Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Challenging, Debunking Tarek Fatah's Anti-Pakistan, Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Tarek Fatah, a Karachi-born Canada-based writer,  is loved in India mainly by Hindu Nationalists for his strong anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim views. He is warmly welcomed and given lots of praise and attention during his frequent visits to India where his views resonate with those on the extreme right of the Indian political spectrum.

Among other things, he has emerged as a strong advocate for separation of Balochistan from Pakistan. He dismisses all those who disagree with him, including well-known pro-independence Baloch nationalists like Malik Siraj Akbar, as ISI agents.

In the West, Tarek Fatah has aligned himself with well-known Islamophobes like Frank Gaffney who is a policy advisor to the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Viewpoint From Overseas has now done two shows to challenge Tarek Fatah on his oft-repeated anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Please watch these two shows shared below:

1. Tarek Fatah Vs Cemendtaur on India, Pakistan, South Asia, Balochistan


2. Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Proxy War Against Pakistan

Hinduization of India

Hindu Nationalists Admire Hitler, Nazis

Western Islamophobia Industry

Trump's Muslim Ban

Talk4Pak Think Tank


Syed S. said...

Thanks for taking up with Tarek Fatah on this issue Riaz. He is the scum bag who is biting the hand which fed him. He probably has taken his cue from Salman Rushdie to amass some dough. Let's just hope he rots in hell.

Anonymous said...

Here's Tarek Fatah arguing for break-up of India. Is he right? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4RaqAzcmFs

Haseeb R. said...

Tarek Fatah is sold out RAW employee

Riaz Haq said...

Why The Hindutva Brigade Loves This Man Despite His Call For India's Break-Up

by Shivam Vij:

“If it ever dissolves into voluntary dissolution, it would be the best thing that would happen to India,” says Tarek Fatah in an undated video that has appeared online. Fatah has confirmed the video is not doctored.

Fatah describes himself as “an Indian born in Pakistan”. A Canadian citizen, Fatah’s strident anti-Pakistan rants, and his lazy clubbing of Islamists and leftists, made him a darling of the Hindu right. Fatah is a much-wanted celebrity amongst the Hindu right, especially that section of it which is trying to build a right-wing intellectual “ecosystem”.

The Canadian-Pakistani political commentator is now so influential among the Indian right-wing that he even takes credit for the renaming of roads in Lutyen’s Delhi. In August 2015, Fatah had said in a speech in Delhi that Indians were the only people who could stand up to the Islamic state by renaming Aurangzeb Road as Dara Shikoh Road.

Having given him such prominence and access, the Hindutva brigade is now embarrassed and divided. Some are not convinced, others seeing nuance in the statement, or arguing that Fatah’s views have evolved.


Suhail said...

Hussain Haqqani
Ahmed Rashid
Marvi Sirmed
Pervez Hoodbuoy
Ayesha Siddiqa
Najam Sethi
Hassan Nisar

And there are many more intellectuals that passionately disagree with the common Pakistani (Military backed) discourse of the last 70 years. All have visited India.

Ahmed F. said...

I can't stand him. He was with me at KU, I think in the English Department. Later he worked at the newspaper, The Sun, and later in Saudi with Arab News.

I got reacquainted with him around 2003 through a common friend who is also from KU, Munir Pervaiz. Munir is a great guy.

Initially I thought Tarek and I shared some common views. Then we parted company. He is arrogant without any obvious reason for being so.

He would post bizarre statements on FB and when I began to question him, he asked me to stick to my day job. Maybe I was sarcastic in one of my comments so he yelled back: sarcasm is not your strong suite ; and then he befriended me.

That just goes to show how insecure he is.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmed F: "I can't stand him. He was with me at KU"

Tarek doesn't like to be confronted with facts. He is most comfortable in the company of his adoring fans. He's a darling of the Hindutva brigade in India.


Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "And there are many more intellectuals that passionately disagree with the common Pakistani (Military backed) discourse of the last 70 years. All have visited India. "

What did they do there?

Did they promote the break-up of Pakistan?

Did they support those who take up arms to attack the Pakistani state?

Did they pander to the Hindutva brigade?

Did they ask for Indian citizenship?

Did they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being ISI agents?

Do they use foul language? ( Read pro-Independence Baloch Nationalist Malik Siraj Akbar: http://www.balochhal.com/2016/05/11/dangerous-interlocutors/ )

Tarek Fatah has done all of the above.

Riaz Haq said...

