Wednesday, December 23, 2015

India's Hindu Nationalists Going Global

India's top Hindu Nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has gone global with shakhas (branches) in 39 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and several Islamic middle eastern nations, according to Indian media reports.


In the United States alone, the RSS has 146 active chapters spread over all 50 states, according to Satish Modh who has been associated with RSS work abroad for over 25 years.

While shakhas in India take place in open public spaces, most shakhas meet on university campuses on hired parking lots in the US, says Modh.  Most overseas shakhas are held once a week. In London, they are held twice a week. The UK has 84 shakhas.

RSS in US:

A US report entitled "Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Non-Profit Groups" disclosed the following findings 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.

Influencing Thought and Policies:

The RSS is actively working to influence thought and policies in the West. Examples include the contents of the manifesto of the Norway mass murderer Breivik and attempts to influence California textbooks.

Breivik's Hindutva Rhetoric:

The Norwegian white supremacist terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik's manifesto against the "Islamization of Western Europe" was heavily influenced by the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric which is typical of the Nazi-loving Hindu Nationalists like late Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973), and his present-day Sangh Parivar followers and sympathizers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who currently rule several Indian states. This Hindutva rhetoric which infected Breivik has been spreading like a virus on the Internet, particularly on many of the well-known Islamophobic hate sites that have sprouted up in Europe and America in recent years. In fact, much of the Breivik manifesto is cut-and-pastes of anti-Muslim blog posts and columns that validated his worldview.



"It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical," Breivick wrote in his manifesto. The Christian Science Monitor has reported that "in the case of India, there is significant overlap between Breivik’s rhetoric and strains of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of coexistence with Muslims. Human rights monitors have long decried such rhetoric in India for creating a milieu for communal violence, and the Norway incidents are prompting calls here to confront the issue."



Hindu nationalists in India have a long history of admiration for Adolf Hitler, and his "Final Solution". In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

California Textbooks:

Not only have the BJP led governments in India fundamentally altered India's history textbooks, the BJP allies around the world are attempting to the same in textbooks as far as California.

Here are some excerpt from "HISTORY TEXTBOOKS IN INDIA: NARRATIVES OF RELIGIOUS NATIONALISM" by K.N.PANIKKAR:

"The introduction of new textbooks by the NCERT (under BJP) was inspired by the political purpose of seeking rationale from history for constructing India as a Hindu nation. The textbooks were, therefore, recast as narratives of Hindu religious nationalism. Claimed as an effort to retrieve the true nationalist history from the motivated distortions of colonial historiography they attribute to Indian nation an exclusively Hindu character."

"During this period the political climate in the country turned in favour of the Hindu fundamentalist forces, which enabled them in 1998 to lead a coalition government in which the Ministry of Human Resource Development which dealt with education was headed by a long standing cadre of the Hindu fundamentalist organization, Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh( RSS). Under his stewardship the government spared no effort to change the content and character of education, of which the introduction of new textbooks, was perhaps the most prominent and indeed controversial."

"The idea of India being a Hindu civilisational state runs through all the texts, either directly expressed or indirectly suggested. The question of the indigenous origin of Aryans and the identity of Harappan civilization with the Vedic society has some bearing on this issue. The former is quite central to the fundamentalist agenda of claiming the nation as Hindu, as the migration theory would deprive the Hindus of indigenous lineage. Therefore, against the widely held scholarly opinion Aryans are credited with indigenous origins, subscribing in the bargain to the colonial view of Aryan race. In the former case the textbooks put forward the view that the Aryans were indigenous to India and that the opinion widely held by scholars about their migration dismissed as inconsequential. In defense of indigenous origin no substantial evidence is adduced, except negative reasoning. It is asserted that the ‘the oldest surviving records of the Aryans, the Rig Veda, does not give even an inkling of any migration. It does not have any knowledge even of the geography beyond the known boundaries of Ancient India.’ It further says: ‘Many scholars think that the Aryans were originally inhabitants of India and did not come from outside. It has been argued by such scholars that there is no archeological or biological evidence, which could establish the arrival of any new people from outside between 5000 B.C and 800 B.C. This means that if at all there was any migration of Aryans or for that matter of any other people in India, it may have taken place at least eight or nine thousand years ago or after 800 B.C. to both of which there is no evidence. Further, the skeletal remains found from various Harappan sites resemble the skeletons of the modern population of the same geographical area.'"


