Sunday, September 29, 2019

Imran Khan's UNGA Speech on Hindutva, Islamophobia and Kashmir (Urdu)

How was Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's UN General Assembly speech received? Was he right to tell the audience that Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs to RSS, the right-wing Hindu Supremacist organization whose member killed Mahatma Gandhi? Does the world know that RSS founders were inspired by Nazism and Fascism? And the RSS members admire Gandhi's murderer Nathuram Godse? Is it hypocritical of Modi to exploit Gandhi's name in his UNGA speech and elsewhere in the West? Do Hindutva followers want to have it both ways? Benefit from Gandhi's name in the West while destroying Gandhi's legacy in India?

Why did Imran Khan talk about the connection between US war on terror after 911 and the rise of Islamophobia? How have countries like India exploited the war on terror to defame genuine Kashmiri resistance movement as terrorism?

What will happen when Modi lifts restrictions on 8 million Kashmiris living under total lock-down since August 5, 2019? Is Modi riding the tiger and afraid of getting off of it? Is Imran Khan right to fear a massacre by nearly million-strong Indian forces? Will India call it "cross-border terrorism" and blame it on Pakistan? Will Modi again try to pull a Balakot? Could it start India-Pakistan war? Would it escalate into a nuclear conflict killing billions around the world?

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Rape as a Political Weapon Used By Hindutva

Hindu Nationalism Inspired By Nazism, Fascism

Rise of Islamophobia After Sept 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

700,000 Indian Soldiers Versus 7 Million Kashmiris

Modi's Kashmir Blunder and India-Pakistan Nuclear Conflict

Is India a Paper Elephant? 

Howdy Modi Rally Exposes Indian-Americans to Charges of Hypocrisy

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said...

Indian Analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta: Winning #Kashmir and Losing #India. How #Modi Is Gutting Indian #Democracy. Triumphalism in #India is the final blow in a long series of betrayals and humiliations meted out to #Muslims in Kashmir

The abrogation of Article 370 has worrying consequences beyond Kashmir, revealing a country where there are fewer and fewer checks on the writ of the prime minister. The BJP government claims that the move represents the will of Parliament, since it was confirmed through bills in both the upper and lower houses of the legislature. But that formalism cannot hide two dangerous trends: the weakening of all independent institutions in India and the marginalization of Indian Muslims.

Indian democracy has always been messy, but the fragmentation of power across political parties and institutions has helped provide checks and balances against untrammelled executive might. Recent years have witnessed a troubling consolidation of power. Politically, the opposition is weak and divided. Modi and the Hindu nationalist BJP face no strong challenge from their political rivals. The rudderless Congress Party—the center-left, secular party that has ruled India for most of its existence—is mired in an internal leadership battle and is divided on the issue of Article 370, unable to mount an effective ideological resistance to Modi. Many regional parties, such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh, were decimated in the last election; the Trinamool Congress, which holds sway over West Bengal, also suffered surprising defeats to the BJP. Enfeebled and embattled, regional parties cannot provide a much-needed check on central power.

More tellingly, the opposition doesn’t have the intellectual self-confidence to take on the rising tide of nationalism stoked by the BJP, even when that ideology threatens core constitutional values. Nothing exemplifies this failure better than the hypocritical conduct of the Aam Admi Party, which rules in the capital city of Delhi and sits with the opposition in Parliament. This party had no compunctions in signing off on Modi’s plan to downgrade Kashmir from a state to a union territory even as the party campaigns for Delhi to be transformed from a union territory to a state. Modi’s nationalism has thrown the entire opposition into a kind of intellectual stupor, in which it is unable to defend democratic values.

Timidity and weakness are not the opposition’s only problems; it also lacks credibility. Several major opposition figures face corruption charges, notably the former finance minister and Congress Party leader P. Chidambaram, who was arrested in August under suspicion of embezzlement and money laundering. Security agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation were never entirely impartial under previous governments, but Modi’s government uses them to target political opponents at an unprecedented level. The public sees these prosecutions not as malicious abuses of state power but as part of the prime minister’s drive to create a new India by uprooting the corrupt old order—in other words, as of a piece with his actions in Kashmir. By ensnaring the opposition in a discourse of corruption, Modi has effectively blunted its voice. As a result, many opposition leaders feel compelled to redeem themselves by taking strongly nationalist positions.

The decimation of the political opposition has been accompanied by the erosion of independent institutions. Many Indians are fond of describing the country’s Supreme Court as “the most powerful court in the world” because of its independence and authority; K. K. Venugopal, the attorney general, praised the relationship of the court to the state in 2017, insisting that “the government of the day has always shown respect to this institution.”

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta: Winning #Kashmir and Losing #India. How #Modi Is Gutting Indian #Democracy. Triumphalism in #India is the final blow in a long series of betrayals and humiliations meted out to #Muslims in Kashmir

The decimation of the political opposition has been accompanied by the erosion of independent institutions. Many Indians are fond of describing the country’s Supreme Court as “the most powerful court in the world” because of its independence and authority; K. K. Venugopal, the attorney general, praised the relationship of the court to the state in 2017, insisting that “the government of the day has always shown respect to this institution.” But it increasingly seems that the Supreme Court and other high courts, in their deference to the state’s executive power, have virtually abdicated their responsibilities to defend core constitutional values. The courts have delayed hearings on habeas corpus cases in Kashmir and declined to scrutinize the government’s mass detentions in the recently downgraded territory. The courts have also denied opposition leaders the same protocols of bail that would have been granted to normal citizens.

The weakening of judicial independence stems from the government’s attempt to enlist all of the country’s independent institutions in the project of Hindu nationalism. In addition to the courts, the government has sought to exercise more direct control over public universities, where it has become routine for critics of the BJP to be disinvited or “deplatformed.” In some cases, the government has even delayed the publication of economic data to muzzle talk of the country’s slowdown. Owners of media companies and editors critical of the government fear being targeted by the state. In short, the “integration of Kashmir” is happening against the wider backdrop of Modi’s push for nationalist conformity, his attempt to create a nation marching to one tune and one purpose. But beneath the symbolic shows of unity is the fearful vision of a republic where dissenters are at risk, where the opposition and media are gagged, and where normal institutional protections are fast vanishing.

Converting Kashmir into a union territory was a show of brute majoritarianism, a demonstration that India can downgrade its only Muslim-majority state. As such, it fits a pattern of the further marginalization of Muslims under the current government. In recent years, there has been a spike in religious hate crimes, including the lynching of Muslims by vigilante Hindu mobs for the alleged sin of possessing and eating beef. In a pending court case that could add to the tensions, the Supreme Court may very well allow the construction of a temple on the supposed birthplace of the Hindu holy figure Ram, where in 1992 Hindu nationalists demolished a mosque and sparked communal riots across the country. The government correctly outlawed the Muslim practice of triple talaq, in which men could divorce their wives by simply repeating the word for “divorce” three times, but that move may presage the abolition of Muslim Personal Law, India’s separate civil code for Muslims that governs marriage, divorce, and inheritance in accordance with some aspects of Islamic law.

