Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hindutva Outfits Lose California Textbooks Battle

Indian RSS-backed Hindutva outfits have suffered a major setback in a decade-long war to insert their version of South Asian history in California textbooks, according to media reports.

Whitewash Of Indian History: 

After recent successes in India,  the right-wing Hindu groups are now attempting to whitewash Indian history taught in the United States. They want to see California textbooks (1) deny India's history of caste-based oppression, (2) reject separate Sikh identity,  and (3) claim India's monopoly over the Indus Valley Civilization which now belongs to areas located in Pakistan.

Akhand Bharat Map in Indian Textbooks


The latest battle saw South Asian Faculty Group that includes scholars from Stanford, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and UCLA, among others, arrayed against Hindutva advocates like  Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies and the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF).

South Asia Faculty Group has called for "India" be replaced with "South Asia" in some places because the Indus Valley Civilization sites are now located in Pakistan, according to Los Angeles Times.

Opposition to the right-wing Hindu groups also came from  American Dalit-led Ambedkar Association of California,  Sikh Coalition,  Indian Muslim Council, Alliance for Justice and Accountability and the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action.  Shri Ravidassia gurdwaras (places of worship) from Rio Linda, Sacramento, Fremont and Yuba City, California, also opposed the changes.

Defending the Indian caste system, DCF leader, Shiva Bajpai, calls the caste system “beneficial.” “In every society some people are at the bottom of the economic scale,” he wrote in a paper submitted to the California textbook board. “Other societies solved this problem by enslaving people; [t]he caste system actually offered many advantages.”

Non-Hindu Groups' Opposition: 

"This is not just a California issue,” says Harjit Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s community development manager. “What happens in California will set a precedent for other states to follow. The accuracy of our history is at stake for the entire nation."

Thenmozhi Soundarajan, an organizer with the Ambedkar Association of California and Dalit History Month who opposes the changes said, "They (Hindutva groups) have already won in Virginia and Texas. A win in California would mean a change to all textbooks.”

Hindu Nationalists' Global Power: 

Right-wing Hindu groups are now increasingly flexing their muscles around the world, including the United States.

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

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

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

RSS in US:

A US report entitled "Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Non-Profit Groups" disclosed the following findings regarding the strength and nature of the Hindu nationalist movement in the United States:

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

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

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

Summary: 

While the right-wing Hindu groups have lost this battle to alter textbooks in the United States, it is unlikely that the RSS-affiliated groups will give up this fight for long. But, for now, California’s State Board of Education is scheduled to meet on May 29, 2016 when it is expected to ratify the South Asian Faculty Group's changes opposed by Hindutva outfits.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Dalit Victims of Indian Apartheid

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Global Power of Hindutva

Indus Valley Civilization

28 comments:

Unknown said...

Absurd move. I don't know whether Riaz will approve my comment for display or not though.

Sikh culture is separate? Our origin is India and our culture is "Indian" first.
Most a baseless step is denying India's right over culture of that territory which have been stick to us for thousands of years!
Despite of fact that those countries have no identity.

Well Mr. Riaz, I have researched over the topic and problem isn't as big as you are claiming.

Yet most irritating thing is there word "South Asia". This is called"Indian" subcontinent for some solid reason which Pakistanis call myth because it will shadow their remaining claims of identity.

Riaz Haq said...

MoA: "Sikh culture is separate? Our origin is India and our culture is "Indian" first."

The Sikh coalition is the best judge of that. It is a part of this debate as shown in the quotes from their rep in my post.

http://sikhsiyasat.net/2016/03/31/hindtuva-groups-fail-omit-caste-oppression-ofmi-usa/

Anonymous said...

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/BKm3OOhCamU/hqdefault.jpg

The picture above is what I have seen

r_sundar said...

Hmmm.... Why only a few countries...Why not add the entire globe?
Cracks me up each time, how desperate folks are to put the inherently pluralistic Hinduism in bad light.
Before you pay attention to these websites - which can publish any conspiracy theories they want, check the official curriculum of Pakistan school text book, which openly teach hatred against anything but (sunni)islam.
No wonder Pakistani society is one of the least tolerant in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

sundar: "No wonder Pakistani society is one of the least tolerant in the world. "

Pakistan is home to one of the world's fastest growing Hindu populations.

Contrary to the sensational media headlines about declining Hindu population in Pakistan, the fact is that Hindu birth rate is significantly higher than the country's national average. Although Hindus make up only 1.9% of Pakistan's population, it is among the worlds fastest growing Hindu communities today, growing faster than the Hindu populations in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2015/06/pakistani-hindu-population-among.html

CanadianBoy said...

r_sundar said...
"Cracks me up each time, how desperate folks are to put the inherently pluralistic Hinduism in bad light."

The Shudra and delites agree with you there, and ofcourse muslims who are even below these lower hindu castes.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-18394914

Riaz Haq said...

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

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36040567

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

Nabob of Lucknow said...

The Indus Valley Civilisation is vompletely different from the Hindu Ganga Jamni Civilisation ... religiously, linguistically and ethnically ... The Bull and the Sun were worshipped in the Indus Valley ... not the Cow ...

Riaz Haq said...

#India-born #British politician Lord Meghnad Desai says Koh-e-noor belongs to #Pakistan. http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/?p=512993 via @ePakistanToday

The Koh-e-Noor saga taken another interesting turn on Monday as Indian-born British politician said the coveted diamond actually belonged to Pakistan.

“If Koh-e-noor belongs to anybody, it belongs to Pakistan,” Lord Meghnad Desai said while speaking to India Today.

Referring to the 19th-century Sikh king Ranjit Singh, who had given the stone to the British, Lord Desai reasoned that since Singh’s seat was in Lahore, the diamond should go to Pakistan.

