. Both must have been in their 30s, as was I. Their conversation throughout the flight was quite audible, especially when the Frenchman begun to groan about the time that he had spent in Mumbai (in the early 1990s).
He was telling the Indian how he (and his wife) got caught up in a riot that had erupted after mobs of Hindu extremists attacked and destroyed an old mosque in the Indian city of Ayoudhia in 1992.
"It was horrific," he told the Indian. "The rioters were attacking people with sticks and I even saw some of them trying to set a Muslim man on fire."
"The rioters were Hindu?" the Indian asked.
"Well, they were attacking Muslims, so they must have been," the Frenchman replied. "My wife refuses to go back to India now," he added, laughingly.
I concentrated a bit more on the conversation because I was now eagerly waiting for the Indian's response.
And voila: "Usually such riots are funded and instigated by the Pakistanis," came the explanation.
One of my eyebrows went north and I hoped the Frenchman would ask exactly how Pakistan could be involved in starting riots in India.

He didn't. He just went on about his ordeal, and how his wife had made them take the very next flight back to Paris.
"It's worse in Pakistan!" the Indian shot back. "It (Pakistan) is destabilizing the whole region."
"Maybe, but we were in India," the Frenchman reminded him.
I couldn't help but turn around and intervene in the conversation: "Can I just pop in, and speak to my South Asian brother here?" I asked the Frenchman. He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Addressing the Indian in Urdu (which is quite similar to Hindi), I said: "Bhai (brother), have you ever been to Pakistan?"
He replied in English: "No, but my father went back in the 1970s. Are you Pakistani?"
"Yes," I replied, "and I am flying to Hong Kong to whip up a riot among the Indian community there."
The Frenchman snickered and so did the Indian. I raised my small green can of Carlsberg, and added: "Here's to the usual mutual accusations and counter-accusations between India and Pakistan. And to the freedom of Kashmir and Khalistan!"
This time the Indian did not snicker, but the Frenchman did, knowing well that I was being entirely sarcastic. The Indian raised his paper cup full of white wine and spouted out his own toast: "And here's to Pakistan stopping being such a nuisance and becoming a part of India again."
I smiled: "Well, it all depends on how the Indian community in Hong Kong treats our French friend here after I incite them to burn a mosque in downtown Hong Kong."
The Frenchman laughed out loud: "So, it's true. This is exactly how we (in France) perceive the way Pakistanis and Indians engage with one another."
I agreed: "Absolutely!"

Riaz Haq said...

Ex #India Navy Chief "Forced to hang my head in shame": Letter Mukherjee, #Modi. #beefmurder #DalitKillings

Former Navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas has written an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemning the attacks on minorities and Dalits under the rule of the current government.

"The Hinduism I knew and experienced was gentle, inclusive, and filled with extraordinary diversity," writes Ramdas in the letter. "Today, as a veteran in my eighties, I am forced to hang my head in shame."

Ramdas, who won the Magsaysay award for peace, also emphasized how certain communities are being "singled out for special attention".

"Today, a Muslim has to prove his or her loyalty, and they are being repeatedly put in a situation where their places of worship are under attack, as indeed their eating habits, and other basic freedoms," writes Ramdas.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Nationalists riot in #India after #Muslim barber refuses to shut shop on Tuesday. #Modi #BJP via @htTweets …

A Muslim barber refused to shut shop “as per custom”, triggering a riot by indignant members of the Hindu community at Nelliyadi village, 70 km from Mangalore, in Karnataka on Tuesday. Though the violence was brought under control a few hours after it erupted around 4 pm, dozens of people were injured and property worth lakhs destroyed in the melee.
Bajrang Dal leader Ravi Ballya told HT that the trouble started when the barber, Salman, refused to “respect local sentiments” and keep his shop shut on Tuesdays. “It is well-known that Hindus don’t cut their hair on Tuesdays. Salman was initially a nice boy. He used to respect our wishes and close his shop then. But in the last few weeks, he stopped doing that because some PFI (Popular Front of India) leaders filled his head with poison,” Ballya said.
Thukrappa Shetty, the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, had a similar story to tell. “Uday Kumar, the leader of the barbers’ association, went to Salman’s shop and politely asked him to shut shop. But Salman and some others abused him instead. It was a clear provocation. What happened next was a spontaneous reaction from local Hindus who had been hurt by their behaviour.”
According to Superintendent of Police Dr SD Sharanappa, a large mob led by Ballya then attacked Salman’s shop as well as other Muslim-owned establishments in the Nelliyadi Jumma Masjid complex. In retaliation, another mob led by the PFI simultaneously indulged in arson and vandalism.
Kempi Mustafa, the head of the local masjid, said this was not the first time Kumar and Ballya had stoked communal tension in the area. Alleging that both are accused in criminal cases, he said this was just the latest in a string of incidents aimed at disrupting the communal harmony of coastal Karnataka.
Though available on the phone, Ballya was reported absconding by the police.
Meanwhile, the situation continued to be tense in at least four villages near Nelliyadi – Kokkada, Patrame, Golithottu and Ballya. The police have so far arrested nine men from both communities, and imposed curfew in the area.
The coastal region of Karnataka has witnessed at least 153 incidents of communal violence since January this year.

Riaz Haq said...

#India scientist PM Bhargava returns top award to protest #Hindu Nationalists' fanaticism. #BJP #Modi …

One of India's top scientists and founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), P. M. Bhargava on Thursday said he had decided to return the Padma Bhushan award as he was worried about the future of India.

Mr. Bhargava told The Hindu that if the present trend continued, India would cease to be a democracy and become a theocratic country like Pakistan. "The future of democracy is at stake. I am very concerned about it."

The scientist said that he would return the award to the Ministry of Home Affairs along with a letter. "As a scientist that is all I can do," he observed.

He expressed concern over "RSS people" attending a recent meeting of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research labs. He was critical of the Government's decision to reduce funding of the CSIR labs.

Mr. Bhargava's decision to return the Padma Bhushan, country's third highest civilian honour, came after more than 100 scientists, including Mr. Bhargava, released a statement online expressing concern over the "climate of intolerance" and "the ways in which science and reason was getting eroded in the country."

Mr. Bhargava said, "I hold no brief for the earlier UPA regime and I criticised it in my book. However, you must give credit as they did not want to decide what we eat, what we wear and how we behave."

Scientific temper was one of the duties of the Indian citizens as enshrined in the Constitution in Article 51(h), he said.

Mr. Bhargava criticised ministers for looking for auspicious time to take charge. Various kinds of superstitions were being practised in various parts of the country, he noted. He recalled how people years ago believed that an idol of Lord Ganesha was drinking milk. "Later we proved it on TV that it was not."

He pointed out that an entire session of the Indian Science Congress was devoted to absurd claims that India in ancient times had built a huge aircraft with inter-planetary movements. He also found fault with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for stating at the Congress that India had known the technique of organ transplantation long time ago.

As a scientist it was his duty to promote scientific temper as demanded by the Constitution, he said. "I do not need publicity at this age," the scientist said.

Riaz Haq said...

Fertility and Fate of Nations. #Modi, #BJP benefit from high birth rates in North #India The American Conservative …

India offers a startling example of this change, and its explosive political consequences. Half of that country’s component states now have sub-replacement fertility rates comparable to Denmark, or even lower. Meanwhile, some very populous states (like vast Uttar Pradesh or Bihar) retain the old Third World model. That stark schism is the essential basis for any understanding of modern Indian politics. As we might have predicted, the high fertility states are firmly and traditionally religious, and provide the base for reactionary and even fascist Hindu supremacist movements. Those currents are quite alien to the “European” low fertility states, located chiefly in the south, which tend to be secular-minded, progressive, and tolerant. Balancing those different regions would pose a nightmarish choice for any government, but the current Hindu nationalist BJP regime aligns decisively with the high fertility regions that provide its electoral bastions. The lesson is grim, but obvious: when you have to choose between two such distinct demographic regions, it is overwhelmingly tempting to turn to the one with all the voters, and all the young party militants. Invest in growth!


High-fertility eastern Turkey is of course much more religious than the secular west, and this is where we find the Qur’an Belt that so regularly supports Islamic and even fundamentalist causes. It simply makes electoral sense for the government to respond to the interests of that populous growing area, and to drift ever more steadily in Islamist directions.

But there is a complicating fact. Those fast-breeding eastern regions are also home to what the Turkish government euphemistically calls the “Mountain Turks,” but which everyone else on the planet calls “Kurds.” Turkey’s Kurdish minority, usually estimated at around 15-20 percent of the population, is expanding very rapidly—to the point that, within a generation or two, it will actually be a majority within the Turkish state. This nightmare prospect is front and center in the mind of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who a couple of years ago issued an apocalyptic warning of a national Kurdish majority no later than 2038. That date is a little implausibly soon, but the principle stands.

In the face of seemingly imminent demographic catastrophe, what can Turkey do? One solution is for the government to plead with citizens to start breeding again—even those western secularists—and to get the national fertility rate closer to 3 than 2. But since that outcome is highly unlikely, the government must resort to short term solutions, and to extol religious, Islamic identities over ethnicity. Ideally, a return to Islam might even provide an incentive for families to reassert traditional values, and to have more children. Alongside that policy, the government has an absolute need to suppress stirrings of Kurdish nationhood or separatism on Turkish soil.

From a demographic perspective, the Turkish government is going to find any manifestations of Kurdish identity terrifying, far more than even the hardest-edged Islamism. ISIS is an irritant; the Kurds pose an existential demographic threat.

And in large measure, that explains why Turkish jets are targeting the Kurdish PKK militias, rather than ISIS.

Riaz Haq said...

Wendy Doniger on Bhagvad Geeta:

Davis notes the tenacity of the warrior’s Gita: “The Gita begins with Arjuna in confusion and despair, dropping his weapons; it ends with Arjuna picking up his bow, all doubts resolved and ready for battle. Once he does so, the war begins.” Krishna’s exhortation to Arjuna has the force of Henry V’s rousing speech on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt (“We few, we happy few…”). Krishna, however, is a god as well as a prince who takes part in the battle, and his most persuasive argument consists of a violent divine revelation: at Arjuna’s request, Krishna manifests his universal form, the form in which he will destroy the universe at Doomsday, the form that J. Robert Oppenheimer recalled when he saw the first explosion of an atomic bomb. Arjuna cries out to Krishna, “I see your mouths with jagged tusks, and I see all of these warriors rushing blindly into your gaping mouths, like moths rushing to their death in a blazing fire.” This is an argument for Krishna’s overwhelming power that Arjuna cannot refuse. It is the climax of the violence of the martial Gita.

But at the end of this vision, Arjuna begs Krishna to turn back into the figure he had known before—his buddy Krishna—which the god consents to do. This intimacy is reflected elsewhere in the Mahabharata in two quite playful satires on the Gita that Davis does not mention. One comes much later, long after the battle, when Arjuna reminds Krishna of their conversation on the eve of battle and adds: “But I have lost all that you said to me in friendship, O tiger among men, for I have a forgetful mind. And yet I am curious about those things again, my lord.”

Krishna, rather crossly, remarks that he is displeased that Arjuna failed to understand or retain the revelation, and he adds, “I cannot tell it again just like that.” But he says he will tell him “another story on the same subject.” Here the satire (on the reader’s forgetfulness, as much as on that of the nonintellectual warrior) ends, and Krishna expounds a serious philosophical discourse, known as the “after-Gita” (the anu-gita).

The second, much longer episode may have been inspired (or, later, referenced) by the line in the Gita in which Krishna goads Arjuna by saying, “Stop acting like a kliba; stand up!” (Kliba is a catch-all derogatory term for a castrated, cross-dressing, homosexual, or impotent man, here used as a casual slur, “not a real man.”) But earlier in the Mahabharata, Arjuna has masqueraded as precisely such a person, a transvestite dance master who also serves as charioteer to an arrogant wimp of a young prince who does not realize that he is treating the greatest warrior in the world as his servant, just as Arjuna does not at first realize that he has for his charioteer a great god who has sheathed his claws. The issue of manliness will recur throughout the subsequent history of the Gita. But the playfulness in these early treatments of the martial Gita was eventually smothered under the pious reception of the philosophical Gita.