The fanatic Hindu nationalists tried to do in California what their Indian counterparts have already done in India. They attempted to pollute California history textbooks in 2006, when they argued unsuccessfully to include lies like the indigenous origins of Aryans and tried to deny the terrible impact on hundreds of millions of Indians of the caste system and misogyny prevalent in Hindu texts and Aryan culture.

Hundreds of history scholars from US and South Asia helped defeat this reprehensible attempt by Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and its allies in the United States.

While the biggest victims of Hindu fundamentalists are the women and the Dalits of India, non-Hindu minorities and the neighboring states have not been spared either.

They are cowards and they prey upon unarmed Muslim, Christian and Sikh minorities in organized pogroms in what American scholar Paul Brass calls "production of violence" in India with many Indian intellectuals and some in the Indian press justifying the actions of the murderers.

The big brothers of these fanatic Hindutva terrorists occupy high positions in the Indian security establishment, according to former Maharashtra police chief SM Mushrif. These Hindutva allies in Indian government conduct covert warfare via terrorist actions in neighboring states including Pakistan through RAW.

Summary:

The Indian Hindu Nationalists are rapidly increasing their global reach. The hate-filled ideology they preach is a growing potential threat to peace and stability of many nations where they operate. Breivik's actions represent only the tip of a much larger and growing iceberg of death and destruction that lies just beneath the surface.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan



39 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only final solution South Asia saw was in 1971.

Anonymous said...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/12/23/u-s-keeps-muslim-family-headed-to-disneyland-out-of-the-country/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_disneymuslim_mm_1035am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Good.

Ravi Krishna said...

Riaz, do you think anyone in the west is concerned about Hindu extremism (if at all it exists). They are concerned about this

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/428146/more-than-few-islamic-extremists

Riaz Haq said...

RK: "Riaz, do you think anyone in the west is concerned about Hindu extremism (if at all it exists)."

The West was friends with the "Islamic extremists" during the cold war....Reagan even compared them with America's founding fathers in 1980s. Things can and do change with time.

Ravi Krishna said...

"Things can and do change with time."

Sure. When Hindus indulge in 9/11, 7/7, Paris, Mumbai, Madrid, Bethlam, Bali and many others, then yes things will change.

Riaz Haq said...

RK: "Sure. When Hindus indulge in 9/11, 7/7, Paris, Mumbai, Madrid, Bethlam, Bali and many others, then yes things will change."

Your allies among the white supremacist like Norwegian Anders Breivik are your proxies inspired by hateful Hindutva rhetoric to do it for you.

Riaz Haq said...

Except from Hindu Nationalism and Hi-Tech in Silicon Valley by David Palumbo-Liu


It is not at all uncommon that political debates and antagonisms take root and even flourish outside their native soil. What merits our close attention is the intensity and amplitude of this particular issue, which merges international hi-tech and finance with longstanding and bitter disputes in South Asia, and reaches into, and threatens, academic freedom and freedom of speech in the American academy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-palumboliu/hindu-nationalism-hitech-_b_8148544.html

Ravi Krishna said...

I understand your frustration that while Hindus in the west have earned excellent reputation as hardworking, well educated and well placed citizens, muslims have *ONLY* earned a bad reputation. Hollywood, TV shows confirm that. May be one day Islam may reform and move to 21st century.

Riaz Haq said...

RK : "I understand your frustration that while Hindus in the west have earned excellent reputation as hardworking, well educated and well placed citizens, muslims have *ONLY* earned a bad reputation"

This comment just shows your ignorance and bigotry that you share with right-wing Republicans in the US.

You need to learn the history to understand my response. Before Muslims, there have been succession of hated groups in the US that included Germans, Japanese, Jews and Communists who were all far more accomplished than the NRIs of today.

Mayraj said...

RSS India's number 1 terror group: Former Mumbai police officer

"RSS activists have been chargesheeted in at least 13 cases of terror acts in which RDX has been used. If organisations like Bajrang Dal are taken into the account, then the number of such cases goes up to 17," Mushrif said at an event in Kolkata.
"The RSS is India's number one terrorist organisation, there is no doubt on this," said Mushrif, referring to the 2007 Mecca Masjid bombing in Hyderabad, the 2006 and 2008 Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra and the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings among others.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/RSS-Indias-number-1-terror-group-Former-Mumbai-police-officer/articleshow/49943534.cms?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=TOI&from=mdr

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. ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/25/opinion/pankaj-mishra-nirandra-modis-idea-of-india.html?_r=0

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Does RSS have a chapter in Pakiland? Have they tried to change textbooks there?