Dangerous Interlocutors

By Malik Siraj Akbar (Pro-Independence Baloch Nationalist) Published on May 11, 2016

The conference discussed various aspects of the conflict in Balochistan but, unfortunately, it turned ugly at the end when panelist Tarek Fatah used extremely filthy language against a Pakistani reporter whom he accused of being “an ISI agent” even before the poor reporter from the ARY News could ask his question. When a Baloch father present at the conference felt uncomfortable with the use of vulgar language in front of two of his daughters and insisted that this was not the Baloch way of conducting dialogue even with one’s worst enemies, an unapologetic Fatah lambasted him too.

While the UNPO had provided the Baloch a unique opportunity to voice their grievances, it is entirely upon the Baloch people to take advantage of these opportunities to put their case forward. Washington is undeniably the most important world capital for the Baloch if they want to get international support for their movement. Emotional and abusive supporters of the Baloch cause, such as Mr. Fatah, certainly look entertaining on an Arnab Goswami talk-show but they will have a damaging effect on the Baloch movement.

In order to successfully lobby in Washington D.C for their rights, Baloch activists and supporters must realize that insulting journalists, labeling them as ‘agents’ and confronting them with abusive language is a brazen assault on the freedom of the press and it will tarnish their image at a time when the Baloch need more friends in Washington and elsewhere in the world. Such aggressive behavior is undemocratic, intolerant and, above all, utterly unacceptable in the United States and western democracies.

The Baloch must understand (and I am sure many do) that difference of opinion is an integral part of human nature and anyone who disagrees with us does not become an “ISI agent”. People don’t have to agree with us all the time nor are they under any obligation to subscribe to our point of view. Even if their point of view is completely different from ours, they deserve the same amount of respect that we seek for ourselves.

Furthermore, in Pakistan it might be deemed embarrassing or offensive to be called a foreign agent but in the United States it is totally fine, legal and considered lucrative to work as a lobbyist or an agent for a foreign government after registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Top American universities like Harvard offer courses on lobbying.

So, Baloch activists must understand the American political culture if they someday encounter a real “Pakistani agent” at a conference. They might ask the Baloch tough and knotty questions. On their part, the Baloch activists must be absolutely prepared to answer these questions if they intend to make Washington their new lobbying ground. Washington is a city of spies, lobbyists and agents. Everybody is out there to quash the other. Only the fittest will survive; the rest will vanish.

Waheed Baloch, a former Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, rightly reminded Mr. Fatah that the Baloch can defend their position with historical facts and figures and logical arguments without becoming emotional, reactionary or resorting to abusive language.


SWH said...

Tarek Fatah was with us in university and had been anti Islam and Muslims from then.
May Allah SWT give him and all of us Hidayat.

Anonymous said...

In the new video both Faraz and the other gentleman (Misbah) implore Tarek to move to 2016 and not get stuck at 1947 re: Balochistan. Fair enuf. Can India expect the same for Kashmir.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "In the new video both Faraz and the other gentleman (Misbah) implore Tarek to move to 2016 and not get stuck at 1947 re: Balochistan. Fair enuf. Can India expect the same for Kashmir. "

Balochistan and Kashmir situations are completely different for the following reasons:

1. Balochistan is recognized by the international community, including India, as integral parts of Pakistan. On the other hand, Kashmir is not recognized by the international community as part of India.

2. There are UN resolutions giving the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris. There are no such UN resolutions on Balochistan.

BUGTI-FE said...

East Pakistan was also a part of Pakistan but that didn't prevent it from becoming Bangladesh. Baloch people are determined to make Balochistan independent - mark our word.

Riaz Haq said...

BUGTI-FE: "East Pakistan was also a part of Pakistan but that didn't prevent it from becoming Bangladesh. Baloch people are determined to make Balochistan independent - mark our word."

There are several reasons why yours will remain a pipe dream:

1. Baloch separatists lack the legitimacy that Shaikh Mujib and his Awami League enjoyed in East Pakistan in 1971. Mujib and his party won an election in East Pakistan by overwhelming majority to establish their bona fides as undisputed representatives of Bengalis.

2. East Pakistan was almost 100% Bengali-speaking. On the other hand, Balochistan has three major ethnic groups: Baloch, Pashtun and Brahui. Separatists enjoy the support of a minority of Baloch population in a few districts of Balochistan.

3. Baloch people are deeply integrated in the fabric of Pakistani nation. There are as many Baloch living outside Balochistan in other parts of Pakistan as there are in Balochistan. Pakistan has had two Baloch presidents (Leghari and Zardari) and two Baloch prime ministers (Jamali and Khoso). Pakistan's second Army Chief Gen Musa was a Hazara from Balochistan.

4. Bengalis of East Pakistan were not deeply divided along tribal lines. There was no infighting there. They weren't killing each other. Their entire focus was on defeating Pakistan Army.

