Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dalit Death Shines Light on India's Caste Apartheid

"Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic"
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Father of India's Constitution

What Dr. Ambedkar said decades ago about the inherent inequality of Indian society continues to be true today. The latest manifestation of it is the suicide of a Dalit Ph.D. scholar Rohith Vermula in the southern Indian state of Telangana.

In 2015, the University of Hyderabad suspended 5 Dalit PhD scholars -- all members of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) -- after reports that on Aug. 3, students from ASA attacked Susheel Kumar of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), from the ruling party BJP's student wing. A team of investigators from the university found these five students innocent, but they were still suspended after BJP Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya insisted on this action.

Smirti Irani, another ruling BJP minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, has also been accused of playing a role in suspension and the subsequent protest and death of the Dalit scholar in Hyderabad.  She is also accused by the Opposition of lying about it.

India's rigid caste system assigns each individual to an occupation based on his or her birth. Such division have existed in other societies but these assignments are particularly rigid in Hindu society. It's extremely difficult for someone born to low-caste parents to pursue occupations reserved for higher castes. This has resulted in what the United Nations considers "Caste Apartheid".

The Hindu hierarchy is said to have evolved from different parts of the body of Brahma—the creator of the universe. Thus, the Brahmans, who originated from the mouth, are engaged in the most prestigious priestly and teaching occupations. The Kshatriyas, made from from the arms, are the rulers and warriors; the Vaishyas, from the thighs, are traders and merchants. The Shudras, from the feet, are manual workers and servants of other castes. Below the Shudras and outside the caste system, lowest in the order, the Dalits engage in the most demeaning and stigmatized occupations like scavenging, for instance, and dealing with bodily waste.

Women get the worst of both worlds under the system of Caste Apartheid. Women in India face discrimination and sexual intimidation, however the “human rights of Dalit women are violated in peculiar and extreme forms. Stripping, naked parading, caste abuses, pulling out nails and hair, sexual slavery and bondage are a few forms peculiar to Dalit women.” These women are living under a form of apartheid: discrimination and social exclusion is a major factor, denying access ”to common property resources like land, water and livelihood sources, [causing] exclusion from schools, places of worship, common dining, inter-caste marriages”, according to the UN Human Rights body.

In spite of the obvious devastating impact of caste discrimination, the Indian government continues to oppose the UN attempts to define it as racism. Paul Divakar, convener of the Delhi-based National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, says, "In a country that prides itself as being the world's biggest democracy, more than 200 million people from the Dalit communities suffer from caste discrimination."

The only minority group reportedly worse off than Dalits are Indian Muslims, according to Indian government's data. The Muslims of India suffer from widespread discrimination in education, employment, housing and criminal justice system.

Given the many ethnic, regional, religious and caste fault lines running through the length and breadth of India, there have long been questions raised about India's identity as a nation. Speaking about, the US South Asia expert Stephen Cohen of Brookings Institution has said, " But there is no all-Indian Hindu identity—India is riven by caste and linguistic differences, and Aishwarya Rai and Sachin Tendulkar are more relevant rallying points for more Indians than any Hindu caste or sect, let alone the Sanskritized Hindi that is officially promulgated".

The ethnic, regional, religious and caste fault lines dividing India have only widened under the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India which has been engaged in a concreted campaign to accelerate total Hinduization of India. It does not augur well for the future of India as a secular, democratic and united nation envisioned by its founders.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Dalit Victims of Indian Apartheid

Disintegration of India

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Discrimination Against Indian Muslims


Sukhdev said...

Ahhh those words of Churchill ring so hollow today. "India will break-up in a few years, on the other hand, Pakistan unified by religion will be more eternal (sic)".

Caste may have been a potential threat during Ambedkar's time but it has been gradually chipped away since.

In the mean time Pakistanis are terrorizing Pakistanis. Pray for those precious children and their families. If only Pakistan knew who their real enemy is. That will take time - maybe an eternity?

Riaz Haq said...

Sukdev: "Caste may have been a potential threat during Ambedkar's time but it has been gradually chipped away since. ...In the mean time Pakistanis are terrorizing Pakistanis. "

History tells us that India's caste system has proved to be far more enduring and much more resilient than any known insurgency anywhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

You are fooled by Indian media Haq. This death was more due power struggle between ABVP and ASA fuelled with youth emotions. The caste based discrimination is virtually absent in Hyderabad University. All these demonstrations and political activities interrupt the main focus of the university, that is academics. He was a Phd student on government grant and was wasting that money by wasting time in all of the union and political activities further due to two unions there were constant disruption in academic activities. It is easy to give any incidence a caste colour, reality is that Indian academic institution hate all the student politics and often deal with the unions in a very heavy handed fashion irrespective of their caste or creed.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "He was a Phd student on government grant and was wasting that money by wasting time in all of the union and political activities further due to two unions there were constant disruption in academic activities."

Your comment reflects the deep-rooted bigotry against Dalits in India. Social activism by Dalit students is not a waste of time but a necessity in such a society.

Sukhdev said...

This blogger has a constant urge to prove that by bashing India, or by becoming a show case of Indian problems, Pakistan's world image will, by some miracle, improve overnight. Well, good luck but the Genie is out of the bottle for Pakistan and Pakistanis can't put her back because they are much more interested in problems of others rather than solving their own!!

Shah said...


Why Don't You Surf Youtube.You Indians Love Doing It All The Time Why Blame Riaz Sahib.We Pakistnis Acknowledge Our Shortcomings Unlike You Indians Who Can't Provide A Basic Sanitation To Their People(read:Washroom) and Dream Of Being A Superpower Like USA.We Pakistnis Only Take Pity On You

Anonymous said...

Shah when you talk about Basic sanitation , I will tell you, you guys are forgotton your history, this is a social system, which is linked with poovery by you guys, in Indian village ,Jamidar also goes to open,he has lot money, and govt provide US$200 to each family for washroom. So it is not a matter of poverty , it is matter of social system and awareness. And in my city Dalit visits more frequent to temples than upper caste. They have reservation and protection law.

MesquiteIce said...


Please read his death note.

This guy whatever caste he may be did not want to be called a dalit. He wanted to be a part of stardust that everybody else was made up of. But silly politicians and media have been referring to him as Dalit. He died for being identified by the group that he lived with. For your kind information he was not a dalit but fought for dalit cause as everybody is entitled. He did not study based on reservation but took the merit route.

India needs freedom from people who are obsessed with creating non existant hatered. They are searching for identity just like the ahmedis, bohras, sufis etc in islamic countries. May i bring to your kind notice that 50% of educational seats is reserved for the Oppressed by opressing others. For what, for the fault of their great grandfather. This is reverse discrimination. That is why Indians succeed everywhere but India.

Therefore i would agree that India is not heaven on earth, but to say that Indians dont acknowledge shortcomings is farfetched. Rohit died because he was nauseated by identifying people based on caste and that is what everyone has exactly been doing.

Is it mandatory that muslims should fight with Hindus or Pakistanis and Indians should hate each other. If you believe rohit we are all part of the same stardust.

Unknown said...

Shah"We Pakistnis Acknowledge Our Shortcomings Unlike You Indians ".
If you will be acknowledging your shortcomings which are worst than India, you may have not asked about Indians. First solve problem at your home, then, come and talk to us. We have been handling and eliminated many problems. Same thing will happen to this one.
Shah: "You Indians Who Can't Provide A Basic Sanitation To Their People(read:Washroom) "
With the help of mission MCI, we are fastly eliminating it you know.

Moreover, we have reduced poverty to 12,4% from 21.9% in just last two years(that is why Riaz Haq has stopped posting on Indian Poverty).
We managed to jump literacy by 10% in 3 years, managed to have 1/3rd population using internet, now targeting to provide homes to everyone by 2022, building toilets for everyone to end open defecations forever, building a large force of skilled neighbor.
Our HDI jumped from 0.554 to 0.586 in 2014 and to 0.609 in 2015( even faster than China).
Meanwhile pak only could increase it to 0.538 from 0.537.
Indian Economy is expanding very well.
Shah: "and Dream Of Being A Superpower Like USA.We Pakistnis Only Take Pity On You"
Pity on Pakistanis,because

1. There was a day when your GDP per capita was much higher than India. Now, India has higher and will have double GDP per capita in next 7-8 years.

2.Your Human Development Index was higher than India in 1991 but now, India has much higher than you. You are still slow and gap is expanding.

3. You had higher literacy rate, percentage of internet users, mobile users in time but you were left behind in that. Gap is still expanding. And your literacy is falling.
4. You guys taunted us over poverty but now India's poverty ratio has become same as that of pakistan and will become better if economic boom continues.
And same for all other things.
You guys are still in denial but you will never accept India as a model for how capitalize and develop economy. Biggest problem of you guys.(I'm not mentioning new Mega Power Providing plants. What will be the status of per capita electrical output).
I will see your opinion in 2022, because oyr targets aren't missing. Moreover, GDP per capita of India will be much higher.
Let's we both stay sticked to Riaz Haq's blog.
Also, if you have doubts about India's emergenc as superpower, India's large workforce, enough to create an economic giant with a technologically advanced military, R&D and Space Program, it is totally inevitable.
A large country, whenever is developed, it's great power status is inevitable. Rise of Soviet was inevitable, rise of USA was inevitable, Rise of Chian was inevitable also Rise of India is inevitable and India is rising tackling it's all problems.
All of these countries were doing rapid economic growth and eliminating these problems in their time. And if you match, China's story is a India 30 years ago.

We don't need anybody's approvement to prove ourselves.

Riaz Haq said...

How Severe Is Inequality in #India? We Just Don’t Know, Says Thomas Piketty. #Modi #BJP via @WSJIndia

In New Delhi on Thursday, Mr. Piketty said India’s extremes of opulence amid destitution—“islands of California in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa,” in the words of economists Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen—are probably comparable to what prevails in Brazil and South Africa, where around 60% of national income goes to the top 10% of earners. The figure in France and Germany is around 35%, according to Mr. Piketty’s data. In the U.K., it’s 40%. In the U.S., nearly 50%.

Superstar economist Thomas Piketty filled several auditoriums with listeners when he spoke in New Delhi this week, many of them likely hoping to learn what the French scholar’s research on economic inequality around the world reveals about India, where wealth and deprivation are often on display in uncomfortable proximity.

His answer may have disappointed a few of them. “We don’t really know,” Mr. Piketty said. India’s government simply doesn’t release the requisite data.

For his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which became a surprise blockbuster when the English translation was released in 2014, Mr. Piketty mined decades of tax records to show that income and wealth inequality in the U.S. and Western Europe fell in the first half of the 20th century—and then rose spectacularly in the second.

He connects the latter shift to changes in various policies—income-tax rates, corporate-governance rules that affect executive compensation, minimum wages—and calls for remedial efforts, such as a global tax on capital, to dissipate the concentration of riches.

In New Delhi on Thursday, Mr. Piketty said India’s extremes of opulence amid destitution—“islands of California in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa,” in the words of economists Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen—are probably comparable to what prevails in Brazil and South Africa, where around 60% of national income goes to the top 10% of earners. The figure in France and Germany is around 35%, according to Mr. Piketty’s data. In the U.K., it’s 40%. In the U.S., nearly 50%.

But Mr. Piketty really can’t be certain about India, he said. The country’s government stopped publishing detailed statistics related to income tax in 2000. “It’s quite a unique case in history, where you have a decline in transparency and publication about income taxation.”

He continued: “I have been in touch with many people at all levels in India for the past 15 years to try to understand why this cannot change. Everybody tells me, ‘This will change in the next three months, six months.’ ”

Officials at India’s Finance Ministry said they couldn’t immediately comment.

Mr. Piketty acknowledged the sensitivities surrounding income tax in India, where administration can be patchy and evasion widespread. “Let me make very clear that nobody is asking for names,” he said. “We are talking of fully anonymous data. Today, we do not even know the number of taxpayers and amounts of income by income brackets.”