The Nationalists and the Martial Gita

Meanwhile, back in India, the Nationalists, culled from the same level of Indian society that had swallowed the British line that the Gita was their Book, and embarrassed by the Krishna of the Gopis, went back to the Krishna of the Gita, but this time to the martial Gita, particularly to its exhortation to the right sort of action (karma yoga). Even Vivekananda endorsed the martial Gita, insisting, “First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards…. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles a little stronger.” And he cited, as a directive to Indian youth, Krishna’s exhortation to Arjuna, “Stop acting like a kliba; stand up!” which he translated, “Yield not to unmanliness.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India is becoming mirror image of #Pakistan, says Irfan Habib. Histotians protest #Modi rule via #@timesofindia

A day after more than 50 historians from across India, including eminent names like Romila Thapar, BD Chattopadhyaya, Upinder Singh, MGS Narayanan and DN Jha, issued a statement expressing concern about the "highly vitiated atmosphere prevailing in the country, characterized by various forms of intolerance", eminent historian Irfan Habib, who was one of the signatories to the statement, told Uday Singh Rana he was concerned that religious and caste minorities are being persecuted and India is turning into a mirror image of Pakistan under RSS rule.

Here are the edited excerpts of the interview:

The historians in their joint statement had said this government wants a "legislated history". What motive does the government has to distort history?

This is a government that is controlled by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It is no secret that MS Golwalkar, the ideological fountainhead of the RSS, was an admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. This government is now trying to realize Golwalkar's dream. Just like in Nazi Germany, they are using propaganda to spread paranoia. I fear that history is repeating itself. They have created a very strong Hindu-communal ideal. The RSS is just communal, not patriotic. The country needed their patriotism before 1947, during the national movement. They were absent then.

What are the means they are adopting to distort history? Are they too subtle for the common people to understand?

No. I think it is fairly obvious to everyone now. I think it is very disturbing when the prime minister of the country says something as unscientific as asserting that Lord Ganesha got plastic surgery done. For all his faults, Atal Bihari Vajpayee never said anything this ridiculous. Narendra Modi is much worse. They have been demanding to get the name of Aurangzeb Road changed for a long time and they finally managed to get it done. Curiously, they have never targeted other kings such as Man Singh, who should be regard as a traitor by them since he fought against Maharana Pratap. The reason they try to demonize Aurangzeb is that he was a Muslim king. They want to prove that historically, Muslims are foreigners.

But intellectuals and creative personalities have been accused of selective outrage. It is not that communal violence and tension did not exist before Narendra Modi became the prime minister.

It is true that violence and tension existed previously. However, we have to keep in mind the fact that the RSS in some way or the other has been connected to these riots in every major report of such instances. The intelligentsia is now perturbed because those people are in power. We never had this kind of support for these elements from the establishment. The Union culture minister goes to a village where a man was killed over rumours and claims that some people are innocent. Is it anybody's place, especially a minister's, to say something like this? Even though they are not in power in Uttar Pradesh, they have a direct role in inciting instances here. Religious and caste minorities are being persecuted. Under RSS rule, India is turning into a mirror image of Pakistan.

Finance minister Arun Jaitely recently held that the intelligentsia's protest was a 'manufactured rebellion'. What do you think?

I have followed Arun Jaitely's statements since he was a BJP spokesperson during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Even then, his statements were irresponsible.

But do you support writers and filmmakers who have returned their Sahitya Akademi and National Awards?

I think the decision to return or not return a state honour has to be a personal one. But I think everybody has the right to choose the means by which they protest. There is nothing unjustified about this means of protest.

Riaz Haq said...

Ratings Agency #Moody’s to #Modi: Keep #BJP members in check or risk losing credibility - The Hindu …

Moody’s Analytics, the economic research and analysis division of Moody’s Corporation, is the first major global institution to comment on the recent political controversies in India.

In the wake of the beef controversy, Moody’s Analytics on Friday cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that unless he reined in members of his Bharatiya Janata Party, India ran the risk of losing domestic and global credibility.

Noting that Mr. Modi’s “right-leaning” party did not have a majority in the Upper House and also faced an obstructionist Opposition, making it difficult to pass crucial reform Bills, it said: “In recent times, the Government also hasn’t helped itself, with controversial comments from various BJP members… Modi must keep his members in check or risk losing domestic and global credibility.” In a report titled ‘India Outlook: Searching for Potential’, Moody’s Analytics — the economic research and analysis unit of Moody’s Corp. and distinct from the global rating arm Moody’s Investors Service — expressed concern over what it called the belligerent provocation of various Indian minorities.

Stiffer opposition

This had raised “ethnic tensions”, it said, and stressed that the government’s reform agenda needed attention. “Along with a possible increase in violence, the government will face stiffer opposition in the Upper House as the debate turns away from economic policy.”

It further said that the election in Bihar could prove pivotal to the leadership of Mr. Modi and noted that he had largely distanced himself from the nationalist jibes.

“Overall, it’s unclear whether India can deliver the promised reforms and hit its growth potential… Undoubtedly, numerous political outcomes will dictate the extent of success.”

The comments in the report, Moody’s Analytics said, were independent of those of the ratings arm, which had earlier this month forecast 7-7.5 per cent GDP growth for India in the current year, the highest among G20 economies. Moody’s rating for India’s sovereign debt is Baa3, just above junk status, with a positive outlook.

Moody’s rival international rating agency Standard & Poor’s on October 20 affirmed its ‘BBB’ long-term and ‘A-3’ short-term sovereign credit ratings for India, adding that its outlook continued to remain stable.

In its report, Moody’s Analytics said that for GDP growth in the current year to be higher than its projection of 7.6 per cent, the key economic reforms of land acquisition bill, a national goods and services tax, and revamped labour laws will have to be delivered. “They are unlikely to pass through Parliament in 2015, but there is an even chance of success in 2016.”

Sensex had fallen about 11 per cent since the euphoria behind the new government propelled the stock market but it was the consistent failure to deliver key economic reforms that had dimmed the optimism, Moody’s Analytics said. It also drew a clear distinction between the domestic and the global causes for investor worries. “While global market sentiment is down, Indian equities have also suffered from a loss in domestic sentiment.”

Lauds RBI

In sharp contrast to the concerns it expressed over the pace of reforms, Moody’s Analytics was all praise for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the improving macroeconomic fundamentals. “India is well placed for the U.S. interest rate normalisation…the rupee will come out relatively unscathed thanks to the RBI’s bulging foreign exchange reserves stockpile.”

Riaz Haq said...

Unusual appeal: #India central bank head Rajan calls for tolerance in speech at #IIT #Delhi. #Modi #BJP via @WSJ

MUMBAI—The head of India’s central bank made an unusual appeal for tolerance in a speech Saturday, triggering a debate about whether he was trying to send a message to the country’s leaders.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said Saturday that India’s tolerance and tradition of debate and openness help form the foundation for its current and future success.

Speaking to the students of his alma mater—the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi—he said tolerance means not being so insecure about one’s ideas that one cannot subject them to challenge.

“The first essential is to foster competition in the market place for ideas,” Gov. Rajan according to a copy of the speech posted on the RBI’s website. “Without this competition for ideas, we have stagnation.”

While he didn't mention Indian politics today or any group, party or politician, some interpreted his statements as a warning to New Delhi. An RBI spokeswoman said the speech should be read as a plea for tolerance in India, something the government is also pursuing.

His statements come at a time when some intellectuals, activists and opposition politicians have been urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to do more to reduce communal tension.

On social media some people welcomed Mr. Rajan’s sophisticated attempt to connect freedom, innovation and economic progress. Others said he should stick to monetary policy.

Mr. Modi’s government has been facing mounting criticism for not being decisive enough in reprimanding acts of intolerance that have dominated media attention in recent months.

While many groups have long criticized the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for its roots in Hindu nationalism, protest shifted to a new level in September, when a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob after a rumor spread that his family was eating beef.

Some BJP leaders have ratcheted up their campaign for cow protection amid religious polarization surrounding the issue and this has increased the pressure on Mr. Modi.

Critics—including some of India’s most prominent artists, writers and scientists—say Mr. Modi’s rise to power last year emboldened Hindu fundamentalists and increased intolerance toward religious minorities, particularly India’s large Muslim population.

Cows are sacred to India’s Hindus—which make up over 80% of the country’s 1.2 billion population—but are accepted as food by the Muslims and Christian populations.

Disputes about beef eating, a long-standing conflict in India, are more indicative of a general atmosphere of intolerance that some say is rising in the country. A number of high-profile writers and scholars have returned national awards they had won for their work to protest what they call an attack on Indians’ right to free speech.

With his speech Saturday, Gov. Rajan seemed to be lining up one of India’s most respected institutions with those who demand vigilance against intolerance.

“No one should be allowed to offer unquestioned pronouncements,” Gov. Rajan, a former International Monetary Fund Chief Economist said. “This means encouraging challenge to all authority and tradition.”

Riaz Haq said...

The Interviews Blog : If #intolerance in #India continues, #US liberal press will isolate #Modi again Aatish Taseer: …
Author Aatish Taseer has written The Way Things Were. Speaking with Srijana Mitra Das, Taseer discussed writers returning their awards against cases of intolerance in India, how this is being seen internationally – and why his own belief in PM Modi has suffered a blow:
What is your view on authors returning their awards against what Nayantara Sahgal feels is rising intolerance in India today?
I have no special love for the people protesting – of course they loathe Modi. Of course they’re settling scores. Of course there are Ongee tribesmen in the Andaman Islands, yet unacquainted with the art of letters, who have more writing talent than Nayantara Sahgal. But that’s not the point – the point is, the grounds for their protest, regardless of their motives, are unimpeachable.
Critics say the literary scene protesting includes Congress-based patronage networks – is that fair?
I’m sure that’s true. All governments put their people in place. And intellectuals do have political agendas. But if you want to replace them, do so with people of ability – you can’t replace them with people whose only qualification is a violence of opinion.
This is the intellectual gap between India’s old elite and this new lot – they’re so angry about power in this world that’s suddenly become theirs.
I’m sure they have reason to be. But if you want to change things, come with intellectual heavy artillery of your own. You can’t just tear the world apart without any thought of what you’re going to put in its place.
They hate Romila Thapar, Amartya Sen, Sheldon Pollock. Fine – but come to the table with as much reading as them because these are very serious people who’ve spent their lives thinking very hard about their subjects.
If they’re to be denounced now, they deserve the courtesy of being denounced by their equals – not by some plagiarist garden gnome who wouldn’t know a shashti tatpurusha if it came and sat in his lap.
How are India’s writers returning awards being seen internationally?
Very badly. I was at a screening in New York. The liberal press, from The New York Times, etc., was there. On India, all anybody could talk about was the lynching – and how important it was now for their leaders to put daylight between themselves and Modi.
That press is very powerful in America – if next year, there’s a Democrat president and this bad business in India continues unchecked, there’ll be a lot of pressure to put Modi out in the cold again.
No one wants India to fail – but equally, no one wants to be tainted by prejudice. Consider Obama’s reaction when a black teenager is shot in America – that’s what good leaders do when a crime occurs that’s representative of a country’s deepest tensions.
Do you think PM Modi could have handled Dadri differently?
I thought his silence after Dadri was revolting – for me, it was a turning point. Here’s this man, pronouncing on every little thing – and 50 kilometres from Delhi, a man is lynched, because of hysteria his cohorts whipped up, and he doesn’t have a word of comfort to offer the dead man’s family? Nothing to say to millions wondering what this means? He waits a week before breaking his silence with an utter banality. And we’re subjected to primitive statements from his ministers.
I wish i could say his silence was calculated – but i think it was an aspect of the bigotry that comes as second nature to the Modi government. They can’t open their mouths without something ugly tumbling out.
It’s not that Modi wanted Mohammad Akhlaq lynched – he just didn’t care that he was.
This, in a leader, is a terrible failing.

Riaz Haq said...

#BJP leader Arun Shourie on growing intolerance in #India : Managing economy means managing the headlines. #Modi …

On Monday, in a sharp attack on the Modi government, BJP leader Arun Shourie contended that it believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines” and that people had started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Doctor Singh (Manmohan Singh) ko log yaad karne lag gaye hain (People have started recalling the days of Manmohan Singh). The way to charaterise policies of the government is — Congress plus a cow. Policies are the same,” Shourie said at book launch function.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of an event organised by Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) ministry, Naidu said government of India is at no fault in any of the incidents which have taken place and some people were unnecessarily try to highlight them and trying to defame the country.
“Some people may have made comments here or there may have made some comments but they have been disowned by the party, disowned by the government,” Naidu said adding that even the Prime Minister had made his views clear on the issues.
Opposition parties have criticised the government over incidents like Dadri lynching saying it signified rising intolerance.
Naidu however said that the government agenda is only development and asked people not to be carried away by the “disinformation campaigns by political opponents.”
“Some people are saying intolerance has increased. Yes unable to accept the people’s mandate the opposition has become intolerant,” Naidu said.
When asked about Shourie’s comments that he felt there was never a weaker a PMO as now, Naidu said it need not be discussed as some people were saying that the Prime Minister is all powerful while others saying he is weak.
Attacking the Congress, he said the party had ruled by lying for years and was making baseless allegations. Divisive tendencies in the country are a result of wrong policies of the Congress, Naidu added.
Earlier in his speech at a workshop organised by HUPA, Naidu said that people are not interested in blame games but want development.
He said Indian economy holds hope for the world and though some people were trying to disturb, he felt that people of India and those who invest are wise and won’t be deterred by noises here and there.
He said some incidents had taken place in different states and they have to be taken care by state governments. They have to be nipped in the bud.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s #BJP suffers big loss in #BiharElections, thwarting #Modi majority in Upper House -

...the BJP’s defeat will make it harder for Mr Modi to gain control of India’s Rajya Sabha, or upper house of parliament, because the house’s make-up depends on party weights in state assemblies. Mr Modi’s opponents have used the Rajya Sabha successfully to block legislation, including a long-awaited law to introduce a nationwide goods and services tax that would make the country into a single market and simplify commerce.
Rahul Gandhi of Congress, a junior partner in the winning Bihar alliance, said the election result was “a message against pitting Hindus against Muslims and making them fight to win elections”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become arrogant,” Mr Gandhi said. “Modi should stop campaigning and start working. He should also stop foreign tours and instead go and meet farmers, labourers and youth to whom he promised jobs.”