5. Unlike East Pakistan, Balochistan is not surrounded by India. In fact It has no border with India. It's not 1000 miles away from the rest of Pakistan.

6. A few thousand Baloch insurgents are no more than a manageable nuisance for Pakistani security forces.

7. No country has ever invaded a nuclear-armed country. India is in no position to invade any part of Pakistan today as it invaded East Pakistan in 1971. There would be no Bangladesh today had India not invaded East Pakistan and defeated Pakistan Army there.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Riaz I am from India and would like to remind Indian as well as Pakistani government that there will be no peace in balochistan or Kashmir unless and until there are enough opportunities available to the youth to keep themselves busy and prosperous. I am sure with growing population both countries will have huge social issues. Trying to debate whether balochistan should remain with Pakistan and Kashmir should remain with Pakistan or India or independent is futile.
I hope you write articles about solutions to problems within their own territories.

Riaz Haq said...

Changing of Map of #India : A year by year map history of #India from the 4th century BC to date https://youtu.be/QN41DJLQmPk via @YouTube

Bottom Line: What we call India today was never one united country before the British Raj. The closest it came to it briefly was under Chandragupta Maurya and then Mughals.

Tambi Dude said...

Yes right. Christopher Columbus set out to find a good route for Pakistan / South Asia.

Riaz Haq said...

Srinavasan: "Yes right. Christopher Columbus set out to find a good route for Pakistan / South Asia."

What attracted Columbus and other Europeans to India was its reputation as a "golden bird" built under Muslim rule.

Read Paknja Mishra's Op Ed in NY Times:

India, V.S. Naipaul declared in 1976, is “a wounded civilization,” whose obvious political and economic dysfunction conceals a deeper intellectual crisis. As evidence, he pointed out some strange symptoms he noticed among upper-caste middle-class Hindus since his first visit to his ancestral country in 1962. These well-born Indians betrayed a craze for “phoren” consumer goods and approval from the West, as well as a self-important paranoia about the “foreign hand.” “Without the foreign chit,” Mr. Naipaul concluded, “Indians can have no confirmation of their own reality.”

Mr. Naipaul was also appalled by the prickly vanity of many Hindus who asserted that their holy scriptures already contained the discoveries and inventions of Western science, and that an India revitalized by its ancient wisdom would soon vanquish the decadent West. He was particularly wary of the “apocalyptic Hindu terms” of such 19th-century religious revivalists as Swami Vivekananda, whose exhortation to nation-build through the ethic of the kshatriya (the warrior caste) has made him the central icon of India’s new Hindu nationalist rulers.
A Harvard-trained economist called Subramanian Swamy recently demanded a public bonfire of canonical books by Indian historians — liberal and secular intellectuals who belong to what the R.S.S. chief in 2000 identified as that “class of bastards which tries to implant an alien culture in their land.” Denounced by the numerous Hindu supremacists in social media as “sickular libtards” and sepoys (the common name for Indian soldiers in British armies), these intellectuals apparently are Trojan horses of the West. They must be purged to realize Mr. Modi’s vision in which India, once known as the “golden bird,” will “rise again.”

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


Riaz Haq said...

#India-Occupied #Kashmir: Troops kill 7 Protesters. More #Indian troops being airlifted to #Srinagar as anger rises

SRINAGAR, India — Indian troops fired on protesters in Kashmir on Saturday, killing at least seven as tens of thousands of people defied a curfew and participated in the funeral of a top rebel commander a day after he was killed by Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan region, officials said.

Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Hizbul Mujahideen, Indian-controlled Kashmir's largest rebel group, was killed in fighting Friday after Indian troops, acting on a tip, cordoned a forested village in southern Kashmir's Kokernag area, said Police Director-General K. Rajendra.

As news of the killing spread on Saturday, widespread clashes erupted in several neighborhoods in southern Kashmir as thousands of residents hurled rocks at Indian troops, who responded by using live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas, two police officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy. They said at least 60 civilians were wounded in the clashes.

Local police intelligence chief Shiv M. Sahai said that seven men were killed in "retaliatory action" by government troops. Another man drowned as he tried to flee government troops.

Sahai said that protesters attacked several police and paramilitary posts in the region. Some 90 government troops were injured, he said.

Street clashes spread to Indian Kashmir's main city of Srinagar and at least a dozen places in central and northern Kashmir.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in entirety by both. On India's side, separatist politicians and rebels reject Indian rule over the region and have been fighting for independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989.

After separatist leaders asked people to march to southern Tral town for Wani's funeral on Saturday, police warned that only local residents would be allowed to participate. But tens of thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession in defiance of the restrictions, chanting "Go India! Go back!" and "We want freedom!"