India doesn’t have an estate tax, so there aren’t any official data on inherited wealth either, Mr. Piketty noted.

The 44-year-old economist drew a huge, appreciative crowd at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he was speaking en route to the Jaipur Literature Festival. Even the overflow rooms overflowed with listeners. People crouched in aisles and stood on a lawn where a projector and screen had been set up.

Mr. Piketty lauded India, with its caste-based quotas at universities and government agencies, for at least attempting to help the disadvantaged gain access to education and jobs.

Overall, he said, “I hope Indian elites will behave in a more responsible way than Western elites did in the 20th century.” It took two world wars for some Western governments to use progressive taxes to fund public health and education, he said.

“In India, these reforms, to a large extent, are yet to come.”

Shah said...

@Man of Action

You Can Give Me As Much Statistics As You Want,I Will Take It With A Pinch Of Salt.Considering That Figure Fudging Is Favourite Hobby Of Your Government Functionaries

"With the help of mission MCI, we are fastly eliminating it you know."

Why Don't You Mention The Figure Fudging Done By Swachh Bharat

"Moreover, we have reduced poverty to 12,4% from 21.9% in just last two years(that is why Riaz Haq has stopped posting on Indian Poverty)."

You Did Not Reduce Poverty You Just Manipulate Figures Sometimes You Change The Definition of Poverty and Sometimes You Change The Poverty Line

What Makes You Think I Would Give A Damn About Any of The Figures You Throw At Me When You Have A System Open To Manipulation

"There was a day when your GDP per capita was much higher than India. Now, India has higher and will have double GDP per capita in next 7-8 years."

Considering What Your Central Statistics Office Is Capable Of You Might Have A GDP Per Capita I Won't Be Surprised You Have 1000 Times Greater Than Us Next Year ROFL

"if you have doubts about India's emergenc as superpower, India's large workforce, enough to create an economic giant with a technologically advanced military, R&D and Space Program, it is totally inevitable."

Dear I Don't Doubt The Potential Of Your Nation I Just Take Pity On The Mindset You People Have.You Indians Say That Now You Are A Rising Power And Don't Care About Pakistan But Yet You Have The Urge To Come And Post Useless Comments On Pakistani Sites

"Rise of Soviet was inevitable, rise of USA was inevitable, Rise of Chian was inevitable also Rise of India is inevitable and India is rising tackling it's all problems.
All of these countries were doing rapid economic growth and eliminating these problems in their time. And if you match, China's story is a India 30 years ago."

Soviet Unions Fall Was Just As Inevitable As It's Rise And You Can't Expect To Be Compared
With USA and China Both Are Ethnically Homogenous Nationas With Much Greater Social Cohesiveness And Discipline.India Is A Highly Diversified Nation Which Was Never A Single Political Unit Throughout It's History Until The Colonial Period.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Dalit woman survived in #India by hiding her caste identity. #DalitSuicide | PBS NewsHour via @NewsHour

Growing up in India, Yashica Dutt feared that people would discover her true identity.

Then one day when she was 15, they did. She walked with her friend home as she did every day. Her friend’s mother invited her inside and offered her a glass of water. Sitting across from her friend’s parents in their drawing room, they asked about Dutt’s caste.

“I vividly remember thinking, ‘It’s now or never,’” said Dutt, now 29.

She looked down at the floor and told them she was a Dalit — a member of a group also referred to as Untouchables, which sits at the bottom of the caste system and makes up 16 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people.

Under such a system, Dutt would be deemed “unclean,” discouraged against sipping water from her friend’s glass or sitting next to her because her friend belonged to a higher caste.

“I knew I’d done something wrong,” she said. Moments later, she left.

The next time she saw her friend in class, her friend told Dutt that her parents forbade her from speaking to Dutt again.

Dutt said she was never hurt that way again because she “became really good at hiding” who she was.

In many ways, she defied Dalit stereotypes. Her skin color was fair. She spoke excellent English and did well in school. Generations back, her family name changed from Nidaniya, a name that revealed their traditional profession as scavengers, to Dutt, a more ambiguous surname.

And if anyone asked her caste again, Dutt followed her mother’s advice and told them she was Brahmin, a group that sits at the top of the caste system’s hierarchy.

She kept her secret for more than a decade. She worked in New Delhi as a journalist for the Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest newspapers, before moving to New York City where she earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

But when an Indian doctoral student named Rohith Vemula recently killed himself to protest discrimination that he and other Dalits face across South Asia, Dutt couldn’t ignore who she was anymore. In what The Hindu newspaper reported to be his suicide note, Vemula wrote that, “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility,” and added that “My birth is my fatal accident.”

Inspired by Vemula, on Tuesday Dutt declared that she was “coming out as Dalit” and asked other Dalits to share their stories on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Dutt isn’t alone. More than 130 academics from around the world signed an open letter following Vemula’s suicide on Jan. 17 decrying what they called the “most recent case of caste discrimination in Indian higher education” by administrators from Hyderabad University, who had suspended Vemula and four other Dalits from school and expelled them from campus housing.

But more than five decades later, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch criticized India’s failure to stop Dalit discrimination, which often resulted in Dalits being “denied access to land, forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that often enjoy the state’s protection,” according to a 2007 report.


“Caste-based discrimination goes back centuries, and it is very deeply entrenched in Indian society,” Bajoria said. “This will have to be battled at every level.”

Dutt, who still lives in New York and works as a journalist, doesn’t believe the caste system will end during her lifetime, but she said she thinks an open conversation about Dalit discrimination will help empower members of her community.

“It’s wrong to be quiet,” she said.

Iqbal Singh said...

Not unlike slavery and racism in the US against Blacks. It started centuries ago and still hounds the country.

Not unlike Pakistanis who viewed Bengali Muslims as inferior, dirty and dark. Result was Bangladesh.

Please get off your high horse. Pakistan is no saint of a country. On the contrary quite the opposite.

Shah said...

@Iqbal Singh
Only The Ruling Elite Viewed Them As Such Not Pakistanis In General

Anonymous said...

@Iqbal Singh
We Pakistanis Hane Never Claimed to Be Saints It Is Your Country That Claims To Be 'Shining'

Unknown said...

"You Can Give Me As Much Stati..."
"Why Don't You Mention The Figure Fudging Done By Swachh .."
It's not our job to make you guys believe figures. If you have doubts, come here and watch at India.
If talking about our media, who exaggerates figures, you must immediately confirm from other sources.
Let's take an example of defense . India imports 35% parts of Tejas but TOI simply wrote it double as 70% without any source. You must UN official reports, estimates and projections.

Shah:"You Did Not Reduce Poverty You Just Manipulate Figures Sometimes You Change The Definition of Poverty and Sometimes You Change The Poverty Line"
We didn't touch poverty line.Cost of living in India is much lower as compared to other countries (even pakistan). So, it's unfair to exaggerate our poverty.
I live in India and I don't see a quarter of population living in poverty because cost of living here is much lower.
"What Makes You Think I Would Give A Damn About Any of The Figures You Throw At Me When You Have A System Open To Manipulation"
Data is from 2011!!
It's India where human development attributes grow much at higher speed than pakistan- GDP per capita, HDI,Literacy.
You troll Indians about poverty, can you explain us about Human Development Index and literacy rate? What's condition of your country in these two important attributes? :D
Shah: "Considering What Your Central Statistics Office Is Capable Of You Might Have A GDP Per Capita I Won't Be Surprised You Have 1000 Times Greater Than Us Next Year ROFL"
Frustration at its best. Just come and watch at India. You guys are struggling for metros, (we have about a dozen), roads highways, Large Cities (now building smart cities) and how much energy production we are expanding. Meanwhile, you are still messing load shading.
Just ask those 70000 people who cross border every year to come to India or those people who had a trip here. For example, Karachi can't match a small city Gurgaon.

I can't understand, why you people call whole to India poor just on the basis of a small portion of population.

Shah:"Dear I Don't Doubt The Potential Of Your Nation I Just Take Pity On The Mindset You People Have.You Indians Say That Now You Are A Rising Power And Don't Care About Pakistan But Yet You Have The Urge To Come And Post Useless Comments On Pakistani Sites"
Indians don't care and never "start" any troll war.
We only respond to stupidity against India on pakistani sites. Even on PDF, this is only reason we have to join to prevent such propaganda.
I can't understand what India has taken of these guys, who uselessly butt in without invitation and always go off topic to post entire $hit against India.
Just on one issue:

"P. O. V. E R. T Y."

One of few left indicators on which India is still lagging. And nev talk about Literacy, HDI, where you are pathetic.
I just wanna say:

In 2015,



Below India



But you are still in denial.

Shah: "Soviet Unions Fall Was Just As Inevitable As It's Rise And You Can't Expect To Be Compared
With USA and China Both Are Ethnically Homogenous Nationas With Much Greater Social Cohesiveness And Discipline.India Is A Highly Diversified Nation Which Was Never A Single Political Unit Throughout It's History Until The Colonial Period."
Colonial period only harmed the Indian Economy.

"China is homogeneous".
China is also a diversed country like India if you don't know.
That so called "intolerance" also exists in China but pakistan media never reports on that.

China banned Burqa, pakistan media may be bashing us badly if so happened in India.

"Imams in China were made to dance on roads".
pak media may a have declared a troll war against us but they ignored news about China.

Unknown said...

Now, "intolerance" in USA:
You can watch their behave with black people. I will just urge you to
"Divide the no. racial discrimination with the total population".
You will know how "tolerant" is USA against India. Moreover,
just like Soviets, China and India are also diversified but they have been handling their systems Communism or Democracy whatever they have but USSR had gone to many reforms before that. Soviet was highly unstable. Don't compare them with us.

After all,

I just wanna say you guys to know better about India instead of believing any exaggerated propaganda.
I challenge you, just come here a watch.

Riaz Haq said...

MoA: "I just wanna say you guys to know better about India instead of believing any exaggerated propaganda.
I challenge you, just come here a watch. "

I have visited India many times. I know how intolerant Indians are toward each other.

In terms of stats, a World Values Survey found India to be the most racist country in the world.

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

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

Shah said...

"It's not our job to make you guys believe figures. If you have doubts, come here and watch at India."

No Thank You I Have No Desire To Watch Anyone With Nature Out In The Open.

"We didn't touch poverty line.Cost of living in India is much lower as compared to other countries (even pakistan). So, it's unfair to exaggerate our poverty."

If You Had Read My Links You May Not Have Given Such A Stupid "Rebuttal"(Would That I Could Call It One)

"Data is from 2011!!"

OK Here Is A Piece From 2015

It Is An Open Reality That India's Poverty Line And Definition Of Poverty Has Been Changed Multiple Times For Political Reasons.You Can Live In All The Denials And Delusions You Want Like I Give Damn

"Just come and watch at India. You guys are struggling for metros, (we have about a dozen), roads highways,"

So A Few Shiny Urban Trains Means Now India Is Now A G8 Country Light Years Ahead Of America.Wow Troll Logic At It's Finest

"Karachi can't match a small city Gurgaon"

Gurgaon Is Anything But Perfect.,d.bGQ

This Is The Competence Of Gurgaon,d.bGQ

"But you are still in denial."

We Pakistanis Have Never Pretended To Be Rising Power or "Shining".This Disease Plagues Your Side Of The Border

"China is also a diversed country like India if you don't know"

China Is 80% Plus Han Chinese.Now Tell Me The Proportion Of Ethnic and Religious Groups In Your Country

"China banned Burqa"

China Is An Officially Communist Country And Bans All Types Of Religious Identification.It Is Across The Board Not Just Against.As For "Intolerance" In China,I Have Been There Multiple Times In My Life.I Openly Went To Pray In Mosques In Urumqi Kashgar and Guangzhou.Nobody Stopped Me.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " "

I bet Pervez Hoodbhoy, a well-known Indophile, only saw what he wanted to see. He chose not to see the power of the Hindu Nationalists at Indian universities and the support of IIT students and alumni for Modi's bigoted Hindutva agenda.

Mahesh said...