The loss in Bihar will be a blow to the confidence of Mr Modi and fellow leaders of the Hindu nationalist BJP only 18 months after they triumphed in the 2014 general election. In the Bihar campaign, they sought in vain to galvanise Hindu voters by focusing as much on caste and religion as on development, but appear to have ended up alienating moderate Hindus as well as members of the Muslim minority.
As in the Delhi state election, where the BJP was crushed by the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common People) party in February, the BJP won a substantial share of the vote but was unable to translate that into assembly seats in the face of a united opposition in the first-past-the-post constituency system.
Mr Kumar and Mr Yadav — who together defeated Mr Modi with the help of Congress by pooling their resources and sharing out constituencies before the election — make an unlikely couple and their government may prove unstable. Mr Kumar, once a BJP ally, has been credited with restoring order and investing in roads and education over the past decade, after a period of violence, criminality and extreme corruption known as the “jungle raj” when the state was run by Mr Yadav and his wife.

Riaz Haq said...

A Rebuke to #India’s Prime Minister Narendra #Modi. #BiharElections #BJP

In the months leading up to the Bihar election, hard-liners in the B.J.P. and organizations affiliated with the party stoked India’s long-simmering sectarian tensions. The party’s lawmakers pushed for beef bans around the country ostensibly to protect the cow, which many Hindus consider holy, but really as a ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims, some of whom eat beef.

Mobs riled by the anti-beef crusade have killed four Muslims suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows in the last seven weeks. And in August, unidentified attackers shot and killed Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a scholar and vocal critic of Hindu idolatry. Hundreds of writers, filmmakers and academics have protested the growing intolerance by returning awards they received from the government-supported bodies.

Mr. Modi has not forcefully condemned the beef-related killings, despite pleas by Muslims and other minorities. He has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks by his ministers and by B.J.P. officials.

During a campaign stop in Bihar, Mr. Modi tried to exploit sectarian divisions by telling voters that the secular alliance would reduce affirmative action benefits for lower-caste Hindus and tribes in favor of “a particular community” — an apparent reference to Muslims. And the president of the B.J.P., Amit Shah, one of Mr. Modi’s closest advisers, told voters that a victory for the alliance would be celebrated in Pakistan, the Muslim-majority neighbor that has fought several wars with India since 1947.

Voters in Bihar saw through the B.J.P.’s attempts to divide them. They, like most Indians, are looking for leaders who will improve their standard of living. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India but has grown fast in the last 10 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is credited for cracking down on crime, building roads and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.

Mr. Modi and the B.J.P. secured a majority in the lower house of Parliament last year with promises of economic reforms. Now, to push through those reforms, the party needs to win the control of the upper house, which is elected by state assemblies. It won’t win those elections unless Mr. Modi gets rid of the officials in his government and party who are fueling sectarian culture wars.

Meanwhile, there are things Mr. Modi could do administratively to improve the economy, like investing in education and health care and building infrastructure. Voters in Bihar have sent the B.J.P. a clear message. Mr. Modi should heed it.

Riaz Haq said...

What Does #Secular Mean in #India? #BJP #Modi #Hindu via @WSJIndia

What does it mean to say India is secular?

That question lies at the heart of the debate on the idea of India itself and resurfaced in the country’s Parliament last week on the first Constitution Day.

The word secular is used just twice in the English version of the Indian Constitution.

The document in its preamble describes India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic and goes on to ensure that the federal government can regulate “secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.”

The Hindi version uses the more explicit “panth nirapeksha,” which loosely means “not associated with any sect.”

During a discussion on the constitution on Thursday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh criticized the fact that those words had been replaced in everyday politics by “dharma nirapeksha,” which translates to “not associated with any religion.”

The subtle difference between non-sectarian and non-religious is more than just semantics in India, a deeply devout country but one which also defines itself against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, its neighbor to the northwest, created during partition.

Dharma is a Sanskrit word that for those bred in Hindu nationalist ideology is synonymous with Hinduism.

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, a Hindu-nationalist thinker, in 1965, used it to mean the “laws of life” that govern India’s ancient culture and civilization.

On Thursday, Mr. Singh said that the word “secular” is the most misused word in Indian politics, adding that the Hindi phrase commonly used for it– dharma nirapeksha– had been wrongly used to describe India and to divide society.

Using dharma to mean Hinduism, Mr. Singh said during his speech that “ India’s ‘dharma’ in itself is non-sectarian.” Hinduism has many sects but none is more highly regarded than any other.

The opposition Congress party often invokes “dharma nirapeksha,” to remind the Hindu nationalists of what it says are India’s secular foundations where all religions are treated equally by the state.

For them, that vision of India was settled by their predecessors in the party who helped lead Indians to independence from the British in 1947.

For the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has deep roots in Hindu nationalism, the idea of India is still a contested one.

Hindutva, meaning Hinduness or the state of being a Hindu, is what the BJP conceives as Indian nationhood, the party says on its website. For them, Hindutva is not a religious term but a cultural concept and signifies a shared culture.

The BJP has been at the receiving end of criticism lately, not only from political opponents but from some prominent actors and writers for not doing more to tackle what critics describe as rising religious and social intolerance in the country.

The latest row began after a man was murdered by a mob at the end of September allegedly because they suspected him of slaughtering a cow, an animal regarded as sacred by Hindus.

In response to Mr. Singh, Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, said in her speech in Parliament that constitutional values were in danger and under intentional attack.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Hindu Nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh goes global. Its ‘shakha’ spreads its wings to 39 countries

Growing up on the outskirts of Pune, Girish Bagmar came from a family of Congress supporters. While he was fed up of UPA's scams in 2014, he's more inclined towards centrist politics than the right-wing BJP. Yet Bagmar, now based in Boston, sends both his sons to shakhas run by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas wing of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Many of his Indian friends in the US work for HSS and offered to take his children to the shakha. "I've never attended HSS shakhas. I send my children there so they can socialize with other Indian children and learn about Indian culture. Growing up in India, we learnt of our culture from our grandparents' stories. I feel my children may be deprived of this; my mother cannot visit the US frequently," says Bagmar.

USA is one of 39 countries where HSS runs shakhas, says Ramesh Subramaniam, Mumbai coordinator of RSS's overseas work. He helped set up shakhas in Mauritius from 1996 to 2004 and now heads Sewa, a platform for overseas Indians to fund RSS service projects. He says HSS works closely with other Hindu cultural organizations abroad including the Chinmaya and Ramakrishna missions.
"We don't call it Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh overseas. It's not on Indian soil so we can't use the word 'Rashtriya'. We call it Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh as it unites Hindus worldwide," says Subramaniam, adding that RSS's overseas wing is bigger than its affiliate, Vishwa Hindu Parishad. RSS is the ideological parent of nearly 40 official affiliates including VHP and India's ruling party, BJP.

The 39 countries where shakhas are held include five in the Middle East where outdoor shakhas are not permitted and are replaced by gatherings at people's homes. Finland has only an e-shakha where activities are conducted via video-camera over the internet for people from over 20 countries living in areas where HSS units are absent.
"The diaspora's longing for a connection with 'Indian culture', 'history' and 'traditions' in a context in which they are a minority that is not represented in the mainstream, provides a ready social basis for the RSS," says Subir Sinha, academician at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

"While Nepal has the largest number of shakhas outside India, US comes second with 146. We are present in every state of the US. We have shakhas in cities like New York, Washington DC, Seattle and Miami," says Satish Modh, who has been associated with RSS work abroad for over 25 years. While shakhas in India take place in open maidans, in the US, most shakhas are held in university campuses on hired parking lots, says Modh.

Most overseas shakhas are held once a week. In London, they are held twice a week. UK has 84 shakhas.
"The sangh parivar got a boost in the UK under Blairite 'multiculturalism' in which culture was identified with religion and religion with its most hardcore version," says Sinha.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a NY Times piece by Pankaj Mishra on Hindu Nationalism:

Since Mr. Naipaul defined it, the apocalyptic Indian imagination has been enriched by the exploits of Hindu nationalists, such as the destruction in 1992 of the 16th-century Babri Masjid mosque, and the nuclear tests of 1998. Celebrating the tests in speeches in the late 1990s, including one entitled “Ek Aur Mahabharata” (One More Mahabharata), the then head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (the National Volunteers Association, or R.S.S), the parent outfit of Hindu nationalists, claimed that Hindus, a “heroic, intelligent race,” had so far lacked proper weapons but were sure to prevail in the forthcoming showdown with demonic anti-Hindus, a broad category that includes Americans (who apparently best exemplify the worldwide “rise of inhumanity”).

A Harvard-trained economist called Subramanian Swamy recently demanded a public bonfire of canonical books by Indian historians — liberal and secular intellectuals who belong to what the R.S.S. chief in 2000 identified as that “class of bastards which tries to implant an alien culture in their land.” Denounced by the numerous Hindu supremacists in social media as “sickular libtards” and sepoys (the common name for Indian soldiers in British armies), these intellectuals apparently are Trojan horses of the West. They must be purged to realize Mr. Modi’s vision in which India, once known as the “golden bird,” will “rise again.”

Mr. Modi doesn’t seem to know that India’s reputation as a “golden bird” flourished during the long centuries when it was allegedly enslaved by Muslims. A range of esteemed scholars — from Sheldon Pollock to Jonardon Ganeri — have demonstrated beyond doubt that this period before British rule witnessed some of the greatest achievements in Indian philosophy, literature, music, painting and architecture. The psychic wounds Mr. Naipaul noticed among semi-Westernized upper-caste Hindus actually date to the Indian elite’s humiliating encounter with the geopolitical and cultural dominance first of Europe and then of America.

These wounds were caused, and are deepened, by failed attempts to match Western power through both mimicry and collaboration (though zealously anti-Western, Chinese nationalism has developed much more autonomously in comparison). Largely subterranean until it erupts, this ressentiment of the West among thwarted elites can assume a more treacherous form than the simple hatred and rejectionism of outfits such as Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Taliban. The intellectual history of right-wing Russian and Japanese nationalism reveals an ominously similar pattern as the vengeful nativism of Hindu nationalists: a recoil from craving Western approval into promoting religious-racial supremacy.


The fantasies of racial-religious revenge and redemption that breed in Western suburbs as well as posh Indian enclaves today speak of a vast spiritual desolation as well as a deepening intellectual crisis. Even Mr. Naipaul briefly succumbed to the pathology of mimic machismo he had despised (and, later, also identified among chauvinists in Muslim countries). He hailed the vandalizing by a Hindu mob of the Babri Masjid mosque in 1992, which triggered nationwide massacres of Muslims, as the sign of an overdue national “awakening.”

There are many more such nonresident Indians in the West today, vicariously living history’s violent drama in their restless exile: In Madison Square Garden, in New York, last month, more than 19,000 people cheered Mr. Modi’s speech about ending India’s millennium-long slavery. ...