Wani's body was buried in the late afternoon amid mass wailing and angry chants of anti-India slogans. Witnesses said at least two militants fired pistol rounds in the air to salute their fallen commander.

Earlier in the day, thousands of armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear fanned out across most towns and villages in the region and drove through neighborhoods, warning residents to stay indoors.

Two rebel comrades of Wani were also killed in Friday's gunbattle.

Wani, in his early 20s, had become the iconic face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years. He was a household name and his video clips and pictures were widely circulated among young people in Kashmir.

Unlike the rebel leaders of the early 1990s, Wani did not cover his face in videos widely circulated on cellphones.

Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described his killing as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years.

Indian officials, fearing that the killing could lead to violent protests in the already troubled region, suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a mountain cave which draws about half a million people each year.

Wani was a small-town boy and the son of a school principal. Handsome and media savvy, he was widely credited for reviving armed militancy in Indian Kashmir in recent years, using social media like Facebook to reach out to young Kashmiri men.


Riaz Haq said...

Row breaks out over #TarekFatah's insults at Panjab University in #chandigarh #India | The Indian Express


A HUGE row broke out between Panjab University students and Pakistan-born Canadian writer Tarek Fatah after the latter allegedly called a J&K student terrorist. Tarek had been invited to deliver a Tedx talk on Balochistan. After the fracas, the organisers called off his talk, scheduled for Thursday.
Gagandeep Singh Dhillon, a PhD scholar in geography, said: “I was sitting at the physics canteen when Tarek came and began an informal interaction with students. We were discussing yesterday’s Nagrota terror attack. When he was talking to us, the department librarian came. When the students rose to show respect, Tarek told them, ‘Indians need to stop giving such treatment to their seniors’.”

Dhillon said Tarek mocked at the librarian and asked him to tell the students to sit. Immediately, an altercation ensued. Among those arguing was Mustafa, a PhD scholar from Kargil. “Tarek was saying, ‘He would not stand up for his own father, why are you all standing up for this person’. When I objected, he told me, ‘Hey you gori chamdi, where are you from?’ When Mustafa replied, Tarek allegedly responded with ‘You’re a Pakistani terrorist, you’re an anti-national’.”
Also, Tarek allegedly told Dhillon, “You are a Khalistani.”
Another PhD student Ganeshwari said when she asked Tarek his opinion about her, he said, “You are the real patriot because of your religion.”
Tarek said he called Mustafa a Pakistani “because he was behaving like one”. He said before the altercation, the group was discussing Tuesday’s terror attack. “My view was that India needs to retaliate in the strongest terms. That upset him leading to an argument.”
According to Tarek, suddenly, “a dozen men” arrived. “This was an attack planned by the Congress youth wing and people backing Left ideology.”
A PU spokesman said, “The university neither invited anyone nor cancelled any event.”

Riaz Haq said...

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


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...

S Khilnani Book: #India was "fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by #caste divisions, mired in poverty" http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/india-in-pieces … via @newyorker

Last year, a professor at the Indian Science Congress, in Mumbai, claimed that India possessed airplanes seven thousand years ago. He isn’t alone in such beliefs. When a certain swathe of India’s population considers the country’s ancient past, it doesn’t see a country fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by caste divisions, and mired in poverty; rather, what’s envisioned is a vast, unified Hindu empire stretching from Kashmir to the Indian tip at Kanyakumari. This imagined entity brims with characters from Indian epics and spits out grand inventions that would put scientists in the twenty-first century to shame—not only airplanes but cars, plastic surgery, and stem-cell research. What these Indians see, in other words, is an India that was once greater than any other nation on earth, and which has since fallen into a cruddy, postcolonial despair. Muslim and British invaders, they insist, have sapped the subcontinent’s energies over the past millennium.

This is a major strand of the nativist philosophy espoused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the flotilla of parties and social organizations that escorted him to power, in 2014. It is, in the rippling and echoing way of world events, in step with archaic right-wing movements everywhere—Make India Great Again would be a suitable slogan—and it is untroubled by facts. In the past year, right-wing mobs have lynched and beaten Muslims and Dalits (the former untouchables, who have often refused to be co-opted by upper-class-dominated Hindu nationalism) in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand for allegedly eating beef, a crime that these nationalists cannot condone after a millennium of their religion’s supposed persecution. (Hinduism has always been the majority religion on the subcontinent.) Dormant laws in Indian states banning cow-slaughter and beef consumption are now being enforced. In January, a Dalit Ph.D. student at Hyderabad University hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his room after right-wing groups bore down on him for his activism. Elsewhere, emboldened nationalist groups have intimidated fiction writers, scholars, and publishers into silence for wounding religious sentiments. Student protests are branded “anti-national” and slapped with sedition charges.