Regards

MesquiteIce said...


Why is there so much of an insecurity complex about RSS. Just to clarify that Hinduism bars religious conversion. There is no way any monotheistic/abrahamic religions being part of hinduism. The hysteria about RSS and Gowalkar is a currency that has been overencashed. Scaremongering minorities to milk for votes may be a political tool that serves pseudo secular politcal parties. But why should americans and especially american muslims be worried. I would like to know apart from the scaremongering, what is the real risk of Hinduism or RSS having followers worldwide. Let me add to say terrorists have to punished not because they belong to a certain religion but because the harm a fellow human being.

The funny thing is that once you get to see RSS closely, you will realise that they neither have the discipline not the dedication of Nazis. They are just a bunch of overhyped individuals. The problem being not with the individuals but with the people who overhype the world into thinking that they are some invincible "army of angels"

I would like to know if Iskon and art of living is also viewed with the same amount of suspicion. Is america retracting from its pledge to safeguard freedom to practice any religion?

Iyengar Thaligai said...

Extremism of any form is detrimental to society, regardless of the religious beliefs held by its proponents. The RSS is an organization that has time and again preached intolerance and in some cases, violence against minorities (particularly muslims, christians and LGBT individuals). While they are not a terrorist organization,they are by no means inclusive. Indians need to understand that India is not a Hindu republic. It is a secular nation with strong protections enshrined in its constitution to ensure that minorities are not treated like second-class citizens. However, the RSS does not respect these protections and actively conspires to undermine them. This is the reason minorities despise and fear the RSS.

Riaz Haq said...

Globalization and militant Hindu nationalism: The new context for theology in India

This dissertation is an attempt to propose new directions for Christian theology in India in the present context of globalization and militant Hindu nationalism. In recent years, Christians have been the target of violent attacks by militant Hindu nationalists. Critically analyzing the history of Christianity and militant Hindu nationalism in India, this dissertation claims that militant Hindu nationalism originated in the context of Western colonialism, which brought about a crisis of religious, cultural, and national identity among Hindus. It also left India poverty-stricken. The above claim is not made without taking into account contesting rationale for militant Hindu nationalism, especially, caste status quo. It is further claimed that globalization is perceived as recreating "colonization-like" situations, only now at a staggering speed and on a global level, thus representing economic, political, cultural, and social issues formerly associated with colonialism. The contemporary attacks on Christians by militant Hindu nationalists must be understood within the dynamics of globalization.

The Church in India needs to respond to the crisis emerging from globalization and militant Hindu nationalism. It is proposed that a renewed theological initiative can provide the basis of such as a response. The theological initiatives proposed here build upon the method of contextual theology proposed by Robert Schreiter. Building also on the already existing theology in India this dissertation proposes that the three traditional areas of focus of Indian theology--inculturation, interreligious dialogue, and social justice--would be addressed within newer frameworks of interpretation, implementing advances in the field of intercultural communications. The main conclusion of the dissertation is that it is through renewed theological initiatives that the Church in India can become genuinely Indian in a way that re-appropriates the relative cultural and religious integration the Church had achieved in the pre-colonial era.

http://search.proquest.com/docview/305062893

Riaz Haq said...

#India, #Pakistan and #Bangladesh will reunite to form 'Akhand Bharat': #BJP Gen Sec Ram Madhav http://m.ibnlive.com/news/politics/india-pakistan-and-bangladesh-will-reunite-to-form-akhand-bharat-bjps-ram-madhav-1181205.html …


India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will reunite to form Akhand Bharat, or "undivided India", said General Secretary of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Ram Madhav in an interview to Al Jazeera.
Referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Madhav said, "The RSS still believes that one day these parts, which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akhand Bharat will be created. As an RSS member I also hold onto that view." However, he added that it "does not mean we wage war on any country, [or that] we annex any country. Without war, through popular consent, it can happen."

Recently, the BJP has been facing the ire over allgetions of rising number of cases of intolerance in the country. Several artists and writers have returned their awards protesting over the same.
Commenting on the allegations of rising intolerance in the country, Madhav termed it as a ploy "to defame the government and in turn to defame the image of India."