You should look at the latest HDI!
Yes, Pakistan is a problem free country which everyone in the world loves. India has many problems like other countries except the Utopian Pakistan. There is acknowledgement first and then only one can have the resolve to confront. Pakistan doesn't even have to acknowledge because ALL its problems are created by India, the US, Afghanistan or the West.

The future awaits. Five years or ten years from now, India has many problems to confront but Pakistan, the world knows, has NO problems to solve.


Asim said...

Mr Riaz and Mr Shah, most people today refer to Wikipedia for their information, fortunately or unfortunately. The treatment of Muslims is one such area because the Chinese government restricts or censors what is reported. I am a proud and happy Indian who is also Muslim. I know you may not be happy to hear that and would want to present "data" about us. I have read that crocodile tears type of narrative from many Pakistanis. Sorry for that digression but Wikipedia says the following.

In the 21st century, relations between Chinese Muslims and non-Muslims have become increasingly strained. This can be seen in the predominantly Uyghur Muslim region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has banned students, teachers, and civil servants from fasting during the month of Ramadan.[137] The Chinese authorities commented on the ban's implementation, saying that it was meant to protect the health of students and to help maintain state secularism.[138] Uyghur rights groups blame the government for the ethnic tensions present in the area and for their systematic approach to eradicating Muslim identity in the region.[137]

This discrimination faced by the Uyghurs has created feelings of alienation and resentment among the Uyghurs that has, in turn, fed into a growing Islamic radicalism in the area.[139] Numbers of non-Muslim Han have skyrocketed in the region, as well, according to Uyghur American Association President Alim Seytoff, who claims that the proportion of non-Muslims has increased exponentially from 6.7 in 1949 to 40 percent in 2008. This has inevitably lead to greater ethnic tensions over jobs and resources.[140] These ethnic tensions resulting from Uyghur persecution have had serious repercussions in China, as Uyghur extremists have carried out numerous violent acts across the country. For example, a bombing of a Beijing park in May 1997 killed one person, while a bombing of two buses in the same year killed another two people. Similarly, the Uyghur capital of Ürümqi in the Xinjiang region has been witness to multiple acts of terrorism, with over 30 such attacks happening in the name of Muslim and Tibetan separatist demands.[141] By the early 21st century, the East Turkestan Islamic movement had been involved in 200 or more terrorist attacks resulting in 162 deaths and over 440 wounded.[139] The actions taken by the government extend beyond banning Ramadan, however, and also include deciding which citizens can go to Mosque and which versions of the Qur'an are acceptable and accessible. Consequently, the Chinese government exercises considerable control over the Uyghur people.[138] Uyghurs have aimed to overcome this domination through organizing secret meetings in people's homes, commonly referred to as Mashrap. The feelings of frustration experienced by this group, combined with localized gatherings who are influenced by the rise of Islamism abroad, has led to an increased reliance placed on religion and fundamentalism by the Uyghurs from government oppression.[139]

Shah said...


"Imams in China were made to dance on roads".

Where Did You Get That Radio Free Asia The American Mouthpiece

Riaz Haq said...

Asim: "In the 21st century, relations between Chinese Muslims and non-Muslims have become increasingly strained"

The problem with wikipedia is that anyone can edit it to reflect their own biases.

The fact is that, unlike India where Muslims are treated worse than untouchables (as per Indian government's own reports), the issue in China's Xinjiang province is ethnic, not religious. Majority of Chinese Muslims, the Hui Chinese, are not affected by it.

Ashraful said...

Since no one has yet put out the HDI data for Low Developed, here it is. Now we need Riazbhai to post it.

2015 estimates for 2014
145 Steady Kenya 0.548 Increase 0.004
145 Increase Nepal 0.548 Increase 0.005
147 Steady Pakistan 0.538 Increase 0.002
148 Steady Myanmar 0.536 Increase 0.005
149 Steady Angola 0.532 Increase 0.002
150 Decrease Swaziland 0.531 Increase 0.001
151 Steady Tanzania 0.521 Increase 0.005
152 Steady Nigeria 0.514 Increase 0.004
153 Increase Cameroon 0.512 Increase 0.005
154 Decrease Madagascar 0.510 Increase 0.002
155 Increase Zimbabwe 0.509 Increase 0.008
156 Steady Mauritania 0.506 Increase 0.002
156 Decrease Solomon Islands 0.506 Increase 0.001
158 Decrease Papua New Guinea 0.505 Increase 0.002
159 Decrease Comoros 0.503 Increase 0.002
160 Steady Yemen 0.498 Steady
161 Steady Lesotho 0.497 Increase 0.003
162 Increase Togo 0.484 Increase 0.009
163 Decrease Haiti 0.483 Increase 0.002
163 Steady Rwanda 0.483 Increase 0.004
163 Increase Uganda 0.483 Increase 0.005
166 Decrease Benin 0.480 Increase 0.003

For reference Bangladesh is in the Medium category at 142 and India at 130.

Riaz Haq said...

Ashraful: "For reference Bangladesh is in the Medium category at 142 and India at 130.

Hurray!!! Bangladesh and India are emerging superpowers ranked 142 and 130 for HDI ranked with sub-Saharan Africa among 200 nations!!! Wow!!! What an accomplishment!!!

Hopewins said...

^^RH WROTE: "History tells us that India's caste system has proved to be far more enduring and much more resilient than....."

What is the name of that big river in Egypt?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "What is the name of that big river in Egypt?"

It's beyond ludicrous to compare any caste issues in Pakistan with those in India. The numbers tell the story better.

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

Sultana said...

This apartheid was there before 1950 not after that. We have special laws against the people who practice this discrimination.

Riaz Haq said...

Sultana: "This apartheid was there before 1950 not after that. We have special laws against the people who practice this discrimination."

Laws have no meaning when they are not enforced. That is the case in India.

A survey by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights on the practices of untouchability (Dalits) undertaken in 565 villages in 11 major states of India found in 73 percent of villages, Dalits were not permitted to enter non-Dalit homes.

In 70 percent of villages, non-Dalits would not eat with Dalits. In 48.4 percent of surveyed villages, Dalits were denied access to common water sources. In as many as 38 percent of government schools, Dalit children were made to sit separately while eating.

Dalits also face routine violence. A 2005 government report said there is a crime committed against a Dalit every 20 minutes.

In December 2006, Indian Prime Minister Mannohan Singh became the first Indian leader to acknowledge the parallel between untouchability and apartheid in India.

Singh described untouchability as a “blot on humanity” and acknowledged that despite constitutional and legal protections, caste discrimination still exists throughout much of India.

Today in Asia, well over 200 million men, women and children continue to endure near complete social ostracism on the grounds of their descent. Sixty-five years after Indian independence, Vinod Sonkar, a Dalit, said, “We are still Dalit, still broken, still suppressed.”

“Dalits are increasingly becoming aware of their rights and raising their voice against discrimination and atrocities,” researcher Vidyarthee said. “Future efforts needs to be in that direction.”

Shah said...


You Cannot Compare The So Called Pakistani 'Castes' With Indian Ones.These Are Nothing More Than Titles.A Butt Will Not Be Kicked Out Of A Housing Society Because It Is Inhabited By Arains.Similarly A Rajput Will Not Be Denied A Place In Higher Education Institution Because He Is A Rajput.

There Is Not That Kind Of Hard And Fast Social Stratification

Riaz Haq said...

Tavleen Singh: "#Davos2016 reminds me of how backward #India remains intellectually and academically" via @sharethis

To tell you the truth, I am not sure exactly what it is except perhaps that every year I attend at least one session that reminds me of how backward India remains intellectually and academically. And of course economically but there is inevitably a connection. As the economist Nouriel Roubini pointed out in the NDTV Davos debate, India needs to invest in human capital. It is not good enough, he said, to have a handful of brilliant engineers and computer programmers if hundreds of millions of Indians continue to lack basic education.
Images of rural government schools came into my head as I listened. It is true that decades of criminal negligence will take time to correct but if correction does not happen India will remain in its time warp.

On the first day of the conference I attended a session called ‘A Brief History of Industrial Revolutions’ moderated by Niall Ferguson that reminded me painfully of how much of an academic laggard India is. This panel included professors of history and politics from Britain and the United States and the exalted level at which they discussed the theme of this year’s conference, ‘Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, reminded me painfully that it could never happen in India. I am not going to bore you with details; you can go to the WEF website and watch the whole discussion. You can go to it as well to see what is happening on the frontiers of medicine, science, environment and technology. On account of the reputation that this Davos meeting has gained in its 46 years of existence, it attracts the best minds in the world. Not just “the 1%” as leftist critics of Davos like to believe. And by the way, these same leftist critics come running to Davos when invited to receive awards for social work or achievements in music and the arts.

Riaz Haq said...

Economist Amartya Sen: "Never been optimistic about #India. But today, I'm more pessimistic" #Modi #BJP via @qzindia

From Davos to New Delhi, prime minister Narendra Modi and his government are trying hard to sell the story of India’s revival. But Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has scarcely been more pessimistic about the state of the nation.
At an evening session of the Kolkata Literary Meet on Jan. 23, the 82-year-old Harvard University professor was asked if and when he had felt the most optimistic in the decades of observing India’s policies on education, the agency of women, and healthcare.
“I don’t think I’ve felt optimistic at any time,” Sen replied chortling, as the audience of a few hundreds chuckled briefly.
His early years during India’s colonial occupation, he explained, were no reason for optimism, although there was much hope that Independence would turn the situation around. “Then came Nehru’s speech at midnight, and we were going to do great things in education and healthcare,” Sen said. “That remained the rhetoric, and is still today the rhetoric.”

“You said that schools have expanded…” Sen said, turning to Harvard University historian and Trinamool Congress member of parliament, Sugata Bose, who was in conversation with the economist on stage. “They have expanded but still there are many schools with one teacher, which is very difficult…”
Bose helpfully recalled the “savage cuts” in primary education under the Modi government. Indeed, in the first full budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley last year, the government cut back on the country’s education budget by 16%, with a 10% reduction in planned outlay to the school sector. Alongside, the government’s spending on health dropped by 15%.
“What I didn’t recognise,” Sen continued, “I feared it might be worse (but) I didn’t recognise, what Sugata (Bose) referred to just now, how big and savage the cuts in an already very low budget would have been.”
“China spends 3% of its income on healthcare,” he explained. “We spend less than 1% and most of it goes in a peculiar way like RSBY (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana), which is totally counterproductive. You subsidise private hospitals with it when you have expensive treatment but you don’t do the basic public services in healthcare…”

“So I never was very optimistic, but am I more pessimistic right now? Ya.”
Another round of muffled laughter followed.
This isn’t the first time that Sen has expressed concern on India’s renewed attempts to push for higher economic growth without first improving its education and healthcare systems. In an interview last November at the London School of Economics, Sen had explained:
India is the only country in the world which is trying to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. It’s never been done before, and never will be done in the future either…
…India is trying to be different from America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, China—all of them. This is not a good way of thinking of economics. So foundationally, the government’s understanding of development underlying their approach is mistaken. Having said that, the previous government was terribly mistaken, too. But one hoped there might be a change, and there has been, but not for the better. All the sins of the past government have been added up.

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.

Anonymous said...

“So I never was very optimistic, but am I more pessimistic right now? Ya.”

While I do think Amritya Sen has a particular "Agenda" to promote and a "leaning" towards a particular Indian political party, namely congress, I think he is right about one thing - India is spending way lesser than necessary on the very foundational needs of the country. It makes no sense and even it is insulting that Indian institutes like IIM "select" a candidate who is 99.9 percentile but reject someone who is 99.8 percentile - Does an IQ exam such as CAT (Indianised GMAT) has the necessary 'least count' to tell two candiates one coming at 99.9 percentile and another at 99.8 percentile apart? To make the matter worse the government has forced a "uniform" system of selection - just to appear fair - a weighted score based on marks one obtained in 10th 12th graduate and CAT. How does someone's marks in 10th and 12th predict their suitability for management study is beyond my understanding. This seems like the rationalisation for a broken education system. I guess India is missing the basic point here - There is a dire need for large number of recognised educational institutes in India for her 1.25 billion population providing quality vocational, management, engineering and medical education. We need something which US had in early 1900s - a large network of quality state universities, community colleges and polytechnics.