“Because his territory was mainly in, what is now Pakistan – in Lahore there is a Ranjit Singh museum – it will go back to wherever the Punjab kingdom had its seat and his seat was in Lahore. So I think if it belongs to anybody, it belongs to Pakistan,” he said.

Indian government said Tuesday that it will make all possible efforts to get back the Koh-e-Noor Diamond from Britain despite comments by New Delhi’s solicitor general that the priceless jewel should stay with the former colonial ruler.

India has repeatedly demanded that Britain return the 105-carat diamond, which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 and today sits on display as part of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

Read more: India backtracks, says will now try to reclaim Koh-i-Noor from UK

India’s solicitor general surprised many on Monday when he told the Supreme Court that his country should forgo its claims to the jewel because it was given to Britain as a gift by an Indian king in 1851, rather than stolen as many Indians today believe.

The ministry said the stone was a “valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history” and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to get it back.

A lawyer in Pakistan last year filed a court petition calling for the stone’s return.

The Koh-e-Noor is set in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth, the mother of the reigning monarch, at the coronation of her husband George VI in 1937, and was placed on her coffin at her funeral in 2002.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who last week visited India with her husband, Prince William, will wear the crown on official occasions when she becomes queen consort. William is second in line to the British throne.

Riaz Haq said...

Only 27% of Pakistanis identify themselves as Pakistanis first while 51% of Indians see themselves as Indians first. On the other hand, 43% of Pakistanis (vs 17% of Indians) say their religious identity comes first.

Three countries stand out in the way their populations think about self-identity. Spaniards are by far the most likely to identify with world citizenship (54%). For 56 per cent of Indonesians, belonging to their local community is the strongest defining identity. And for Pakistanis, a strong plurality (43%) identify first as a member of their religion.

The poll, conducted by GlobeScan among more than 20,000 people worldwide between December 2015 and April 2016, is being released as part of the BBC World Service Identity Season—a Spring season of broadcasts on the World Service’s 27 language services exploring stories about how people identify themselves around the world.

Among all 18 countries where this question was asked in 2016, the poll suggests more than half (51%) see themselves more as global citizens than citizens of their country, against 43 per cent who identify nationally. This is the first time since tracking began in 2001 that there is a global majority who leans this way, and the results in 2016 are driven by strong increases since 2015 in non-OECD countries including Nigeria (73%, up 13 points), China (71%, up 14 points), Peru (70%, up 27 points), and India (67%, up 13 points).


http://www.globescan.com/news-and-analysis/press-releases/press-releases-2016/103-press-releases-2016/383-global-citizenship-a-growing-sentiment-among-citizens-of-emerging-economies-global-poll.html

Riaz Haq said...

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

http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/a-pakistani-observes-from-the-indian-side-of-the-wagah-border/

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

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

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

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

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

-------


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

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

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

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

My friends and I are not any different.

Riaz Haq said...

Aakar Patel: "#Secularism is a fig leaf for #India. We’re more #Pakistani than we think". #Pakistan #Hindu #Muslim http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/aakarvani/secularism-is-a-fig-leaf-were-more-pakistani-than-we-think/ …

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

Riaz Haq said...

The hysteria over Bollywood’s baby Taimur shows that critics just don’t understand India’s medieval history by Shoaib Daniyal

http://qz.com/870136/the-hysteria-over-bollywoods-baby-taimur-shows-that-critics-just-dont-understand-indias-medieval-history/

Historical narratives are tricky things to construct, especially when people want to superimpose moral lessons on them. Who is a hero and who isn’t is extremely subjective and even more so when one goes as far back in time as the 14th century. The past truly is a different country and to make it fit modern standards of morality a fair bit of invention needs to be indulged in.

Let’s take a force that is near-universally seen as the good guys in popular Indian history: the Marathas. The Marathas were successful towards the end of the Mughal period, building up a confederation over large parts of the subcontinent. Of course, this was done through war and conquest, and in the chaos of the Mughal twilight, contemporary accounts of the Marathas are often rather negative, cutting across what we would today see as “Hindu” and “Muslim” sources.
In the 18th century, the Marathas invaded Bengal, killing, by one account, four lakh Bengalis. Repeated raids and conquests of Gujarat were also, as almost everything in medieval India, a rather violent affair. In another case, Maratha armies raided a thousand-year old Hindu temple to teach Mysore sultan Tipu Sultan–who was its patron–a lesson. The Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha state enforced untouchability so brutally that BR Ambedkar actually saw their defeat at the hands of the British to be a blessing.
Contemporary accounts of the Marathas in Bengal are obviously far from flattering. Similarly, as late as 1895, there were strong objections in Gujarat to the plans of Bal Gangadhar Tilak to institute a Shivaji festival across India, with the Deshi Mitra newspaper of Surat disparaging it as a “flare up of local [Marathi] patriotism”.
India’s medieval period did not have the sort of nationalisms and community mobilisation that modern India would see under the Raj. As newspapers and technology knit the people of India together, a Hindu consciousness would revise the image of the Marathas as “Hindu.” Calcutta city’s intelligentsia at the time, in fact, celebrated a Shivaji festival and the city still has statues of Shivaji. Gujarat, where Hindutva has been a powerful political force for decades now, has adopted Shivaji with even more gusto, building statues in cities like Surat, which, ironically, were sacked by the Maratha chief early on in his career. This confusion is nothing new. Today, Punjabi Muslims in Pakistan see themselves as inheritors of the Mughals but in 1857 signed up enthusiastically for the East India Company’s armies to defeat the Mughal-led revolt against the Raj.
That which we call a rose

Naturally, then, the name Shivaji or Bhaskar–a Bhaskar Pandit led the Maratha raids on Bengal–are hardly taboo in modern India, given this modern narrative of the Marathas.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India investigates 'sexist' #textbook describing female body: 36"-24"-36" best shape. #education