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Hindu sage conducted #nuke test ages ago: #BJP MP via @htTweets …
"Today we are talking about nuclear tests. Lakhs of years ago, Sage Kanad had conducted a nuclear test. Our knowledge and science do not lack anything," the Indian Express quoted him as saying in Parliament on Wednesday.
Sage Kanad is believed to have lived around the 2nd century BC.
Nishank, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Haridwar, also seconded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's citing of plastic surgery and genetic science with reference to Lord Ganesha getting an elephant trunk and birth of Karna.
"People are raising questions on Modiji's comments on Ganesha's surgery. It was actually a surgery. The science available to us is not available elsewhere in the world… science or knowledge to transplant a severed head existed only in India."
Nishank also batted for astrology, saying it is the topmost science in the world. He said our ancient astrologers dwarfed all other sciences.
The Haridwar MP's comments triggered a protest from Left members even as he said there should be a "proper discussion on it and it should get the respect it deserves".
Nishank's comments are in line with a series of assertions doing the rounds of late; the most notable being from retired school headmaster Dinanath Batra who got American academic Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism pulped on the grounds that it insulted Hindus.
Batra has written books as well. Earlier this year, the Gujarat government mandated some of them as supplementary reading for its primary and secondary students.
From preaching about ancient India's gurukul style of learning, redrawing the Indian map to include other countries to interpreting history through stories about rishi-munis (sages and seers), dev-daanav (deities and demons) and "heroes" of pre-Independence India, these books try to conform to "Bharatiya sanskriti" (Indian culture).

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindutva #Science? Pranks And Scientific ‘Cranks’ in #Modi's #India | Nidheesh J Villatt | Tehelka Investigations, …

Similar to Zia’s Pakistan, apart from creating an atmosphere where those who uphold a scientific temper are physically attacked and even killed (for instance the murder of anti-superstition activist Govind Pansare in Maharashtra in February last year), the government has also appointed Hindutva supporters with questionable academic credentials as heads of scientific institutions. There have also been instances of public funds used for researching ‘Hindutva science’. This raises the important question that many are asking: Is the Hindutva brigade aiming for the creation of a ‘Hindu Pakistan’?

“By contaminating science with absurd claims based on an ultra-nationalist political project, these self-proclaimed scientists are out to make the society regressive,” says Gauhar Raza, a scientist and poet based in Delhi. “Religious epics are narrated to younger generations as historical truths. This is exactly what happened in Pakistan.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Dalit PhD student commits suicide to protest #India caste Apartheid: HRD Ministry seeks to cover up - The Hindu …

Denies applying pressure for Rohith Vemula’s expulsion from University of Hyderabad hostel.

As spontaneous protests over the suicide of young research scholar Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad on Sunday spread across the country, the Human Resource Development Ministry under Smriti Irani had to step out and clarify that it had not applied pressure to expel the five Scheduled Caste students following a written complaint from Cabinet Minister Bandaru Dattatreya.

Ms. Irani left for poll-bound Assam on Monday after sending a two-member fact-finding committee to look into the case.

But her Ministry’s clarification has triggered several other questions.

Throughout Tuesday, as it emerged that the Ministry had sent five letters, including four reminders following Mr. Dattatreya’s letter dated August 17 last year — giving the impression that it had put pressure on the administration to expel the five students, four of whom were sons of agricultural labourers — officials said they were only following official protocol of acknowledging VIP letters. Curiously, Mr. Dattatreya’s letter to the Ministry had come despite a clean chit given to the students by the university administration.

In his defence, Mr. Dattatreya explained that he wrote after ABVP students from the campus had approached him.

While the HRD Ministry sought to douse the fires, Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, it was learnt, was upset at the turn of events leading to the scholar’s suicide. The Social Justice Ministry too has sent a fact-finding committee.

Mr. Gehlot also met up with ICSSR chairman Sukhdeo Thorat on Monday who handed him a memorandum submitted by the expelled students. The memorandum was the last in the series of letters the students had sent out following their expulsion from the campus.

Eager to distance themselves from the situation, Ministry officials clarified that they had merely forwarded Mr. Dattatreya’s letter.

“It would be wrong to say that the Ministry put any pressure on Hyderabad University,” they said.

As the HRD Ministry came under fire over the suicide, officials cited the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure.

According to the procedure, if there is a VIP reference (in this case Mr. Dattatreya’s letter), it has to be acknowledged in 15 days and another 15 days may be taken to reply to it.

“Since no response was coming from the University, the Ministry had to send reminders,” spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel said.

The Ministry was hard-pressed to explain why it chose to re-direct letters to the University of Hyderabad, marked anti-national as subject matter of correspondence — giving rise to suspicion that Ms. Irani’s office was taking the lead from Mr. Dattatreya’s complaint referring to the students as ‘anti-nationals.’ The university replied on January 7.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Right-Wing Attack on #India’s Universities, Academic Freedom. #BJP #Modi

I met Sandeep Pandey days after he was sacked from his position as a visiting professor at a prestigious technical institute at Banaras Hindu University. We sat in a dreary guesthouse on the university campus. Mr. Pandey had just finished a long train ride. With his wrinkled kurta pajama and rubber slippers, he was every bit the picture of an old-fashioned Indian leftist.

That was why he’d been fired. “Ideologically, I am at the opposite extreme to the people who are at present in power,” he said. “These people not only cannot tolerate any dissent; they don’t even tolerate disagreement. They want everybody who disagrees with them out of this campus.” Mr. Pandey was referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and — more to the point — the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the B.J.P.’s cultural fountainhead.

The R.S.S., a Hindu nationalist organization, was founded in 1925 as a muscular alternative to Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom movement. Its founder admired Adolf Hitler, and in 1948 the organization was blamed for indirectly inspiring Gandhi’s assassination. The B.J.P. has not always had an easy relationship with the R.S.S. With its fanciful ideas of Hindu purity and its sweeping range of prejudices, the organization is dangerously out of step with the realities of India’s political landscape. When the B.J.P. wants to win an election, it usually distances itself from the R.S.S.’s cultural agenda.

Mr. Modi’s 2014 election had very little to do with the R.S.S. and everything to do with his personality and promises of development. But the R.S.S. doesn’t see it that way. Like a fairy-tale dwarf, the group has sought to extract its due from the man it helped into power. As payment for the debt, the R.S.S. wants control of education. Specifically, it wants to install its men at the helm of universities where they will wreak vengeance on the traditionally left-wing intellectual establishment that has always held them in contempt.

At a prestigious film institute, students are protesting the appointment of a president whose only qualification, they feel, is a willingness to advance the R.S.S.’s agenda. The group’s members have met with the education minister in the hope of shaping education policy; in states that the B.J.P. controls, the R.S.S. has been putting forward the names of underqualified ideologues for advisory positions on the content of textbooks and curriculums. It has also sought to put those who share its ideology at the head of important cultural institutions, such as the Indian Council of Historical Research.

This is the background to Mr. Pandey’s dismissal. His new boss, Girish Chandra Tripathi, the vice chancellor, is an R.S.S. man. The Ministry of Education helped push through his appointment after Mr. Modi’s election. One B.H.U. professor, who wished not to be named, described Mr. Tripathi as “an academic thug with no qualifications.” (He was previously a professor of economics.)

The new vice chancellor soon turned on Mr. Pandey. “It was all engineered,” Mr. Pandey said to me. First, the professor said, he was denounced by a student. Then a local news website printed a bogus story accusing him of being part of an armed guerrilla movement. (Mr. Pandey, a Gandhian, opposes all violence.) Soon after, the university’s board of governors decided, on Mr. Tripathi’s recommendation, that he be fired. He is an alumnus of the university and a mechanical engineer with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He has won awards for his social work. None of this made a difference. He was given a month to clear out.


The problem with the vice chancellor is not just that he is right-wing. It is that he is unqualified for his position. This was never more apparent than in his total inability to grasp the value of dissent at an institution of learning.

Riaz Haq said...

Pankaj Mishra on Arundhati Roy: #Hindu nationalists ​have many ways to silence writers. #Modi #BJP

the suppression of intellectual and creative freedoms is assuming much cannier forms in India, a country with formal and apparently free democratic institutions.

Controlled by upper-caste Hindu nationalists, Indian universities have been purging “anti-nationals” from both syllabuses and campuses for some months now. In a shocking turn of events last month, Rohith Vemula, a PhD student in Hyderabad, killed himself. Accused of “anti-national” political opinions, the impoverished research scholar, who belonged to one of India’s traditionally and cruelly disadvantaged castes, was suspended, and, after his fellowship was cancelled, expelled from student housing. Letters from Modi’s government in Delhi to university authorities revealed that the latter were under relentless pressure to move against “extremist and anti-national politics” on campus. Vemula’s heartbreaking suicide note attests to the near-total isolation and despair of a gifted writer and thinker.

The extended family of upper-caste nationalists plainly aim at total domination of the public sphere. But they don’t only use the bullying power of the leviathan state – one quickly identified by local and foreign critics – to grind down their apparent enemies. They pursue them through police cases and legal petitions by private individuals – a number of criminal complaints have been filed against writers and artists in India. They create a climate of impunity, in which emboldened mobs ransack newspapers offices, art galleries and cinemas.

And they turn the medium into their message in a variety of ways. Big business cronies of prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) are close to achieving Berlusconi-style domination of Indian television. The Hindu nationalists have also learned how to manipulate the new media, and shape instant opinion: they hire, to use Erdo─čan’s words, a “robot lobby” on social media to drown their audiences in disinformation – until two plus two looks five.

It is possible to identify institutions and individuals across the realms of business, education and the media who serve as attack-dogs and sentinels for the party in power. All these networks of political, social and cultural power – from suave editors to rancid trolls – work synergistically to build dispositions, and dictate perceptions. Together, they can exert pressure at multiple points on individuals much less vulnerable than Rohith Vemula.

Last week, as the novelist Arundhati Roy abruptly faced criminal trial for “contempt of court” that could result in imprisonment, a circulating text message claimed that the writer was part of a conspiracy by Christian missionaries to murder Vemula and break up India. It wasn’t easy to dismiss this farrago of paranoid nonsense. And then the indifferent, if not hostile, reports in India’s mainstream media could have made anyone think that Roy had a case to answer.


It involves not only censorship by a ruthless regime and self-censorship by its powerless individual victims. It depends on a steady deterioration in public and private morality, a rise in lynch-mob hysteria, and a general coarsening of tone in civil society, to which judge and jester contribute equally.

Narendra Modi: the divisive manipulator who charmed the world
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On the day Roy faced criminal charges in Nagpur, the Jaipur literary festival, unironically sponsored by Zee, hosted a debate on freedom of speech. The rowdiest arguments against the motion “Should Freedom of Speech be Absolute?” were presented by Anupam Kher, a Bollywood actor popular for his buffoonish turns. In November, Kher organised a demonstration against Indian authors who had returned their literary awards in protest against the assassination of three writers and the lynching of Muslims and Dalits. He repaired from shouting such slogans as “beat the literati with shoes” to pose for photos with Modi at the prime minister’s official residence in Delhi.

Riaz Haq said...

Top #Indian Scientists Say #India's #Modi Government Is Becoming Increasingly Anti-science. #BJP … #science

Three murders, a suicide and a rash of political appointments at universities have thrown Indian academia into an uproar against the conservative (right-wing) government. Prominent artists, writers, historians and scientists are speaking out against an intensifying climate of religious intolerance and political interference in academic affairs.
“What’s going on in this country is really dangerous,” says Rajat Tandon, a number theorist at Hyderabad Central University. Tandon is one of more than 100 prominent scientists, including many heads of institutions, who signed a statement protesting “the ways in which science and reason are being eroded in the country.” The statement cites the murder of three noted rationalists — men who had dedicated their lives to countering superstition and championed scientific thought — and what they see as the government’s silent complicity.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won the 2014 general elections in India in a landslide victory. The BJP and Modi, in particular, are aligned with the extremist right-wing group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS. (This unholy alliance is comparable to the relationship between the Republican Party and the Tea Party, but the RSS is a paramilitary group with more violent overtones than the Tea Party has shown so far.) Together, the BJP and RSS promote the agenda of Hindutva, the notion that India is the homeland of Hindus and all others — the hundreds of millions of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others in this sprawling, secular democracy — are interlopers.
“The present government is deviating from the path of democracy, taking the country on the path to what I’d call a Hindu religious autocracy,” says Pushpa Mittra Bhargava , who founded the prestigious Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology in Hyderabad.
Despite his blatantly anti-secular stance, Modi’s stated goals for economic development are wildly popular, particularly among the country’s majority Hindus. But academics and intellectuals have been protesting the erosions on academic freedom almost from the start.
In January 2015, at the 102nd session of the Indian Science Congress, several members of the BJP government led a session on ancient Indian science and claimed that thousands of years ago, Indians had built planes that could fly not just on earth but between planets. There were other outlandish claims — that the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha is proof that Indian ancients knew the secrets of cosmetic surgery, for example. Scientists were dismayed, and some did call for the session to be canceled, but their primary response then was still ridicule, rather than outrage.
In February 2015, economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen stepped down as chancellor of Nalanda University in Bihar, protesting the “considerable government intervention” in academic decisions. That same month, gunmen attacked a left-wing politician called Govind Pansare and his wife; Pansare later died of his injuries. Then, in August, gunmen killed Malleshappa Kalburgi, a leading scholar and rationalist, at his home. “They were a threat, so they were eliminated,” says Tandon.
The attacks shocked the academic community and ignited protests from writers, filmmakers and historians; many returned their national awards as a symbol of their dissent.
Scientists were late to the table, which is not surprising, given that most of Indian science relies on government funds. Still, in October, three separate groups of scientists made statements — the total signatories now number nearly one thousand — protesting the government’s inaction against the acts of violence. (Bhargava returned his Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards in India, to the president.)