In India, right now, the past is violently alive, and it is being bandied about like a blunt instrument, striking down those who try to speak sense to the present or who try to point out that this past is itself a fiction.

One of the intellectuals involved in calling the right’s bluff is the Indian scholar Sunil Khilnani, who has just published an incisive work of popular history, “Incarnations: India in Fifty Lives.” Where the opposition is clamorous, the book is calm; where the opposition flexes its Vedic muscles, the book is undercutting, irreverent, and impish. It attempts to show, through prodigious but lightly worn scholarship, how complex and heterodox the Indian past was, and how it has been, and continues to be, constructed.

Khilnani begins with the Buddha, who lived around 500 B.C.E., and is thus, Khilnani writes, the “first individual personality we can recognize in the subcontinent’s history,” as well as an apostle of neutrality and nonviolence. The Buddha’s religion has receded in India, except as a balm to the Dalits, who escaped into it, and as a self-help tool for a sliver of the upper classes, who have embraced it the way that some people in the West do. Buddha prefigures many of the themes in the book. A sheltered man, he is moved by his first encounter with suffering, and leaves behind his wealthy family to wander India in the thrall of slowly budding new ideas. He is serene and centered amid violence. He is open-minded and against sects in a Brahmin-dominated society. He calls for a total reinvention of Hinduism—one that becomes its own religion.....

Riaz Haq said...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riaz Haq said...

How the #American #CIA Infiltrated the World's #Literature Using Famous Writers as Tools https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/how-the-cia-infiltrated-the-worlds-literature … via @VICE

"The CIA's influence in publishing was on the covert ops side, and it was done as propaganda. It was a control of how intellectuals thought about the US."

The new book, Finks, reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway became soldiers in America's cultural Cold War.

When the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines were revealed in 1966, the backlash was swift but uneven. Some publications crumbled, taking their editors down with them, while other publishers and writers emerged relatively unscathed, chalking it up to youthful indiscretion or else defending the CIA as a "nonviolent and honorable" force for good. But in an illuminating new book Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, writer Joel Whitney debunks the myth of a once-moral intelligence agency, revealing an extensive list of writers involved in transforming America's image in countries we destabilized with coups, assassinations, and other all-American interventions.

The CIA developed several guises to throw money at young, burgeoning writers, creating a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world, from Lebanon to Uganda, India to Latin America. The same agency that occasionally undermined democracies for the sake of fighting Communism also launched the Congress for Cultural Freedoms (CCF). The CCF built editorial strategies for each of these literary outposts, allowing them to control the conversation in countries where readers might otherwise resist the American perspective. The Paris Review, whose co-founder Peter Matthiessen was a CIA agent, would sell its commissioned interviews to the magazine's counterparts in Germany, Japan, and elsewhere. Mundo Nuevo was created to offer a moderate-left perspective to earn trust among Latin American readers, effectively muting more radical perspectives during the Cuban Revolution. Sometimes the agency would provide editors with funding and content; other times it would work directly with writers to shape the discourse. Through these acts, the CCF weaponized the era's most progressive intellectuals as the American answer to the Soviet spin machine.

While the CIA's involvement in anti-Communist propaganda has been long known, the extent of its influence—particularly in the early careers of the left's most beloved writers—is shocking. Whitney, the co-founder and editor at large of the literary magazine Guernica, spent four years digging through archives, yielding an exhaustive list—James Baldwin, Gabriel García Márquez, Richard Wright, and Ernest Hemingway all served varying levels of utility to Uncle Sam. (Not that the CIA's interest were only in letters: Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko were also championed by arms of the agency.)

But don't let that ruin Love in the Time of Cholera. Whitney explains with methodical clarity how each writer became a tool for the CIA. This nuance not only salvages many of the classics from being junked as solely propaganda, but it serves as a cautionary tale for those trying to navigate today's "post-truth" media landscape. In an era where Facebook algorithms dictate the national discourse, even the most well-meaning journalist is prone to stories that distract on behalf of the US government.

"It was often a way to change the subject from the civil rights fight at home," Whitney said of the CIA's content strategy during the Cold War. We can easily draw parallels to today, where the nation's most dire issues are rarely our viral subjects. With Donald Trump's presidency just weeks away, Finks arrives at a crucial time, exposing the political machinery that can affect which stories are shared and which are silenced.

Riaz Haq said...