Away from Kashmir, another case of state power threatens to upend hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives. In the eastern state of Assam, the government, acting in accordance with a Supreme Court order, has identified nearly two million residents as foreigners, not listing them in the National Register of Citizens. This immense cataloguing effort began four decades ago as part of an attempt to track illegal migration into India from what is now Bangladesh. Though both Hindus and Muslims have been stripped of citizenship, Hindu nationalist groups have asked the Modi government to restore the citizenship of the Hindus swept up in this process. Many Muslims may remain excluded from citizenship, rendered stateless, and forced into detention camps.

Anonymous said...

One thing is clear, IK is not a mere politician but a statesman. While the other side was busy advertising their country and telling the world about toilet success, IK was talking about the issues facing the world today.

Riaz Haq said...

What is the view of the Pakistan Army about the possibility of a nuclear war with India?
An excerpt from Shuja Nawaz ‘The Battle for Pakistan’ examining the strategic thinking about a potential war.

India continues to publicly disavow the premise of Cold Start, that its forward-deployed Integrated Battle Groups could move rapidly into Pakistani territory, capture key cities and territory and make Pakistan sue for terms. Pakistan continues to see this as an emerging threat and considers the 1980s thinking that led to the Brasstacks exercise as a testing of the idea of such rapid combined manoeuvres designed to hit Pakistan at multiple points of vulnerability in a modern version of the German blitzkrieg.

It countered with an offensive-defensive approach that was based on hitting India in response with a counter-strike and capturing key territory for itself. Its conventional riposte, based on a net-centric doctrine of well-planned counterattacks, was bolstered over time by the testing and development of a tactical nuclear capability by Pakistan (countered by India). This took the form of short-range so-called tactical weapons mounted on ballistic and cruise missiles, adding to the potential for a nuclear holocaust in the region with global consequences.


Loosely translated, this means that Pakistani forces can blunt any conventional Indian attack and respond effectively by undertaking its own offensive actions into Indian territory. All under a nuclear overhang.

Pakistan’s new army doctrine recognises a wider spectrum of conflict that includes sub-conventional warfare in addition to conventional warfare that, in turn, includes low-intensity operations, conventional war and nuclear warfare. The latter is aimed at complementing comprehensive deterrence and adding to the combat potential of the regular forces, leading to a potentially heavy cost for any aggressor. Nuclear war is seen “only as a last resort”.

Moreover, while conventional warfare is to be conducted under the devolved authority given by the National Command Authority to the military high command, the decision to go to nuclear war can only be initiated by the civilian authority under “the exclusive right of the NCA headed by the prime minister”. But no one has any doubts that should India launch a serious and deep conventional strike into Pakistan, the army would take the lead in deciding how to respond rapidly, with or without formal approval by the NCA.

Increasingly, Pakistan sees itself subject to potentially hostile activity from India, under the assumption that a sort of nuclear parity has led to maintenance of the status quo.
So, it expects India (the unnamed South Asian foe in its new Army doctrine) to synchronise activities at various levels to: “subtly erode [Pakistan’s]...national resilience and force compliance”. India’s willingness to bear the cost of war will help define the intensity, scale and nature of any future conflict, according to this view.

At the same time, Pakistan’s own calculations rest on the intensity of a nuclear exchange that would be Counter Value in nature rather than Counter Force. Potentially, ten major Indian urban centres and all seven of Pakistan’s major cities might be the targets in a nuclear exchange. The end result would be the destruction of large tracts of India and most of Pakistani territory, and the release of dust and debris into the atmosphere that would travel eastwards, eventually covering the entire Northern Hemisphere. In effect, Nuclear Winter could descend on the northern half of the globe for as much as six months. India’s own calculations may well mirror those of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

In #Indian Occupied #Kashmir, #ImranKhan’s #UNGA speech was welcomed with processions, pro-azadi songs. “Imran Khan has hit six sixes on six balls,” said an elderly resident of Srinagar’s Saida Kadal locality. via @scroll_in

He was referring to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27. In a 50-minute-long speech, the Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician had segued from climate change to Islamophobia and then dwelt at length on the situation in Kashmir. He spoke of the detentions and clampdown in Kashmir after August 5, when the Indian government revoked special status under Article 370 and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. He also warned of war between India and Pakistan should the current tensions escalate.

For weeks, residents of the Kashmir Valley had eagerly anticipated Khan’s speech. Days after it was delivered, a spokesman for the Jammu and Kashmir administration dismissed it as a “story of falsehoods”. But for most audiences in the Valley, the speech was a hit.

“He exposed India to the world,” said Ghulam Mohammad, a cleric from the northern district of Baramulla. “The way he spoke of Kashmir and the situation here, it just struck a chord with every Kashmiri. For around two months, Kashmiris had found themselves buried in a blackhole. They were dejected. When Khan spoke, Kashmiris felt there’s someone to talk about them.”

He also welcomed Khan’s attempt to explain the message of Islam. “The issue of Islamophobia needed to be addressed by Muslim leaders and Khan’s use of the UN general assembly to send a message to the world was very smart,” he said.

For a moment on the night of September 27, downtown Srinagar looked as though it was celebrating the victory of the Pakistan cricket team: residents had poured out into the streets to celebrate Khan’s speech. Mosques in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and North Kashmir’s Sopore town also reportedly rang with slogans in support of Khan and pro-azadi songs.


Two days after Khan’s speech, the administration announced block development council polls would take place on October 24, although it has shown no signs of restoring mobile and internet connectivity or of releasing political leaders and other detainees.

“The coming month will see a lot of critical changes in the state’s administrative and political architecture,” said a senior lawyer in Srinagar. These would give rise to a number of challenges for the government, on the security front as well as in the law and order situation, he predicted.

“Kashmiris will not take these changes at face value,” he said. “There will be a reaction but we don’t know when. Khan’s speech might have hastened that reaction.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint between #India and #Pakistan. #UnitedNations can’t ignore it anymore. UN’s lack of resolve is a sad sign of dysfunction in #international #diplomacy as #American leadership declines and divisions among world powers grow.

NY Times Editorial.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, was a man on a mission at the United Nations, imploring members last week to persuade India to lift its siege of Kashmir, a longtime flash point between the two nations, which both have nuclear weapons.

Failure to do so, he warned in a speech before the General Assembly on Friday, could result in war between the neighbors if Kashmiris push back against the suffocating presence of thousands of Indian troops.

Since Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister of India, revoked the semiautonomous status of the Muslim-majority state on Aug. 5, his government has imposed a curfew and detained nearly 4,000 people, including lawyers and journalists. There have been serious allegations of torture and beatings. India cut phone and internet service, leaving millions of people isolated.

While Mr. Modi didn’t address the issue in his United Nations speech, at a rally in Houston a few days earlier he said that revoking the constitutional clause on Kashmiri autonomy meant “people there have got equal rights” with other Indians now. That’s an absurd assertion to make about a state in the world’s largest democracy that’s essentially under martial law.

“If the U.N. doesn’t speak about it,” Mr. Khan told The Times editorial board the day before his speech, “who is going to speak about it?”

He may need to keep looking. Resting any hopes on the United Nations seems futile, given the approach it has taken to the dispute in recent decades.

At one time, the United Nations made an effort to play peacekeeper in Kashmir. The Security Council tried to mediate tensions between India and Pakistan within months of their independence and partition in 1947.