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-39598679#

The Indian minister in charge of education has ordered an investigation into a textbook that described the "best" female figure as 36"-24"-36".
Prakash Javadekar told reporters he strongly condemned the "sexist" book and had asked for "appropriate action".
Snapshots of the offending text were widely circulated on social media.
The book, printed by a private publisher, was taught in some schools which follow India's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus.
In addition to listing the ideal body proportions of a woman, the book went on to say that "the bones of hips of females are wider and their knees are slightly apart. Due to this shape, females are not able to run properly".
CBSE officials say they are unable to monitor privately published textbooks.
The board recommends only textbooks published by India's National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and said it was up to schools to exercise caution when choosing privately published textbooks to teach.
Textbook says 'ugliness' causes dowry
Five bizarre 'lessons' in Indian textbooks
Mr Javadekar said that schools had been asked to stop teaching the book with immediate effect. The Delhi-based publisher also said in a statement that it had "stopped the printing, selling and distribution of the revised book with immediate effect".
Controversies over Indian textbooks are not uncommon.
In February an animal rights row had erupted over a textbook which told children how to suffocate kittens.
A book in the western state of Gujarat made headlines in 2014 for claiming that Japan had dropped nuclear bombs on the US during the Second World War.
A row erupted in Maharashtra state over a textbook that said "ugly" and "handicapped" brides had led to a rise in dowries being claimed by groom's family.
Carnivores have also been a target for bile.
In 2012, a national text for 11-year-old students was discovered that said people who ate meat, "easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes".

Riaz Haq said...

#Muslim #Mosque Shown As Noise Pollutant In #India's Class 6 Textbook. Class 9 Textbook Refers to Jesus as "Demon".

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mosque-in-class-6-textbook-shown-as-noise-pollutant-sparks-controversy-1719533?site=full

A science textbook prescribed for Class 6 in certain schools under ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) board has identified a "mosque" as a source of noise pollution, sparking a row.

An illustration on the chapter on pollution shows a train, car, plane and a mosque with symbols depicting loud sound. A man in the foreground is seen grimacing and covering his ears.

The ICSE says the board did not publish or prescribe these textbooks, and it is up to the schools to deal with the issue. "If any book with objectionable content is being taught at certain schools, it is for schools and publisher to ensure such a thing does not happen," news agency Press Trust of India quoted Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations, as saying.

After social media users launched an online petition, demanding the book be withdrawn, the publisher acknowledged the mistake and apologised. He has also assured that the illustration will be removed in subsequent editions.


Over the last few months, content considered objectionable made its way to several textbooks, raising concerns about what students are being exposed to. Last month, controversy started after a Class 9 Hindi textbook was found to refer to Jesus Christ as a demon.

In April, a Class 12 textbook on physical education suggested feminine proportions of 36-24-36 as being ideal. A Class 4 Environmental Studies textbook, while educating students on the importance of breathing, gave a practical example that shows how children can suffocate a cat to death. Another book said meat-eaters cheat, lie and commit sex crimes.

Riaz Haq said...

How ancient DNA may rewrite prehistory in India
By Tony Joseph
Tony Joseph is the author of Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From, published by Juggernaut

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46616574

Studies using ancient DNA have been rewriting prehistory all over the world in the last few years and in India, there has been one fascinating discovery after another.

The most recent study on this subject, led by geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, was published in March 2018 and co-authored by 92 scholars from all over the world - many of them leading names in disciplines as diverse as genetics, history, archaeology and anthropology.

Underneath its staid title - The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia - lay some volcanic arguments.

The study showed that there were two major migrations into India in the last 10,000 years.

The first one originated from the Zagros region in south-western Iran (which has the world's first evidence for goat domestication) and brought agriculturists, most likely herders, to India.

This would have been between 7,000 and 3,000BCE. These Zagrosian herders mixed with the earlier inhabitants of the subcontinent - the First Indians, descendants of the Out of Africa (OoA) migrants who had reached India around 65,000 years ago - and together, they went on to create the Harappan civilisation.

Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilisation
In the centuries after 2000 BCE came the second set of immigrants (the Aryans) from the Eurasian Steppe, probably from the region now known as Kazakhstan. They likely brought with them an early version of Sanskrit, mastery over horses and a range of new cultural practices such as sacrificial rituals, all of which formed the basis of early Hindu/Vedic culture. (A thousand years before, people from the Steppe had also moved into Europe, replacing and mixing with agriculturists there, spawning new cultures and spreading Indo-European languages).

Other genetic studies have brought to light more migrations into India, such as that of the speakers of Austro-Asiatic languages who came from south-eastern Asia.

As I write in my book, the best way to understand the Indian population is to imagine it as a pizza, with the first Indians forming its base. Though the base of this rather irregular pizza is thin in some places and thick in others, it still serves as the support that the rest of the pizza is built upon because studies show that 50% to 65% of the genetic ancestry of Indians derives from the First Indians.

On top of the base comes the sauce that is spread over the pizza - the Harappans. And then come the toppings and the cheese - the Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman and Indo-European language speakers or Aryans, all of whom found their way into the subcontinent later.

To many in the Hindu right wing, these findings are unpalatable. They have been campaigning to change school curricula and remove any mention of Aryan immigration from textbooks. And on Twitter, several hugely popular right-wing "history" handles have long been attacking India's leading historians who have defended the theory of Aryan migrations and continue to do so.

For Hindu nationalists, there is a cost to admitting that the Aryans were not the first inhabitants of India and that the Harappan civilisation existed long before their arrival. It would mean acknowledging that Aryans or their Vedic culture were not the singular fountainhead of Indian civilisation and that its earliest sources lay elsewhere.

Riaz Haq said...