#American Scholar Debunks Myth of #India’s Medieval #Muslim 'Villains' like Aurangzeb. #BJP #Modi https://thewire.in/18919/high-time-discarded-pernicious-myth-indias-medieval-muslim-villains/ … via @thewire_in

by Audrey Truschke

Going back more than a millennium earlier, Hindu rulers were the first to come up with the idea of sacking one another’s temples, before Muslims even entered the Indian subcontinent. But one hears little about these “historical wrongs”

Whatever happened in the past, religious-based violence is real in modern India, and Muslims are frequent targets. It is thus disingenuous to single out Indian Muslim rulers for condemnation without owning up to the modern valences of that focus.

The idea that medieval Muslim rulers wreaked havoc on Indian culture and society – deliberately and due to religious bigotry – is a ubiquitous notion in 21st century India. Few people seem to realise that the historical basis for such claims is shaky to non-existent. Fewer openly recognise the threat that such a misreading of the past poses for modern India.

Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal Emperor (r. 1658-1707), is perhaps the most despised of India’s medieval Muslim rulers. People cite various alleged “facts” about Aurangzeb’s reign to support their contemporary condemnation, few of which are true. For instance, contrary to widespread belief, Aurangzeb did not destroy thousands of Hindu temples. He did not perpetrate anything approximating a genocide of Hindus. He did not instigate a large-scale conversion program that offered millions of Hindu the choice of Islam or the sword.

In short, Aurangzeb was not the Hindu-hating, Islamist tyrant that many today imagine him to have been. And yet the myth of malevolent Aurangzeb is seemingly irresistible and has captured politicians, everyday people, and even scholars in its net. The damage that this idea has done is significant. It is time to break this mythologized caricature of the past wide open and lay bare the modern biases, politics, and interests that have fuelled such a misguided interpretation of India’s Islamic history.

Aurangzeb, for instance, acted in ways that are rarely adequately explained by religious bigotry. For example, he ordered the destruction of select Hindu temples (perhaps a few dozen, at most, over his 49-year reign) but not because he despised Hindus. Rather, Aurangzeb generally ordered temples demolished in the aftermath of political rebellions or to forestall future uprisings. Highlighting this causality does not serve to vindicate Aurangzeb or justify his actions but rather to explain why he targeted select temples while leaving most untouched. Moreover, Aurangzeb also issued numerous orders protecting Hindu temples and communities from harassment, and he incorporated more Hindus into his imperial administration than any Mughal ruler before him by a fair margin. These actions collectively make sense if we understand Aurangzeb’s actions within the context of state interests, rather than by ascribing suspiciously modern-sounding religious biases to him.

Tambi Dude said...

For every Audrey, there is Will Durrant too and rated much higher.
Wonder why no Pakistanis takes Will Durrant seriously. Wait. Isn't that obvious.

Riaz Haq said...

TD: "For every Audrey, there is Will Durrant too and rated much higher."

For every Will Durant, there are several historians, including Nagnath Inamdar, to debunk the false narrative of Hindu Nationalists.

"And then Inamdar came across a prominent temple whose priest told him that it had come down in his family that not only had Aurangzeb left it intact, but also sanctioned an annual donation for its upkeep. Further diminishing the idea of a puritanical figure, he found old manuscripts with love sonnets penned by the emperor"

"Detractors say he (Aurangzeb) overthrew his father Shah Jahan and imprisoned him till death. But, leaving alone his father and grandfather who unsuccessfully attempted the same, so did Ajatashatru of Magadh. He killed his brothers in his path to the throne - so did Ashoka. He destroyed other religions' places of worship - so did the Chalukyas, and the Gaud and the Sena dynasties in Bengal.
What Inamdar's work shows us that we cannot - must not - assess historical figures by norms of our own times, and selective approaches. Aurangzeb was the product of his time and its circumstances and should be viewed in this perspective."


Riaz Haq said...

From #Pakistan to #Zee News: Why #India’s #Hindu Nationalists love #TarekFatah. #BJP #Modi #Hindutva https://scroll.in/article/827173/from-pakistan-to-zee-news-why-indias-right-loves-the-controversial-tarek-fatah … via @scroll_in

Writer and columnist Tarek Fatah’s Twitter timeline is a place of immense activity. On it, Fatah is simultaneously calling the Kolkata Police napunsak (impotent), accusing a Muslim cleric of wanting to murder him and alleging that “Islamists working within Google” had conspired to suspend his email account.

The activity – and content ­– is reflective of Fatah’s current role in India, where he has become a sought-after columnist and intellectual. Fatah, who often functions as a strident critic of a great many facets of modern Islam, seems to be almost everywhere, writing columns, hosting television shows and speaking at conclaves. In particular, he has carved out a niche within India’s Right Wing, which nods along with his angry attacks against the supposed ills that affect Muslims in India, making Fatah a rare Muslim face in Hindutva circles.