While the United Nations still has an observer group to report on cease-fire violations in Kashmir, it has stepped back since the 1970s, when, after the two nations went to war, they agreed to take care of future differences through bilateral negotiations.

Pressure from India — which has long resisted outside intervention in Kashmir — helped keep Kashmir off the Security Council’s agenda until August, when China backed Pakistan‘s request for a discussion of Mr. Modi’s power grab. The session, held out of view of the media and public, accomplished little, though. The Council couldn’t even agree afterward on a common message.


Countries are unwilling to risk crossing Mr. Modi and losing access to India’s huge market. Pakistan is economically weak. It also damaged its standing, and its position on Kashmir, by supporting militant groups that have attacked Indian troops, stirring a conflict that has torn Kashmir apart for decades.

Mr. Modi claims his clampdown would resolve that conflict and bring normality and development to Kashmir. But it seems more likely that it will only heighten tensions and make life more miserable for Kashmiris.

He could avoid disaster by lifting the siege, relaxing movement across the border between zones of the Kashmiri region that are held by India and Pakistan, releasing political prisoners and allowing independent investigators to look into alleged human rights abuses. Perhaps India’s Supreme Court, responding to various legal petitions, could even order him to reinstitute autonomy.

Those hopes are almost certainly in vain.

At least, in their last few crises, India and Pakistan demonstrated restraint. But it is easy to see how tit-for-tat actions can begin to escalate.

The Security Council should make clear that it opposes Mr. Modi’s brutal tightening of India’s control on Kashmir. While Mr. Modi may think he can control this volatile conflict on his own, he almost certainly cannot.

Riaz Haq said...

#Rutgers U. stands behind professor who said Hindutva was "inspired by #Nazism" amid backlash. During the rally at #UnitedNations, @AudreyTruschke criticized #BJP, which #Modi is a member of, for adhering to #Hindutva, a form of #Hindu nationalism.

Hindutva, she claimed, was inspired by Nazism. At a time when people often hear the term Nazi, which she credited with being used loosely, Truschke clarified that when she said Nazism, she was talking about "real, actual, historical Nazis."

"Early Hindutva founders openly admired [Nazi Party leader Adolf] Hitler," she said. "They praised Hitler's treatment of the Jewish people in Germany as a good model for dealing with India's Muslim minority."

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People criticized Truschke for her comments, saying they were anti-Hindu and Pakistani propaganda. Several people called for her to not be permitted to visit India and more than 8,000 people signed an online petition to have Rutgers investigate her. Newsweek reached out to the petition creators but did not receive a response in time for publication.

However, Rutgers stood by the professor. The public New Jersey university told Newsweek that Truschke had a long track record of welcoming "reasoned debate" about the cultural, imperial and intellectual history of early-modern and modern India. So, the university supported her remarks.

"The Rutgers-Newark administration is standing strong behind me," Truschke told Newsweek. "I am privileged to be part of a scholarly community that values both accurate history and public-facing scholarship."

She called her comments outside the United Nations "well-established historical fact" and said the pushback was designed to "intimidate and silence scholars." Instead, she claimed, it showed a need for professors to work harder to educate non-academic audiences about Indian history.

The assistant professor identified two types of people who were attacking her: those who appeared to be ill-informed about Indian history and those who made ad hominem attacks in bad faith. For those who were ill-informed, she advised them not to "shoot the messenger."

"It is understandably upsetting to learn about the troublesome roots of a political ideology to which you may adhere, but I am not the appropriate target for your anger," Truschke said.

Truschke described Hindutva as being a political ideology and Hinduism as being a "diverse set of religious traditions." While speaking at India Today Conclave, a global thought platform in India, Indian Parliament Member Shashi Tharoor said the Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder of Hindutva, saw it as being about cultural and racial identity.

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, a member of India's parliament and National Vice President of BJP, Modi's political party, argued that the BJP took Savarkar's comments "much more ahead" and described Hindutva as "spiritual democracy" and the "call of everything that is Hindu."

"Unfortunately Hindutva has become a favorite ripping point for people like Shashi Tharoor," Sahasrabuddhe said.

In an effort to deflect criticism from Hindutva, Truschke accused people of conflating it with Hinduism, which she characterized as being "inaccurate and highly offensive." However, others claimed it was Truschke who was inaccurate in labeling Hindutva fascist.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan PM #ImranKhan blasts #media 'double standard' over #HongKong protests. #HK "is a part of #China, but this (#Kashmir) is a disputed territory". "The story of barbarism (in Kashmir) hardly gets reported in international media," via @Yahoo

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan accused international media Friday of a "double standard", saying news outlets give more prominence to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong than to the situation in disputed Kashmir.

Khan, who returned this week from a trip to Beijing, also told a crowd of roughly 300 people at a rally in Islamabad that Hong Kong "is a part of China, but this (Kashmir) is a disputed territory".

"The story of barbarism (in Kashmir) hardly gets reported in international media," Khan said.

"So I want to put this double standard in front of the world."

Hong Kong has been battered by 18 consecutive weekends of unrest, fanned by widespread public anger over Chinese rule and the police response to protests.

While for more than two months now Indian-held Kashmir has been under a security lockdown after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.

The move has angered nuclear arch-rival Pakistan, which also administers part of the territory and, like India, claims it in full.

Khan appeared to minimise the impact of the Hong Kong protests.

"As far as I know, till now only a few people have been injured, maybe two or three people have been killed due to accidents" in the strife-torn city, he said.

But in Kashmir, he said, "eight million" people were living under curfew, while "100,000" have been killed in the past three decades.

Hundreds have been wounded in the four months of clashes in Hong Kong. One death has been linked to the unrest, when a demonstrator protesting on the side of a building fell during a botched rescue attempt.

Tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed since the Kashmir insurgency erupted in the 1980s. New Delhi puts the toll at 47,000, while rights groups hover around 70,000.

The curfew is no longer in place there, though tens of thousands of extra security forces are still in place, some restrictions on movement remain and communications are still largely blacked out.

Khan, whose government has been criticised for shrinking press freedoms in recent months, also expressed his frustration with the global community, which has historically stayed out of Kashmir.

"I regret that the world only sees that (India) is a country with one billion (people), so they can trade and make money from them, and money is more important for these countries then humans," he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s repression in #Kashmir is not compatible with #democracy. Ajit Doval says it would depend on “how Pakistan behaves.” In other words, the freedoms of millions of Indian citizens are linked to the actions of a foreign government. #Pakistan #Modi

WHEN INDIA’S Parliament abruptly stripped the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy on Aug. 5, the government of Narendra Modi claimed it was a prelude to a new era of economic development and expanded civil liberties for a region that for decades has been torn by sectarian violence. The harsh, repressive measures that were imposed were only temporary , authorities said. These included the detention without charge of thousands of Kashmiri politicians and other leading public figures, and suspension of Internet and phone services.

More than two months later, the crackdown continues. Hundreds of politicians, academics and activists are still being held, including the state’s top elected leaders. Though some restrictions on movement have been lifted and the restoration of phone landlines is to be followed by the resumption of mobile services Monday, the Internet is still inaccessible.