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India PM Modi makes surprise visit to #Lahore #Pakistan. Meets PM #NawazSharif http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35178594 …

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during a surprise visit to the Pakistani city of Lahore.
Mr Modi was returning to India from Afghanistan when he stopped off. The visit coincided with the Pakistani prime minister's birthday.
Mr Modi is the first Indian PM to visit Pakistan since 2004.
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been high in recent years but relations have begun to warm.
The pair met briefly in Paris last month on the sidelines of the COP21 climate change conference.
The two men hugged after Mr Modi arrived at Allama Iqbal International Airport on Friday, before making their way to Mr Sharif's nearby estate.
Neither side has released a statement on the substance of the talks, which lasted two hours.
After the meeting, Mr Modi left to return to India.
Flashpoint border
Mr Modi, a Hindu nationalist, came to power in 2014 and has tried to help raise India's international profile.
The two countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.
Kashmir, claimed by both countries in its entirety, has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years.
A ceasefire agreed in 2003 remains in place, but the neighbours often accuse each other of violating it.

Kiran said...

Why do you attack Hindu religion?

Riaz Haq said...

Kiran: "Why do you attack Hindu religion? "

You are a really confused person.

Hindu Nationalism is an anti-minorities political and social movement, not Hindu religion. Not all Hindus are in Sangh Parivar. Modi's BJP got only 30% of votes to win two-thirds of all seats in Lok Sabha.

Riaz Haq said...

'#BJP is wiping off Muslim culture' from textbooks in #Modi's #India http://toi.in/sAhXUb via @timesofindia
Congress national minorities president Khurshid Ahmed accused the state BJP for wiping off the culture and history of Muslims from state textbooks in Ajmer on Friday.
Ahmed is on a tour of Rajasthan to consolidate minorities votes which drifted away to BJP in state assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
"This is very disturbing to hear that state education department has dropped most of the chapters by Muslim and foreign authors. Rajasthan government is following the line of Central government's saffronization of education agenda," said Ahmed who vowed to challenge every unconstitutional move made by this government.
He charged the state government of neglecting the rights of minorities, scheduled tribes and scheduled caste. "This government is working on vengeance by silently spoiling the developmental work carried out by the Gehlot government like free medicines, laptops to students and tribal development," said Ahmed who hinted that Congress central leadership will not leave the Union finance minister Arun Jaitley scam involving DDCA. Nizam Qureshi, state president minorities, Congress said that they will highlight the Lalitgate scam involving CM Vasundhara Raje.

VisionHawk said...

Actually the dilemma is that we have a right wing racist party voted to power in India. Which believes on the formation of "Akhand Bharat" and destabilizing its neighbors Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka though proxy wars. BJP & the likes of RSS have further sidelined already marginalized minorities which reside in India

Riaz Haq said...

"Believing #Modi’s Christmas visit to #Pakistan will produce results is like believing in Santa Claus" #India #BJP http://bv.ms/1OoR50Q

In recent months, the president of the BJP declared that a victory for Modi’s political opposition is a victory for Pakistan, and Modi’s allies have routinely urged the critics of rising bigotry in India to move to Pakistan. For most of this year, Modi’s government rudely spurned substantive talks with Pakistan.

Suddenly, however, Modi is assuming the mantle of a statesman, reaching out to the enemy. Like Richard Nixon, who defied his own long record of hard-line anti-Communism by meeting Mao Zedong, Modi seems to want to open the door that he helped shut.

Certainly, Modi, with his jaunt to Lahore, has at last achieved more uniformly upbeat headlines for himself in the international media. Many people are eager to believe that an old and destructive antagonism is about to be defused. But believing that Modi’s Christmas mission will produce a great and enduring bonanza, including his own change of heart, may be a bit like believing in Santa Claus.

Modi’s histrionic visit to Nepal last year was likewise hailed by international relations experts as inaugurating a new chapter in India’s relations with its neighbors. However, in recent months, an unofficial Indian embargo — an attempt to force Nepal to change its constitution — has brought the Nepalese economy to its knees, sparking widespread hatred of Modi and India in Nepal.

The key to Modi's chameleon-like behavior lies in the realization that he is, as his own senior colleague, L.K. Advani, pointed out, a “'brilliant and efficient events manager.” Modi rose fast in the staid world of Indian politics partly because he was the first to recognize the imperative of inserting himself into 24-hour news cycles, of manipulating social media and hosting massive spectacles to the impress the rich, the powerful and the influential.

His year-and-a-half in India’s highest office has been chiefly distinguished by a series of photo-ops with world leaders and stirring oratory in stadiums packed with tens of thousands of ecstatic non-resident Indians in the U.K, the U.S. and Australia. Grand proclamations and promises — from International Day for Yoga to Digital India — reveal little of substance on close examination.