Karachi to Canada
Born in Karachi, Fatah worked as a television producer in Pakistan till the 1970s, when he emigrated to Saudi Arabia. He would move again, this time heading to Canada, where he began with his current role: a strident commentator concentrating largely on Muslim affairs.

Amongst his other positions, Fatah has supported Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States and has pushed the far-Right conspiracy theory that accuses the director of the US’s Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, of having secretly converted to Islam.

His involvement with India started rather late and it is only in the last four years that Fatah has emerged as a prominent commentator in the Indian media. This is driven by the increased importance of social media – where Fatah is a star – in public affairs as well as the country’s general move towards the Right after the Bharatiya Janata Party general election win in 2014. Both events created a ready market for Fatah’s views.

Fatah sees himself as a reformer, drawing a sharp distinction between what he calls “mullah Islam” and “Allah’s Islam”. “The basis of Tauheed [monotheism in Islam] is that you will not bend yourself to any human except the creator, “ explained Fatah, speaking to Scroll.in. “Everything in shariah is man made. It’s written by men!”

“The mullah,” argued Fatah, “is embarrassing Mohammad and embarrassing Islam in front of non-Muslims by uttering garbage”.

Right-Wing favourite
Fatah’s stridency means he has come to the notice of India’s Right Wing which is looking to expand its intellectual footprint in India in the wake of Narendra Modi’s win in the 2014 general elections.

Fatah has a large Right-Wing support base on Twitter, which has now been extended into brick and mortar as well. In 2016, he was invited to participate in Right-Wing intellectual summits such as the India Ideas Conclave, hosted by the India Foundation, a body with strong ties to the Modi government, as well as the Jaipur Dialogues, hosted by a senior bureaucrat working for the BJP government of Rajasthan. He also spoke at the 2016 Lok Manthan summit in Bhopal organised by a group with close ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. A potential January 7 talk by Fatah on Baluchistan and Kashmir in Kolkata – which was eventually cancelled due to alleged pressure from the West Bengal government – was hosted by the Swadhikar Bangla Foundation, a body headed by a local BJP leader.

This Right-Wing interest in Fatah has peaked with Zee News – which has earlier faced allegations of pushing the BJP’s views – hosting a weekly debate show called “Fatah ka Fatwa”, focussed on discussing issues within Indian Islam.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian history scholar Audrey Truschke says the Hindu-right largely ignore the colonial history and see their history through an Indo-Islamic lens only.
“So, to contradict that narrative or make it more nuanced and complex is a problem, since their current position in the Indian cultural and political landscape rests on their reading of the past,” says Truschke. “But Aurangzeb was a complex king who had a profound impact on the political landscape of 17th- and 18th-century India. As historians, we need to avoid this presentist stance and look at the evidence before us.”

A leading scholar of South Asian cultural and intellectual history, Truschke has just published a book on one of the most hated figures in Indian history, the last of six great kings of the powerful Mughal dynasty, whose empire stretched across the Indian subcontinent during the heyday of Muslim rule in the region from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Since this year’s publication of Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth, Truschke has been targeted by Hindu-nationalists supporting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and by other groups, whose current anti-Muslim sentiment traces back to medieval times, when Muslims started expanding into the region.

“My Twitter account is a nightmare right now,” Truschke says. “It hasn’t been fun.”

The popular view in today’s India is that, like other Mughal kings who were hostile to Indian languages, religions and culture, Aurangzeb was a Hindu-despising Islamist fanatic who destroyed Hindu and Jain temples and imposed a military tax on most non-Muslims.

But Truschke, one of the few living scholars who reads pre-modern Persian, Sanskrit and Hindi, had in a prior book argued that the Mughal courts were deeply interested in Indian thinkers and ideas, with elites and intellectuals engaging across cultures. In researching that monograph, Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court (2016), she was the first scholar to study texts in Sanskrit and Persian in exploring the courtly life of the Mughals.

In her latest work, she paints a much more nuanced picture of Aurangzeb, showing how he also protected most Hindu and Jain temples and increased the Hindu share in the Mughal nobility. Rather than hatred of Hindus driving his decisions, Truschke says, more likely Aurangzeb was guided by political reprisals and other practical considerations of rule, along with morality concerns, and a thirst for power and expansion.

That interpretation hasn’t sat well with some factions in India, but Truschke argues that as an academic historian, her project wasn’t to play political football with Aurangzeb to satisfy current agendas. It was to recapture the world of the sixth Mughal king, which operated according to quite different norms and ideas.