Meanwhile, there are persistent reports of indiscriminate detentions, beatings and torture by security forces, including of children as young as 13. The Post interviewed 19 people in 13 villages who said they had been abused in the days after Aug. 5; they recounted “beatings with rods, sticks and cables, electric shocks, and being hung upside down for long periods.”

The government denies the allegations of abuse, but it has refused to allow foreign journalists and other independent observers to travel to the region. Among those refused access was U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

India prides itself on being the world’s largest democracy, but these are not the actions of a democratic regime. Many of those detained are being held without due process. India’s courts, including the Supreme Court, have stalled on considering habeas corpus appeals and challenges to the emergency measures. Any court decision about whether the conversion of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to two federal territories was constitutional has been postponed until after the change is due to take effect, on Oct. 31.

Officials have refused to give straight answers about when the repression will end. Ajit Doval, the government’s head of national security, recently said it would depend on “how Pakistan behaves.” In other words, the freedoms of millions of Indian citizens are linked to the actions of a foreign government.

Pakistan, which claims Kashmir, has sponsored terrorism there in the past. But its elected civilian government has so far confined itself to rhetoric about the Indian crackdown, along with fruitless appeals to the United Nations. Prime Minister Imran Khan asked President Trump to intervene, and Mr. Trump expressed interest in mediating. But that was before Mr. Trump traveled to Houston last month for what amounted to a joint political rally with Mr. Modi.

India has become a close ally of the United States, but that is only more reason for Washington to press Mr. Modi to end the crackdown in Kashmir, including by releasing all political detainees. Sadly, Mr. Trump has no understanding of such imperatives — which, no doubt, is one reason the supposedly temporary measures of Aug. 5 remain in place.

Riaz Haq said...

How #Israel uses #Bollywood to whitewash the occupation. A Bollywood event in #TelAviv this week highlights how both #India and Israel are using art to distract from #HumanRightsViolations. #Modi #Netanyahu #Gaza #Kashmir

'Wooing Bollywood to artwash its violations of Palestinian human rights is part of the Brand Israel strategy'

- Apoorva PG, South Asia BDS coordinator

Between Tuesday and Thursday this week, Bollywood actors are travelling to Israel for the Indo Fest TLV, a "cultural showcase" touted as the biggest event in the history of India-Israel cultural relations.

The festival - featuring Anil Kapoor, Amisha Patel and at least eight other stars of Indian cinema - promises to be a cultural extravaganza designed to draw Israel and India closer to one another, with some 30,000 Indians expected to attend a slew of activities in Tel Aviv.

But the event has been mired in controversy and confusion even before it began.

'Wooing Bollywood to artwash its violations of Palestinian human rights is part of the Brand Israel strategy'

- Apoorva PG, South Asia BDS coordinator

Last week, activists from the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign urged its supporters to apply pressure on the stars to abandon the visit and honour the cultural boycott of Israel.

On Tuesday, Sophie Choudry, one of the actors on the programme, told MEE that the event had been cancelled, but tickets were still on sale at the time of writing and there have been no official communication to confirm Choudry's assertion. According to the BDS movement, a similar event in 2018 was indefinitely postponed after actors were pressured to withdraw.

But with or without this event, Israel's charm offensive in Bollywood is well underway.

“Wooing Bollywood to artwash its violations of Palestinian human rights is part of the Brand Israel strategy,” Apoorva PG, South Asia coordinator for the BDS campaign, told Middle East Eye.

And it is about to reach new heights.

On 1 November, the first Hindi film to have been partially shot in Israel is scheduled for release on Netflix. Starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez, Drive has been marketed as a Bollywood incarnation of the Fast and the Furious franchise, with scenes shot "on Tel Aviv’s boulevards and in the picturesque alleyways of Jaffa’s Old City".

"The movie revolves around stunt drivers turned getaway drivers, who use money stolen in a high-risk robbery to take a trip to Tel Aviv - the city that never sleeps and is known for its nightlife, beaches and parties," as one Israeli news site described it.

In many ways, Drive will be the first return on an investment to leverage Bollywood's soft power to tackle Israel's deteriorating image in the Western world.

In a bid to enter new markets and lure tourists, Israel has offered to invest in films as well as tax incentives; Drive was funded in part by the Israeli Tourism Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Robindra Deb, a member of South Asia Solidarity Initiative's (SASI) organising collective based in New York City, told MEE that the burgeoning ties between Israel and Bollywood were “a troubling sign of India’s growing ties to Israel and its support of the occupation of Palestine”.

Netanyahu says 'Shalom Bollywood' in bid to woo India to film in Israel
Read More »
The Israeli project to whitewash the occupation of Palestine has found an obliging audience among an Indian media already drowning in Islamophobia and revisionist nationalist narratives of its own.

"Israel's connect with Hindi cinema dates back to the early 1900s," says the introduction of one Indian television programme focusing on Bollywood's Jewish history during the silent film era, even as it goes on to acknowledge that the early actors were "Baghdadi Jews".

Riaz Haq said...

#India Lets #Lawmakers Into #Kashmir: Far-Right Europeans including Alternative for Germany (#AfD) , #Poland’s Law and Justice party and #French party National Rally. Indian news reports said 22 of the 27 lawmakers in the group were from far-right parties

After months of denying journalists, Indian lawmakers and an American senator access to the locked-down Kashmir region, the Indian government on Tuesday allowed a visit by mostly far-right members of the European Parliament, representing anti-immigration parties with histories of anti-Muslim rhetoric.

India stripped the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy on Aug. 5, and it has stopped international journalists from traveling there, locked up local politicians and severed phone lines and the internet. The government partially restored cellphone service this month, but all other communication remains cut.

The European delegation allowed to visit on Tuesday consists mostly of members of far-right populist parties, including the Alternative for Germany, Poland’s governing Law and Justice party and the French party National Rally. Indian news reports said 22 of the 27 lawmakers in the group were from far-right parties. Embassies from some of the countries that the delegation represents confirmed their attendance when contacted by The New York Times.

A United States senator, Chris Van Hollen, was prevented from traveling to Kashmir earlier this month, and the Indian government has consistently blocked the country’s own lawmakers from visiting the area to assess the situation.

The Twitter account of Mehbooba Mufti, one of the Kashmiri politicians who have been detained, was scathing about the European delegation’s visit. Members of Ms. Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party have been prevented from meeting with her during her detention.

“In its desperation to convince international community that normalcy’s restored in Kashmir,” the government of India is “engaging with what seem like pro fascist, right leaning and anti immigrant EU MPs. Royal mess,” the post read. (Ms. Mufti’s Twitter account is being operated by her daughter while she is in detention, supporters say.)

Kashmir is in dispute between Pakistan and India. It became an autonomous Indian state after independence from Britain in 1947, but it did so under an agreement that eventually Kashmiris, who are predominately Muslim, would be allowed to vote on whether to stay with India or join Pakistan. That vote never occurred.

In August, the Indian government suddenly revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, in a bid to increase its hold on the territory. On Thursday, India will officially change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, making it a federally controlled territory rather than a state. The move will separate it into two union territories — Ladakh as one territory, and Jammu and Kashmir as another.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s #Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long. #Trump admin’s failure to object to #humanrights abuses is more than strategic calculation. In fact, #Trump and #Modi are ideological soulmates. #Kashmir #Assam #Ayodhya via @financialtimes

The world’s democracies are desperate to believe in India. From Washington to Tokyo, and from Canberra to London, the country is viewed as an indispensable counterbalance to China. The two Asian giants are the only countries in the world with populations of over 1bn people.