Two new genetic studies upheld Indo-Aryan migration. So why did Indian media report the opposite?
Science is proving India's incredible diversity. But this clashes directly with Hindutva’s racially nativist understanding of the subcontinent.

https://scroll.in/article/936872/two-new-genetic-studies-upheld-aryan-migration-theory-so-why-did-indian-media-report-the-opposite?fbclid=IwAR16ToJRC150jsfNfIp5k4m5mEqDbxDAseV2X3RcFT7Tw8eDTxpC_vZj_0Q

“Can we now prove the historical existence of Bhagwan Ram?” rang out a question at a press conference in Delhi on Friday to explain the findings of two much-awaited studies on the genetic origin of modern South Asia.

On the podium to explain the two new papers of which they are among the co-authors were Vasant Shinde, an archaeologist and vice-chancellor of Deccan College, and Niraj Rai, head of the Ancient DNA lab at the Birbal Sahni Institute for Palaeosciences.

Taken together, the studies – one in Cell, the other in Science – painted a fascinating genetic picture of how groups as diverse as local hunter gatherers, Iranian farmers and pastoralists from the Pontic steppe grasslands in Eastern Europe mixed to form most of the modern South Asian population.

----

As a consequence, though the genetic studies themselves were rather clear, many in the media misrepresented the results to suit this political narrative. In fact, even the co-authors of the papers themselves seemed to disagree on the conclusions that can be drawn from the research.

Media confusion
The Economic Times reported that the research raises doubts over the “long-held theory of Aryan invasion or migration into South Asia”. Amar Ujala, one of India’s largest Hindi newspapers, was more emphatic: “The Aryan invasion theory proved completely false; India is the guru of South Asia.”

The theory of the Aryan invasion (or migration) was first put forward by Western scholars during the colonial age. It maintained that a race of European or Central Asian “Aryans” swept into the subcontinent displacing the indigenous Indus Valley Civilisation. These Aryans were said to have introduced key elements of Indian culture such as the Sanskrit language – which gave rise to the Indo-Aryan branch of languages spoken all across north, west and east India today – as well as the Vedas, the foundational texts of Hinduism.

This went against Hindutva’s own imagination of India, in which all significant cultural development was held to be indigenous.

Some of what the term “Aryan” once referred to has been proved to be scientifically inaccurate. The Nazis, for example, mistook what is a language grouping to be a racial one. However, much of the Indian media did not bother to explain that the new research actually upheld the theory that people with European Steppe ancestry had brought the Indo-Aryan language branch to India – not overturned it.

In contrast, the media in the West (with no political dog in this fight) communicated this fact rather well. People of Steppe-pastoralist ancestry likely “brought horses and the Indo-European languages now spoken on the subcontinent,” reported the Atlantic. The Smithsonian.com website of the American museum group wrote, “Indo-European languages may have reached South Asia via Central Asia and Eastern Europe during the first half of the 1000s BC.”

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

To Reich’s cultural argument, there is also a political layer. India is today dominated by the politics of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism, an ideology which is fiercely nativist. Vinayak Savarkar, the founder of Hindutva and a foundational thinker for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, based his nationalism on nativism arguing that for a true Indian, India had to be both his pitribhumi (ancestral land) and punyabhumi (the land of his religion).

“A Hindu therefore could not be descended from alien invaders,” said historian Romila Thapar, explaining how Hindutva saw the world. “Since Hindus sought a lineal descent from the Aryans, and a cultural heritage, the Aryans had to be indigenous.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Punjab bans 100 #books as some show all of #Kashmir, including Azad Kashmir in #India. #Textbooks carry “factual errors” such as misreporting the number of districts in #Punjab and printing an incorrect map of the country. https://theprint.in/india/education/pakistan-punjab-bans-100-books-as-some-show-pok-in-india-quote-mahatma-gandhi/468320/ via @ThePrintIndia

The provincial government of Punjab in Pakistan has banned 100 textbooks that were found to be “against” the two-nation theory and whose contents were “blasphemous and objectionable”. The province is currently led by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB), led by managing director Rai Manzoor Husain Nasir, told the press Thursday that the books “had blasphemous and anti-Pakistan content”, with some of them showing “Azad Kashmir (part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) as part of India” .

He also alleged the banned books carry “factual errors” such as misreporting the number of districts in Punjab and printing an incorrect map of the country.

One of the banned books quoted Mahatma Gandhi, while another illustrated a mathematics problem with pigs — an animal considered haram in Islam.

The announcement has evoked widespread criticism from Pakistani social media users who took to Twitter to express their disagreement.

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took India to task on Thursday for calling Pakistan “the epicentre of terrorism”, saying India “demonises the people of Pakistan” to hide its Hindu-supremacist ideas.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2391342/bilawal-hits-back-at-india-for-calling-pakistan-epicenter-of-terrorism

The FM’s comments came minutes after his Indian counterpart had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.


In his speech at the Security Council, the Indian minister had said that “India faced the horrors of cross-border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it” and has “fought terrorism resolutely, bravely and with a zero-tolerance approach".

Bilawal hit back at the comments saying “I am the foreign minister of Pakistan and Pakistan’s foreign minister is a victim of terrorism as the son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif when he was chief minister of Punjab, his home minister was assassinated by a terrorist. Political parties, civil society, the average people in Pakistan across the board have been the victims of perpetrators of terrorism.”

“We have lost far more lives to terrorism than India has,” he added questioning why Pakistan would ever want to perpetuate terrorism and make “our own people suffer”.

“Unfortunately, India has been playing in that space […] where it is very easy to say ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ together and get the world to agree and they very skilfully blur this line where people like myself are associated with terrorists rather than those that have been and to this day are fighting terrorism,” he continued.

The FM then went on to say that New Delhi perpetuated this narrative not just against India but also Muslims in that country. “We are terrorists whether we’re Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.”

“Osama bin Laden is dead,” said Bilawal, “but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India”.

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States],” he continued, “these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS [a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation]”.