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 Erdoğan’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...

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.

Anonymous said...

How is Modi's superstitions worse than yours haq? You are a Muslim and believe in Quran . It teaches that Mohammad flew on a winged horse. If horses can fly so can Hindu pushpaks, or for that matter genetic engineering can exist 6000BC in the south East Asian region. If you disagree then say it publicly that you don't believe Quran to be correct as certainly Mohammad cannot fly on a winged horse.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "How is Modi's superstitions worse than yours haq? You are a Muslim and believe in Quran . It teaches that Mohammad flew on a winged horse. If horses can fly so can Hindu pushpaks, or for that matter genetic engineering can exist 6000BC in the south East Asian region. If you disagree then say it publicly that you don't believe Quran to be correct as certainly Mohammad cannot fly on a winged horse."

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

David Rubin said...

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

If muslim country head of state can be given a clean chit on this, then they must also take blame for personally sprouting hatred against Jews , be it head of state of Saudi Arabia or modern Malaysia.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Muslims in West Bengal poorer, less literate and less healthy than #Hindus …

Muslims, who form 27.01 per cent of West Bengal’s population, “constitute a very large proportion of the poor” in the State, Professor Amartya Sen said.

He was releasing a voluminous report on the condition of Muslims in West Bengal titled ‘Living Reality of Muslims in West Bengal.’

“The fact that Muslims in West Bengal are disproportionately poorer and more deprived in terms of living conditions is an empirical recognition that gives this report an inescapable immediacy and practical urgency,” Prof. Sen said, releasing the report with long chapters dedicated to education, health, economic conditions and gender of Muslims of Bengal who constitute a majority in 65 of 341 blocks in the State.

The survey — the most extensive one on Bengal’s Muslims — was carried out in 325 villages and 75 urban wards from a sample of 81 community development blocks and 30 municipal bodies. The 368-page report was produced by two Kolkata-based research organisations, Association SNAP and Guidance Guild, in association with Prof. Sen’s trust, Pratichi India.

Low literacy rate
Though the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has claimed to have played a significant role in the uplift of Muslims in Bengal since 2011, the report points to little improvement in areas such as literacy, health or participation in work. For example, Muslims have a literacy rate seven per cent lower than the State’s average.

“Around five per cent of those who discontinued education admitted lack of motivation as the factor behind dropping out of school as they did not see any future benefits from education,” the synopsis said. However, the report has not named any political party or held any government institution responsible.

In the health sector, the condition of, Muslims is no better and the report observes on the basis of State government data and field-level survey that “when Muslim population percentage increases in the blocks, the hospital facilities dwindle down.”

As a result “almost double the number of hospital beds is available in blocks with less than 15 per cent population share of Muslims in comparison with blocks having 50 per cent or above of (Muslim population).” Such discrimination is underscored in nearly every page of the report.

While in the entire report it was never said the ruling party in the State is responsible for the discrimination against the main minority of Bengal, it is expected to take political colour as it has been released only months before the Assembly elections.

Muslim bodies differ
One of the most well-spread cadre-based Islamic political organisation, Jama’at e Islami-Hind (JIH), West Bengal, which does not contest elections or is affiliated to any political party, believe that Muslims of Bengal have “moderately benefited” during the TMC rule. The media and public relations chief of JIH, Masihur Rahman, underscored how the minorities have benefited during TMC’s rule, without referring to the report.

“Firstly, the number of Muslim students clearing West Bengal Civil Services is much higher than in earlier years. It is 24 this year. Secondly, Aliah University, started during the Left’s time, was given a grant of Rs. 300 crore and many hostels for Muslim girls were built in the districts,” said Mr. Rahman.

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...

#India's culture wars holding country back #caste, #colonialism, #Sedition . #JNU #dalitvirodhimodi #Modi #Facebook …

In just seven weeks, the new year seems to have become troublingly old for India. Three old issues with all their upsetting associations – caste, colonialism and potentially seditious dissent – are back on the news agenda. They’ve restarted some very unpleasant conversations and in such a corrosive way that there is a sense of a country deeply polarised and almost at war with itself.

In January, the suicide of a lower caste Hindu doctoral student triggered nationwide protests as well as knee-jerk official defensiveness. Last week, India’s rejection of Facebook’s free, basic internet service raised questions about the implications of its ingrained fear of foreign dominance. And a row over the right to public dissent is rumbling on. It started just days ago with a police crackdown on the campus of a leading university in the capital New Delhi.

All three events are linked in a way that goes beyond being newsworthy. They have the same pathology. All are deeply embedded in the Indian psyche, sickening the body politic and rendering debate unfit for purpose. It may be fair to say that the hold of these three issues has never really been meaningfully discussed with complete candour, in any way that would acknowledge the real difficulties of laying them to rest.

Consider the snowballing controversy over allegedly seditious activity, especially on university campuses. Last week, the head of the student union of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University was arrested for sedition, under a law that dates to British rule. This university is sometimes described as an Indian Berkeley, with a proud tradition of left-wing debate on a range of issues such as communalism, social marginalisation, market forces, nuclear disarmament and the role of religion in politics.

The student leader’s alleged offence was to organise a protest against the hanging three years ago of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who was convicted and put to the death over a 2001 plot to attack India’s parliament. Guru always denied plotting the attack and his execution triggered protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
Some Indian commentators criticised the government’s response as “disproportionate” and far more insidious than an attempt to crush dissent; it “wants to crush thinking”. JNU research scholar Saib Bilaval wrote that it was “the othering of liberalism”, making it “unpatriotic” to profess liberal views. Students on other campuses have since spoken up about the right to free expression and an editorial headlined “Do not disagree” in the Indian Express newspaper thundered that the message of the JNU arrest sits uneasily with India’s overwhelmingly youthful demographic.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of sedition cases pointing to lower tolerance of dissent. More damagingly, it indicates an incomplete examination of the nature and mechanics of nation-building. In the 69th year of its independence from British rule, some might justifiably say that India seems less confident about the limits – and merits – of democratic criticism and the role this plays in citizens’ compact with the state. The JNU row will subside, but the issue won’t go away.

Finally, colonialism. There are differing views worldwide on net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source. But when Indian regulators banned Facebook’s “Free Basics”, a programme controversially providing free mobile internet in poor countries, it was hard not to see it as a sign of a general anxiety about unfair foreign competition with the intention to dominate.

Software billionaire Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Bangalore-based IT group Infosys, recently admitted as much. “There is this real rising fear in India about digital colonialism,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #caste violence injures 15 in #Rohtak #Haryana . Leads to tightened security …

Authorities in the northern Indian town of Rohtak have tightened security to control caste-related violence.
At least 15 people were injured on Thursday after a rally by the Jat community, demanding better access to jobs and education, turned violent.
The protesters blocked major highways, stopped railway traffic and clashed with rival caste groups.
The Jat community wants quotas in government jobs, but other caste groups have opposed their demands.
The police have also suspended mobile internet services in Rohtak and banned any gathering of more than four people.
Rohtak's superintendent of police Shashank Anand said that the measures were taken "to maintain law and order" in the district.
Extra paramilitary forces had been deployed to help the police in keeping the city calm, he added.

The Haryana state administration has also tightened security in the neighbouring towns of Sonepat and Jhajjar.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar held an emergency meeting on Thursday night to asses the situation in the state.
The Jats are currently listed as upper caste but they are demanding the status of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The community's leaders say that the quotas for OBCs and other lower castes puts them at a disadvantage in government jobs and state-run educational institutes.
The Indian government has divided people from lower castes in three categories as part of its affirmative action policy to offer quotas in jobs and educational institutes.
The communities listed as the Scheduled Castes (SCs) are essentially the lowest in the Hindu caste hierarchy, locally referred to as Dalits.
The Scheduled Tribes (STs) are the people who mostly live in remote areas.
The OBCs are educationally and economically backward but do not face so much exclusion or isolation.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News: #India caste violence: 10 million without water in #Delhi as protesters damage water supply canal #Haryana …

More than 10 million people in India's capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.
The army took control of the Munak canal after Jat community protesters, angry at caste job quotas, seized it.
Keshav Chandra, head of Delhi's water board, told the BBC it would take "three to four days" before normal supplies resumed to affected areas.
All Delhi's schools have been closed because of the water crisis.
Sixteen people have been killed and hundreds hurt in three days of riots.
At the scene: Defiant India protesters stand ground in Haryana
Watch: What future for India's caste system?
Sixteen million people live in Delhi, and around three-fifths of the city's water is supplied by the canal, which runs through the neighbouring state of Haryana.
Mr Chandra said that prior warnings meant that people had managed to save water, and tankers had been despatched to affected areas of the city, but that this would not be enough to make up for the shortfall.
The army took control of parts of the canal on Monday morning, but repairs are expected to take time.
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder, who is near Delhi's border with neighbouring Haryana state, said protesters who have set up road blocks are refusing to budge.
"We don't trust them. Let's get something in writing. Let them spell it out," one demonstrator who refused to be named told the BBC.

The land-owning Jat community is relatively affluent and has traditionally been seen as upper caste.
They are mainly based in Haryana and seven other states in northern India.
Comprising 27% of the voters in Haryana and dominating a third of the 90 state assembly seats, they are a politically influential community. Seven of the 10 chief ministers in Haryana have been Jats.
The Jats are currently listed as upper caste but the demonstrators have been demanding inclusion in caste quotas for jobs and education opportunities that have been available to lower castes since 1991.
In March 2014 the Congress-led national government said it would re-categorise Jats as Other Backward Castes (OBC), opening the way to government job quotas.
But India's Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Jats were not a backward community.
As jobs have dried up in the private sector and farming incomes have declined, the community has demanded the reinstatement of their backward caste status to enable them to secure government jobs.

Riaz Haq said...

India has in recent weeks seen some of its most concerted protests because of caste. At least 18 people were killed and hundreds injured in violent protests by members of the Jat community who are unhappy about the caste quota system, as they say it puts them at a disadvantage in government jobs and at state-run educational institutes. The BBC explains the complexities of India's caste system.
India's caste system is among the world's oldest forms of surviving social stratification.
The system which divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups based on their karma (work) and dharma (the Hindi word for religion, but here it means duty) is generally accepted to be more than 3,000 years old.
How did caste come about?
Manusmriti, widely regarded to be the most important and authoritative book on Hindu law and dating back to at least 1,000 years before Christ was born, "acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society".
The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation.
A priest sits in front of a Hindu templeImage copyrightAFP
At the top of the hierarchy were the Brahmins who were mainly teachers and intellectuals and are believed to have come from Brahma's head. Then came the Kshatriyas, or the warriors and rulers, supposedly from his arms. The third slot went to the Vaishyas, or the traders, who were created from his thighs. At the bottom of the heap were the Shudras, who came from Brahma's feet and did all the menial jobs.
The main castes were further divided into about 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, each based on their specific occupation.
Outside of this Hindu caste system were the achhoots - the Dalits or the untouchables.
How does caste work?
For centuries, caste dictated almost every aspect of Hindu religious and social life, with each group occupying a specific place in this complex hierarchy.
Rural communities were long arranged on the basis of castes - the upper and lower castes almost always lived in segregated colonies, the water wells were not shared, Brahmins would not accept food or drink from the Shudras, and one could marry only within one's caste.
Devotees pour milk on to a shiva lingamImage copyrightAFP
Image caption
India's caste system is among the world's oldest forms of social stratification surviving to this day
Traditionally, the system bestowed many privileges on the upper castes while sanctioning repression of the lower castes by privileged groups.
Often criticised for being unjust and regressive, it remained virtually unchanged for centuries, trapping people into fixed social orders from which it was impossible to escape. Despite the obstacles, however, some Dalits and other low-caste Indians, such as BR Ambedkar who authored the Indian constitution, and KR Narayanan who became the nation's president, have risen to hold prestigious positions in the country.
Is the system legal?
Independent India's constitution banned discrimination on the basis of caste, and, in an attempt to correct historical injustices and provide a level playing field to the traditionally disadvantaged, the authorities announced quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for scheduled castes and tribes, the lowest in the caste hierarchy, in 1950.