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian prime minister #Modi claims genetic science existed in ancient #India. #BJP

Hindu nationalists have long propagated their belief that many discoveries of modern science and technology were known to the people of ancient India. But now for the first time an Indian prime minister has endorsed these claims, maintaining that cosmetic surgery and reproductive genetics were practiced thousands of years ago.

As proof, Narendra Modi gave the examples of the warrior Karna from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

“We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time,” the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. “We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.”

Modi went on: “We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.”

While much of Modi’s speech was devoted to how to improve healthcare facilities in modern India, he also dwelt on ancient India’s “capabilities” in several fields.

“There must be many areas in which our ancestors made big contributions,” he said. “Some of these are well recognised. If we talk about space science, our ancestors had, at some point, displayed great strengths in space science. What people like Aryabhata had said centuries ago is being recognised by science today. What I mean to say is that we are a country which had these capabilities. We need to regain these.”

This is not the first time that Modi has publicly articulated such ideas. But he did so earlier as chief minister of Gujarat state, and not as prime minister. He also wrote the foreword to a book for school students in Gujarat which maintains, among other things, that the Hindu God Rama flew the first aeroplane and that stem cell technology was known in ancient India.

Modi’s claims at the Mumbai hospital initially went unreported in the Indian media, except on the website

But on Monday night Headlines Today TV talk show host Karan Thapar focused on it in his primetime programme, with opposition politicians criticising Modi. The speech has also been posted on the prime minister’s official website. No Indian scientist has come forward as yet to challenge him.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's biggest student protests in 25 years spreading fast across campuses #JNUCrackdown via @bi_contributors

India's biggest nationwide student protests in a quarter of a century spread across campuses on Monday after the arrest of a student accused of sedition, in the latest battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government over freedom of expression.

Outrage over the arrest of the left-wing student leader, who had organized a rally to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri separatist, has led to demonstrations in at least 18 universities.

In the largest protest, thousands of students and academics at New Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) boycotted classes and erected barricades for a fourth day in an escalating conflict with the authorities.

"The government does not want students to have a say," said Rahila Parween, vice-president of the Delhi unit of the All India Students' Federation, a left-wing student union. "It wants to dictate what students think, understand and say."

The incident marks another flare-up in an ideological confrontation between Modi's nationalist government and left-wing and liberal groups that is prompting critics to compare it with Indira Gandhi's imposition of a state of emergency in the 1970s to crush dissent.

Members of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, of "anti-India" sentiment. One BJP lawmaker said the university, which has a tradition of left-wing politics, should be shut down.

"I can assure you that every action we take is to protect our country. Any anti-India activity will not be tolerated," BJP President Amit Shah, one of Modi's closest allies, said at party headquarters.

Protests spread when Kumar was arrested last week for sedition, after giving a speech questioning the hanging in 2013 of Mohammad Afzal Guru over his role in the 2001 attack on parliament.Activists have long questioned Guru's conviction, and India's Supreme Court has described the evidence against him as circumstantial.

Scuffles erupted outside a New Delhi courthouse between lawyers and students where Kumar, 28, was to appear before a judge on Monday.

A leader of the student group that is aligned with the BJP said freedom of expression should not be misused to justify acts that could harm the country.

"You cannot be an Indian if you celebrate the death anniversary of a terrorist," said Saurabh Sharma, joint secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (All India Student Council).

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has, meanwhile, faced ridicule for citing a fake tweet to say that the JNU demonstration had been backed by Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant accused by India of being behind the 2008 attack on Mumbai in which 166 people died.

Delhi police circulated the fake tweet at the weekend in a warning to students "not to get carried away by such seditious and anti-national rhetoric". A spokesman did not answer calls to his mobile phone on Monday seeking comment.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's siege on #JNU: #Hindutva's battle for #India's classrooms is out in the open via @qzindia

The clusterfuck that is the current row over Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not really about Kanhaiya Kumar’s alleged sedition. It is merely one episode in a colossal tussle between the Left and Right over a prize catch: education, the shaping of the future citizen.

And there is apparently no place too low to go in pursuit of that quest.
The Indian state has criminally neglected education for decades. Despite plenty of primary schools, a Right to Education Act, and all the right policy noises, our education system is abysmal. Schools are often just empty rooms; teachers are absent or barely more literate than their students; a lack of infrastructure—from toilets to educational materials—hinders both enrolment and learning outcomes. Kids suffer the same social discrimination inside classrooms as they do outside.
Higher education has gotten more attention, and islands of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and JNU regularly produce people who do India proud. But in general, the absolutely crucial role of education in nation-building has suffered from an inexplicable lack of political backing.
Today’s central government, for all its dull-witted devotion to Vedic flying machines and cow urine, is sharply cognizant of the power of the classroom. And it will do all it can to capture it and cast it in its image. The Sangh Parivar is very clear about what kind of Indians it wants in India, and much more driven and organised in the pursuit of that aim.

Want a Hindutva nation that purges itself of “westernised”, “socialist” thinking? Catch ’em young and mould them.
Campuses are rich sources of leadership. You just have to take the campus as a place where people are exposed to new ideas and learn to think for themselves, and recast it as a boot camp. And if you can’t corral them into your way of thinking, intimidate them with the threat of violence.
The patriotism bogey

That project of re-educating India along Hindutva lines has been underway for much longer than two years. The RSS shakha is a potent classroom, and there are Hindu groups that enthusiastically train armies of children in the use of weapons and rhetoric to “fight ISIS” (read Muslims). This project has only picked up momentum since May 2014.
Narendra Modi’s right-leaning Hindutva government is deeply anti-intellectual, obscurantist, and regressive. Its ministers are comically incompetent, its public relations tone-deaf, and its instincts stone age.
Smriti Irani, India’s human resources development minister, wasn’t chosen for her progressive educational views. From the cultural chaperoning of Indian cinema-goers by the censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani to the ruckus at the Film and Television Institute of India over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to the mess at JNU, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going for the jugular of Indian education.
When, crying sedition, the home ministry waded into what should have been an internal university matter at JNU, it did so with naked strategy, wearing only a bikini of incompetence.
But however stupid and embarrassing this government may be, it is very good at replicating its thinking by stoking rage and hatred.

Riaz Haq said...

Pankaj Mishra: #India's Savage, Invisible War, Unreason on #Kashmir, original sin of #Indian nationalism via @BV

Kashmiri Muslims remain as disaffected as ever -- and with good reason. A few hours before the assault on JNU last week, Indian security forces shot dead two Kashmiri students in the valley. The Indian media, and even those protesting against the scoundrels of patriotism, barely noticed just another day of impunity in Kashmir.

Neither such routine killings (by Indian govt), nor the endless crackdowns and curfews have changed or will change Kashmir’s ground realities. But last week’s multi-pronged assaults on JNU students revealed how profoundly and extensively a sustained lynch-mob hysteria over Kashmir had damaged Indian institutions -- security agencies and the legal system, as well as the media and the larger public sphere -- long before Modi’s ascent to power. In this sense, a long, savage but largely invisible war on India’s margins is finally coming home.


Last week, a tragic farce overwhelmed India just as Narendra Modi was promoting his ambitious “Make in India” program to spur domestic manufacturing. It began with Zee News, a jingoistic and vastly influential television channel, whose owner had openly campaigned for Modi’s election in 2014. Zee broadcast an amateur video that showed students at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India’s version of the London School of Economics, shouting slogans in favor of Kashmir’s independence and against the 2013 execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri accused of attacking the Indian parliament in 2001.

Some other ultra-patriotic channels picked up Zee’s accusatory refrain against JNU students: that they were “anti-national.” Modi’s home minister declared his resolve not to “spare” the culprits. His education minister tweeted her angry refusal to tolerate any “insult to Mother India.” Delhi police raided the university campus. They arrested, among others, the president of the student union and a former teacher, charging them with sedition no less.

The home minister quoted a tweet supporting JNU students by Hafiz Saeed, a notorious Pakistani militant, to accuse them of links with evildoers. Exercised about the insults to Mother India, a mob of politicians and pro-Modi lawyers at a Delhi court beat up -- on two successive days, as a crowd of policemen stood by -- journalists as well as JNU students, including the one accused of treason.

Soon after these extraordinary events it emerged that not only did Saeed’s supposed endorsement come from a parody Twitter account, but the original video of sloganeering students had also been doctored.

An avalanche of scorn has landed on the Modi government and its seedy partisans in the Indian media. Adverse international headlines have made “Fake in India” and “Hate in India” seem more plausible ventures than Make in India for now.

A government driven hither and thither by Twitter burlesque is guilty of abysmal ineptitude. But frenzied deception and self-deception over Kashmir are not unique to Hindu nationalists. Rather, unreason on Kashmir is the original sin of Indian nationalism, secular as well as hardline Hindu.

Tens of thousands have died during more than two decades of a vicious Pakistan-backed insurgency and counter-insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir; an unknown number have been tortured or “disappeared.” The violence drove away an entire community of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley where most of the state’s population lives.

During this time, the political and popular mood has progressively hardened in India. The extravagant middle-class fantasy of a “Global Indian Takeover” made local Kashmiri disaffection seem a trifling irritant -- to be tackled through a U.S.-led emasculation of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

We Must Heed This Warning Of Harvard Academic About #RSS & Creeping Fascism in #India #BJP #Modi … via @HuffPostIndia

In January 2000, a Harvard academic wrote a piece in The Frontline titled The RSS Gameplan, describing a "creeping fascism" perpetrated by what he called a "disillusioned and dispirited" Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Journalist Prem Panicker, noted today how prescient the article was, and how some of its passages resonate in today's political environment.

The article details the blueprint of how the RSS was planning to implement its long-standing dream of a Hindu Rashtra and why it won't work.

"Today the creeping fascism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is coming upon us not as gradually as imperialism did, nor as suddenly as did the Emergency. Its spread is being calibrated adroitly by seven faceless men of the RSS, the RSS 'high command," the economist wrote.

Here are some excerpts from the article.

"But the RSS leaders are now in their late seventies, some not at all in good health, and so in a mood of frustration. Their glide to a total capture of Delhi’s gaddi (throne) has been interrupted and put on ‘hold’. Symbolically, the bhagwa dhwaj (saffron double triangle flag) does not yet flutter from the Red Fort; but the hated tricolour which no RSS office can hoist even on August 15, still does. The climb to total power is up a slippery slope. Having come so close, the RSS could lose it all in a sudden throw of the electoral dice. That is the frustration; so close yet so far."
"But then there is a downside to that trade-off: the RSS cadre is disillusioned and disspirited with the compromises and the stunting. India is nowhere the Hindu Rashtra that the high command had been promising, and on which they had been weaned and brain -washed. The cadres’ patience is now wearing thin. They want to strike out on their own even at the cost of losing power."
"The second component of the RSS game plan is to shake public confidence in every institution that can circumscribe or act as a speed-breaker for the RSS juggernaut."
"Christians are an easy target because there are no Christian terrorists to retaliate. As the period of the Emergency clearly demonstrated, the RSS is astute enough to know when to hunt with the hounds and when to run with the hares. They are smarter than the German fascists in this respect."
"India would be, it seems, converted into a state which is a cross between the Taliban and the Vatican."
But there is hope.

"I live on the hope that in India, no well-laid plan ever works. India, after all, is a functioning anarchy. That has been the undoing of every attempt to straitjacket its society. That is why we are still the longest continuing unbroken civilisation of over 10,000 years. The RSS is, luckily, our counter-culture."
We highly recommend reading the piece in full.

When the article was published, the author, an academic-turned-politician, ran a political outfit which later merged with the BJP. On Monday, he moved the the Supreme Court on the Ram Janmabhoomi case and is hopeful that the construction of Ram Mandir would begin in Ayodhya by year-end.

Yes, it was Subramanian Swamy.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Nationalist "Scholars" in #India demand that #Harvard U Press drop its well-respected editor. #Modi #BJP #JNU

The Murty Classical Library of India has been praised as an ambitious scholarly effort to make the classics of India available in the highest-quality English translations -- and to promote more study of those classics around the world. In the series, works are presented in their original languages (which include Bangla, Hindi, Panjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu) with English translations on opposite pages. Hundreds of titles may eventually be published. An article in The Hindu in October said that "few intellectual and literary ventures have more transformative potential" for scholarship and understanding of India.