If Modi is now extending his permanent public relations campaign to Pakistan, it is because he is now a politician with rapidly diminishing capital. He is very far from fulfilling his most potent electoral promise, of creating jobs for the millions of young Indians entering the work force every year. He suffered humiliating defeats in state elections in Delhi and Bihar. His apparent indifference to hate speech by his party colleagues, and his silence over the lynching of Muslims, has provoked unprecedented protests from the Indian intelligentsia has invited international scrutiny.

As so often in his career, Modi is trying to change adverse headlines and announce a rousing new narrative. But even if you believe that he is sincerely determined this time to improve relations between India and Pakistan, it is prudent to understand how they could remain hostage to hardliners on both sides.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu nationalists gather for massive rally in #India. #BJP #Modi #RSS http://str.sg/Zr6E

Tens of thousands of Hindu hardliners, dressed in khaki shorts, white shirts and black hats, gathered for an elaborate rally in western India on Sunday (Jan 3) in a massive show of strength.

It was set to be one of the largest ever gatherings of the controversial Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a group seen as the ideological parent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

More than 150,000 activists, almost all men, had registered for the rally at which RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was due to deliver a speech from a stage designed to resemble a fort.

A marching band composed of 2,000 RSS volunteers was also scheduled to play. A giant saffron flag, the colour most associated with Hinduism, was to be hoisted on a post over 20 metres high at the 182-hectare rally site in Pune, Maharashtra state.

Analysts say the RSS's influence has never been greater following the election in May 2014 of Modi, a former RSS foot-soldier. Attendees, who arrived in their hordes throughout the morning, were in bullish mood.

"People in the RSS look up to Modi as an example of what we can become. He gives our organisation a great image," Vinayak Deshpande, 32, told AFP.

Another volunteer, who asked not to be named, said the RSS had witnessed a 20 per cent increase in activists since Modi became prime minister.

"With Modi as prime minister the RSS is on the right track," he said.

The RSS, formed in 1925, is India's biggest grassroots religious organisation and is believed to have around five million activists, known as "Swayamsevaks".

It styles itself as a cultural organisation devoted to protecting India's Hindu culture but critics accuse it of being an anti-Muslim pseudo-fascist organisation with a history of fuelling religious tensions.

The RSS is notoriously secretive - volunteers do not formally register as members and communications are often done verbally. Sunday's event was rare for its size and for its open invitation to the media.

Pravin Dabadghav, a senior RSS official in Maharashtra who helped organise the gathering, said it was set to be the largest ever meeting of RSS volunteers in western and southern India.

The previous high was in 2010 when 90,000 attended a gathering in Kerala.

The RSS has been banned three times in post-independence India, including after a former member assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 and following the 1992 demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya which led to deadly nationwide riots.

It favours a uniform civil code for India rather than personal laws for different religions, the protection of cows - which are sacred to Hindus - and the construction of a temple on the disputed Ayodhya site.

Modi helped the group out as a boy and became a full-time volunteer as a young adult, taking the requisite vow of celibacy, for more than 15 years before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Riaz Haq said...

It's time #India stops blaming #Pakistan for every terror attack on its soil. #PathankotAttack http://qz.com/587292 via @qzindia

Since 2009, 31 (Pakistani) military installations, including airbases and intelligence headquarters, have been attacked by the militants affiliated with the Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and its affiliate and the sectarian killer group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). The attacks on Pakistan’s naval and air bases have led to the destruction of expensive equipment and loss of military personnel. If terrorism is sponsored singularly by Pakistan’s intelligence networks, then it would be irrational to believe that the military attacks its own installations.