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...

Is Reading An #Urdu Book In #India's #Delhi Metro A Crime? "In haramiyon ko seedha #Pakistan bhejo" … via @ScoopWhoop

Reading in the metro, especially if you manage to find yourself a seat, is such a pleasure. But, thanks to the volatile environment we are currently living in, a person (of an unknown gender) had the most unpleasant experience ever. Why? Because he/she was allegedly 'caught' reading a booklet of the recently concluded Jashn-e-Rekhta festival which happened to be in Urdu.

Riaz Haq said...

#Dalit family beaten up for accidentally touching #Brahmin man in #India #BJP via @timesofindia #dalitilivesmatter

he curse of untouchability still have deep roots in the country, a truth which can be gauged from the fact, that an entire family of a dalit was beaten with sticks and kicked just because one of the family members accidentally touched the hands of a Brahmin man.
The incident was reported in the remote village of Kyuri village of Pinhat area on Friday afternoon, when a Valmiki family was engaged in a marriage ceremony.
According to Vineeta, a victim of the incident said, "My younger son Sonu had gone to a sweet shop owned by a Brahmin man named Anil Sharma. While giving the payment for the sweets, Sonu accidently touched the hand of Sharma, on which he got infuriated and thrashed my son."
"When Sonu returned home with bruises, he narrated the entire event after which I along with group of women went to sweet shop to protest against the cruelty on mere touching the hand. Later, Anil along with some few more men came to our house and attacked us with wooden sticks. They didn't spare even a pregnant women, who had come to attend marriage ceremony," she claimed. "They kicked her womb after which our family members took her to hospital," she alleged.
As per sources, in the incident, Rekha the pregnant woman, Sonu and his father Hotilal were injured.

Riaz Haq said...

#Christian persecution by #Hindus rises in #India, say humanitarian groups | Fox News. #Modi #BJP …

According to various news reports, there have been 26 documented incidents of religiously motivated violence against Christians spread across the subcontinent since Jan. 1. Incidents of violence against Christians have always existed in one form or another, but were usually limited to a particular region or issue.

However, the violence has begun to spread with Hindu radicals enjoying near complete impunity for their actions.

“They are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” Jeff King, president of the International Christian Concern, told “There has been an increase in attacks because these nationalists feel emboldened with [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi in power.

Local police officials took no action against the aggressors in many of the incidents. One such was Jan. 29 in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu when a mob of over 30 radicals in the village of Ettimadai ruthlessly attacked, beat, and dragged a Catholic priest and three church officials from their car.

All four men tried to flee from the mob but were eventually caught. The mob then dragged and beat them for a mile and a half. Despite pleas for help during the incident, police stood idly by.

All four men were hospitalized as a result, with the priest requiring treatment in the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital.

The group was first approached by the mob while they were waiting in their car outside the police station to speak with authorities regarding the arrest of a priest and two others from an AIDS/HIV clinic run by the church.

Just two weeks earlier, in the Nizamabad District of Telangana State, a local pastor and members of his congregation were savagely beaten by a mob of 40 Hindu radicals after they falsely accused him of trying to convert Hindus to Christianity.

According to locals, the attack occurred during a Christian prayer gathering and resulted in the hospitalization of six, including a four-year-old girl whose leg was broken during the attack.


The rash of outbreaks led humanitarian groups like the ICC to campaign in Washington to put pressure on Modi and the BDP to stop the wave of extreme nationalism.

“His silence is tacit approval,” King of the ICC said. “Push came to shove once before and he [Modi] had to come out and say that India is tolerant and the nationalists backed down.

“And the most of the populace is very tolerant, but he needs to come out again and rein in his party.”

Late last month, a bipartisan letter was sent to Modi by eight U.S. senators and 26 members of Congress, requesting that he strongly and publicly condemn the acts of persecution.

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 "riddled with inequality" says NY Times' Somini Sengupta in "End of Karma" #caste …

In November 1949, India had been independent for slightly more than two years, and through that duration, a drafting committee labored to devise a constitution for the new nation. The work was nearly finished, but critics grumbled about how long it had taken; one pundit thought the panel ought to have been called the “drifting committee.” B. R. Ambedkar, the Columbia-educated lawyer heading the group, defended his colleagues. Their task was difficult. The constitution incorporated 395 articles and 2,473 amendments, a density that reflected India’s complications — its iniquities of caste, its poverty, its various languages and faiths. India already had political democracy (one vote per citizen), but the constitution also needed to foster social democracy. “How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?” Ambedkar said in a speech. “We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political ­democracy.”

The lives of India’s poor and its lowest castes have improved in many ways, but the country remains riddled with inequality; in fact, over the last 35 years the gulf between the wealthiest and the most impoverished has widened. In “The End of Karma,” Somini Sengupta delivers a portentous warning that echoes Ambedkar’s, updated for the present. A quarter of India’s 1.25 billion people are younger than 15; every month, until 2030, nearly a million Indians will turn 18, raring for more education and employment prospects. The size and energy of such a work force is a nation’s dream — the celebrated “demographic dividend.” But the state’s failure to supply these young people with schools, universities and jobs, and to help them climb into prosperity, will tug India into perilous waters, Sengupta writes. “In the coming years, India can thrive because of its young. Or it can implode. Or both. There’s little time left.”

“The End of Karma” shifts in and out of three modes of narrative. The weakest involves Sengupta’s recollections of a childhood in India and North America, as well as her decision, during the stint in New Delhi, to adopt a baby girl. Her interest in India’s youth, she suggests, was quickened by this entry into her life by her daughter, a bona fide member of these restless generations, a unit of India’s demographic dividend. But much of this feels tenuous, the sort of material an editor commonly asks for, reproaching a writer because her manuscript is Not Personal Enough. The book’s second mode is expository — summations of news, history and statistics, which Sengupta delivers in cool, swift language. Two pages about Laloo Prasad Yadav, a powerful politician in the state of Bihar, are a marvel of economy, laying bare his background, his machinery of caste politics, his wrecking of Bihar, and his folksy charisma.

In the book’s most vibrant sections, Sengupta profiles seven young Indians, shadowing some of them over years. All grew up in poor or lower-middle-class homes — the socioeconomic brackets that hold a majority of India’s populace — and their lives illustrate the ways in which the state is failing its youth.

Riaz Haq said...

Shocking video of two naked ‘#Dalit women’ in #India beaten by ‘upper caste’ women goes viral. #Modi … via @drambedkar

A shocking video of two ‘Dalit women’ being subjected to merciless thrashing and public humiliation allegedly women from upper caste has gone viral on social media platforms.

The video is so graphic in nature that we at have decided not to broadcast here because of poor taste and decency issue.

In the two naked ‘Dalit women’ can be seen lying in water while two women are constantly thrashing them.

We don’t know where the incident took place and what the reason for their public humiliation was. But nothing will ever justify the humiliation meted out to the victims.

What’s worse is that they are being surrounded by a group of men with most of them busy filming the incident.

Source :

Riaz Haq said...

Stanford scholar Audrey Truschke on #Muslim rule in #India: #Mughal rulers were not hostile to #Hindus 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:

Riaz Haq said...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riaz Haq said...

Tarek Fatah, who's received a lot of adulation by the Indian Hindu diaspora and been an honored guest Hindu Nationalists in India, called for dissolution of India in an interview a few years ago:

Tarek Fateh calls for dissolution of India into multiple nations

"India, the whole sub-continent, you see it was never been one country....even during the British, India has not been one country under Ashoka, not even under Aurangzeb

The future that I see, if I had my dreams come true, something like Europe, the entities that exist are Bengal. Punjab with no borders, common currency,

there's more in common between someone in Lahore and Delhi than between someone between Delhi and Madras.

Break-up of India, that's my analysis of what will happen in the future, if it's ever dissolved voluntarily, would be best thing to happen to India, like Europe has.

Riaz Haq said...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riaz Haq said...

#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...

"Enough of this ‘secular’ stuff, proclaim #India a #Hindu state": Shiv Sena Chief. #Modi #BJP … via @IndianExpress

Wondering how long attacks on the security forces will go on in Kashmir, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday demanded that India be proclaimed a ‘Hindu state’.
“We have to decide now enough of this ‘secular’ stuff. The only option left is to declare India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ if attacks on Hindus have to be prevented,” Thackeray said in his annual birthday eve interview.
The first of the three-part interview was published on Sunday in the party mouthpieces Saamana (Marathi) and Dopaharka Saamana (Hindi) ahead of his 56th birthday on July 27.
Thackeray was speaking to the dailies’ Executive Editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.
The Sena chief said: “If speaking about Hindutva is a crime, at least shed the false pretensions of secularism — as the country is now stuck between the two (Hindutva and secularism).
“When Hindus are being targeted and attacked, where are these secularists? What about the Sanatan Sanstha, which is being crushed like a snake? We don’t support them, but let the truth about the Sanatan Sanstha come out once and for all. Merely talking and labelling them will not serve the cause of justice,” Thackeray said.
Persons linked to the Sanstha have been accused of involvement in the murder of rationalist and author Narendra Achyut Dabholkar in 2013 and left-wing author Govind Pansare in 2015.
He agreed with Raut that attempts are being to decimate Hindutva groups in the country, which he termed “strange”.
“The Hindus are in a majority, yet they are subjected to atrocities. They elected this government with the hope and confidence of improving their lot, but the same old story as before (Congress rule) continues,” Thackeray said.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #Dalit couple hacked to death over minuscule debt

A man from India's Dalit community has been beheaded and his wife hacked to death after a row over a 15 rupees (22 cents; 16 pence) debt in Uttar Pradesh state.
Police said the couple were murdered by an upper caste grocer on Thursday when they told him they needed time to pay for biscuits they had bought from him.
The grocer has been arrested.
Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, form the lowest rung of India's caste hierarchy.
Police told the Press Trust of India news agency the incident took place in Mainpuri district early on Thursday as the couple were on their way to work.
They were stopped by Ashok Mishra, the owner of a village grocery, who demanded that the couple pay the money for three packets of biscuits that they had bought for their three children a few days ago, reports say.
The couple reportedly told him they would pay after they received their daily wages later in the evening.
"While Mishra kept shouting for the money, the couple started walking towards the fields. Mishra then ran to his house nearby and returned with an axe. He hacked Bharat repeatedly and then attacked Mamta who was trying to rescue her husband. The couple died on the spot," Nadeem, a local villager, told The Indian Express newspaper.
The Dalit community in the village have blocked roads and protested over the incident.
Earlier this month four low-caste Dalit men were assaulted by cow protection vigilantes while trying to skin a dead cow in western Gujarat state.
Many Hindus consider cows sacred and the slaughter of the animal is banned in many Indian states.
In March, a Dalit man was murdered for marrying a woman from a higher caste in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The woman's father handed himself in and admitted to carrying out the attack on a busy road in daylight, police said.

Riaz Haq said...

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Riaz Haq said...

The Incendiary Appeal of Demagoguery in Our Time. #Trump #Modi #Bigotry

The stink first became unmistakable in India in May 2014, when Narendra Modi, a member of an alt-right Hindu organization inspired by fascists and Nazis, was elected prime minister. Like Donald Trump, Mr. Modi rose to power demonizing ethnic-religious minorities, immigrants and the establishment media, and boasting about the size of a body part.

To paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre: If the truth remains cloaked in the motherland, in the colonies it stands naked. Before Mr. Trump’s election in America exposed the failures of democracy, they had been revealed in Mr. Modi’s India. Most disturbing, in both places, the alt-rightists were enabled by the conceits, follies and collusion of impeccably mainstream individuals and institutions.