In what some fear is an escalation of demands from Hindu nationalists to control study of their country's history and culture, more than 11,000 scholars in India have in only a few days signed a petition demanding the ouster of the lead editor of the series, Sheldon Pollock, who is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University and generally considered a leading expert on the classic works of Indian civilizations.
Academics in the West are concerned not only about the petition but the reasons it gives. Pollock is criticized because he disagrees with some views of Hindu nationalists, because he is leading the project (which involves an international team of scholars) from the United States and because he recently signed a statement of scholars that defended students and faculty members at Jawaharlal Nehru University who are protesting the arrest of the president of the student union on sedition charges.
Effectively, say Western academics, their counterparts in India who are affiliated with the governing Bharatiya Janata Party are sending a message to the United States and elsewhere that professors who criticize the nationalist moves by the government will find themselves facing hostility or other obstacles to working on India. The petition is attracting widespread attention -- much of it positive -- in the Indian press.
Several scholars said they were deeply concerned but also afraid to speak out right now. Harvard University Press declined to comment. So did Pollock.

The debate over the Harvard University Press series comes at a time when some scholars in India whose views clash with nationalists report losing their jobs or their influence. Further, some American universities have been debating grants from Indian nationalist groups that some say go too far in letting those groups influence those who would be hired as scholars and teachers. The University of California at Irvine in February rejected grants for endowed chairs for this reason.
University presses, which both publish about and in India, have been the focus of debate previously.
In 2011, Oxford University Press ended publication in India of some essays that angered nationalists. After many scholars worldwide protested the move, Oxford reversed itself and said that it would publish the works in India. Among the organizers of a letter by scholars that was influential in getting Oxford to resume publication was Pollock, who is now editing the Harvard series.

Riaz Haq said...

Controversial student activists of #Hindu #RSS #ABVP turn #India's universities into ideological battlegrounds. #BJP

They have disrupted movie screenings, scuffled with fellow students and briefly held a liberal journalist hostage.

And in recent weeks, the political activism of the student organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has become even more controversial in India.

Activists with the ABVP – which springs from the same Hindu nationalist organization as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party – complained about a campus event at the University of New Delhi where students condemned the hanging of a convicted terrorist.

Top government officials launched an investigation. Students who organized the Feb. 9 event were charged with sedition and the president of the student union was jailed.

That followed an episode at a university in the southern city of Hyderabad, where ABVP members complained to federal education officials about a student protest against the execution of a man convicted for his role in serial bombings in 1993. One student targeted in the complaint committed suicide.

The agitations have turned India’s university campuses into a battleground between liberal, secular voices and supporters of Modi’s conservative government – of which ABVP has become among the most prominent. The group’s leaders say they are fighting an ideological battle against professors and others they accuse of downplaying the traditions of India’s Hindu majority to appease minorities.

“There is a myth called secularism, which believes in denying Indian culture and tradition,” said Sunil Ambekar, national organizing secretary for the ABVP. “And these so-called intellectuals propagated this myth for all these years…. Instead of teaching patriotism, they encourage anti-national activities.”

Secularism is enshrined in India’s constitution, and professors who have clashed with ABVP say that India’s right-wing establishment sees an opportunity to promote a pro-Hindu agenda at universities. Professors worry that the group’s rising influence is shrinking the space for free debate.

“The government is using ABVP as its foot soldiers because to bring about ideological change in society, it is better to start with students,” said Milind Awad, assistant professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where the February incident occurred.

ABVP maintains it is independent of the BJP, although many party leaders, including government ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad, were members.

The group claims to be India’s largest student organization, with 9,800 chapters nationwide. Its membership doubled from 1.1 million in 2003 to 2.2 million a decade later. In 2014, the year Modi took office, the group said it added more than 900,000 members.

The group traces its roots to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hard-line Hindu nationalist organization that was temporarily banned after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 for spreading hatred against the independence leader. The organization, which also spawned the BJP, formed the student group to attract young followers.

Yadunath Deshpande, secretary of the ABVP in Mumbai, organized symposiums across universities last year with the aim of getting students to think “pro-nation.” One topic focused on “Indianizing” the subjects that students are taught.

“There are many aspects of our rich history ignored in India’s education curriculum,” Deshpande said.

Deshpande vigorously denied that the BJP had any say in its functioning.

“Students are gravitating towards ABVP because we take up student issues,” he said. “We will not hesitate in standing up to this government either if the situation arises.”

Tensions between the right and left wings have long roiled Indian university campuses. The difference now, many observers say, is that ABVP’s links to the governing party are prompting top officials to become involved in the disputes.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's #India, not #Pakistan, denies visas to #US religious freedom body #USCIRF #religiousdiscrimination #BJP

George said USCIRF had been able to travel to many countries, including those among the worst offenders of religious freedom, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar.

India has denied visas for a delegation from the US government agency charged with monitoring international religious freedom.

The delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom had been scheduled to leave for India on Friday for a long-planned visit with the support of the US state department and the US embassy in New Delhi, but India had failed to issue the necessary visas, the commission said.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Indian government’s denial, in effect, of these visas,” USCIRF chairman Robert George said in a statement.

“As a pluralistic, non-sectarian, and democratic state, and a close partner of the United States, India should have the confidence to allow our visit,” he said.

George said USCIRF had been able to travel to many countries, including those among the worst offenders of religious freedom, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar.

“One would expect that the Indian government would allow for more transparency than have these nations, and would welcome the opportunity to convey its views directly to USCIRF.“

The Indian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year, despite a much-heralded fresh start in US-India ties under Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, the United States ran into problems arranging visits by the head of its office to combat human trafficking and its special envoy for gay rights.

A state department official referred queries on the visa issue to the Indian government, but highlighted remarks by president Barack Obama on a visit to Delhi last year, in which he made a plea for freedom of religion in a country with a history of strife between Hindus and minorities.

In its 2015 report, the bipartisan USCIRF said incidents of religiously motivated and communal violence had reportedly increased for three consecutive years.

It said that despite its status as a pluralistic, secular democracy, India had long struggled to protect minority religious communities or provide justice when crimes occur, creating a climate of impunity.

Non-governmental organisations and religious leaders, including from the Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities, attributed the initial increase in violence to religiously divisive campaigning in advance of the country’s 2014 general election won by Modi.

The report said that since the election, religious minorities had been subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups.

U.S. law allows for imposition of sanctions on countries the commission terms “of particular concern,” but the USCIRF’s recommendations are not binding and these are not automatically imposed.

Riaz Haq said...

Patriotism: The last refuge of the #BJP #Hindu Nationalist scoundrels in #Modi's #India via @TheEconomist

THE annual budget which India’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, presented on February 29th would normally have been the big political event of the week. That is not how proceedings in Parliament in the ensuing days made it appear. Both chambers were disrupted by angry exchanges over issues close to the hearts of the more extreme Hindu-nationalist wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yet again, an ugly strain of BJP politics is distracting attention from what was supposed to be the party’s central agenda in power: ensuring rapid economic growth.

The damage to India’s image is painful. Faith in the police and other institutions has been undermined. Vigilante violence has seemed to win official backing. Street protests have proliferated; on March 2nd the police in Delhi used water cannon against protesters outside Parliament. This is not the outward-looking, investor-friendly image India hopes to project. And it threatens its liberal traditions of free speech. It is not just India-hating traitors who think that the trial of Afzal Guru was unfair and that his execution was used for political ends by the previous administration, led by the Congress party. The BJP’s definition of “sedition” precludes almost any debate on the future of Kashmir—a source of tension within India and with Pakistan since independence.

All of this looks like bad news for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Yet, beyond tweeting in support of a fiery speech by Ms Irani, his embattled human-resources minister, he has had little to say on the Rohith Vemula suicide and JNU furore. This follows a pattern: he rarely speaks out in ways that might alienate the BJP’s hardliners. He needs them, as his most loyal foot soldiers in looming state elections, including one in West Bengal in May; and Mr Modi is probably already thinking about the next general election, due by 2019. With that in mind, and following failure in an election in the big state of Bihar last November, he and his advisers may calculate that whipping up a chorus of angry Indian nationalism serves them better than talking about touchy issues such as caste—and better than promoting narrow “Hindu” causes such as protecting cows from beef-eating Muslims and Christians.

It also suits Mr Modi’s style, cultivated in his years as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, to portray himself as an outsider. He complains of plots by the press, NGOs, foreign meddlers and political pundits to destabilise his government. Despite leading India’s first single-party majority government in many years, he still governs as if he is waging an opposition campaign, with big rallies, catchy slogans and a sense of victimhood.

Hopes that Mr Modi would implement radical economic policies were clearly misplaced. He campaigned in 2014 less as a reformer than as a man who got things done. But ruling India has proved much harder than running Gujarat, and he is constrained by the lack of a majority in Parliament’s upper house. So the optimism of his election campaign, when he sought to represent the aspirational new urban middle classes, has been dented.

Mother tricolour
For all that India is the world’s fastest-growing big economy, to many Indians that is not how it feels. It is not creating enough jobs for its swelling workforce. The fresh spending in this week’s budget was aimed not at the middle classes but at the poor in the countryside, the voters whom Congress has long wooed. Last October Arun Shourie, a writer and minister in a former BJP administration, mocked Mr Modi’s government as “Congress plus a cow”. This week’s budget and political battles suggest things have moved on. It has become Congress plus a flag.

Riaz Haq said...

In #India One Case Of Anti #Christian #Violence Every Day | Pray | Open Doors USA. #Modi #BJP #Hindu #Bigotry …

Attacks on Christians in India were reported on an almost daily basis in 2015, according to a Christian advocacy group.

“The country saw 355 incidents of violence, including 200 major incidents, during the last year,” Joseph Dias, convener of Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, told World Watch Monitor. The forum’s report, released on Jan. 18, concluded that it is “not safe” to be a Christian in India.

The group reports that seven pastors were killed, several nuns were raped and hundreds of Christians were arrested under India’s anti-conversions laws. The report was released as 12 people, including a blind couple and their three-year-old son, were arrested in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, under the state’s anti-conversion law, which forbids conversions through “allurement” or “force.” Seven of those arrested, including the blind couple, were released from custody on January 17, according to local pastor Suresh Mandlo.

Dias blamed the increase in incidents against Christians on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

“The rise of the BJP has emboldened the [Hindu nationalist] fringe groups,” he said. “They feel that they can treat the Christians as soft targets under BJP's patronage and protection.”

“Even the government is acting in a partisan manner,” added Dias, relating two recent high-profile cases involving foreign clerics.

In the first case, Sister Bertilla Capra, an Italian Catholic nun who had been working with leprosy victims for four decades, was denied the renewal of her visa. Then, authorities at the Chennai International Airport detained and subsequently deported Hegumen Seraphim, a Russian Orthodox priest.

The Russian embassy said the treatment of the priest, who was detained at the airport for seven hours and denied food, was “unacceptable.” The embassy’s statement added that, “Such disrespect, shown to a priest from a friendly country, goes against the spirit of mutual affinity and cooperation characteristic of Russian-Indian relationships.”

According to Dias, “all these incidents point to an organized targeting of Christians at different levels.” He added that “The hate speech is turning worse and the conversion rhetoric of the saffron family [Hindu fundamentalists] is vitiating the atmosphere and paving the way for atrocities,” he added.

Just days before the Catholic Secular Forum issued its report, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, claimed it had recently undertaken mass re-conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. Praveen Togadia, the VHP’s international working president, reported on Jan. 8 that the VHP had reconverted more than 500,000 Christians and 250,000 Muslims in the last decade with its Ghar Wapsi, or homecoming, initiative. Two days later, VHP national general secretary Y. Raghavulu claimed that 800,000 Hindus were being converted to other faiths every year in India.

“The [VHP] claim to have converted Christians and Muslims to Hinduism is just to enthuse their cadres. Both [statements] are blatantly aggressive instances of hate to provoke violence,” Christian activist John Dayal told World Watch Monitor. “The statistics are products of feverish minds and a bankrupt ideology. Their real purpose is political—to arouse passions, sharpen polarization and target religious minorities, and especially the Christian community.”

Hindu fundamentalists, Dayal added, “want to criminalize Christian presence and social work as a conversion conspiracy by Western powers.”

Riaz Haq said...