-----


The reality is that the militias since the Afghan jihad have fragmented, made further worse by the Al Qaeda’s operations for more than a decade. Pakistan is fighting this menace—mostly a result of continued regional conflict and its past security policies—and trying to eliminate these networks. Official statements from Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the military leadership, led by Army chief General Raheel Sharif, have indicated that the erstwhile distinction between good and bad Taliban no longer stands. Skepticism has been aired about these pronouncements since much more needs to be done to undo the militant infrastructure. But Pakistan is moving in that direction. In recent months, the state has eliminated the LeJ leadership, and several groups that comprise the Pakistani Taliban.
On top of that, Sharif would not have fixed an informal meeting with Modi without taking the military into confidence. He has avoided direct confrontation with the military in his third tenure. Reuters, citing security sources, had reported in December that the military paved the way for reviving stalled India-Pakistan dialogue process. The appointment of a retired general as national security advisor (NSA) provides the military a direct stake in the dialogue with India.
The rogue elements within the security apparatus that aided terror groups in the past have not gone unnoticed. Attacks on Pakistan’s military, and even the former president Musharraf, have happened with collusion at lower levels. But it is too early to conclude in that direction. Also, things have changed since 2008 Mumbai attacks. The incentive to escalate conflict with India is perhaps at its lowest—not because there has been a fundamental shift in the way Pakistani state works or imagines its nationalism. The regional dynamics necessitate this change. Pakistan of 2015 is aspiring for economic integration with China’s “One Belt, One Road” programme; and aiming to become a transit hub of energy trade.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Right-Wing Attack on #India’s Universities, Academic Freedom. #BJP #Modi http://nyti.ms/1OP6QS8

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 http://gu.com/p/4gbmg/stw

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
Read more
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...

#Indian prime minister #Modi claims genetic science existed in ancient #India. #BJP http://gu.com/p/42zjb/stw

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 rediff.com.

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.

Anonymous said...

Muslims believe Profart Mohd traveled in a Concord Horse (JIbral) to meet so called Allah and was back same night to Arabia.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Muslims believe Profart Mohd traveled in a Concord Horse (JIbral) to meet so called Allah and was back same night to Arabia. "

How many Muslim countries' prime ministers have you heard claiming it was built by Muslim scientists using Islamic technology?

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's siege on #JNU: #Hindutva's battle for #India's classrooms is out in the open http://qz.com/619185 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...

#Hindu Nationalist "Scholars" in #India demand that #Harvard U Press drop its well-respected editor. #Modi #BJP #JNU http://ihenow.com/1QkRAgs

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 http://fw.to/YKln0HJ

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...

In #India One Case Of Anti #Christian #Violence Every Day | Pray | Open Doors USA. #Modi #BJP #Hindu #Bigotry http://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/tag-prayer-updates-post/in-india-one-case-of-anti-christian-violence-every-day/?utm_source=newsletter …

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...

Stanford scholar Audrey Truschke on #Muslim rule in #India: #Mughal rulers were not hostile to #Hindus https://shar.es/1YGNDz via @Stanford

Truschke, one of the few living scholars with competence in both Sanskrit and Persian, is the first scholar to study texts from both languages in exploring the courtly life of the Mughals. The Mughals ruled a great swath of the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-18th centuries, building great monuments like the Taj Mahal.

Over several months in Pakistan and 10 months in India, Truschke traveled to more than two dozen archives in search of manuscripts. She was able to analyze the Mughal elite's diverse interactions with Sanskrit intellectuals in a way not previously done.

She has accessed, for example, six histories that follow Jain monks at the Mughal court as they accompanied Mughal kings on expeditions, engaged in philosophical and religious debates, and lived under the empire's rule. These works collectively run to several thousand pages, and none have been translated into English.

Truschke found that high-level contact between learned Muslims and Hindus was marked by collaborative encounters across linguistic and religious lines.

She said her research overturns the assumption that the Mughals were hostile to traditional Indian literature or knowledge systems. In fact, her findings reveal how Mughals supported and engaged with Indian thinkers and ideas.

Early modern-era Muslims were in fact "deeply interested in traditional Indian learning, which is largely housed in Sanskrit," says Truschke, who is teaching religion courses at Stanford through 2016 in association with her fellowship.

Hybrid political identity
Truschke's book focuses on histories and poetry detailing interactions among Mughal elites and intellectuals of the Brahmin (Hindu) and Jain religious groups, particularly during the height of Mughal power from 1560 through 1650.

As Truschke discovered, the Mughal courts in fact sought to engage with Indian culture. They created Persian translations of Sanskrit works, especially those they perceived as histories, such as the two great Sanskrit epics.

For their part, upper-caste Hindus known as Brahmins and members of the Jain tradition – one of India's most ancient religions – became influential members of the Mughal court, composed Sanskrit works for Mughal readers and wrote about their imperial experiences.

"The Mughals held onto power in part through force, just like any other empire," Truschke acknowledges, "but you have to be careful about attributing that aggression to religious motivations." The empire her research uncovers was not intent on turning India into an Islamic state.