Arguments over what precisely is to blame for Mr. Trump’s apotheosis — inequality, callous globalized elites, corruptible local legislators, zealous ideologues, a news media either toxic or complaisant — will only intensify in the coming months. Writers as various as George Packer and Thomas Frank have already identified as a culprit a professional class of bankers, lawyers, technocrats and pundits. Promoting free trade and financial deregulation around the globe, the Washington Consensus eventually produced too many victims in Washington’s own hinterland.

In the case of India, the role of institutional rot — venal legislators, a mendacious media — and the elites’ moral and intellectual truancy is clear. To see it one only has to remember that Mr. Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, was accused of supervising mass murder and gang rapes of Muslims — and consequently was barred from travel to the United States for nearly a decade — and that none of that prevented him from being elected to India’s highest office.

Mr. Modi’s ascent, like that of many demagogues today, was preordained by the garish dreams of power, wealth and glory that colonized many minds in the age of globalization. Americans are, as Mr. Frank writes, “a population brought up expecting to enjoy life in what it is often told is the richest country in the world.” In India, one of the poorest countries in the world, “the tutelage of a distant and self-satisfied elite” — to borrow from Ross Douthat, describing America — spawned a much more extravagant sense of entitlement. In that elite’s phantasmagoria, the India that embraced deregulation and privatization was a “roaring capitalist success story,” according to a 2006 cover of Foreign Affairs magazine.

The narrative went something like this: Now that the government was getting out of the way of buoyant entrepreneurs, a rising tide was lifting the boats of all Indians aspiring to the richness of the world. Suave technocrats, economists and publicists (mostly U.S.-trained) endlessly regurgitated free-market nostrums (imported from America) — what Mr. Frank calls the “liberalism of the rich.”

The fervent rhetoric about private wealth-creation and its trickle-down benefits openly mocked, and eventually stigmatized, India’s founding ideals of egalitarian and collective welfare. It is this extraordinary historical reversal, and its slick agents, that must be investigated in order to understand the incendiary appeal of demagoguery in our time.

Riaz Haq said...

Permitting Exclusive #Brahmin-Only Housing Development in #Bangalore, #India Reinforces #Hindu #Caste #Apartheid

A township strictly meant for Brahmins claims to revive the “lost traditions” of the Brahmin community. The architecture, the lifestyle and culture will ensure a “Brahmanic way of life.”
Welcome to The Vedic Village- Shankar Agraharam, a ‘Brahmin only’ housing project that was planned in the outskirts of Bengaluru in 2013.
With the launch of the township, national and international media picked up the story and reported the disturbing trend of ‘segregated housing’ and ‘housing apartheid’ in India. A group of activist lawyers wrote to the state government and human rights commission to immediately scrap the project because it promoted caste-discrimination.

Three years down the lane, Vedic Village is nearing completion and has received the ‘proud’ approval of the Department of Town and Country planning in Karnataka. Project managers even claim to have sold 900 units of the planned 1800 in the integrated township.

The Sanathana Dharma Parirakshana Trust that is funding and developing the project is backed by the Brahmin community. The trust believes in:
emancipation of the living conditions of the Brahmin community and to closely work towards creating a liveable environment, and assets for the future generation of the community. Source:
The housing project is not open to non-brahmins, but that isn’t the only problem with the project. The website and the brochures repeatedly emphasise that it is a township for the ‘superior’.
Our plots are clearly earmarked for Brahmins only…Our motto, to give the highest to the highest in all respects. Source:

Riaz Haq said...

Can, #religion, #caste be banned from #India's politics? #BJP #congressparty #Modi #Hindu #Sikh #Dalit #Muslim

India is a nation of caste and religion. It is a nation where caste is policy. Upper caste policy is to move upwards, while lower castes continually struggle in their lowly status.

Everything that happens here is based on caste. At every stage of our life caste becomes important. We are unable to understand what is going on in the country if we disregard caste. We also see Justice T S Thakur, who delivered the court ruling, through the eyes of caste because the surname, Thakur, also represents a caste.

When caste is so integral in our society how can we separate caste and religion - a solid foundation - from politics and elections?

There are three main parties in India today: the Congress Party, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party. The Congress and BJP are outwardly "secular" parties. The BJP promotes itself as the party for Hindus, and on caste issues it says it is "secular". However they choose to self-define, if we search further, we find that the soul of these parties is brahminical, i.e. belonging to the highest caste.

The prominence of caste also applies to politics before India's independence. Priestly Brahmins who controlled the Bania caste - which had close business connections with them - have unjustly benefited from the new political reality, and that is why India's politics is called Brahmin-Bania politics.


In the first days of this year, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of India banned political candidates from seeking election on the basis of caste, religion and language. On the surface, this ruling seems to be appealing to secular voters, upholding the secular values of the constitution and implementing the principles of democracy.

But it also seems to be contradicting a 1995 Supreme Court ruling which considered "Hindutva" (Hindu nationalism) and "Hinduism" a "way of life", rather than an ideology that belongs to a certain caste or religion. The court has been silent on reviewing the Hindutva issue.

There has been praise from seculars on the ruling and respect for the judiciary has further increased among ordinary people. But while the verdict is indeed an important new development, there are still questions about its practicality because caste, like religion, remains an integral part of Indian society.

Riaz Haq said...

What is Hindutva?

Savarkar wrote, “... Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or system. But when we attempt to investigate the essential significance of Hindutva we do not primarily — and certainly not mainly — concern ourselves with any particular theocratic or religious dogma or creed”. His concern was politics; the political mobilisation of Hindus into one nation.

If not religion, what, then, is the basis for the divide? With crystal clarity, he wrote, “To every Hindu … this Sindhusthan is at once a pitribhu and a punyabhu — fatherland and a holy land. That is why in the case of some of our ... countrymen, who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture — language, law, customs, folklore and history — are not and cannot be recognised as Hindus. For though Hindusthan to them is fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a holy land too. Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and god-men, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently their name and their outlook smack of a foreign origin”.

The divide cannot be bridged except by obeying Hindutva’s demand for conversion to Hinduism. Savarkar exhorted, “Ye, who by race, by blood, by culture, by nationality possess almost all the essentials of Hindutva and had been forcibly snatched out of our ancestral home by the hand of violence — ye, have only to render wholehearted love to our common mother and recognise her not only as fatherland (Pitribhu) but even as a holy land (Punyabhu), and ye would be most welcome to the Hindu fold”.

Gandhi’s assassination put paid to Savarkar’s ambitions, but the RSS picked up the baton. Its supremo, M.S. Golwalkar, drew inspiration from Hindutva and coined its synonym, ‘cultural nationalism’, in contrast to ‘territorial nationalism’ in his book, A Bunch of Thoughts (1968). Everyone born within the territory of India is not a nationalist; the nation is defined by a common ‘culture’ (read: religion).

Golwalkar wrote, “... here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Parsis, or as invaders, the Muslims and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in common territory under the rule of a common enemy … The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu nationhood ...”

This explains the RSS’ ghar wapsi (‘return to your home’) campaign, simply a repeat of the past shuddhi (‘purification’) movement. Nothing has changed; an unbroken ideological thread binds Savarkar’s Hindutva, Golwalkar’s ‘cultural nationalism’ and the RSS-BJP policies today. On Sept 24, 1990, BJP president L.K. Advani launched “a crusade in defence of Hindutva”, which culminated in the demolition of Babri Masjid, in his presence, on Dec 6, 1992.

Since 1996, the BJP’s election manifestoes for Lok Sabha elections pledge to espouse Hindutva in these terms: “The cultural nationalism of India … is the core of Hindutva.” This explains the Modi government’s systematic purge of educational and cultural institutions. It is a quarrel with history. As scholars Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph remarked, modern hatreds are supported by ancient, remembered wrongs, whether real or imagined. The RSS-BJP combine rejects the concept of composite culture that Jawaharlal Nehru and others propounded.

Riaz Haq said...

#Caste Battles Threaten #India’s Grand #Hindu Coalition. #BJP #Modi #UP #Dalit #Rajput

The violence erupted after one April afternoon, when the Dalits in Shabirpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh, about 115 miles from New Delhi, were celebrating the birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, their greatest leader and an architect of the Indian Constitution.

Mr. Ambedkar was instrumental in abolishing untouchability, criminalizing caste discrimination and violence in independent India, and enshrining a system of affirmative action in the Indian laws.

On Mr. Ambedkar’s anniversary millions of Dalits honor him by garlanding his statues, which reproduce an iconic image of the bookish messiah: Mr. Ambedkar wearing a pair of rectangular glasses over a blue three-piece suit, a copy of the Indian Constitution in his left hand, the index finger of his right hand pointing at a distant horizon. For centuries before independence, the Dalits could barely clothe themselves. Mr. Ambedkar’s suit became a negation of that oppression, a symbol of dignity and aspiration.

The upper castes resent the defiant and proud Ambedkar imagery. As the Dalits celebrated in Shabirpur, the Uttar Pradesh village, their upper-caste Rajput neighbors stopped them from installing a statue of Mr. Ambedkar in their temple. They objected that the outstretched index finger of the statue would point toward upper-caste women who would walk past it.

In recent years, to counterbalance the Ambedkar celebrations, the upper castes, especially the Rajputs, began celebrating Rana Pratap, a medieval Hindu Rajput king, who fought several battles against the Mughal Empire, as an ideal Rajput and Hindu nationalistic icon.

Indian festival celebrations often come with processions of believers through public spaces. In polarized regions, they often become occasions for violence between different religious or caste groups.

A few weeks after the Rajputs in Shabirpur village objected to Mr. Ambedkar’s statue, they set out in a procession to celebrate the Rajput king Rana Pratap’s anniversary in an adjacent village. The Rajputs played overtly loud music. The Dalits objected. An argument turned into a violent clash. One Rajput man was killed and more than 20 Dalits and Rajputs were injured. More than 25 Dalit homes were set on fire.

Such violence spells trouble for the Hindu nationalist project. Leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist movement had figured early on that caste antagonism prevented a grand Hindu consolidation. They campaigned for social reforms and for allowing Dalits entry to temples, and promoted shared meals between the upper castes and lower castes, but caste prejudice was deeply entrenched among their followers and change remained superficial. Despite their efforts, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliate groups were always identified with the upper castes.

Marginalized communities in India have their own internal hierarchies. Over the past decade and a half, the B.J.P. developed a new strategy of playing on their internal differences and fragmenting Dalits and other lower castes into smaller, political groups and enlisting the breakaway units into their ambit.


Large sections of Dalits voted for Mr. Modi in 2014 and again for his party in March 2017 state elections in Uttar Pradesh because of the absence of a pan-Indian Dalit political identity. But if upper castes continue violent attacks on Dalits irrespective of their sub-castes, it will force consolidation among them.

Recent caste violence has shown that India’s Hindu nationalists are struggling with the challenges of caste. And it will be the eventual hurdle to permanent Hindu consolidation and their continued electoral dominance.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - The defiance of an 'untouchable' #NewYork subway worker. #India #Dalit #Apartheid #Caste

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla

(In New York), she says, she faced racism. And caste was right here too. She says she found "petty caste discrimination" among the Indian community.


The 53-year-old subway conductor has been luckier than most Dalits back home, women especially, who suffer unspeakable cruelty, are employed in menial jobs including cleaning of human excreta and are segregated by their communities.
Unlike most of her lot, her family was "middle class", thanks to the help of Canadian missionaries in her region who aided in education and offered them religion. Her family was thus Christian and benefited with education. Her parents held jobs as college teachers.
Gidla says that proselytization didn't help her lot. "Christians, untouchables - it came to the same thing. All Christians in India were untouchable. I knew no Christian who did not turn servile in the presence of a Hindu."
The book chronicles unflinchingly the caste slurs and segregation Gidla and Dalits like her have to endure in India.