2 #Indian #Muslims herding buffaloes thrashed, hanged in #Jharkhand #India by #Hindu radicals #BJP via The Times of India
In an incident reminiscent of the Dadri lynching, two Muslim men herding eight buffaloes on their way to a Friday market were beaten up and hanged to death from a tree by suspected cattle-protection vigilantes in Balumath forests in Latehar district, 100km from the state capital, early on Friday.
The deceased, Muhammad Majloom, 35, and Azad Khan alias Ibrahim, 15, were cattle traders and related to each other. Their bodies were strung up with their hands tried behind their backs and their mouths stuffed with cloth.
"The manner of their hanging showed that the assailants were led by extreme hatred," said Latehar SP Anoop Birthary.
Local MLA from the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) Prakash Ram claimed that Hindu radicals were behind the killings. Reports said villagers who protested the deaths claimed the victims were targeted as they were cattle traders.
Birthary, however, did not identify the assailants. "We are gathering leads to verify whether personal or business enmity led to the murder or it was due to some other motive. The buffaloes were freed. It is yet to be known if the buffaloes were taken away by the assailants or they strayed into the forest," Birthary said.
The hanging sparked protests by people in Jhabbar village that turned violent when police tried to take down the bodies. The situation poses a serious political and law and order challenge for the BJP government in Jharkhand. In the case of Dadri case when a Muslim man was killed over rumours of beef eating, BJP had said law and order was under the SP government.
But in the Jharkhand incident, the buck stops with the state and central leadership. SDO Kamleshwar Narayan and six cops were injured when villagers threw stones at officials who arrived in the morning to manage the situation and ensure that it did not take a communal turn. Injuries to senior officials forced police to fire in the air and lathi charge the villagers.
Sources said protesting villagers have periodically claimed that assailants have targeted them in the past because they are engaged in cattle trade. "Four months ago, a group of men tried to kill a cattle trader in Gomia village of Balumath. The man managed to escape," Latehar MLA Prakash Ram said.

Riaz Haq said...

Almost 95% of #beef traders are #Hindus : #India's retired Justice Sachar. #BeefBan #BJP #Modi …

Agra : Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of Delhi Court and much famed panel headed by him on Muslim minorities in 2006 called Sachar Committee said in Mathura on Friday that more Hindus are involved in beef trade in India than Muslims. He said this in three days International Conference on Radical Islam in the wake Paris attack. His statement reads, “Almost 95% of beef traders are Hindus. Still, a man was lynched in Dadri because he ate beef. This is the death of mankind and humanity. Eating habits have nothing to do with religion. Even I can eat beef”.
In a subtle reference to BJP’s Sardhana MLA Sangeet Soma, who recently made news over allegation about owning a beef trading company,Mr Sachar told “MPs and MLAs too own beef company. Then why is only the common man being targeted by right wing groups”.
As soon as he delivered this at RC Degree College at Mathura, people comprising mostly scholars and teachers started leaving the venue in protest. A few of them also switched fans and lights in the hall to disrupt the address and demanded Sachar to stop the address.However,the former High Court Judge tried to pacify the audience by saying that he only meant to highlight the plight of Muslims who were being targeted unnecessarily due to the beef controversy.
Among the audience present at the venue, Mr Shiv Ram Bhardwaj,a teacher at a Degree College, Mathura did not like the comment made by Mr Sachar and told that Mr Sachar tried to turn a “pro Muslim topic into an Hindu one”. Another teacher present at the venue Yaduraj Yadav told Justice Sachar should not have made reference to Hindus and their scriptures to drive home his point. Several scholars and delegates from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada and other countries were present at the Conference.

Riaz Haq said...

A nationalism unique to #India. #Modi government demands oath of allegiance only from #Muslim #Urdu writers. …

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under Smriti Irani is asking Urdu writers to sign forms which have the following declaration: “I ___ son/daughter of ___ confirm that my book/magazine titled ___ which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.”

A Muslim legislator has been suspended in Maharashtra for saying he prefers “Jai Hind” (victory to India) to “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India). What the difference between these two declarations is, I am not really sure, but it is enough to merit punishment. On March 19 came a report that Urdu writers have been asked to guarantee they are not writing anti-India material.

In today’s India, on the other hand, our ‘nationalism’ is not against another nation. It is against other Indians. This is why it is different. Our great Indian nationalists are rousing passions against their own people, not against another nation. Our fraud nationalists go after their own citizens for their religion, or for their views. Their concern and passion is the enemy within. That is not love of nation. It is hatred and bitterness. Persecution of Indian Muslims and Indian dalits is not nationalism. This word we use so easily as an accusation, ‘anti-national’, is not really current in European languages. Only primitive peoples, like Indians, use it. It means opposition to the things a nation stands for. But who is to decide what positive nationalism is? Other than saying Bharat Mata ki jai, I do not really know what Indian nationalism is.

Jawaharlal Nehru University has been organising open lectures on nationalism. This is available on videos that is accessible to the lay person. This is a noble effort but I am afraid that it will be wasted on Indians. It does not matter how terribly you behave, as long as you loudly say Bharat Mata ki jai, you are a nationalist in India.

Yet, another story in the papers is about two Muslims, one of them a child of 15, tortured and lynched from a tree, just like African-Amercians in the United States. They were herding buffaloes so it is not clear what their crime was. But it is absolutely certain where the hatred was stirred up.Is this making the government pause? Not at all. The BJP national executive is meeting over this weekend and it is calling for yet more “nationalism”. Haven’t we had enough of that already?

Do the people in the BJP know what effect this has on India’s reputation as a civilised society? Pick up any foreign paper or magazine and most of the news about India is negative. Why? Because, as many of us have concluded, avoidable incidents of similar nature are coming with such regularity that it is not easy to escape the suspicion that these things are deliberate.

For those hate-filled, fraud nationalists here, achche din have arrived.

Riaz Haq said...

#India'a Pluralism, Secularism, Freedoms in Danger: Warn Retired Bureaucrats In Open Letter. #Modi #BJP #Hindu

NEW DELHI: We, the persons listed below, a group of retired civil servants belonging to different All India and Central Services who have worked in the Government of India (GoI), State Governments and a wide range of governmental and other institutions would urge all Constitutional institutions in India, the media and the general public to reflect upon the deeply disquieting trends visible in the public sphere and in our polity today.

These developments are causing deep anguish to us as they question some of the fundamental Constitutional principles and legal safeguards we have long taken for granted. Some of these are mentioned below:

1) The discrimination against Scheduled Caste students and an attempt to clamp down upon Ambedkar study groups as found in IIT, Chennai, and in the University of Hyderabad. The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula has highlighted the unwarranted interference of the GoI in the University of Hyderabad and its targeting a group of students, who did not subscribe to a narrow concept of nationalism.

2) There is a systematic attempt to silence dissent using the outmoded law of sedition against young idealists like Kanhaiya Kumar and his colleagues, who have given India a wake-up call to address poverty and all forms of exploitation.

3) Law and order agencies like the Delhi police used doctored videos in a blatantly partisan manner against JNU students while an MLA and certain lawyers – who were widely caught on camera beating up Kanhaiya and journalists – were treated with kid gloves. Even the team of senior lawyers nominated by the Supreme Court to monitor the situation reported the atmosphere of threat and intimidation.

4) The atmosphere of intolerance is growing what with the murder of the rationalists and the regular threats of violence against minorities and all who do not accept a very narrow version of ‘nationalism’. Such a concept of nationalism is itself grounded in a biased view of history. This intolerance is a direct attack upon the freedom of speech and expression and is anathema to the pluralism of the Indian Constitution.

5) A Minister in the Central Government, a ruling party MP and local leaders have recently issued terrifying threats against Muslims but the GoI does not find anything objectionable in the Minister’s statements. Other minorities have also expressed their sense of insecurity.

What is listed above is only illustrative. We feel that all told, there is a clear and present danger to the values of the freedom of speech, thought and expression as also the pluralism and the secularism that are basic to the Indian Constitution. We add our voice to the multitude of dissents already expressed and call upon all right- thinking people to register their protest at the current goings-on.

At the same time, we would like to point out that we do not condone similar transgressions by other groups – particularly on the extreme left – which try in like manner to silence opposing views by vicious attacks on social media and/or violence.

We urge a return to the civilised and civilisational discourse of the Constitution of India and a renewed public commitment to the freedom of speech, thought and expression.

Riaz Haq said...

Signatories to Open Letter saying "#India'a Pluralism, Secularism, Freedoms in Danger"

1) Niranjan Pant, IA&AS (R), former Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General, GoI

2) EAS Sarma, IAS (R), former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, GoI

3) Ruchira Mukerjee, Indian P&T Accounts & Finance Service (R), former Adviser (Finance), Telecom Commission, Department of Telecom , GoI

4) Kalyani Chaudhuri, IAS (R), former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. Of West Bengal

5) Keshav Desiraju, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, GoI

6) Amitabha Pande, IAS (R), former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI

7) Ardhendu Sen, IAS (R), former Chief Secretary, Govt. Of West Bengal

8) Pranab Mukhopadhyaya, IAS (R), former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI

9) Surjit Das, IAS (R), former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand

10) Anup Mukerji, IAS (R), former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar

11) Vibha Puri Das, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI

12) SS Rizvi, IAS (R),former Joint Secretary to the GoI

13) Sundar Burra, IAS (R), former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

14) Harish Chandra, IAS (R), former Prinicipal Adviser in the rank of Secretary, Government of India (GoI)

15) Kamal Jaswal, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology, GoI

16) Meena Gupta, IAS (R), former Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, GoI

17) Hirak Ghosh, IAS (R), former Principal Secretary, Govt. Of West Bengal

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Modi's #yoga guru Baba Ramdev outrages #India with beheading remark. …

If you have a mental image of what a yoga guru does then it would probably tend towards promoting inner peace and good posture. It probably wouldn't include making public statements that it's only the rule of law that's holding them back from beheading thousands of people who don't chant their nationalist phrase of choice.
But just such a bloodthirsty remark has been made by the prominent Indian yoga teacher Baba Ramdev, making collective jaws drop and raising questions about how religious and patriotic sentiments are exploited in Indian political debate.
Ramdev is a successful modern yoga teacher - he's taught all over the world, been credited with re-popularising the discipline among India's young middle class, spoken at the UN, and even branched out into selling his own brand of noodles.

But in recent days, Indian twitter users have been using the hashtag #TalibaniRamdev to compare him to an Islamist extremist after he waded into a debate about a controversial phrase.
The phrase - "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" - means "Hail Mother India", and refers to the nation personified as a Hindu goddess. It's widely used as a statement of patriotism by the BJP, India's Hindu nationalist ruling party. Some politicians have called for all students to be taught the phrase in school.
But some Muslim clerics say it goes against the Islamic belief that there is only one God, and they're trying to stop the phrase being imposed. In March, a prominent Muslim leader said he would never utter the slogan "…even if you put a knife to my throat", and a few days later another politician from the party was suspended from the state assembly in Maharashtra after refusing to repeat it.
Debate on the slogan has raged ever since, with one BJP politician saying those who refused to hail Mother India, whatever their religion, should have no right to remain in the country.
But Baba Ramdev escalated the rhetoric even further when he spoke at a meeting on Sunday, organised by the right wing Hindu organisation RSS with the aim of promoting community harmony. Ramdev made it very clear that only respect for the rule of law was restraining him from beheading anyone who disrespected Bharat Mata. "If someone says that he won't chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai even if his head is chopped off, I want to say there is a rule of law and we respect the constitution, otherwise we can cut hundreds and thousands of heads," Ramdev said in remarks that were filmed and later posted on YouTube.
His outspoken comments have caused outrage in a country where many have commented on a rise in intolerance and bigotry. Last year 200 academics signed a letter saying that the current atmosphere in India encouraged "greater hostility and aggression, especially against religious and caste minorities."

Riaz Haq said...