“The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS [the Nazi Party’s combat branch, Schutzstaffel],” Bilawal added.

The FM went on to point out the irony in the inauguration of Gandhi’s bust at UN headquarters by the Indian FM and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “If the FM of India was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi.”

“They are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hands,” said Bilawal, lamenting that the “Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”.

“For their electoral campaign, Prime Minister Modi’s government has used their authority to pardon the men who perpetuated rape against Muslims in Gujarat. Those terrorists were freed by the prime minister of India,” said Bilawal.

“In order to perpetuate their politics of hate, their transition from a secular India to a Hindu supremacist India, this narrative is very important,” said Bilawal, claiming Pakistan had “proof” that Modi’s government had facilitated a terrorist attack in Pakistan.

The minister was referring to the “irrefutable evidence” Pakistan had of the involvement of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the blast at Johar Town, Lahore last year as three terrorists had been arrested.

Riaz Haq said...

Ghanznavi's Destruction of Somnath Was Not a Hindu-Muslim Issue When it Happened

It was deliberately distorted by the British colonial rulers to divide and conquer India, according to Indian historian Romila Thapar.
British distortions of history have since been exploited by Hindu Nationalists to pursue divisive policies. 
https://books.google.com/books/about/Somanatha.html?id=4-NxAAAAMAAJ

In 1026, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni raided the Hindu temple of Somanatha (Somnath in textbooks of the colonial period). The story of the raid has reverberated in Indian history, but largely during the  (British) raj. It was first depicted as a trauma for the Hindu population not in India, but in the House of Commons. The triumphalist accounts of the event in Turko-Persian chronicles became the main source for most eighteenth-century historians. It suited everyone and helped the British to divide and rule a multi-millioned subcontinent.
In her new book, Romila Thapar, the doyenne of Indian historians, reconstructs what took place by studying other sources, including local Sanskrit inscriptions, biographies of kings and merchants of the period, court epics and popular narratives that have survived. The result is astounding and undermines the traditional version of what took place. These findings also contest the current Hindu religious nationalism that constantly utilises the conventional version of this history.

Riaz Haq said...

Did you know that the composition of Mahmood Ghaznavi's army when he raided the Somnath temple in 1025 was, solely not a Muslim Army. Out of 12 Generals, 5 were Hindus. Their names are:1. Tilak2. Rai3. Sondhi4. Hazran5. Not knownAfter the battle, Mahmood issued coins in his name with inscriptions in Sanskrit. He appointed a Hindu Raja as his representative in Somnath. Arab traders who had settled in Gujarat during the 8th and 9th century died to protect the Somnath temple against Ghaznavi's Army.

Just three years before Ghaznavi's raid on Somnath in 1022, a general acting on the authority of Rajendra I, Maharaja of the Chola empire (848–1279) had marched 1,600 kilometres north from the Cholas’ royal capital of Tanjavur. After subduing kings in Orissa, Chola warriors defeated Mahipala, maharaja of the Pala empire (c.750–1161), who was the dominant power in India’s easternmost region of Bengal. The Chola's crowned their victory by carrying off a bronze image of the deity Śiva, which they seized from a royal temple that Mahipala had patronized. In the course of this long campaign, the invaders also took from the Kalinga Raja of Orissa images of Bhairava, Bhairavi and Kali. These, together with precious gems looted from the Pala king, were taken down to the Chola capital as war booty.
The question arises why is Mahmud Ghaznavi demonized but not Rajendra Chola's plunder of Hindu temples?In fact, the demonization of Mahmud and the portrayal of his raid on Somnath as an assault on Hinduism by Muslim invaders dates only from the early 1840s.

In 1842, the British East India Company suffered the annihilation of an entire army of some 16,000 in the First Afghan War (1839–42). Seeking to regain face among their Hindu subjects after this humiliating defeat, the British contrived a bit of self-serving fiction, namely...that Mahmud, after sacking the temple of Somnath, carried off a pair of the temple’s gates on his way back to Afghanistan.
By ‘discovering’ these fictitious gates in Mahmud’s former capital of Ghazni, and by ‘restoring’ them to their rightful owners in India, British officials hoped to be admired for heroically rectifying what they construed heinous wrongs that had caused centuries of distress among Hindus. Though intended to win the letters' gratitude while distracting the locals from Britain’s catastrophic defeat just beyond the Khyber, this bit of colonial mischief has stoked Hindus’ ill-feeling towards Muslims ever since.By contrast, Rajendra Chola’s raid on Bengal remained largely forgotten outside the Chola country.12 years after the attack, a king from the Goa region recorded performing a pilgrimage to the temple, but he failed to mention Mahmud’s raid. Another inscription dated 1169 mentioned repairs made to the temple owing to normal deterioration, but again without mentioning Mahmud’s raid. In 1216 Somnath’s overlords fortified the temple to protect it not from attacks by invaders from beyond the Khyber Pass, but from those by Hindu rulers in neighbouring Malwa; apparently, such attacks were so frequent as to require precautionary measures; apparently, such attacks were so frequent as to require precautionary measures.
The silence of contemporary Hindu sources regarding Mahmud’s raid suggests that in Somnath itself it was either forgotten altogether or viewed as just another unfortunate attack by an outsider, and hence unremarkable.

1. “India in the Persianate Age: 1000-1765” by Richard M. Eaton2. “Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History” by Romila Thapar

Riaz Haq said...

Opinion India takes a distressing retreat from democracy

By the Editorial Board

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/04/20/india-backsliding-democracy-modi-school-textbooks/

Not long ago, a 12th-grade political science textbook in India informed students about the 2002 Gujarat riots. Triggered by the death of Hindu pilgrims in a train fire, a violent rampage killed nearly a thousand Muslims. The chief minister of the province was Narendra Modi. The school textbook noted that the government was criticized for failing to control the violence, and told students that the events “alert us to the dangers involved in using religious sentiments for political purposes. This poses a threat to democratic politics.”