Gidla lists how she and other Dalits are humiliated in India by other castes.
They are forced to eat from separate plates and glasses in eateries; barred from the community's main source of drinking water; allowed to ride a bicycle or wear footwear only in segregated areas; rejected in love and denied opportunities. She recalls her hurt when a junior school classmate refused to touch the sweet she offered. Things like this are constant reminders to Dalits of their status as social outcastes.
Since her teens Gidla was spurred to rebel with her uncle, the rebel Telugu language poet Shivasagar, setting an example. His call to join the Communists and later the guerrilla movement of the region demanding social justice held appeal for the young Gidla.


In America, writes Gilda, "people know only my skin colour, not birth status".
"One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, 'Oh, but you're so touchable'."

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #Dalit man killed 'for watching #Hindu celebration' #caste #Apartheid

A Dalit (formerly untouchable) man was beaten to death in the western Indian state of Gujarat allegedly for watching people dance as they celebrated the Hindu festival of Dussehra.
Eight men have been arrested for attacking the 21-year-old on Sunday, police told BBC Gujarati.
Some Dalits were beaten up for sporting moustaches in the state last week.
Despite laws to protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for India's 200 million Dalits.
The victim, identified as Jayesh Solanki was watching a performance of Garba, a traditional dance, with his cousins, when a man approached them, according to the police complaint lodged by Mr Solanki's cousin, Prakash.

"He told us how dare you come here," Mr Solanki alleged in the complaint. "We told him that we came to watch the Garba because our sisters and daughters were participating. But he started abusing us."

The complaint goes on to say the man left and returned with seven others, one of whom slapped Prakash. When Mr Solanki tried to intervene, he was dragged away and beaten.
The men allegedly flung him against a wall causing him to lose consciousness. But they continued to beat him, according to the complainant.
Mr Solanki was taken to hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police said they have also provided security to Mr Solanki's family who fear they might be attacked by upper caste men for pursing a case against the accused.
Dalits have traditionally been at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. They have been subjugated by the higher castes for centuries.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian scientists urged to speak out about pseudoscience
Cancelled astrology workshop prompts calls for researchers to be vigilant about stamping out unscientific beliefs.

T.V Padma
07 November 2017

Alarm in the Indian scientific community over anti-science policies and programmes has been brewing for some time. Several scientists who spoke with Nature are reluctant to comment publicly about it for fear of jeopardizing their jobs. Others took part in the March for Science organized by the 7,000-member Breakthrough Science Society in August in around 40 Indian cities, in part to protest the government’s support for ideas not yet backed by science. One area of concern, says Banerjee, is the government’s push for a national research programme on the health and other benefits of a combination of five cow products, known as panchgavya.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, hosted a two-day workshop last December to discuss ways to validate research on panchgavya, which was supported by India’s Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and Council of Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR), and inaugurated by India’s science minister Harsh Vardhan.

According to IIT Delhi’s website, Vardhan, who is a physician, “emphasised that use of panchgavya in practice and in daily routines will help to address the pressing global issues like climate change, resistance development, malnourishment, global health etc”.

Following the workshop, India’s science ministry formed a national steering committee to initiate a national programme on the topic.

Supporters of this research say that cow products should be considered part of India’s vast traditional knowledge base. But critics say that such unverified theories are pseudoscience, and that singling out the benefits of cow products is part of a larger political agenda by Hindus, for whom the cow is a sacred animal.

They also argue that research on topics such as panchgavya should be handled in a neutral manner rather than as a way of promoting traditional knowledge. Rahul Siddharthan, a computation biologist at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, says that the government must accept that any research involving traditional hypotheses about health could potentially refute those hypotheses. “Refutability is the essence of science,” he says.

Riaz Haq said...

Study: One in two #Indian #Muslims fears being falsely accused in #terrorism cases. #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia

A survey by NGO Common Cause and Lokniti shows Adivasis are most afraid of being framed for Maoist activities, while Dalits are afraid of being falsely accused of petty thefts.

New Delhi: The sense of being discriminated against by police is strongest among Muslims, especially those in Bihar, said a study that seeks to analyse the perception about police along state and community lines.

The survey was carried out by NGO Common Cause and Lokniti, a research initiative of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), among 15,563 respondents across 22 states in June and July 2017.

“Among the total number of respondents, 26 per cent of Muslims were of the view that police discriminated on the basis of religion, while less than 18 per cent of Hindus and 16 per cent of Sikhs thought the same,” the report added.

The researchers also discovered that as many as 44 per cent of Indians were fearful of being beaten up by police, a finding reported by ThePrint Monday in the first of its series of reports on the study.

According to the survey, over 47 per cent of Muslims across the country said they feared being falsely accused of terrorist activities. Trying to explain the perception, the researchers cited the “large proportion” of Muslims in the country’s jails. This sentiment was said to be most widely prevalent in Telangana.

The percentage of Muslims in jails is higher than the community’s share in the population of India, a fact, critics said, that stems from an alleged “systemic bias” against them.

The 2011 census pegged the Muslim population at 14.23 per cent; and, in 2014, the government told Rajya Sabha that people from the community comprised 16.68 per cent of convicts and 21.05 per cent of undertrials.

What Adivasis and Dalits fear
The report suggested a similar fear among the Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis) and the Scheduled Castes (Dalits). According to the survey, 27 per cent of the Adivasis said they feared being framed for anti-state Maoist activities, while 35 per cent of Dalits held a similar fear regarding petty thefts.

“Nearly two in every five… respondents said police falsely implicated members of backward castes such as Dalits in petty crimes including theft, robbery, dacoity,” the report said.

“One in four… was of the opinion that such a false implication of Adivasis and Muslims did occur,” it added.

The results of the survey also suggested a perception that caste-based discrimination among police personnel was most prevalent in Bihar, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

It said people were more likely to report class-based discriminatory attitudes of police, followed by gender- and caste-based discrimination.

Riaz Haq said...

Watch an "untouchable" woman from India tell her story

Sujatha Gidla was part of the lowest class in India's social hierarchy -- the untouchables. When she left India for the United States, she was finally free of caste, but the psychological toll left her feeling inferior for years.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Tell Everyone We Scalped You!’ How #Caste Still Rules in #India.The crimes are happening across the country and #Dalits are not simply killed: They are humiliated, tortured, disfigured, destroyed. #Modi #BJP #Apartheid

When Sardar Singh Jatav set out walking on a muggy night in early September to talk with the men who employed his son, he found them already waiting for him in the road. But they were not in the mood for discussion.

The higher-caste men greeted Mr. Sardar with a punch to the face. Then they broke his arm. Then they pinned him down. Mr. Sardar shrieked for help. Nobody came.

One higher-caste man stuffed a rag in his mouth. Another gleefully pulled out a razor. He grabbed Mr. Sardar’s scalp and began to lift and cut, lift and cut, carving off nearly every inch of skin.

“Take that!” Mr. Sardar remembers them saying. “Tell everyone we scalped you!”

Mr. Sardar is a Dalit, a class of Indians who are not just considered lower caste, but technically outcaste — what used to be called untouchable. Bound at the bottom of India’s Hindu society for centuries, the Dalit population, now estimated at more than 300 million, has been abused for as long as anyone can remember.

And now, according to crime statistics, the violence against them is rising.

This might seem surprising against the new narrative India is writing. So much has changed. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. The Indian economy is now one of the world’s biggest. Everywhere in the country, there are new roads, new airports, new infrastructure.

But in many places, especially in poorer rural areas, caste infrastructure is still the one that counts. And those who rebel against it, like Mr. Sardar, are often greeted with unchecked brutality.

It is violence intended to send a message, pain inflicted to maintain India’s old social order. The crimes are happening across the country and Dalits are not simply killed: They are humiliated, tortured, disfigured, destroyed.

“We have a mental illness,” said Avatthi Ramaiah, a sociology professor in Mumbai.

“You may talk about India being a world power, a global power, sending satellites into space,” he said. “But the outside world has an image of India they don’t know. As long as Hinduism is strong, caste will be strong, and as long as there is caste, there will be lower caste,” he added.

”The lower castes don’t have the critical numbers to counterattack,” he said. And the result has been violence that he described as “intimate, sadistic and cruel.”

In late October, a 14-year-old Dalit girl was beheaded by an upper-caste man whose wife said he hated the girl specifically because of her caste. A Dalit scavenger was tied up and fatally whipped outside a factory in May, in a beating captured on video and broadcast across India. In March, a Dalit man was killed by higher-caste men for riding a horse (traditionally, Dalits aren’t supposed to do that).

“Such incidents would not have happened in my childhood,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a well-known political commentator (and a Dalit). “In my childhood, a Dalit would not ride a horse. Before 1990, most Dalits worked for someone. Now they are paying a price for their freedom.”

For decades, India has struggled to de-weaponize caste. When the Constitution was being written in the late 1940s, intellectuals knew caste was a sore spot that needed to be urgently addressed. They included specific protections for Dalits, who make up about 15 to 20 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people.

Affirmative action programs, though they have generated deep resentments among upper castes, have helped some Dalits escape poverty. Today there are Dalit poets, doctors, civil service officers, engineers, and even a Dalit president, though it is mostly a ceremonial post.

Riaz Haq said...

Opinion | #Modi’s #India is a living nightmare for #Muslims. #Islamophobia #Hindutva #BJP

by Rana Ayub

Twenty-six years later, as India marks the anniversary of the demolition of the (Babri) mosque (in Ayodhya), Indian Muslims continue to live their worst nightmare as they wake up each morning to humiliating and threatening discourse by legislators and members of the ruling party.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes are not just encouraged but also rewarded by those in power. According to a report on hate crimes released by Fact Checker, 76 percent of victims of hate crimes in India over the past 10 years have been Muslims. Ninety percent of these attacks have occurred since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was voted into power in 2014.

By labeling Muslims as “beef eaters” and expanding bans on the consumption of beef by putting in place new rules to curtail cow slaughter that disadvantage Muslim and lower-caste Hindus, the Hindu nationalist BJP is encouraging young Hindu men to become so-called cow vigilantes, who brandish their patriotism and faith by physically attacking Muslims. Even a rumor that a Muslim family ate beef for dinner, or a Muslim man ferried a cow to a slaughterhouse, can prove fatal in the hinterlands today.

When Muslims are not being lynched for bovine-related reasons, they are attacked for marrying Hindu girls, for sporting a beard, or for wearing a skullcap or other symbols of religious identity. They are berated on popular, state-favored news channels for being ungrateful betrayers and traitors who have no love for the national flag.

Attacks on Indian Muslims are also a part of a wider campaign to undermine the community and its rich history. The Taj Mahal is an iconic 17th-century mausoleum, built by another Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, but it is frequently disparaged in remarks by Modi’s deputies. Yogi Adityanath, Modi’s choice as chief minister of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, has stated that the Taj Mahal isn’t sufficiently Indian — code for belonging to India’s Islamic past. “Foreign dignitaries visiting the country used to be gifted replicas of the Taj Mahal and other minarets, which did not reflect Indian culture,” he said at a rally in the state of Bihar last year. “Now, [Hindu] holy books such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana are offered as gifts.” In the past six months, names of iconic cities and railway stations such as Allahabad and Mughal Sarai named after Muslim figures have been changed to reflect Hindu culture.

Riaz Haq said...

#Bollywood Actress Esha Gupta exposes everyday #racism in #India by sharing conversation with her 3.4m Instagram followers mocking #Nigerian #soccer star, Alex Iwobi, as a "gorilla" and "Neanderthal" who "evolution had stopped for".

Up until Monday, Esha Gupta was just a Bollywood actress with a passion for Arsenal football club.

That changed after the actress decided to share a screengrab of a WhatsApp conversation in which a friend mocked the team's Nigerian star, Alex Iwobi, as a "gorilla" and "Neanderthal" who "evolution had stopped for".

"Hahaha," wrote the actress, who helped Arsenal unveil its 2017 away kit, as she shared the screengrab with her 3.4m Instagram followers.

The racist slurs - and the fact she thought it was funny - horrified many, and the backlash was unsurprisingly swift. How dare she call herself an Arsenal supporter, her fellow fans demanded.