Aakar Patel: "#Secularism is a fig leaf for #India. We’re more #Pakistani than we think". #Pakistan #Hindu #Muslim …

The decay of the Congress has produced a predictable, observable effect. It has revealed our majoritarian instinct, exposing it to the world, from which it had been hidden.
Our previous inauthentic assertions of secularism and tolerance are now gone. This change was of course the demand of the movement that brought Narendra Modi to power. It has produced an unintended (for the Hindu majority) consequence that we shall touch upon later.
The change being referred to is observable on two sides. First on the side of the state. Here the majoritarian impulse was restrained since 1947 under Congress which insisted on Nehruvian secularism as the cornerstone of our democracy. This may have initially been from belief but it later also came out of necessity. The Gandhi family’s Parsi, Italian, agnostic roots make them outsiders. They can hardly stand by anything other than tolerance of religious diversity.
State secularism was a top-down imposition on the Hindu upper class which was never enthusiastic about it.
The non-Congress formations at the Centre were dominated by socialists who subscribed to the same inclusive instinct. It showed in their uncomfortable partnerships with Hindutva. When Hindutva showed its inflexibility on first principles, these alliances broke nationally three times. At the state level, it happened more often.
We can accurately accuse these regional parties of hypocrisy. But it is true that they have never actively subscribed to Hindutva because they feel repelled by its aggressive, majoritarian thrust.
And so whether it was these socialists or the Congress that ruled Delhi, the nature of the state was not dissimilar. And even in opposition, the Congress was in the past big enough and influential enough to protect its legacy. Both at the Centre and in regional governments. No longer.
Today, it has become different, under a Hindutva government with an absolute majority. For the first time, the Indian state is comfortable expressing its majoritarian nature. The BJP government is echoing its constituency, and feels no shame in doing this. This is an observable fact. The resentment and anger that its voters feel against the appeasement of Muslims, the proselytisation by Christians and the mollycoddling of dalits and adivasis, all of this the government also feels.
The uncompromising nature of this sentiment has meant the government no longer reaches out to assure its weaker citizens that it has their interest also in mind. Today, when the state feels the hurt it will retaliate with violence.
One example will suffice: Ishrat Jahan. The state is openly justifying its murder of a citizen because it suspected her of mala fide intent. More interestingly, the media has backed this justification.
Elsewhere, the Hindu majoritarian instinct has always controlled the cultural space (it is why there is zero dalit, Muslim, adivasi representation in our popular culture — meaning the characters of film, television and advertising). This instinct is no longer suppressed by authority. Its consequences are no longer effaced, and not even an attempt is made to counter them, if only through platitudes.
.... We have revealed ourselves as being no different from Pakistanis, whose bigotry we used to juxtapose against our tolerance. A Pakistani poet wrote this about India:
“Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle
Ab tak kahan chhupe the bhai?
Woh moorkhta, woh ghaamarpan
Jis mein hum ne sadi ganwai
Aakhir pahunchi dwaar tumhaarey
Arre badhai, bohot badhai!”
I will not attempt a verse translation, but the lines say: ‘You turned out to be as stupid as us.’
Congratulations to us, indeed. Our true nature is finally out: we are not secular, we are Hindu.

Riaz Haq said...

Video: It is time to make #India free of #Muslims, says Sadhvi Prachi of #VHP. #Modi #BJP … via @vuukle

Touching off a controversy, VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi on Tuesday said it is time to make India free of Muslims.
Known for courting controversies, the Sadhvi claimed the mission of a Congress-free India has already been “accomplished” and it is now time to rid the country of Muslims.
“Now that we have achieved the mission of making a Congress-free India, it is time to make India Muslim-free. We are working on that,” she said in Roorkee where at least 32 people were injured last week in a clash between two communities over forcible evacuation of a scrap dealer’s shop.

Khanpur MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion’s house was attacked by members of a community alleging their sacred book was also desecrated by his supporters. The Sadhvi claimed that the attack on Champion’s house was part of a premeditated conspiracy.
Champion, one of the nine Congress MLAs who revolted against Chief Minister Harish Rawat, recently joined BJP.

On the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, she said if BJP projects Yogi Adityananth as its chief ministerial candidate, it was bound to win 300 seats in the state.
Prachi had often been in the news for asking people to boycott films of Bollywood Khans and demanding a CBI probe into all Muslim educational institutions including Aligarh Muslim University and madrasas in Deoband to check anti-national activities.

Riaz Haq said...

In #Modi's #Hindu #India, cow #urine can sell for more than #milk. #BJP

India-trained veterinarian Navneet Dhand, who is an associate professor in veterinary biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Sydney, points to three diseases prevalent in India that could potentially be transmitted to people in the raw urine of infected cows: leptospirosis, which can cause meningitis and liver failure; arthritis-causing brucellosis; and Q-fever, which can cause pneumonia and chronic inflammation of the heart.

That's not dissuading Jain's Cow Urine Therapy Health Clinic, which buys 25,000 liters (6,600 gallons) of cow urine a month from a dozen gaushalas. Virendar Kumar Jain, who founded the 15-doctor practice in the central Indian city of Indore, said his center has administered urine-derived medicines to 1.2 million patients over the past two decades for ailments from cancer to endocrine disorders, such as diabetes.

His staff field inquiries from 4,000 online patients daily, Jain said. Consumers can also buy the products via e-commerce websites, such as Amazon. He estimates cow attendants can make 1,200 rupees a month from the sale of a cow's liquid waste, which can easily pay for the beast's upkeep.

Urine distillate sells for $1.20 to $1.50 (80 to 100 rupees) a liter, says Balkrishna of Patanjali.

Still, the value of cow urine is not a great incentive for keeping unproductive cows until their dying day, said Pankaj Navani, a former engineer whose 300-cow Binsar Farms produces 2,200 liters of milk a day. The lifespan of a cow is about 15 years, though most stop producing milk years earlier.

Navani's herd, established in 2012, is still relatively young and he's yet to face the challenge of what to do with his former milkers, he said. "A more logical policy approach is required to deal with the issue in general," Navani said.

Riaz Haq said...

#DalitUprising in #India: Protest with dead cows tagged: "Here lies your mother, you do the last rites" AJE News

Dramatic visuals, photos and videos, have emerged on Indian social media sites and on TV news channels of growing protests by Dalit groups across Gujarat over the past few days.

Media reports say the unrest is spreading across towns and cities throughout the state, the home state of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

These protests have taken place after last week's assault on four Dalit men, allegedly by the members of a Hindu hardline group.

These Dalit men, who were trying to skin a dead cow, were bound, stripped, beaten with sticks by men claiming to be "cow protectors", and then dragged by a vehicle in Una, a town a few hundred of kilometres away from the capital city of Ahmedabad.

Disparate cow protector groups have sprung up to dispense mob justice across northern and western states of India in a shocking breakdown of law and order.

It was the latest in a series of violent cow-related incidents that have once again highlighted the problems and discrimination linked to caste and communities. Last year, a Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was beaten to death by a Hindu mob in his home for allegedly killing a cow in his village.

On Tuesday, enraged Dalit protesters left cow carcasses in buildings and compounds of Indian government offices. They were making a point to state that they would no longer do tannery work, traditionally seen as a job for lower castes and Dalits.

Dalit Muslims of India

The cow, revered by Indian upper caste Hindus as a Mata (mother), has been used to spur hate against religious and other minorities such as Muslims and Dalits. Killing or consuming cow meat is a religious taboo for pious upper caste Hindus.

Dalit handles on Twitter posted pictures and videos of protesters.

Along with images of cow corpses were slogans that read "Yeh hai tumhaari maata. Tum karo antim sanskaar" (Here lies your mother, you do the last rites).

Meanwhile, an AFP report said a police officer was killed and several others were wounded during violent clashes on Tuesday.

Gujarat is already battling chaotic protests by a powerful upper caste clan that wants reservations in government jobs for their people, the Patels.

This lays bare the claims by many sociologists that the rapid urbanisation of India has weakened the caste system.

The new Dalit uprising in the world's largest democracy is yet to appoint its "leaders". Just like the film Sairat is brought to life by newcomers, the Dalit consciousness movement is playing out a new resistance script.

Riaz Haq said...

#DalitUprising in #India: Protest with dead cows tagged: "Here lies your mother, you do the last rites" AJE News

Dramatic visuals, photos and videos, have emerged on Indian social media sites and on TV news channels of growing protests by Dalit groups across Gujarat over the past few days.

Media reports say the unrest is spreading across towns and cities throughout the state, the home state of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

These protests have taken place after last week's assault on four Dalit men, allegedly by the members of a Hindu hardline group.

These Dalit men, who were trying to skin a dead cow, were bound, stripped, beaten with sticks by men claiming to be "cow protectors", and then dragged by a vehicle in Una, a town a few hundred of kilometres away from the capital city of Ahmedabad.

Disparate cow protector groups have sprung up to dispense mob justice across northern and western states of India in a shocking breakdown of law and order.

It was the latest in a series of violent cow-related incidents that have once again highlighted the problems and discrimination linked to caste and communities. Last year, a Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was beaten to death by a Hindu mob in his home for allegedly killing a cow in his village.

On Tuesday, enraged Dalit protesters left cow carcasses in buildings and compounds of Indian government offices. They were making a point to state that they would no longer do tannery work, traditionally seen as a job for lower castes and Dalits.

Dalit Muslims of India

The cow, revered by Indian upper caste Hindus as a Mata (mother), has been used to spur hate against religious and other minorities such as Muslims and Dalits. Killing or consuming cow meat is a religious taboo for pious upper caste Hindus.

Dalit handles on Twitter posted pictures and videos of protesters.

Along with images of cow corpses were slogans that read "Yeh hai tumhaari maata. Tum karo antim sanskaar" (Here lies your mother, you do the last rites).

Meanwhile, an AFP report said a police officer was killed and several others were wounded during violent clashes on Tuesday.

Gujarat is already battling chaotic protests by a powerful upper caste clan that wants reservations in government jobs for their people, the Patels.

This lays bare the claims by many sociologists that the rapid urbanisation of India has weakened the caste system.

The new Dalit uprising in the world's largest democracy is yet to appoint its "leaders". Just like the film Sairat is brought to life by newcomers, the Dalit consciousness movement is playing out a new resistance script.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - Why #India's food police are kicking up a storm, checking for #beef in biryani. #beefban #BJP #Modi

When police in northern India recently began checking dishes of mutton biryani to ensure that they did not contain beef, critics said it was another example of what they are calling "food fascism".
The recent drive happened in a Muslim-dominated cluster of villagers in Haryana state, which is governed by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The state has some of the most punishing laws against cow slaughter, a special police force to protect cows, and the curiously named "cow service commission", among other things.
Volunteers and vigilantes keep watch in villages to check if anyone is slaughtering or transporting cows. Village councils have been telling local Muslims to stop selling biryani.
Why the humble cow is India's most polarising animal
A night patrol with India's cow protection vigilantes
Last week samples of biryani were taken away by the local police after "some people" complained that beef was being used. Poor biryani sellers complained they had lost their livelihood and pictures showed empty stalls on the local highway.
India's Hindu majority see cows as a sacred animal but many other Indians eat the meat. According to government data, some 80 million Indians - one in every 13 - eat beef or buffalo meat. Most of them are Muslims. But more than 12 million Hindus also eat the meat.
The cow is India's most political animal. But, as historian DN Jha says, it has "become more political under the BJP governments in Delhi and in some states, which are obsessed with beef bans and cow slaughter".

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 suggest that the Indian state that came into being after independence has been nominally secular, but to a largely unacknowledged extent, substantively Hindu. It’s true that Indian secularism fails by the criterion you employ—the status of Muslims, and other non-Hindus. But Hinduism isn’t a confessional faith like Christianity or Islam, based on a set of scriptures. It’s more akin to a label for a compendium of different practices. Until more recently most Hindus probably lacked a subjective sense or self-perception of being Hindu. So wouldn’t it be more appropriate to describe India as an upper-caste-Hindu dominated state? That would better capture the status of low castes, whom the state brutalizes, as well of religious minorities.

Yes, Hinduism is indeed a less unified conglomerate of texts, beliefs, rituals and practices than the two big monotheistic creeds. There is always a gap between the High and Low—elite and folk— traditions in any religion, and in Hinduism it is much wider than in Christianity and Islam. This doesn’t mean that Hinduism as such is therefore a figment of the imagination, or—in another fashionable version— a fabrication of the British. The shuffling away from any forthright acknowledgment of its presence and power in India, on the grounds that it is all too multifarious to be called such, is a defensive gesture of the kind the French call noyer le poisson or ‘drowning the fish’—that is, the attempt to evade or deny a phenomenon by dissolving it in some looser and wider category. Hinduism as a faith is certainly dissimilar in structure from Christianity or Islam. But any implication—standard in contemporary Indo-apologetics - that it is thereby better should be resisted. Greater heterogeneity does not necessarily mean lesser toxicality. Shorter in scriptural authority, it is longer in hierarchical cruelty. It is enough to think of the existence of sati. Nor, it should be said, are popular traditions inherently more tolerant than elite versions: there is plenty of European evidence to the contrary. Was the subcontinent historically different? Maybe, maybe not. That’s a question for specialists in comparative religion.
Politically, however, the central fact of modern times remains that it split on communal religious lines, and the Hindu share of the massacres that accompanied partition was not due to any notable influence of the RSS. They welled up from below, though not infrequently—Bihar and Hyderabad - covered from above by leaders of Congress. That said, it’s true that calibrating the precise nature and extent of the Hindu imprint on an Indian state born out of religious division is no easy task. Your formulation may well be close to the right one, though of course it would have to be unpacked in more detail. What can be said with confidence is that the imprint itself is systematically denegated in the Indian ideology.

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.