Last year America’s Defense Department renamed its Pacific command the Indo-Pacific command — a reconception of the geopolitical map that is clearly intended to balance Chinese power by bringing India into the picture. In September, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, appeared alongside US president Donald Trump at a Texas rally. In Europe, India is lauded as the world’s largest democracy — a refreshing contrast to you-know-where.

The west’s investment in India is now strategic, emotional, intellectual and financial. But the sunk costs of that investment mean that western countries are reluctant to acknowledge the dark side of Mr Modi’s India — in particular, threats to minority rights and the erosion of democratic norms.

Since Mr Modi won a crushing re-election victory earlier this year, the alarming side to his government has come increasingly to the fore. On August 5, it abolished the special constitutional status of the majority-Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir — and followed up with a broad clampdown on civil liberties, including the detention-without-trial of leading Kashmiri politicians. Opposition politicians, human rights activists and Delhi-based foreign correspondents have been prevented from visiting the region.

There is also rising anxiety about a citizenship-determination exercise in the state of Assam that has seen 2m of the state’s residents designated illegal immigrants, with no right to live in India. Mr Modi’s government says it carried out the exercise to comply with a Supreme Court order. But it is now building camps to hold those deemed illegal immigrants. It talks of extending the process across the country.

The weight of this campaign will fall hard on India’s Muslim minority. The administration is expected to push through a new citizenship law that will give any Hindu deemed to be fleeing persecution in a neighbouring country, the automatic right to Indian citizenship. So only Muslims will be at risk of being deemed illegal residents.

The sense that the political winds are moving against India’s Muslims will be strengthened by this week’s Supreme Court ruling that a Hindu temple can be built on a long-contested holy site in the city of Ayodhya. Hindu nationalists, whipped up on social media, are delighted by Mr Modi’s increasing boldness. But some of the country’s leading intellectuals are sounding the alarm. Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize-winning economist now resident in the US, told The New Yorker magazine that his friends are reluctant to criticise the government on the phone, adding, “People are afraid. I’ve never seen this before.” Alarmed by the increasingly compliant judiciary (and much of the media), Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an eminent Indian academic, has written that: “The noose is tightening around all independent institutions in India.”


But the economy is now slowing. Delhi and other Indian cities are suffering a crisis over air-quality. Under these conditions, the argument that Mr Modi’s strongman style might be a price worth paying for economic progress is harder to make.


Riaz Haq said...

#India’s journey to illiberal #democracy by Ed Luce: "During my session (in #Bangalore) I was asked about the biggest threat to the future of global liberal democracy. My answer was Narendra #Modi" #AyodhaVerdict #Kashmir #Assam via @financialtimes

During my session I was asked about the biggest threat to the future of global liberal democracy. My answer was Narendra Modi. His abrupt decision in July to cancel the constitutional autonomy of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, cut off its communications and place its political leaders under house arrest has not been heard by the Supreme Court. India’s judiciary used to have clout. It is now as tame as the courts in Hungary. More ominous still is Modi’s decision to set up a national registry in Assam that will result in up to 2m Muslims being deprived of Indian citizenship. The move is seen as a dress rehearsal for a similar exercise on a national scale. Assam was home to many refugees from Bangladesh when it split from Pakistan in 1971. They, like tens of millions of Indians, lack proof of citizenship. Selectively applied, such a Muslim purge would make the voter suppression efforts in the US look like child’s play. India’s march to illiberal democracy under Modi is proceeding apace — and with alarming implications. India is home to 140m Muslims. None of them can feel confident about their future in the world’s largest democracy. But it is not just the quantity of people affected that made me choose Modi — it is also the quality of the movement behind him. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is the “cultural” parent organisation to the BJP, has been working at remaking Indian society along Hindu majoritarian lines since before Modi was born. It will continue after he dies. Whatever one thinks of today’s Republican Party, or indeed of Donald Trump, they have got nothing on the RSS. The movement understands that politics is an offspring of culture. Give me the child, as Jesuits used to say, and I will give you the man. India is gradually but steadily turning into a Hindu Pakistan. This is a tragedy for all those, like Guha and Nilekani, and the country’s kaleidoscope of minorities, who understand that India’s greatness stems from its secular pluralism. Recommended reading Rana Foroohar and I have swapped places in the Swamp this week but I want to congratulate her on a great start to her book, Don’t Be Evil, by directing Swampians to the following stellar review in The Guardian. As a fellow author, I know the terror of the first few weeks after launch when one awaits the verdict of reviewers. Rana, I imagine you are now long past the point of exhaling. My most recent column was on the religious war that is taking hold of US politics: next year’s election will partly be about white grievance versus woke multiculturalism. I would far prefer to see economic debate but I fear that will be eclipsed by identity politics. I also wrote an FT profile about Adam Schiff, the Democrat who is spearheading the Trump impeachment process that goes public on Wednesday with the testimony of Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine. “Lights. Camera. Schiff!” Finally, I strongly commend this essay by Constanze Stelzenm├╝eller, a Brookings Institution scholar, and FT contributor, on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Oddly enough, I was there in Berlin when the wall fell 30 years ago with my own small pick axe, performing some historic vandalism along with thousands of Germans and other Europeans. As I recall we were all nicely victualled. My decision to skip university lectures for a few days was the best I’ve ever taken. I share Constanze’s maudlin perspective on how the world has changed since then. Do please read her.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s Soundtrack of #Hate. On #Diwali, they blasted music in #Muslim neighborhoods for intimidation.“ Hindus used to be too innocent and docile to understand that Muslims are the biggest threat..I will come to #Pakistan and play marbles with your eyes!”

India’s Soundtrack of Hate, With a Pop Sheen
Mixing dance tracks with calls for religious warfare, Hindutva pop amplifies a wave of Hindu nationalism in Narendra Modi’s India.

The Indian pop star, swaddled in gold-trimmed tulle, stepped to the front of the stage at a neighborhood concert. Thunder effects crackled through speakers stacked near an electronics store.

“Every house will be saffron!” the singer, Laxmi Dubey, yelled into her microphone, referring to the color representing Hinduism. “We have to make terrorists run from our blessed land!” The crowd cheered when she added a throat-slitting hand gesture.

Ms. Dubey is one of the biggest stars driving the rise of Hindutva pop music in India over the past few years. Hindutva is a word describing a devout Hindu culture and way of life, and the music that bears its name sets traditional Hindu religious stories or Bollywood clips to dance beats — with added lyrics that in some cases openly call for the slaughter of nonbelievers, forced conversions, or attacks on Pakistan.

The songs are amassing huge numbers of views on YouTube — Ms. Dubey’s most popular song has more than 50 million on its own — and a growing fan base among the young.


Some of the most violent expressions in Hindutva pop focus on Kashmir, the Muslim-majority territory that is disputed by Pakistan and that was stripped of its autonomy by Mr. Modi’s government in August. Popular lyrics call for harsher action against Pakistan and separatist Kashmiri militants, and for forced conversions and a Hindu settlement campaign in Kashmir.