Gupta apologised quickly, but the post hints at a long-known - but little acknowledged - problem of racism towards people of African descent in Indian society.

"Of course I'm not surprised by the post," Ezeugo Nnamdi told the BBC from Delhi, his home of five years.

In fact, the secretary-general of the Association of African Students in India (AASI) added that, as racial slurs go, her words were no worse than what fellow African students experienced on a daily basis - to their faces.

"Racism is not something which is very hidden here. It is something very open," he said. "People just look at you.

"They call you 'habshi' [a derogatory term], and a lot of other words and racial slurs.

"Here, you are regarded as a cannibal."

You don't have to look far to see examples of prejudice towards people of African descent in India: just look at how Bollywood treats its black characters.

Take, for example, the award-winning 2008 film Fashion, which told the tale of an aspiring model - played by Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra - who is caught in a downward spiral of drink and drugs.

But the moment she realises she has truly hit rock bottom is when she wakes up beside a black man. According to Dhruva Balram, the racial undertones of her realisation were clear.

"For Bollywood, as an aspiring model, the worst thing you can do is position yourself sexually next to a black person," he argued in an article for Media Diversified.

The article immediately resonated with Kadisha Phillips, an African-American New Yorker who spent a month in Bollywood during her degree. The racism she experienced left its mark - whether being ignored in a restaurant, or blocked from entering the school's campus by one of the guards.

"I could tell it was because of the colour of our skin," she recalled. "It was just easy to notice."

So were Gupta's messages just another example of the everyday racism experienced by black people in India?

It is fair to say the furore which surrounded the Instagram post failed to make as big a splash in India as it did in other parts of the world.

But why? That could be down to the fact it takes a more shocking incident to become a talking point.

It was one such incident back in 2016 - when a young Tanzanian woman was beaten and stripped by an angry mob - which inspired photographer Mahesh Shantaram to take a fresh look at his own country.

Endurance Amalawa was attacked by an angry mob in 2017
What he found, after spending months travelling around his own city, and then the country, meeting, speaking with and photographing black Africans, left him shocked.

"I was hearing things for the first time," he said. "Imagine someone telling you stories about your country that you think you know very well, but they tell you a very different story."

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian Dalit man killed for sitting on a chair eating in front of upper-caste men

A helpless anger pervades the Dalit community in the remote Indian village of Kot.

Last month, a group of upper-caste men allegedly beat up a 21-year-old Dalit resident, named Jitendra, so badly that he died nine days later.

His alleged crime: he sat on a chair and ate in their presence at a wedding.

Not even one of the hundreds of guests who attended the wedding celebration - also of a young Dalit man - will go on record to describe what happened to Jitendra on 26 April.

Afraid of a backlash, they will only admit to being at a large ground where the wedding feast was being held.

Only the police have publicly said what happened.

The wedding food had been cooked by upper-caste residents because many people in remote regions don't touch any food prepared by Dalits, who are the bottom of the rigid Hindu caste hierarchy.

"The scuffle happened when food was being served. The controversy erupted over who was sitting on the chair," police officer Ashok Kumar said.

The incident has been registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) - a law meant to protect historically oppressed communities.

Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, have suffered public shaming for generations at the hands of upper-caste Hindus.

Dalits continue to face widespread atrocities across the country and any attempts at upward social mobility are violently put down.

For example, four wedding processions of Dalits were attacked in the western state of Gujarat within a week in May.

It is still common to see reports of Dalits being threatened, beaten and killed for seemingly mundane reasons.

The culture that pervades their community is visible everywhere - including in Kot, which is in the hilly northern state of Uttarakhand.

Local residents from the Dalit community allege that Jitendra was beaten and humiliated at the wedding.

They say he left the event in tears, but was ambushed again a short distance away and attacked again - this time more brutally.

Jitendra's mother, Geeta Devi, found him injured outside their dilapidated house early the next morning.

"He had been perhaps lying there the entire night," she said, pointing to where she found him. "He had bruises and injury marks all over his body. He tried to speak but couldn't."

She does not know who left her son outside their home. He died nine days later in hospital.

Jitendra's death is a double tragedy for his mother - nearly five years ago her husband also died.

This meant that Jitendra, who was a carpenter, became the family's only breadwinner and had to drop out of school to start working.

Family and friends describe him as a private man who spoke very little.

Loved ones have been demanding justice for his death, but have found little support among the community.

"There is fear. The family lives in a remote area. They have no land and are financially fragile," Dalit activist Jabar Singh Verma said. "In surrounding villages too, the Dalits are outnumbered by families from higher castes."

Of the 50 families in Jitendra's village, only some 12 or 13 are Dalits.

Dalits comprise almost 19% of Uttarakhand's population and the state has a history of atrocities committed against them.

Police have arrested seven men in connection with Jitendra's death, but all of them deny any involvement.

Riaz Haq said...

The Magsaysay award citation says, “An ancient vocal and instrumental musical system, Carnatic music started centuries ago in temples and courts but was subsequently ‘classicised’ to become the almost exclusive cultural preserve of the Brahmin caste — performed, organised and enjoyed by the elite who have access to it ... In electing Krishna to receive the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award for emergent leadership, the board of trustees recognises his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all.”


One of the world's biggest – and longest - festivals of classical music and dance begins in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, this week but only a tiny percentage of the city's residents will enter the concert halls to listen or take part.

South Indian classical music, or Carnatic music, is dominated by performers, audiences and organizers from the Brahmin community that sits atop the country's caste hierarchy and accounts for less than 5% of Tamil Nadu's population. The proportion of Chennai made up of Brahmins is roughly the same.

"It is the most restrictive big festival in the world," said T.M. Krishna, a leading Chennai-based Brahmin vocalist, whose book “A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story,” critiques aspects of the art form. "There's no apartheid-like wall, but subliminal social barriers exist."

Although India's economy is rapidly modernizing, its society has been much slower to change. The centuries-old caste system continues to play an active role in many social spheres, such as marriage and even music. In Carnatic music, caste may not operate overtly, but the legacy of historical hierarchies persists and is in some cases becoming more entrenched.

The nearly 100-year-old festival includes 3,200 events at 75 venues run by 90

90 organizations called 'sabhas', with about 210 performers -- roughly 10% more than four years ago, according to Vikram Raghavan, a Carnatic vocalist who runs the website that tracks such data. The festival has no umbrella body or centralized database and the various organizations plan their schedules independently.

Popularly known as "the Chennai music season" it began in 1929 as a roughly week-long series of music concerts organized by The Music Academy, the most high-brow participant in the event, and has become longer over the years. Although it formally starts on Dec. 15, when the Academy inaugurates its two-week program, other

Riaz Haq said...

Meet 5 Contemporary #Indian Artists Challenging #India’s Still-Prevalent #Caste System. The insidious influence of the caste system has continues to silence and oppress large portions of society even today. #Modi #Hindutva #Dalit #Muslim #homegrown

“Art is the weapon / against life as a symptom / defend yourself ” – My Chemical Romance

The referenced band may seem a bit misplaced but the sentiment holds true in the political and social climate of India right now. There seems to be a wave of hysterics, bordering on manic jingoism that follows when any voice questions authority. Despite being quashed time and again, dissent continues through various mediums, often finding the right audience and spreading awareness through art.

Art has often been the most powerful and universally accessible tool for socio-political commentary and self-expression. A form of social activism in itself, it stirs civic consciousness, drawing attention to the current state of affairs. Although outlawed by the Indian Constitution, the insidious influence of the caste system has continued to silence and oppress large portions of society even today.

How many times have you spoken to someone that claims casteism doesn’t exist? They are perhaps the lucky, privileged few that are sheltered from such lived realities and rarely feel its presence in the country. But it is still very much ongoing and while many individuals might not be directly affected by, the truth is we, the middle, upper-middle and upper class educated individuals, also may be the only ones that can spark positive a change for the disenfranchised members of our society. Caste-based discrimination and violence are rampant and on the rise, and where media and news outlets have failed to provide a platform for those fighting against these archaic practices art has served as the new weapon of choice.

From paintings and comic strips to sculptural installations, today we look at just a few of the artworks that are calling out the government for its negligence in terms of taking action and providing protection; society for wearing blinkers and being unwittingly complicit. These are just some of the creations of those facing caste oppression as well as artists drawing attention to its history through the celebration of the unsung heroes we’ve all but forgotten today.

I. Savinder Sawarkar

Any conversation about art and caste politics would be incomplete without a mention of Savinder Sawarkar, popularly known as Savi. For years he has created a space for Dalit art in the modern Indian art sphere as well as galleries, not just across the country but the world over.

Savi’s work brings to the forefront difficult questions and painful realities of being a Dalit artist. His critique of the caste system is clear and it’s not just a simple victimisation that he portrays but cultural politics of a murky past and the unsettling present power dynamics that have dictated people’s lives and restrained growth and development almost like a chokehold. His aesthetics evoke these emotions in viewers and provide a sense of immediacy and urgency to situation.

2. Rajyashri Goody 3. PS Jaya, 4. Orijit Sen

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindutva attempt to enslave #India under #Hindu elite castes by @Swamy39 via #Sanskrit language. Myth being sold that Sanskrit was the language of #India and #Muslim invaders wiped it out. Fact: Sanskrit forbidden for common #Hindus. They spoke Prakrit.

The attempt to enslave India under Hindu elite castes continues. This time it is by shoving Sanskrit down the throats of upcoming generations so that those who know “most” about it (read priests) will once more be the final word on knowledge.

The myth being sold is that Sanskrit was the language of India and Muslim invaders wiped it out. I suppose the RSS has never heard of Sant Dnyaneshwar who wrote the Dnyaneshwari so that people could have access to the knowledge of the Bhagwad Gita in THEIR LANGUAGE which was Prakrit. Sanskrit was FORBIDDEN to them.

This is before the Muslim invasions, incidentally.

Sanskrit has been the barrier that firewalled the unwashed masses from power and knowledge recorded in it by the simple virtue of being forbidden to the masses. Its exclusiveness became its limitation.

Today there is hardly anyone other than priests who bothers with Sanskrit and the language continues to be the language of rituals conducted for the masses by the brahmans.

Now, as language is accessible to all, and the priests are left hoarding a coma while both power and knowledge proliferate in languages accessible to more people, the priests see this mythical Hindu Rashtra as an opportunity to reestablish the eroding supremacy. When the language they hoarded is no longer useful to the masses and on the verge of extinction, they impose it on the masses as their true language. Dnyaneshwar is laughing in his samadhi here.

First the upper classes used Sanskrit to hoard power, now use to regain power. Indian history is peppered with the persecution of great people for touching that holy cow Sanskrit without the “gate pass” of the Brahmin caste. When Brahmins held power, Sanskrit was hoarded and denied to the masses. The Brahmins teaching Sanskrit in the Pune Hindu college threatened to resign rather than teach Sanskrit to non-Brahmins. Now that Sanskrit is left hollow and of little practical use, its utility must be revived if the Brahmin is to be restored to supremacy. Those forbidden to use it will now be the slave labour engaged to revive it. Far from refusing it to non-Brahmins, it will now be repackaged as the true heritage of those it was denied to.

In my view, imposing an alien language on the people is a sign of colonization. Sanskrit is no longer forbidden to non-Brahmins. However, it also is no longer of interest to enough people for the removal of the ban to mean anything. Without popular adoption, Sanskrit will remain the language of mumbo jumbo rituals and the Brahmins who claim the knowledge of it will be left with a white elephant. So now the supremacists want to impose Sanskrit to restore wealth to their intellectual hoard, while people are led to believe that secrets of modern knowledge are hidden in the vedas. The masses that the language of snobs suppressed by denying Sanskrit will be the slave labour to restore it to its supremacist glory. Free! Free! Free!

The RSS are trying to invade India with a cold war on the majority of Indians who were never native adopters of Sanskrit. Nor were their ancestors. A history is being invented so that a country may be appropriated by citing it.