“My book looks at Aurangzeb as part of an Indian dynasty in all its complexities and nuances. I don’t ask if he was good or bad; that’s not an interesting historical question,” says Truschke. “I look at him with a purely empirical view, and that has been widely read by Hindu-nationalists as an apology for his Muslim atrocities.”

Truschke says that the current ethno-religious tensions in India were stoked during the British colonial period, when Britain benefitted by pitting Hindus and Muslims against each another while portraying themselves as neutral saviors who could keep ancient religious conflicts at bay.

Modern Hindu-nationalists, meanwhile, saw the political value in perpetuating the conflict and have done so with great success.


Riaz Haq said...

#Aurangzeb Wasn't The Bigot India's Right Wingers Make Him Out To Be On Social Media http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/03/28/why-aurangzebs-reputation-as-a-tyrant-and-bigot-doesnt-stand-t_a_22013910/?ncid=fcbklnkinhpmg00000001 … #KnowAurangzeb #Mughal #history

Aurangzeb's life, widely misrepresented by the Hindutva brigade as that of a cardboard despot's, was far more complex

To impose on Aurangzeb the standards of the modern world is to thus make a grave historical error

It's no big news that contemporary India is brazenly partisan about its national heroes, especially the ones who tower over the subcontinent's history. But few figures have elicited as much contempt from a section of the public as well as the political class as the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb's legacy, in the popular imagination, is one of unmitigated tyranny — reviled as the destroyer of Hindu temples, executioner of Sikh guru Teg Bahadur, and an austere Muslim ruler, who imposed unpopular taxes and curbed expressions of liberal Islam.

In 2015, amid a raging controversy, the ruling government acceded to an extraordinary request from the New Delhi Municipal Corporation to have the name of Aurangzeb Road in the national capital changed to APJ Abdul Kalam Road. The idea was to remove the association of evil, represented by Aurangzeb, from the name of the street and replace it with the name of the former president of India, who, presumably, embodied goodness.

The hatred for Aurangzeb also comes through in his denunciation by the Shiv Sena and other groups that admire his arch-rival, the Maratha warrior, Shivaji. In 2004, a biography of Shivaji by James Laine was banned in Maharashtra because it had dared to raise questions deemed unseemly by his fans. In 2015, a Shiv Sena MP abused an officer on duty on camera by calling him "Aurangzeb ki aulad" (a descendant of Aurangzeb), after he razed some temples during a demolition drive sanctioned by the district collector in Aurangabad, based on high court orders.

Historian Audrey Truschke took it upon herself to write a biography of Aurangzeb for the common reader to disabuse them of the many misconceptions around the Mughal king. At a little over 100 pages, without the paraphernalia of footnotes, it is as accessible as a complex historical narrative can get, without losing its essential core of erudition.

Debunking The Myths

As Truschke says in the Preface, the idea for the book, fittingly, came to her in an exchange on Twitter, a minefield for peddling divisive political agenda by interested groups and individuals. The spirit of the book, with its crisp prose and controlled polemics, hits out at the easy generalisations of social media.

Aurangzeb's life, widely misrepresented by the Hindutva brigade as that of a cardboard despot's, was far more complex, as anyone with common sense would expect, as well as riddled with many contradictions. Those who are familiar with politics should not be surprised by the persistence of the latter either.

Riaz Haq said...

Assistant Professor Audrey Truschke gets a lot of hatemail. In fact, these days she’s bombarded almost hourly.

A leading scholar of South Asian cultural and intellectual history, Truschke has just published a book on one of the most hated figures in Indian history, the last of six great kings of the powerful Mughal dynasty, whose empire stretched across the Indian subcontinent during the heyday of Muslim rule in the region from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Truschke says that the current ethno-religious tensions in India were stoked during the British colonial period, when Britain benefitted by pitting Hindus and Muslims against each another while portraying themselves as neutral saviors who could keep ancient religious conflicts at bay.


Modern Hindu-nationalists, meanwhile, saw the political value in perpetuating the conflict and have done so with great success.

The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rose to national prominence in the 1990s and became the dominant party by winning the 2014 general Indian elections. Modi, first as Chief Minister of Gujarat and then as India’s Prime Minister, has been accused of condoning, and some would say stoking, anti-Muslim sentiment and violence along the way.

Truschke says the Hindu-right largely ignore the colonial history and see their history through an Indo-Islamic lens only.

“So, to contradict that narrative or make it more nuanced and complex is a problem, since their current position in the Indian cultural and political landscape rests on their reading of the past,” says Truschke. “But Aurangzeb was a complex king who had a profound impact on the political landscape of 17th- and 18th-century India. As historians, we need to avoid this presentist stance and look at the evidence before us.”