"The Mughal elite poured immense energy into drawing Sanskrit thinkers to their courts, adopting and adapting Sanskrit-based practices, translating dozens of Sanskrit texts into Persian and composing Persian accounts of Indian philosophy."

Such study of Hindu histories, philosophies and religious stories helped the Persian-speaking imperialists forge a new hybrid political identity, she asserts.

Truschke is working on her next book, a study of Sanskrit histories of Islamic dynasties in India more broadly.

Indian history, especially during Islamic rule, she says, is very much alive and debated today. Moreover, a deliberate misreading of this past "undergirds the actions of the modern Indian nation-state," she asserts.

And at a time of conflict between the Indian state and its Muslim population, Truschke says, "It's invaluable to have a more informed understanding of that history and the deep mutual interest of early modern Hindus and Muslims in one another's traditions."

- See more at: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/september/sanskrit-mughal-empire-090915.html#sthash.Y7zZog9s.dpuf

Riaz Haq said...

Nobody wants to erase #India from textbooks. Yet another #California textbook controversy by #Hindutuva groups http://fw.to/gEgxj8O

Is India being "erased" from California's history books? No, it's not.

But some 22,000 people have signed a petition to prevent the state from changing "India" to "South Asia" in its social studies curricula. A group of academics from schools including the University of San Francisco and Columbia University, and Hindu groups like the Hindu American Foundation, have signed on.

The State Board of Education is currently updating California's history and social science curriculum, and the petition is reacting to submissions in the public comment process that would replace some instances of "India" with "South Asia" and address Hinduism differently.

That request spurred a backlash from Hindu academics, leading to the petition that reads: "School students in California will be forced to learn that there was never an 'India' unless you act!"

This is not what is happening. The group that originally suggested the changes calls itself the South Asia Faculty Textbook Committee and includes South Asian scholars from Stanford, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and UCLA, among others.

They do suggest that in some places "India" be replaced with "South Asia" because some of the area discussed currently belongs to Pakistan.

April 2, 8:52 a.m.: An earlier version of this article indicated the letter was also a response to the petition. It was not; the petition began after the letter was written.

------------

"We wish to clarify that while 'Ancient India' is the accepted usage among Indologists, in other fields, pre-modern South Asia is the common term of reference. Since there is no standardized usage across fields, it is difficult for us to recommend a single standard term for use in the curriculum framework. After careful review, we have settled on a context dependent approach for the use of the terms, 'Ancient India,’ ‘India,’ ‘Indian subcontinent’ and ‘South Asia,’ as we explain in the edits. The use of terms like 'Ancient India' and 'India' in the current version of the draft framework, particularly for grades 6 and 7 is at times misleading. Although 'Ancient India' is common in the source material, when discussing the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), we believe it will cause less confusion to students to refer to the “Early Civilization of South Asia or “Ancient South Asia” because much of the Indus Valley is now in modern Pakistan. Conflating “Ancient India” with the modern nation-state of India deprives students from learning about the shared civilizational heritage of India and Pakistan."

The California History-Social Science Project takes public comment into account as it amends the framework and presents it to the state Board of Education. The group did adopt many of the faculty textbook committee's recommendations, and the Board of Education is scheduled to review the changes in May.

Riaz Haq said...

Are #Hindutva groups from #India losing 10-year-long battle to change #California textbooks? http://www.colorlines.com/articles/latest-10-year-battle-over-how-california-teaches-south-asian-history … via @colorlines

For more than 10 years, conservative Hindu groups have been trying to make controversial changes to history textbooks in California. Opponents—who say their changes erase the caste system and certain South Asian identities—just won an important victory.

An ad hoc group of South Asian academics called South Asian Faculty Group that opposes the changes* won a significant victory at the latest public school board hearing on the issue on March 26. South Asian Faculty Group presented 76 of their own edits of the materials to the board. Sixty-two of them were accepted. All are being contested by the HAF and its conservative coalition.

Why such a protracted fight? California is one of the largest textbook markets in the country. "[The conservative groups] have invested thousands of dollars into this fight," says Thenmozhi Soundarajan, an organizer with the Ambedkar Association of California and Dalit History Month who opposes the changes. "They have already won in Virginia and Texas. A win in California would mean a change to all textbooks.”

Colorlines e-mailed HAF, Uberoi and DCF for comment, but did not receive a response.

The struggle over textbooks and curricula demonstrates the ways that South Asian identity as a racial category is being contested and redefined in America. Soundarajan says that attempts at homogenizing this identity “hide the distinct violence of hierarchy that exist between castes, faiths, languages and countries.”