But future classes will not read this passage. Mr. Modi, now prime minister of India, is attempting to impose a Hindu-led majoritarianism upon the country, including on its school curriculums and textbooks. Two pages about the Gujarat events were slashed, and other events in the long history of India’s 200 million Muslims deleted. India’s schoolchildren and its democracy are the worse for it.

India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training has been working since last year on the revised curriculum. According to The Post’s Anumita Kaur, the changes will be felt in thousands of classrooms in at least 20 states. The deletions are wide-ranging. Chapters on the country’s historic Islamic rulers are either slimmed down or gone; an entire chapter in the 12th-grade history textbook, “Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts,” was deleted. Millions of students across India will know of the iconic Taj Mahal, but their textbooks will not delve into the Mughal Empire that constructed it.

According to the Indian Express, which first detailed the cuts last June, four chapters in different grade levels about democracy — and the making of India’s renowned democracy — have been sliced. For example, a chapter titled “Key Elements of a Democratic Government” in the sixth-grade political science text was dropped. The Express reports this is the first detailed introduction to the concept of democracy in middle school and describes critical elements that influence the working of a democratic government, including people’s participation, conflict resolution, equality and justice.

State governments led by Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party have for years been rewriting local school textbooks, but now the effort has been extended to the national level. This is a discouraging development for the world’s most populous democracy. A healthy democracy must be prepared to re-examine its past without airbrushing out unpleasant events. It must accommodate different views and disparate peoples in open debate. Erasing the story of India’s Muslims from textbooks is just as outrageous as Russia airbrushing out the history of Joseph Stalin’s repressions or China suppressing mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre. What’s more, indoctrinating children now will ensure that a warped version of history lingers for generations.

Riaz Haq said...

'Hindutva Is Nothing But Brahminism'

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/hindutva-is-nothing-but-brahminism/215089


The author (Kancha Ilaiah) of Why I Am Not A Hindu on his view that 'Dalitisation' alone can effectively challenge the threat of Brahminical fascism parading in the garb of Hindutva.


How would you characterise contemporary Hindutva? What is the relationship between Hindutva and the Dalit-Bahujans?

As Dr.Ambedkar says, Hindutva is nothing but Brahminism. And whether you call it Hindutva or Arya Dharma or Sanatana Dharma or Hindusim, Brahminism has no organic link with Dalit-Bahujan life, world-views, rituals and even politics. To give you just one example, in my childhood many of us had not even heard of the Hindu gods, and it was only when we went to school that we learnt about Ram and Vishnu for the very first time. We had our own goddesses, such as Pochamma and Elamma, and our own caste god, Virappa. They and their festivals played a central role in our lives, not the Hindu gods. At the festivals of our deities, we would sing and dance--men, women and all-- and would sacrifice animals and drink liquor, all of which the Hindus consider 'polluting'.

Our relations with our deities were transactional and they were rooted in the production process. For instance, our goddess Kattamma Maisa. Her responsibility is to fill the tanks with water. If she does it well, a large number of animals are sacrificed to her. If in one year the tanks dry up, she gets no animals. You see, between her and her Dalit-Bahujan devotees there is this production relation which is central.



----
In fact, many Dalit communities preserve traditions of the Hindu gods being their enemies. In Andhra, the Madigas enact a drama which sometimes goes on for five days. This drama revolves around Jambavanta, the Madiga hero, and Brahma, the representative of the Brahmins. The two meet and have a long dialogue. The central argument in this dialogue is about the creation of humankind. Brahma claims superiority for the Brahmins over everybody else, but Jambavanta says, 'No, you are our enemy'. Brahma then says that he created the Brahmins from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his hands, the Vaishyas from his thighs, the Shudras from his feet to be slaves for the Brahmins, and of course the Dalits, who fall out of the caste system, have no place here. This is the Vedic story.

What you are perhaps suggesting is that Dalit-Bahujan religion can be used to effectively counter the politics of Brahminism or Hindutva. But Brahminism has this knack of co-opting all revolt against it, by absorbing it within the system.

It is true that although Dalit-Bahujan religious formations historically operated autonomously from Hindu forms, they have never been centralised or codified. Their local gods and goddesses have not been projected into universality, nor has their religion been given an all-India name. This is because these local deities and religious forms were organically linked to local communities, and were linked to local productive processes, such as the case of Virappa and Katamma Maisa whom I talked about earlier. But Brahminism has consistently sought to subvert these religious forms by injecting notions of 'purity' and 'pollution', hierarchy and untouchability even among the Dalit-Bahujans themselves, while at the same time discounting our religious traditions by condemning them as 'polluting' or by Brahminising them.

Riaz Haq said...

A new #Modi government-approved #Indian schoolbook no longer says why Nathuram #Godse killed #Gandhi and omits references to #Hindu hard-liners affiliated with #RSS who opposed his vision of religious pluralism. #Islamophobia #Hindutva #BJP https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-was-gandhi-killed-after-official-edit-indias-textbooks-dont-say-d5b86e77?st=gnzmnvpkv53jw42 via @WSJ

NEW DELHI—For years, government-prescribed high-school textbooks in India included a few telling details about Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin: The man worked for an extremist Hindu newspaper and had denounced Gandhi, the iconic freedom fighter, as “an appeaser of Muslims.”

A revised version of the Class 12 history book, whose printed copies became available this year, no longer says that. It identifies Nathuram Godse as Gandhi’s killer, but provides no information about him or his motive. Also deleted are broader references to Hindu hard-liners who opposed Gandhi’s vision of religious pluralism for newly independent India 75 years ago.

The edits are among recent changes under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to what students learn about their country’s past. Members of his political party—which is linked to a decades-old movement to shape India into a Hindu-dominant nation—have long criticized school curriculum as unbalanced and biased against Hindus.