For some of the millions of Indian Muslims, those hyper-patriotic expressions are seen as carrying a personal threat.

In one music video, Sanjay Faizabadi, another popular Hindutva pop artist, lunges toward the camera in military fatigues. Footage of Indian troops, exploding planes and a pack of lions punctuates the song, called “Kashmir Is Our Life.”

“I will come to Pakistan and play marbles with your eyes!” he sings, boasting in a subsequent verse of waging a campaign of sexual conquest there.


Turning her attention to the beef industry, which employs many Muslims, Ms. Dubey encouraged the crowd to take action to protect cows, echoing comments by Hindu mobs that have killed dozens of minorities accused of slaughtering cattle.

“People who I give milk to have become my butcher,” she said, channeling the animal. “Become a cow protector and fulfill your promise.”

Ms. Dubey transitioned to one of her most popular songs, “Every House Will Be Saffron,” a YouTube juggernaut that has inspired covers sung by children. During interludes, the singer promised to target those “living in Kashmir, exploding things” and to “spill blood in mother’s holy court.”

The song’s tempo picked up. Clusters of men rose and danced. Ms. Dubey drew her arm back and let go of an imaginary arrow.

Riaz Haq said...

Transformation of #India Under #Modi Is Complete. #AyodhyaVerdict rewards criminality. #Muslims have lost faith in India. It's not the country #Sikhs had staked faith in. #Sikh sense of a distinct identity makes them deeply uncomfortable with #Hindutva

The R.S.S. is set to celebrate its hundredth year in 2025, and the temple that is likely to be built in time is an appropriate marker of its rise from insignificance. A few years back, I traveled to Ayodhya. Since the demolition of the Babri mosque, a workshop run by an R.S.S. affiliate has been preparing for Rama’s temple. A model of the temple stands at the heart of the workshop. At one end of the workshop, rows of bricks marked “Shri Ram,” which were brought there by pilgrims from across the country, were piled up.

The ground where the mosque once stood was guarded by armed policemen. I walked with a crowd of Hindu pilgrims through a corridor covered with wire meshing. Several body searches later, we stopped in front of a makeshift temple to Rama, where a policeman played the part of a priest. The pilgrims were curious to know where the mosque had stood, but there was nothing to indicate that it had ever existed. The erasure had been complete.

Back at the temple workshop, I saw a wooden model for Rama’s temple, as envisioned by the R.S.S.: a two-storied structure, 268 feet 5 inches long, 140 feet wide and 128 feet high, with 106 pillars on each floor and 16 statues carved on each pillar. Behind me, the visitors raised slogans to Rama.

In the early years of Indian Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, spoke of steel factories and dams as the temples of modern India that would propel the country toward prosperity. Speaking after the court’s verdict, Mr. Modi said: “The Supreme Court verdict has brought a new dawn. Now the next generation will build a new India.” But this temple, the symbol of Mr. Modi’s India, is being born out of acts of criminality, embodying the Hindu nationalist vision of the subordination of others.

On a recent visit to the northern Indian state of Punjab, I spoke to friends and family — all from the Sikh minority — and I realized that something fundamental had changed. The Sikhs are not a minority threatened by the B.J.P., which claims them as their own, a part of the Hindu fold, but their clear sense of a distinct identity has left them deeply uncomfortable with the vision of a Hindu nation.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s Supreme Court endorses right-wing vision relegating #Muslims to 2nd class citizens. #AyodhyaVerdict was celebrated by #Hindu nationalists. #Indian Journalists and writers called it a welcome closure to a conflict that had lasted almost a century

By Rana Ayub

The court delivered a huge victory for the nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by awarding the land at the heart of the clash to a Hindu litigant over Muslim objections. I watched the verdict in Washington with a Muslim family from India who had migrated to the United States in 1993. My host shut off the TV as news anchors called it a victory of Lord Ram. He looked at his 80-year-old mother and said, “I am glad we left when we left.”

Before and after the verdict, the government made calls for prudence and respect — and at the same time, many couldn’t help but gloat.

At the Supreme Court, lawyers chanted “Jai Shri Ram” (“Glory to Lord Ram”). Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who read the verdict, took his colleagues to dinner that night at the posh Taj Mansingh in Delhi.

A senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, L.K. Advani — who was one of the leaders of the mob that demolished the Babri mosque, which triggered one of the bloodiest anti-Muslim pogroms in the country — declared victory on television. “It is a moment of fulfillment for me because God almighty had given me an opportunity to make my own humble contribution to the mass movement, the biggest since India’s freedom movement, aimed at the outcome which the Supreme Court verdict today has made possible,” he said.

Like many Indian Muslims back home, I’ve struggled to make sense of the kind of “justice” that is being celebrated, this closure and relief many speak of. Whose closure? As a child of the 1992 anti-Muslim riots that followed the demolition of the holy mosque, I was made to revisit the traumatic decade, when a wake of communalism changed the narrative on secularism in the world’s largest democracy.

Muslims in the country are on edge. A relative called me after reading my comments on Twitter and Facebook lamenting the verdict. “Will you just shut up?” he screamed on the phone. “We have to live here. Your family and my family, don’t make it difficult for us; we cannot have another mob breaking into our house.”

Growing up in the ’90s, I remember my Muslim family was widely respected in our Mumbai neighborhood. My father, a public school teacher and a member of the Progressive Writers movement, did volunteer work. People used to tie a thread on his head on Guru Purnima, a festival that celebrates teachers. We had a social identity, never a religious one.

Everything changed on Dec. 6, 1992, as the Bharatiya Janta Party and other right-wing Hindu organizations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad marched toward the Babri Masjid with thousands of Kar Sevaks (devotees).

Advani, along with other BJP stalwarts including Uma Bharati, gave provocative speeches in favor of razing the Babri Masjid to the ground. That morning, as they demolished the historic 16th-century mosque, we sat in our one-room apartment watching the barbarity in fear.

And things only got worse from that point.

Our neighbor, a Sikh man, came knocking nervously at our door. He entered our house, sweat dripping from his forehead. He told my father that rioters were marching to our house to take me and my sister. I was 9, my elder sister was 14. Hundreds of Muslim women were raped during that time as part of anti-Muslim riots. Within minutes we were whisked away from the back door on our neighbor’s motorcycle with our heads covered. We were taken to a locality of Sikhs where my sister and I took refuge in a house for two months. We had no means of communicating with our family.

Riaz Haq said...

Sacred thread of the soul. #SIKHS across the world are celebrating Guru #NanakDevji's 550th anniversary today, and the fervor is enhanced by the opening of a key road between #Pakistan and #India that leads to his shrine in Pakistan. #KartarpurCorridor

Let’s put it this way. There would no Bhagat Singh without the message of fellowship and human bonding he imbibed from the saint-preacher from the late 15th century. Bhagat Singh who was hanged at the tender age of 23 wore the turban given by his religion but took it off without offending his community when he needed to disguise himself from his British pursuers to fight for India’s independence. He used Marxism to imagine a socially and politically enlightened post-colonial India at peace with itself. One of his last pieces of writings argued his case for dying as an atheist while still being proud of his Sikh heritage.