Indeed, many of the textbook changes proposed by the HAF, Uberoi and DCF serve to obscure the origins of many South Asians in America. Their version of history would eliminate specific ethnic markers of the first South Asian to emigrate to the United States or rename them as “Hindu” or “Indian.”

For example, HAF suggests substituting references to Sikh culture with "Indian." Sikhs are an oppressed minority in India, and most of the first South Asians to migrate to North America were Sikh. Sikhs bore the brunt of American racism and xenophobia due to their visible marker of turbans. Sikh scholar Jaideep Singh covers the issue in a 2015 letter to the California State Board of Education: "Considering Sikhs’ overwhelming numerical dominance within migration [to America in the early 20th century], their demonization by exclusionists, and their prevalence in media depictions that focused on their racial and religious markers—turbans and prominent black beards on dark brown bodies—it is far more accurate, and important, to keep the word 'Sikh' in the curriculum." While the first Indian-American member of Congress, Dalip Singh Saund, was Sikh, HAF wants to describe him only as an “immigrant of Indian origin.”

Along with blurring Sikh identity, conservative Hindu groups are also trying to delete references to the apartheid-like caste system that still structures the lives of millions of South Asians both in India and its diaspora from California textbooks.

A DCF leader, Shiva Bajpai, has gone as far as to call the caste system “beneficial.” “In every society some people are at the bottom of the economic scale,” he wrote in a paper submitted to the board. “Other societies solved this problem by enslaving people; [t]he caste system actually offered many advantages.” (The Uberoi foundation funded the paper under the auspices of its Institute for Curriculum Advancement.)

Soundarajan calls the caste system “the dominant system of oppression that has shaped all of our institutions,” and says that ignoring it “misses the key axis of power that our identities are shaped around.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian woman dubbed ‘the face of #Hindu #terror’, killer of #Muslims, to walk free. #India

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/indian-woman-dubbed-the-face-of-hindu-terror-to-walk-free/2016/05/13/bd0c034c-1909-11e6-971a-dadf9ab18869_story.html

India’s national investigation agency on Friday dropped all terror-related charges against a female Hindu activist jailed in connection with a bomb explosion in a Muslim neighborhood in 2008.

The National Investigation Agency recommended that all charges be dropped against Pragya Singh — a self-styled Hindu holy woman — and three others because of lack of evidence.

The move overturns earlier police findings and closes a chapter in one of the most contentious terrorism cases in the past decade in India.

[Hindu arrest in anti-Muslim bomb sparks controversy]

Singh and three others were arrested for being behind a September 2008 motorcycle bomb explosion in the town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra.

The blast, which occurred during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, killed six people and injured more than 100.

Singh’s arrest was controversial because it was the first time that Hindus had been named in a terror case in India. It fueled a sharp political debate and angered many Hindus who accused the previous Congress Party-led coalition government of tarnishing the image of their community.

“The National Investigation Agency has said that there is no evidence to prosecute the four accused, including Pragya Singh,” her lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar told reporters in Mumbai. “There had been grave injustice done to them all these years.”

[Hindu terrorism charges force India to reflect on prejudices against Muslims]

The agency also dropped the organized crime charge against one of the other prominent figures in the case, a Hindu army colonel, Srikant Purohit, who remains behind bars on charges he provided the explosives and training to the bombers.

Indian media at that time had called Singh and Purohit “the face of Hindu terror,” a phrase that many Hindus objected to.

“Those who called it ‘Hindu terror’ committed a great sin,” said Indresh Kumar, a member of India’s largest and most strident Hindu nationalist organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The group is closely affiliated with the political party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Randeep Singh Surjewala, the spokesman for the Congress Party, which was in power at the time of Singh’s arrest, said the overturning of the charges “has shocked the collective conscience of the nation” and accused the Modi government of “blatant disregard and misuse” of the investigation agency.
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On Friday, senior Congress Party leader Digvijaya Singh said “it was a matter of shame” that Modi’s government was “trying to protect those who were clearly involved in terror related activities.”

Riaz Haq said...

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

http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2016/07/sacred-cows-india-caste-carcass-160721000320565.html

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...

From #Modi's Guru Golwalkar to #GOP's #Trump: #India's #Hindu Nationalists Cheer & Pray for #Trump. #Islamophobia
http://www.dawn.com/news/1274763/from-golwalkar-to-trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews,” Golwalkar wrote with approval. “Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”