It does little, they say, to instill pride in young Indians, and particularly the country’s Hindu majority, in their history and heritage.

Underlying their grievances is a broader ideological debate. Modi supporters accuse the left-leaning, liberal forces that shaped India after independence in 1947 of representing Westernized values and of pandering to Muslims, India’s largest minority. To them, Modi’s rise symbolizes Hindu revival.

Critics accuse Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party of promoting a divisive Hindu nationalist ideology that threatens India’s secular foundations.


The changes to textbooks “go against the idea that education should encourage an open mind and a liberal outlook,” said Krishna Kumar, an academic under whose leadership they were originally written. The books, he said, have been “mutilated so crudely.”

Modi’s supporters say revisions were long overdue. Teaching of India’s precolonial history overemphasized Islamic empires established on its territory and sidelined Hindu kingdoms, they say. Too much importance was given, they say, to the Mughal dynasty, a vastly wealthy empire during the 16th and 17th centuries whose Muslim rulers built the Taj Mahal and left a lasting cultural imprint on the region’s architecture, food and literature.

Hindu nationalists see the Mughal era as a period of temple destruction, religious conversion and the subjugation of Hindu customs.

A chapter on Mughal courts is gone from the Class 12 history book, though another on agrarian life during the empire remains. A two-page table on the battlefield triumphs of Mughal emperors, from Akbar to Aurangzeb, has been removed from a Class 7 book. A chapter on the 13th century Muslim conquest of northern India has also been pruned.

In a public letter, more than 250 historians and academics criticized the move.

“The selective deletion in this round of textbook revision reflects the sway of divisive politics,” they said. Indian history cannot be seen as consisting of Hindu and Muslim periods, they said, adding: “These categories are uncritically imposed on what has historically been a very diverse social fabric.”

The changes were made by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, an autonomous body whose members are mostly appointed by the government. It said it rationalized textbooks to help students catch up after the Covid-19 pandemic and to make space for critical thinking.

The books are used by schools aligned with the central government’s education board and some state-level boards.

College freshman Shivam Kumar, a Modi supporter, welcomes the changes.

Riaz Haq said...

NCERT drops chapters on periodic table, democracy, political parties from Class 10 syllabus

https://www.thehindu.com/education/ncert-drops-chapters-on-periodic-table-democracy-political-parties-from-class-10-syllabus/article66919444.ece

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has decided to omit the chapter on the periodic table from Class 10 Science textbooks as part of the “rationalisation” exercise. The council has also deleted chapters — Democracy and Diversity, Popular Struggles and Movements, Political Parties, and Challenges to Democracy — from the Political Science textbooks as part of the exercise.

According to NCERT, it has been carrying out the exercise — “rationalisation of contents in the textbooks” — across all classes to “reduce content load on students”.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to reduce content load on students. The National Education Policy 2020, also emphasises reducing the content load and providing opportunities for experiential learning with creative mindset. In this background, NCERT has undertaken the exercise to rationalise the textbooks across all classes,” the NCERT said explaining the exercise.

Earlier this year, the council had controversially dropped Darwin’s theory of evolution from its Class 10 textbooks.

Among other controversial omissions, the NCERT had also deleted any mention of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a freedom fighter and India’s first Education Minister, from a revised political science textbook published by the council. The authors of the revised Class 11 textbook had also deleted the fact that Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India on the basis of a promise that the State would remain autonomous. Entire chapters on history of Mughal courts, references to the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, the Naxalite movement, and mention of Dalit writers were also omitted from the CBSE syllabus.

Riaz Haq said...

NCERT textbooks: Why some Indian scholars are disowning books they wrote

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-65947356


Among dropped topics are paragraphs on attempts by extreme Hindu nationalists to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi and chapters on federalism and diversity.


The NCERT has also dropped content related to the 2002 Gujarat riots; removed a chapter on Mughal rulers in India; and moved portions on the periodic table and theory of evolution in science books to higher grades, sparking criticism.

The council had said earlier that the changes, which were first announced last year as part of a syllabus "rationalisation" exercise, wouldn't affect knowledge but instead reduce the load on children after the Covid-19 pandemic.

But now some academics who were part of committees that helped design and develop the older textbooks say they don't want to be associated with the new curriculum.

On 8 June, political scientists Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav - who were advisers for political science books originally published in 2006 for classes 9 to 12 - wrote to NCERT, asking it to remove their names from the print and digital editions of the books.

The academics said they objected to the "innumerable and irrational cuts and large deletions" as they failed to see "any pedagogic rationale" behind the changes.

The NCERT issued a statement saying such a request "was out of question" because it holds the copyright of all the material it publishes. When contacted, NCERT director DS Saklani referred the BBC to the statement on its website.

The deadlock intensified last week when more than 30 academics also wrote to NCERT asking for their names to be withdrawn from the Textbook Development Committees (TDC) listed in the books. The scholars argued that possessing copyright did not entitle the NCERT to make changes to texts they wrote.

But NCERT said that the TDC's role was "limited to advising how to design and develop the textbooks or contributing to the development of their contents and not beyond this".

It also clarified that the rationalised content is applicable only for the current academic year and that a new set of textbooks will soon be developed based on fresh guidelines that adhere to the new National Education Policy.

The argument has pitted academics against each other. Critics argue that textbooks should serve as a source of introspection and accuse the NCERT of erasing portions that are not palatable to the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. "The decision of "rationalisation" shows either that the NCERT does not value its autonomy or its leadership does not understand its place in a democracy," Peter Ronald DeSouza, who asked for his name to be withdrawn, wrote last week.

But the NCERT has also received support. Last week, 73 academics issued a statement arguing that school textbooks were in sore need of an update.

"[The critics'] demand is that students continue to study from 17-year-old textbooks rather than updated textbooks. In their quest to further their political agenda, they are ready to endanger the future of crores [tens of millions] of children across the country," they said.