Open the mind’s apertures a little and you would find an utterly brilliant Sikh politician in Canada, one of several, actually. In 2017, the turbaned Jagmeet Singh, now 40, became the first non-white head of a major Canadian party. His New Democratic Party is as far left as any in a First World country. There are rumours that Singh could become deputy prime minister in Justin Trudeau’s minority government whose numbers he helped slash in general elections two weeks ago.

In any case, it is delightful to hear him switch from fluent English to more fluent French while explaining his stand on issues. They may range from support to gay rights to opposing the expansion of a pipeline that carries oil through Canada’s mountains to its west coast, without first getting cleared by the threatened indigenous people. Leave alone religion, could any Indian or Pakistani politician take a public stand on sexual orientation of their people or oppose a project because the people feared its adverse impact on environment?

Jagmeet was denied Indian visa for his stand on the 1984 massacre of Sikhs. But he sees himself as following Guru Nanak’s path of asking questions relentlessly, to help people fight inequality and ignorance imposed by Brahminical blind faith and superstition. That this follower of Nanak is a first class leader of a First World country says something of his heritage.

Jagmeet Singh’s unique style of turban helps project a stridently multicultural society he wants Canada to remain. He reminds one of liberal writer Khushwant Singh who opposed religious and caste bigotry in the footsteps of Nanak while remaining a self-confessed atheist. How many religious communities can accept the dichotomy?

Harkishen Singh Surjeet was an archetypal Sikh, sporting a turban and a steel kara while leading the largest communist party in India. The affable sardarji was among the last party leaders to promote the use of Urdu to attract the masses, a practice shunned by his successors to the detriment of their cause. If Sikh women are at the forefront of the fight for gender rights it is because Guru Nanak was himself an ardent advocate of gender equality.

There is an uplifting song by the mystical minstrel Lalon Fakir in 19th-century Bengal, which seems to have its origin in Nanak’s teachings. Nanak was on the same page as the weaver-poet Kabir and cobbler-thinker Ravidas, who are thought to have been his contemporaries. “We can tell a Brahmin by his thread. How do we recognise his womenfolk?” Lalon wondered mockingly.

The question may have been lifted from a defining moment in Guru Nanak’s life when he was nine years old. His father, a high-caste Hindu, had arranged for the son’s thread ceremony but Nanak took the issue to his elder sister Nanaki who he loved and looked up to for guidance. He wondered why she never wore the thread. Why was it prescribed for all Hindus but excluded low-caste Shudras?

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi to #Netanyahu: “We share and value the same principles of democracy”. He also thanked Netanyahu, saying Israel is a cherished strategic partner. #India #Israel #Islamophobia #HumanRights #Palestine #Kashmir

Israel President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished India on Constitution Day in tweets.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 26 thanked the Israeli leadership for their wishes on Constitution Day, saying the two countries share and value the same principles of democracy.

Israel President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished India on Constitution Day in tweets.

On this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly had adopted the Constitution. Till a few years ago, the day was observed as ‘Law Day’.

“Thank you for your warm greetings on India’s #ConstitutionDay. We remember your visit to India in 2016 with great fondness. We also take pride in our friendship with the vibrant democracy of Israel,” Mr. Modi wrote on Twitter in response to Mr. Rivlin’s greetings.

He also thanked Mr. Netanyahu, saying Israel is a cherished strategic partner.

“We share and value the same principles of democracy,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

A video of #India’s consul general in #NewYork advocating #India follow the “Israeli model” in #Kashmir sends shockwaves across diplomatic community. PM #ImranKhan terms the top diplomat’s comments as an example of India’s “fascist mindset”

‘Kashmiri culture is Indian culture is Hindu culture … We have never used our strength as majority community, Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s consul general in New York, said in video recording.

In a one-hour long video of an interaction with the “Kashmiri Hindu diaspora” in New York uploaded by filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri on his Facebook page, consul general Sandeep Chakravorty seems to be speaking as a representative of “Hindus” rather than “Indians” and appears to implicitly endorse Israel’s illegal policy – officially condemned by the Government of India – of blockading the Palestinians, placing restrictions on their movement and building Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

India had “made a strategic blunder of thinking that all of us think like us”, he added referring to a previous speaker who had mentioned that India takes along all religions.

“We should start thinking like the others. [That is] the only way we can beat them at their game… and that thinking is coming,” he added.

“We have never used our strength as majority community…. we have never [made] use of our Hindu culture… ancient civilisation in diplomacy. Now that we are using it, people are having problems”.

Riaz Haq said...

Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins

“Modi was a fascist in every sense” - Ashis Nandy - a trained psychologist, wanting to study the mentality of Hindu nationalists, interviewed Modi when he was young.

In 1925, K. B. Hedgewar, a physician from central India, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization dedicated to the idea that India was a Hindu nation, and that Hinduism’s followers were entitled to reign over minorities. Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity. (The same thinking applied to Christians, who make up about two per cent of India’s population. Other major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, were considered more authentically Indian.)

The R.S.S.’s original base was higher-caste men, but, in order to grow, it had to widen its membership. Among the lower-caste recruits was an eight-year-old named Narendra Modi, from Vadnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. Modi belonged to the low-ranking Ghanchi caste, whose members traditionally sell vegetable oil; Modi’s father ran a small tea shop near the train station, where his young son helped. When Modi was thirteen, his parents arranged for him to marry a local girl, but they cohabited only briefly, and he did not publicly acknowledge the relationship for many years. Modi soon left the marriage entirely and dedicated himself to the R.S.S. As a pracharak—the group’s term for its young, chaste foot soldiers—Modi started by cleaning the living quarters of senior members, but he rose quickly. In 1987, he moved to the R.S.S.’s political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

When Modi joined, the Party had only two seats in parliament. It needed an issue to attract sympathizers, and it found one in an obscure religious dispute. In the northern city of Ayodhya was a mosque, called Babri Masjid, built by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528. After independence, locals placed Hindu idols inside the mosque and became convinced that it had been built on the former site of a Hindu temple. A legend grew that the god Ram—an avatar of Vishnu, often depicted with blue skin—had been born there.


According to FactChecker, an organization that tracks communal violence by surveying media reports, there have been almost three hundred hate crimes motivated by religion in the past decade—almost all of them since Modi became Prime Minister. Hindu mobs have killed dozens of Muslim men. The murders, which are often instigated by Bajrang Dal members, have become known as “lynchings,” evoking the terror that swept the American South after Reconstruction. The lynchings take place against a backdrop of hysteria created by the R.S.S. and its allies—a paranoid narrative of a vast majority, nearly a billion strong, being victimized by a much smaller minority.

When Muslims are lynched, Modi typically says nothing, and, since he rarely holds press conferences, he is almost never asked about them. But his supporters often salute the killers. In June, 2017, a Muslim man named Alimuddin Ansari, who was accused of cow trafficking, was beaten to death in the village of Ramgarh. Eleven men, including a local leader of the B.J.P., were convicted of murder, but last July they were freed, pending appeal. On their release, eight of them were met by Jayant Sinha, the B.J.P. Minister for Civil Aviation. Sinha, a Harvard graduate and a former consultant for McKinsey & Company, draped the men in marigold garlands and presented them with sweets. “All I am doing is honoring the due process of law,” he said at the time.