Supporters include the head of India's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the chief of the country's university watchdog, the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Riaz Haq said...

How did Rajiv Gandhi, applauded for his modernist ideologies, accelerate Hindu nationalism politics?
An excerpt from ‘India is Broken: And Why It’s Hard To Fix,’ by Ashoka Mody.
Ashoka Mody


https://scroll.in/article/1042462/how-did-rajiv-gandhi-applauded-for-his-modernist-ideologies-accelerate-hindu-nationalism-politics


In 1987, Indians owned just 13 million televisions. Friends and neighbours gathered around television sets in homes and at shopfronts. In villages, hundreds of people assembled around the one available set. On average, about 80 million people (almost 10 percent of the population) watched an episode. By the time the serial ended, almost all Indians had seen multiple episodes. More so than the Ekatmata yagna (the series of processions in late 1983), the Ramayana serial fused Savarkar’s view of India as the fatherland and holy land of the Hindus.

In a tribute Savarkar might have savored, the Indian Express’s media correspondent Shailaja Bajpai commented on August 7, 1988, a week after the series ended, “From Kanyakumari to Kashmir, from Gujarat to Gorakhpur, millions have stood, sat and kneeled to watch it.” Reflecting on that total absorption, she wondered: “Is there life after Ramayana?” No, she answered, there could be no life after Ramayana. Instead, echoing the void Jawaharlal Nehru sensed when Mahatma Gandhi died, Bajpai wrote: “the light has gone out of our lives and nothing will ever be the same again.”

For the 78 weeks that Ramayana ran, it presented a martially adept and angry Ram dispensing justice. The VHP projected its partisan view of the serial in its iconography of Ram. The author Pankaj Mishra described the Ram in VHP posters as an “appallingly muscle- bound Rambo in a dhoti.” Theatre scholar Anuradha Kapur lamented that VHP images showed Ram “far more heavily armed than in any traditional representation.”

In one image, Ram carried a dhanush (a bow), a trishul (trident), an axe, and a sword “in the manner of a pre-industrial warrior.” In another image, Ram, the angry male crusader, marched across the skies, his dhoti flying, chest bared, his conventionally coiled hair unrolling behind him in the wind. Accompanying those images, every VHP poster pledged to build a temple in Ayodhya. The dismayed Kapur noted that Ram, the omniscient and omnipresent Lord, was everywhere. Pinning him down to Ayodhya made no sense. “Hinduism,” she despairingly wrote, “is being reduced to a travesty of itself by its advocates.”

The Hindutva movement’s heavy reliance on young hypermasculine warriors to achieve its mission only exacerbated this travesty. In April and May 1987, when the Ramayana serial was in its early months, bloody Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Meerut, a city in western Uttar Pradesh. By most accounts, Muslims provoked the riots. But then the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary, infected by the Hindutva virus, killed hundreds of Muslims in cold blood.

Riaz Haq said...

Sex scene with Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh in ‘Oppenheimer’ becomes latest target of India’s Hindu nationalists

https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/24/media/india-oppenheimer-backlash-hindu-right-intl-hnk/index.html

New Delhi
CNN

Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster movie “Oppenheimer” has sparked controversy among the Hindu-right in India, with some calling for a boycott and demanding the removal of a sex scene in which the titular character utters a famous line from the religion’s holy scripture.

The film tells the story of the atomic bomb through the lens of its creator, Robert Oppenheimer, and the scene in question depicts actor Cillian Murphy, who plays the lead role, having sex with Florence Pugh, who plays his lover Jean Tatlock.

Pugh stops during intercourse and picks up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest scriptures, and asks Murphy to read from it.

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” Oppenheimer’s character says, as they resume intercourse.

The scene has caused outrage among some right-wing groups, with a politician from India’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling the film a “disturbing attack on Hinduism” and accusing it of being “part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces.”

In a statement Saturday, India’s Information Commissioner, Uday Mahurkar, said the scene was “a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus,” likening it to “waging a war on the Hindu community.”

He added: “We believe that if you remove this scene and do the needful to win hearts of Hindus, it will go a long way to establish your credentials as a sensitized human being and gift you friendship of billions of nice people.”

The film has been received well in most quarters in India, which conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, with critics giving it rave reviews and people flocking to cinemas to watch it.

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in "Barbie"
The 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer' double feature shouldn't be a one-off


“Oppenheimer” grossed more than $3 million in its opening weekend in the country, according to local reports, higher than filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated “Barbie,” which released on the same day and grossed just over $1 million.

India’s film board gave “Oppenheimer” a U/A rating, which is reserved for movies that contain moderate adult themes and can be watched by children under 12 with parental guidance. There are so far no bans on the film in any of the country’s states and union territories.

This isn’t the first time that the Hindu-right has taken offense to films, television shows or commercials for its portrayal of Hinduism. Some have been boycotted or even forced off air following outcry from conservative and radical groups.

In 2020, Netflix (NFLX) received significant backlash in India for a scene in the series “A Suitable Boy” that depicted a Hindu woman and Muslim man kissing at a Hindu temple. That same year, Indian jewelry brand Tanishq withdrew an advert featuring an interfaith couple following online criticism.

Meanwhile, analysts and film critics say there has been a shift in the tone of some Indian films, with nationalist and Islamophobic narratives gaining support from many within India, as well as the BJP.

Last year, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s box office smash “The Kashmir Files,” based on the mass exodus of Kashmiri Hindus as they fled violent Islamic militants in the 1990s, polarized India, with some hailing the film as “gut-wrenching” and “truthful,” while others criticized it for being Islamophobic and inaccurate.

Similarly, the release this year of “The Kerala Story,” about a Hindu girl who is lured into joining ISIS, angered critics who called it a propaganda film that demonized Muslims.