Riaz Haq said...

Chomsky: #India's Symptoms Of #Fascism: “Well, I mean, the whole institutional structure of India, plus the great mass of the Hindu population, is evidently very supportive of the undermining of Kashmiri autonomy and opening up to Indian settlement” #Modi

Chomsky: I don’t think its true that the middle-class (in India) has gained, its basically stagnating, the figures are pretty clear on that. As I say, in the United States, which is one of the most effective economies, its basically been no gains in 40 years for working people and petty bourgeouise. They are angry. And the anger can be exploited by somebody like Trump, who says its not your fault, it’s the fault of poor people, it’s the blacks, or Hispanics, or muslims. And Modi does the same thing. Turn the attention to extreme Hindu nationalism. They are taking our country away from us, get rid of these muslims.

Chomsky: "Yea, the support for what Modi did in Kashmir is overwhelming among the Hindu population."

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.

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...

India against Gandhi: Gandhi is now a major hate figure in Modi's India

by Ramachandra Guha

Gandhi is the major hate figure (in Modi's India). He is blamed for emasculating Indians by preaching non-violence; blamed for choosing the modernising Jawaharlal Nehru as his political heir instead of a more authentically “Hindu” figure; blamed for not stopping the creation of Pakistan; blamed for insisting that Muslims who stayed behind in India be given the rights of equal citizenship. BJP members of parliament hail Gandhi’s assassin Godse as a true “deshbhakt” (patriot); praise for him trends on Twitter every January 30; there are periodic plans to erect statues to him and temples in his memory. YouTube videos mocking Gandhi and charging him with betraying Hindus garner millions of views.

Seventy-five years after his assassination, the ‘father of the nation’ is a problem for Narendra Modi — but the country still needs his ideas


Born in 1958, a decade after Gandhi’s death, I grew up in an atmosphere of veneration towards the Mahatma. One of my great-uncles helped to edit Gandhi’s Collected Works; another founded a pioneering initiative in community health inspired by Gandhi. These familial influences were consolidated and deepened by the public culture of the time. Gandhi was the father of the nation, the leader of the struggle for freedom against British rule, whose techniques of non-violent resistance had won admirers and imitators across the world. It was largely because of him that we were free and proudly independent, and it was largely because of him that — unlike neighbouring Pakistan — we gloried in the religious and linguistic diversity of our land. In our school assembly we sang a 17th-century hymn that Gandhi was particularly fond of, which he had rewritten to reflect his vision of the India he wished to leave behind. Hindus saw God as Ishwar; Gandhi’s adaptation asked us to see him as Allah too. And it was to these lines that our teachers drew our particular attention. The first criticisms of Gandhi that I remember encountering were in a book I read as a student at Delhi University. This was the autobiography of Verrier Elwin, an Oxford scholar who became a leading ethnographer of the tribes of central India. Elwin knew Gandhi well, and at one time considered himself a disciple. In later years, while he retained his admiration for the Mahatma’s moral courage and religious pluralism, Elwin became sharply critical of Gandhi’s advocacy of prohibition, which he thought damaging to tribal culture (where home-brewed alcohol was both a source of nutrition and an aid to dance and music), and of his exaltation of celibacy, which Elwin thought damaging to everyone.

Riaz Haq said...

'Ideology Of Hate' Consuming #India, Says #Gandhi's Great-grandson. Tushar, 63, attributes this tectonic shift to the rise of Prime Minister Narendra #Modi and his #Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (#BJP). #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Hate #Violence

India's rising tide of Hindu nationalism is an affront to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, his great-grandson says, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the revered independence hero's assassination.

Gandhi was shot dead at a multi-faith prayer meeting on January 30, 1948, by Nathuram Godse, a religious zealot angered by his victim's conciliatory gestures to the country's minority Muslim community.

Godse was executed the following year and remains widely reviled, but author and social activist Tushar Gandhi, one of the global peace symbol's most prominent descendants, says his views now have a worrying resonance in India.

"That whole philosophy has now captured India and Indian hearts, the ideology of hate, the ideology of polarisation, the ideology of divisions," he told AFP at his Mumbai home.

"For them, it's very natural that Godse would be their iconic patriot, their idol."

Tushar, 63, attributes this tectonic shift to the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Modi took office in 2014 and Tushar says his government is to blame for undermining the secular and multicultural traditions that his namesake sought to protect.

"His success has been built on hate, we must accept that," Tushar added.

"There is no denying that in his heart, he also knows what he is doing is lighting a fire that will one day consume India itself."

Today, Gandhi's assassin is revered by many Hindu nationalists who have pushed for a re-evaluation of his decision to murder a man synonymous with non-violence.

A temple dedicated to Godse was built near New Delhi in 2015, the year after Modi's election, and activists have campaigned to honour him by renaming an Indian city after him.

Godse was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a still-prominent Hindu far-right group whose members conduct paramilitary drills and prayer meetings.

The RSS has long distanced itself from Godse's actions but remains a potent force, founding Modi's party decades ago to battle for Hindu causes in the political realm.

Modi has regularly paid respect to Gandhi's legacy but has refrained from weighing in on the campaign to rehabilitate his killer.

Tushar remains a fierce protector of his world-famous ancestor's legacy of "honesty, equality, unity and inclusiveness".

He has written two books about Gandhi and his wife Kasturba, regularly talks at public events about the importance of democracy and has filed legal motions in India's top court as part of efforts to defend the country's secular constitution.

His Mumbai abode, a post-independence flat in a quiet neighbourhood compound, is dotted with portraits and small statues of his famous relative along with a miniature spinning wheel -- a reference to Gandhi's credo of self-reliance.

Tushar is anxious but resigned to the prospect of Modi winning another term in next year's elections, an outcome widely seen as an inevitability given the weakness of his potential challengers.

"The poison is so deep, and they're so successful, that I don't see my ideology triumphing over in India for a long time now," he says.

Riaz Haq said...

In Pictures

The Rise and Rise of Islamophobia in India
Muslims have been subjected to violence for decades, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has only made things worse.

By Danylo Hawaleshka
Published On 18 Apr 2023
18 Apr 2023
History Illustrated is a weekly series of insightful perspectives that puts news events and current affairs into an historical context using graphics generated with artificial intelligence.

Muslims in India are being targeted by vile propaganda, intense intimidation and mob violence.

For instance, Hindu nationalists in 1992 destroyed the 16th century Babri Mosque. Nationwide riots then killed about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.

In 2002, 59 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train fire in Gujarat state, which was blamed on Muslims.

Narendra Modi, who headed the state at that time, was accused of doing little to stop the violence.

In 2019, Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party enacted a citizenship law, seen to discriminate against Muslims.

Human Rights Watch said ensuing riots in New Delhi over that law killed 53 people, mostly Muslims, and that Hindu mobs injured over 200.

Propaganda films like The Kashmir Files demonise Muslims, a film Modi endorsed.

Today, mosques are often attacked, like the 300-year-old one in Uttar Pradesh razed for a highway.

This cycle of violence and vilification directed at a religious group is something history has seen before—and it never ends well.